A well-designed product with good performance, above-average drive range, and state-of-the-art safety technology.
It seems like it whenever there is any news about electric vehicles (EV), we immediately see it all over the Internet. Yet somehow a boutique Swedish firm named Polestar, co-owned by Geely and Volvo, managed to skirt most front pages and released two EV models in three key Canadian markets (Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal) without many noticing. We borrowed a 2021 Polestar 2 to determine whether their best kept secret deserves more attention in a segment that seems to be under the spotlight.
The Polestar 2 features a modern five-door fastback design. We appreciate that their designers were able to resist the temptation to make their EVs look ‘futuristic’ like many of its peers, and just set out to make a clean design. There is a certain mystique exuded from the Polestar 2 as there are no badges anywhere except a company logo, with an illuminated one on the glass panoramic roof visible from both inside and out – a small but significant design element. It is an interesting approach for a little-known company to not litter their cars with nameplates; however, judging from the attention and curious questions we received throughout the week, Polestar is doing a great job generating interest.
The oversized 20-inch wheels with gold valve caps and Brembo brake calipers are part of the Polestar 2’s optional Performance Pack. It also came with a set of 22-way manually adjustable Öhlins for function, and seatbelts in traditional Swedish gold a for form. We love enhancements that are made to improve the vehicle’s aesthetics and capabilities and the Polestar 2’s Performance Pack manages just that.
Powered by two motors (one on each axle), the Polestar 2 generates a maximum output of 408 horsepower and a whopping 487 lb-ft. of torque. The latter number is particularly impressive as it pushes the Polestar 2 deep into performance car territory and propels the Polestar 2 from a standstill to 100 km/h in as little as 4.7 seconds.
The 0 – 100 km/h number might not jump out at you, but it is the ferocity of which it hits that triple digit figure that will bring a smile to your face and convert many car enthusiasts along the way. The Polestar 2’s surge is best described as a rollercoaster’s launch off the station – you know a strong thrust is coming and yet, it still manages to surprise you every time.
Steering and handling are pleasant surprises in a segment that is not usually rated by how well it responds to user inputs. The Polestar 2 goes where pointed with above-average feedback, and it responds well up to moderate speeds thanks to its chassis rigidity and low centre of gravity. Enter too hot though and the Polestar 2’s beefy curb weight will push it wide, but you will know well before any understeer. The Brembo four-piston braking system is quick to correct course with excellent pedal feel.
The Polestar 2 comes standard with a 78-kWh lithium-ion battery with a maximum drive range of about 427 kilometres, and our observed range during our weeklong commute was about 350 before finding the need to make a stop at a DC fast charger. We appreciate the thoughtful touches where the Google Maps application would display the estimated battery life remaining at destination, as well as a handy shortcut to find a nearby charging station.
Much like its exterior, the interior layout features a clean and minimalistic design. As part of the company’s promises to make a positive change in the world and create sustainable mobility solutions, the Polestar 2 is made with a fully vegan interior. There is no leather, but high quality fabrics and sustainable materials that will not make you feel secondary. We noticed a couple of minor craftsmanship issues but it is not unexpected for an up-and-coming carmaker.
There is excellent interior space in the Polestar 2. The oversized windows and the glass roof create an airy and relaxing atmosphere for the occupants inside. The roof is made with a special glass that reduces the sun’s radiation, thus eliminating the need for sunglasses, but you can feel the heat from above during the hot summer months. The optional Öhlins suspension and 20-inch wheels are good for performance but unfortunately take away a lot of the comfort. Bumps in the road can be felt with firm thuds, and we would recommend the standard setup if cornering is not a priority.
The Polestar 2 is the first car to come native with the Google Android Automotive OS for its infotainment functions. This system accepts commands through the 11.15-inch centre console display or voice, with the latter being our preferred method. The Google Assistant app is quick in recognizing commands such as ‘turn on defroster’ or ‘turn on heated steering wheel’, and drivers would eventually adapt to this distraction-free input method. We found the Google System to work well once you get used to the interface and favourites are customized in each driver’s profiles, but it lacks several key features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and satellite radio.
Being a company owned by the safety-first Volvo Cars, we were not surprised to find the Polestar 2 is going to be built with a similar priority. With standard support systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Pilot Assist, Blind Spot Information with Steer Assist, Cross Traffic Alert, 360° Surround view camera, Park Assist, and Collision Mitigation, drivers can be much more aware of its surroundings and rest assured that their vehicle can assist with keeping its occupants and its surrounding safe in the case of an emergency.
Pricing of the 2021 Polestar 2 starts at $69,900, and our tester came with the $6,000 optional Performance Pack and the $1,200 Snow paint job, bringing the as-tested total to $77,100. While it might seem like a lot on the surface, the Polestar 2 actually packs a lot with its price tag. There are not many 400+ horsepower cars in this price range, and the Polestar 2 is cheaper than most EVs with similar performance and features.
The 2021 Polestar 2 might not be front page news yet, but it is a well-designed product with good performance, above-average drive range, and state-of-the-art safety technology. With the company’s aggressive plans to double its global locations by end of this year, we have no doubt it is only a matter of time before the public gives it the attention it deserves.