Polestar 2 Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Car Review

Polestar 2

£ 39,845 - £ 52,845
810
Published: 20 Aug 2021
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

We don’t need to labour the point that the original Long Range Dual Motor is a quick car. Despite the weight, having 487lb ft instantly supplied to all four wheels pelts the Polestar 2 along with ease, seeing off 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and curiously maxing at 127mph, not Volvo’s 112mph limit.

That said, this isn’t quite the kick in the head that the Teslarati thrive on – the roll-on performance is ever so slightly less violent, which makes the 2 easy to drive smoothly, both in town and when you spot an overtaking gap. Single Motor versions get 243lb ft of torque and will do the 0-62mph sprint in 7.0 seconds flat, which seems plenty quick enough for real world driving.

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What else do you like about it then?

The 2’s simplicity is a joy. There aren’t any powertrain modes. You can put the traction control in a halfway-house ‘Sport’ mode, and toggle steering weight, but that’s about it. There isn’t even a starter button. Just climb in (the keyless entry is flawless, though the key is a naff lump of lightweight plastic), prod the brake, and the car’s awake and ready to set off immediately. At journey’s end, select Park and exit the car, as it puts itself to sleep. After that, having to turn keys and press buttons to rouse a vehicle seems utterly Victorian. 

The tantalisingly named Performance Pack is a £5,000 option for the Long Range Dual Motor only, bringing adjustable Ohlins dampers, Brembo brakes, and gold garnish. Not actual carats, just a golden finish to the calipers and seatbelts, which sounds as tasteful as a downtown Dubai skyscraper but, trust us, actually works nicely. The 20-inch forged wheels are especially handsome.

The brakes are adequate, given they’ve got such a pudding to rein in, but the pedal feel isn’t the best – it’s a bit dead underfoot. Happily, the regen effect is so well-judged in its ‘Normal’ setting that the 2 becomes a one-pedal car. You can turn down the regen effect, or delete it completely, via a vivid touchscreen menu.

Can it go round corners?

The 2 has easy-going, accurate but synthetic-feeling steering (again, three settings for that, but the middle Goldilocks mode is just right), and deals with corners in a typically ‘modern EV’ sort of way. There’s a big reserve of grip in either four-wheel or front-wheel drive iterations, and though you sense there’s a lot of weight being asked to change direction, because that mass is carried low and the suspension is taut, you don’t get seasick from body roll, because there’s barely any. 

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It handles like a properly developed car, not a straight-line dragster that’s wayward in its responses. Better than a Model S? Certainly. Better than a Model 3? Different, as the car sits a little higher, but it’s bloody close. 

It’s not a Sunday morning B-road entertainer, but it’s more engaging for longer than you might expect for a thickset electric saloon-on-stilts. Given that it’s actually based on a Volvo XC40 (the shared platform contributes to the lardy weight, but has safety boons and helps bring the selling price down), it’s a creditable effort to make a decent-handling executive express.

Anything you're not so keen on?

The pay-off is the firm ride, which does seem a bizarre decision: manually adjustable household-name dampers are a hugely nerdy USP, but how many Polestar owners are truly going to spend their Sundays armed with allen keys, adjusting each turret to find a sweet spot? 

The standard car is more supple. Actually not a huge amount in its primary movements, because the spring rates are hardly different. It's just the general agitation and jitter that annoys. But the standard suspension, because it's intrinsically softer in its damping, avoids most of that. And over bigger uglier lumps and dips, it allows the springs to breathe more. It's simply more comfortable on normal roads at normal speeds, and smaller 19-inch wheels help. The standard brakes are fine too.

In all the Performance Pack doesn't really take advantage of its posh dampers or brakes or wheels. So they're not missed on the standard car. Just get the cheaper one and spend any saved cash on interior options.

How's the refinement?

There’s no discernible motor whine at speed, only a little wind flutter around the door mirrors. They’re worth a mention – the mirror is ‘frameless’, because the whole mirror housing moves to adjust the view, instead of just the pane. Another simple slice of clever thinking, and one we prefer to look-at-me door cameras. It’s a good thing the mirrors are useful, given rear visibility is hemmed in by the thick pillars and cramped back window. Inheriting surround-view cameras from Volvo helps when it’s time to park.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Polestar 2 300kW Pilot Plus 78kWh Dual motor 5dr 4WD Auto
  • 0-624.5s
  • CO20
  • BHP408
  • MPG
  • Price£ 49,845

the cheapest

Polestar 2 165kW 63kWh Standard Range Single motor 5dr Auto
  • 0-627.4s
  • CO2
  • BHP224
  • MPG
  • Price£ 39,845

the greenest

Polestar 2 300kW Pilot Plus 78kWh Dual motor 5dr 4WD Auto
  • 0-624.5s
  • CO20
  • BHP408
  • MPG
  • Price£ 49,845
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