Polestar 2 Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Saturday 30th September
One of the most complete electric cars money can buy. Decent build quality, and easy to drive

Good stuff

Beautifully built intuitive cabin, effortless performance, exceptionally cool image, the look on Tesla drivers’ faces

Bad stuff

Slightly firm ride, who’s got time to tweak the 20-way manually adjustable dampers found in the Performance Pack?


What is it?

This is the Polestar 2, and it’s a fully-fledged production car designed to do the hard yards in establishing Polestar as a big player in the EV scene. It’s gunning for the biggest bullseye of them all right now: the Tesla Model 3.

Polestar was once Volvo’s racing skunkworks, but it’s morphed into a standalone electric offshoot, jointly owned by Volvo and its Chinese mothership, Geely. Its cars are built in China, to be sold worldwide. 

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Its first homebrew effort, a limited-edition headline-grabber, was a plug-in hybrid – the beautiful, £140,000 Polestar 1. Then it got serious and launched the Polestar 2 in 2019. 

Fast forward to now and the 2 has proved popular, beating sales targets and developing a stronger sense of identity. And so the 2023 'refresh' (call it a facelift at your own peril) doesn't rock the boat, with maximum range rising from 341 to 406 miles. Doesn't seem superficial to us.

How much is it?

Prices have gone up, of course. The entry-level Standard Range Single Motor starts at £44,950, although the 69kWh battery is capable of up to 331 miles of range (up from 297) and the motor is now good for 268bhp (up from 228bhp).

The Long Range Single Motor upgrades the battery to a 82kWh unit - achieving that 406-mile headline figure - while power rises to 292bhp (up from 228). That price tag reads £48,950.

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Then there's the top-spec Long Range Dual Motor edition, which features electric motors on the front and rear axle and up to 367 miles of range. The car develops 416bhp split 50/50 front-rear, so it’s fast, despite weighing 2.1 tonnes. The asking price is £52,950.

Finally there's Polestar's Performance Pack - a £5,000 software upgrade - that boosts power to 469bhp and chops the 0-62mph time down to 4.2 seconds. Yikes.

It uses its height not just to offer a more commanding view of the road than a conventional saloon, but also to carve out space for the water-cooled battery pack, which lies beneath the cabin.

So it's Polestar vs Tesla?

Not really. The longest range Model 3 manages 374 miles, so at 406, Polestar has more than pipped its Cali rival here. 

That said, Polestar is finding its feet in the market and wants to do things its own way. CEO Thomas Ingenlath (an ex-Volvo design boss himself) hints Polestar’s USPs will be build quality and the completeness of the car and ownership experience, not YouTube-friendly 0-60mph times.

He admits the learning curve will be steep, but points out Polestar has been in the EV market for a year or two, not decades like its arch-nemesis. He believes that now the world is warming up to electric cars, soon the idea of each car needing to carry around all the weight and cost of a 300+ mile range will seem as absurd as a car carrying around a second engine as a redundancy measure. Y’know, just in case. Polestar wants to make desirable and rapid electric cars, but it wants to do so with Scandi common sense. And Swedish fashion sense.

Is it a looker?

On the design front it’s job done. Blanked-off grille (something Polestar calls the 'Smartzone' for its sensory gizmos) aside, very little has changed with the 2023 update. This is a sensational-looking machine in the metal, crisp and fresh and clean-cut, loaded with presence but wonderfully unadorned with fake vents or dummy-aero nonsense.

It continues to look like the car the future promised, but it's distanced enough from a Volvo S60 not to seem contrived. When you see one of these whoosh past, you’re going to want one.

Want to know what the best electric cars are? Click here for the top 20

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

Fundamentally the Polestar 2 is well-finished, practical and drives pleasingly, even if the ride is a little firm

We love the Polestar 2 because it’s handsome, the build quality will give Audi drivers PTSD, and there’s a real sense of common sense about the car – that it’s been designed to work seamlessly, not to wow you with gimmicks then wind you up further down the line. Single Motor iterations make it more accessible for most too.

The latest updates haven't undone the refreshing sense of humility we liked about the brand either. Polestar wants to sell itself with integrity, not gimmicks. Of course, it’s not without niggles – the ride should be less jiggly, and coaxing Apple fans into a cabin enshrined with Google Android could be a challenge. CarPlay is now supported, at least.

Fundamentally though, the car itself is well-finished, practical and drives pleasingly, even if the ride is a little firm. But it’s that sense of a brand really believing in its approach and starting to show its potential that’s exciting about Polestar in general, and the 2 in particular. And yep, Tesla ought to be paying attention. As should anyone else who fancies a slice of the electric future.

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