Polestar 2 hatchback review
"The Polestar 2 is available with plenty of range and performance, has one of the best infotainment systems in the business and feels solidly built, making it one of the Tesla Model 3's strongest rivals"
- Build quality
- Strong performance
- Low running costs
- Firm ride
- No dedicated charging network
- Tight rear passenger space
The Polestar 2 electric car has arrived, giving the Tesla Model 3 its first direct rival since it was launched virtually unchallenged. Described as a fastback, the Polestar 2 gets its own distinct style, inside and out, but one that’s clearly connected to its Volvo relations.
Polestar is the upmarket, electric offshoot of Volvo, owned by Chinese manufacturing giant Geely. The car has been designed in Sweden and is built in China. It's also penned by Thomas Ingenlath, who was formerly Volvo's design chief, so if you like the XC60 and V90, you'll likely enjoy the Polestar 2's lines too. If you've been put off a Model 3 by stories of poor build quality, the Polestar 2 could appeal here because it shares its CMA platform with models like the Volvo XC40 Recharge Electric and the Volvo C40 Recharge crossover.
Three versions of the Polestar 2 are available: a standard range single motor, a long range single motor and a long range dual motor. The performance of the range-topping dual motor version is close to that of the quickest Model 3 without toppling it. There's a 78kWh battery pack, sending power to two motors that produce 402bhp, and four-wheel drive ensures it can catapult from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds, with a characteristic instant hit of power whenever you press the accelerator pedal. There's even an optional upgrade that's now available to download, increasing the range-topper to 470bhp. It corners well too, even if the ride can feel firm as a result of the stiff suspension. An optional Performance Pack adds Ohlins dampers, Brembo front brakes, 20-inch forged alloy wheels and gold highlights for around £5,000.
A range of 336 miles from the long range version of the single motor model should be enough for most drivers, with the extra performance bringing this down to 299 miles for the dual motor version. Charging at up to 150kW can quickly add driving distance if you need to stop to charge on the motorway. Volvo is also hoping to offer owners pain-free access to 195,000 chargers across Europe, but it remains to be seen if this will compete with Tesla's Supercharger network.
Coming in at just under £40,000, the Polestar 2 with a single motor and smaller 64kWh battery is the most affordable version. This adds appeal for business drivers, who will no doubt be enticed by a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band. It still has a range of up to 275 miles.
The interior is simple but attractive, with nicely chosen materials that give the 2 an inviting feel. Wooden trim and fabric help here, and make the interior vegan-friendly unless you choose leather upholstery as an optional extra. The 11-inch touchscreen is the first to get Android's dedicated operating system and you won't need a key, as the car recognises the owner's smartphone.
Although it doesn’t beat the Model 3 in every area, the Polestar 2 is the Tesla’s most convincing rival so far and makes a very attractive alternative. Build quality feels better and many buyers will prefer the design of the interior. Performance and range are slightly behind the Model 3 but are acceptable in their own right and certainly aren't deal-breakers.
While the Polestar 2’s powertrain is still relatively new, the Volvo Car Group is backing the technology as part of the electrification of its entire model range by 2030, with the XC40 Recharge Electric and the new C40 Recharge crossover using the same twin-motor setup. Safety is highly rated, and the Polestar 2 was awarded a five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP in early 2021.