Polestar 2 Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Monday 25th September


What is it like to drive?

Single Motor versions get 361lb ft of torque, and will do the 0-62mph sprint in around six seconds. You don’t need us to tell you that that’s plenty quick enough for real world driving.

Then there’s the Long Range Dual Motor, which (despite the weight) pelts the Polestar 2 along with ease supplying all four wheels with 546lb ft. It also sees off 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds, though curiously maxes out at 127mph; not Volvo’s 112mph limit.

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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.

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 (as we ran as a long termer), bringing adjustable Öhlins dampers, Brembo brakes, some extra power for 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds 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.

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Can it go round corners?

The Polestar 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.

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 – something Polestar claims to have addressed with the 2023 update but which still feels unduly harsh for a car you can otherwise spend hours in.

A bizarre design decision is the manually adjustable household-name dampers – seriously, 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 suspension is more supple, but still a little too firm for our liking. While this means there’s little roll over uglier lumps and dips, the general agitation and jitter annoys around town, and takes some getting used to. Still, the smaller 19-inch wheels help, and 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.

Is there a performance flagship?

You're talking about the BST edition 270, then? A rare groove choice, that. It began life as an ‘Experimental’ Polestar 2 one-off that made silent-but-violent runs at the Goodwood Festival in 2021. And guess what? The boss – and enough Polestar fans – liked it that it’s gone into limited production. Very limited, in fact. Only 270 of these will ever exist, of which 40 are coming to the UK. And they’re all sold.

So what's it all about? Even geekier suspension, in a nutshell. And a £1k optional stripe. We've got a standalone review for the BST and you can read it by clicking this timely hyperlink.

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

Variants We Have Tested

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