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The Top Gear car review:Polestar 2
For:Handles and rides very well indeed, a lovely object
Against:Very little. Remains to be seen whether it’s as good without the £5k Performance Pack, and how the infotainment stacks-up in the real world
What is it?
You ought to be familiar with Polestar by now - the race team that went on to tune Volvo’s road cars, was bought by the company in 2015 and eventually transformed into a standalone electric performance car brand. Its first car, the imaginatively-named Polestar 1, was a plug-in hybrid GT with 600bhp and a 93-mile e-range - the farthest of any PHEV.
And it is tremendous. Really, really good. In fact you ought to read about it by clicking on these words. But at £139,000, and with production limited to 1,500 vehicles, hardly a car for the baying masses. Who are all busy financing Tesla Model 3s and extolling their virtues on Internet forums.
That’s where the Polestar 2 comes in. As direct a rival as the Model 3 will have for the foreseeable future, the 2 is a mass-market, vaguely saloon-shaped EV with a price tag of a little under £50,000 and a range of around 311 miles from its water-cooled 78kWh battery. It’s all-wheel drive, will do 0-62mph in a shade under five seconds and has the equivalent of 402bhp.
In Model 3 terms it rivals the Long Range version, which is also all-wheel drive, but costs a little less at £47,000, has a greater claimed range of 348 miles and is half a second quicker to 62mph.
Of course everybody knows you can get a Model 3 for far less - £38,500 buys you rear-wheel drive and 254 miles of range. But fear not - the first batch of Polestar 2s, including the one we tested, are all launch spec, costing £49,900 before options. Cheaper models costing less than £40,000 will be along after a year or so. Then comes the brand’s next car, an electric SUV called the Polestar 3.
But there’s more to these cars than numbers. Though they’re supposed to cater to the same market, appeal to the same kind of person, these are two very different looking things. The Tesla is a bit generic, a bit plain, whereas the Polestar is sharper-edged, recognisably Swedish. Very much in-keeping with the tone set by the 1 and all modern-era Volvos before it, especially the XC40 (with which it shares the group’s ‘Common Module Architecture’ platform, and which it will be built alongside in China). Save for the clever frameless mirrors and full-width rear light bar, it’s almost identical to Volvo’s 40.2 Concept from 2016.
You might have noticed the 2 is a bit taller than your typical saloon. It’s not a deliberate crossover-ification, but a necessary evil. With the batteries hidden under the floor, in order to preserve ground clearance and interior space you have to jack the body up a bit. No matter, we’re think it looks ace as it sits. Polestar calls it a ‘fastback’.
The order books for the Polestar 2 are already open. You can put £1,000 down right now to reserve your space in the queue. Do that and you’ll get your car next June at the earliest.
The car we tried is a late-stage verification prototype built in Sweden - so a few rough edges (the infotainment system we tried was separate from the car itself…), but dynamically pretty much the finished article. We didn’t get that much time in the driver’s seat, and the weather was decidedly suboptimal, so these are very much first impressions…