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BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Car Review

Polestar 2

£ 42,845 - £ 52,845
810
Published: 19 May 2021
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Volvo’s electric offshoot sticks the landing with a sublime battery-powered £50k saloon

Good stuff

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

Bad stuff

Performance Pack adjustable dampers are too firm out of the box

Overview

What is it?

A new electric car, from a new electric car company. 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. 

And while Polestar’s first homebrew effort was a plug-in hybrid – the beautiful, £140,000 Polestar 1, this is where it gets serious. The 1 was a limited-edition headline-grabber. 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.

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How much is it?

Prices start at £39,900 for the entry-level 'Standard Range Single Motor' version, which has a 64kWh battery capable of 273 miles of range and an electric motor that's good for 221bhp. Next up is the 'Long Range Single Motor', which upgrades the battery to a 78kWh unit that'll do 335 miles on a full charge and ups power slightly to 228bhp. It costs £42,900.

Then there's the top-spec 'Long Range Dual Motor' edition of the Polestar 2, which features electric motors on the front and rear axle. The car develops just over 400bhp split 50/50 front-rear, so it’s fast, despite weighing 2.1 tonnes. The asking price for this is £45,900.

Previewed as a Volvo concept several years ago, the Polestar 2 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. It’ll juice the top-of-the-range 2 for almost 300 miles, with or without the optional £5,000 Performance Pack box ticked.

So is Polestar gunning for Tesla?

Now, an equivalent Tesla Model 3 Long Range is good for another 60 miles of claimed endurance, and for some folks, the argument will end there. But we’ll not get utterly bogged down in Tesla tit-for tat here.

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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 0-60 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. 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: 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 looks like the car the future promised, but distanced enough from a Volvo S60 not to seem contrived. When you see one of these whoosh past, you’re going to want one. And so, you might try a test drive…

Our choice from the range

What is the verdict?

One of the most complete electric cars money can buy. Superb build quality, and decent to drive.

but it was hardly a game-changer. 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. 

There’s also a real sense of momentum about Polestar now – it’s got the design schtick nailed, this interior concept looks to be futureproof, and yet there’s a humility about this newcomer that’s massively refreshing. 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. 

Fundamentally though, the car itself is well-finished, practical and drives pleasingly, 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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