The Polestar 2 is an obvious triumph, but does it do enough to come out on top in its battle with the prestigious Tesla Model 3? EV Powered looks to find out.
The Polestar 2 is the Swedish outfits first attempt at an electric vehicle made for the real world. The manufacturers first model, the imaginatively named Polestar 1, was a £140,000 showpiece that looked to prove to everyone that it really is the performance arm of Volvo. Its younger brother, however, is much more suited to everyday life, with a starting price of £49,990.
The nature of the Polestar 2 means it is automatically going to be compared to the Tesla Model 3; it’s fast, it has a decent range and the two models are not miles apart in terms of appearance.
While Polestar is faced with the unenviable task of competing with Tesla, the company that changed the face of the electric vehicle industry, the Polestar 2 does score some points against the American model.
The Polestar 2 is undoubtedly one of the best-looking cars on the EV market. It has a strong, powerful stance, with a series of creases along the body making it look angular and muscular whilst also remaining sleek and stylish.
There are subtle hints of beauty throughout the entirety of this car, from the elegant edgeless wing mirrors to the full, panoramic sunroof which bathes the inside of the car with light.
Standing front on, the Polestar 2 shares a striking similarity to the Audi E-tron GT but it is taller and broader, standing at 1.47 metres. That height also has some practicality to it, as well, providing a higher driving position and leaving more space for the water-cooled battery pack.
There is a sense of stereotypical Swedish sensibility with this car. CEO Thomas Ingenlath has stated before that he doesn’t want the brand to be anything like Tesla, describing Polestar as a “performance brand without cliché.” It is clear just by looking at this car that its mission was to create a car that championed comfort, quality and design rather than speed and power, and it has achieved that. The Polestar 2 is a seriously good-looking car and it is sure to turn more heads than the Tesla Model 3.
It’s more of the same when you open the doors and plonk yourself down inside the Polestar 2, and this is where you really see the influence of its Volvo siblings.
It’s another case of Scandinavian simplicity and minimalism in the cabin, but you still have all the modern, futuristic elements that you’ll expect when purchasing an electric vehicle and that starts with the infotainment system.
This is easily one of the best systems in any electric car; it is easy to navigate and there is not a billion settings to fiddle about with. The icons are nice and large, and the screens and displays are incredibly responsive.
You’re also joined by Google Assistant on every trip, and, unlike some other in-car voice activation systems, Google seems to know what you’re after nine times out of ten. Google Maps is also built into the car and the graphics on the 11” touchscreen are as high-resolution as you can get inside a car.
Unlike the Tesla, there is also a driver display that can provide you with a whole host of information, from speed, maps, energy usage and lots of other nuggets.
In terms of comfort, the 4-Way power-adjustable lumbar support front seats are an absolute delight. The level of adjustment is incredible and allows you to design your perfect driving position with ease, and there are soft, delicate materials dotted around you for you to rest your arms on as you drive.
Elsewhere, the car is awash with high-quality, mature materials that give a clean and crisp look inside, and any cheaper, scratchier materials have been placed out of sight and almost out of reach. It is a dark interior and that is something that I have criticised in the past, but there are dashes of light throughout, such as on the gear selector, and the touchscreen does illuminate the inside nicely. Besides, the panoramic sunroof beams light into the car and makes it feel nice and airy inside, so the Polestar 2 can get away with a darker interior.
Whilst the boot has a decent 405L of storage space (an extra 40L can also be added by lifting up the boot compartment) it isn’t as much as the Model 3’s capacity of 425L. There are a couple of annoying things which, going by the rest of the car, you would have expected Polestar to think about. The door bins are quite small, so you’ll have to find somewhere else for your big bottle of water and you’ll also have to make a choice between being able to adjust your centre armrest and having a cupholder. These are only little points, I know, but I can’t keep gushing about this car forever.
On the road
The Polestar 2 is a beast and that’s especially because it weighs a whopping 2,123kg which is almost as much as a Range Rover.
It may be a bit of a lump but with its 78kW lithium-ion battery, the Polestar 2 can still shift. If we’re going off the spec-sheet, the Polestar 2 can do 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds but in our tests, this was closer to a flat-four seconds. A top speed of 127mph cements the fact that this car is tremendously fast and, although the Model 3 is technically faster, there’s very little between the two.
This is by no means a sporty car, however. Because of the size and scale of this car, there is a bit of lean into corners and it’s not one to be thrown about, but anyone considering buying one of these is probably not interested in hill-climb events and isn’t considering chucking it around circuits every weekend.
There are also a few driving controls that can be adjusted through the infotainment screen. However, Polestar has taken a no-nonsense approach to this; adjust the steering firmness, choose if you want sports mode on or off, and get on with it. That level of control, or lack thereof, adds to the beautiful simplicity of this car. It’s as if it says to you: “stop mucking about and just drive.”
Handling is decent and the ride is appropriately smooth, and, barring the odd bump and pothole which will jolt you quite severely, the Polestar 2 is an extremely comfortable and relaxing car to be behind the wheel of.
One of the best things about the Polestar 2 is that one-pedal driving is an absolute doddle. Again, the regenerative braking can be manually adjusted (I opted for the ‘normal’ setting rather than the ‘light’ option) and it is nice and predictable and, on a couple of long journeys consisting of different road types, I couldn’t remember ever using the brakes. There is also a ‘creep mode’ option that will move you off once you’ve lifted your foot off the brake, but I quickly switched that off after just a handful of attempts of getting used to it.
In terms of range, the Polestar 2 is in the same sort of ballpark as the Tesla Model 3 but its WLTP combined range of 292 miles does fall short of the Model 3’s 348-miles on the Long-Range model.
The Polestar 2 is quite simply a brilliant car. It is always going to be tough to compete with the Model 3, which is faster, cheaper and has a better range and storage capacity, but the Polestar 2 offers you a sense of character, personality and unrivalled kerb appeal, as well as all the real-world practicalities such as range and storage.
Whilst certain facts and figures may side with the renowned Tesla Model 3, the fact of the matter is that the Polestar 2 has established itself as one of the best electric vehicles on the market and it’s clear to see why everyone who owns one, absolutely adores it.