Not Quite a Guiding Light
Unfortunately, though, you’ll notice the road and wind making themselves heard. They’re not fatiguing, but also not ideal for longer highway drives. This can also be said of the Öhlins dampers’ factory-tune: They’re not jarring but definitely firm and could maybe use some tweaking for different drive situations. These have to be manually adjusted, however.
While setup advice will surely spread via owners’ forums, suspension adjustment feels like a job that adaptive dampers should do for you. They’re not exactly rare at the Polestar’s price point, after all. It feels like an oversight in a performance EV that’s still fully capable on the highway, with ADAS to help pass the miles safely, and enough range to make stops infrequent.
DC fast-charging up to 155 kW means those stops won’t be long, though they could be shorter, as charging from 56 to 95 percent before my trip took 55 minutes. This also required hunting for charging kiosks that weren’t occupied or broken—I found three such chargers in a 16-hour span. Charger availability, admittedly, isn’t yet competitive with Tesla’s, though this could cease to be a point of comparison if the Supercharger network becomes available to other makes.
Your Questions About the Polestar 2, Answered
I started this journey by asking you guys to ask me about the Polestar 2. Let’s get to answering!
Q: “I’m surprised no-one has commented about how ugly it is. Does it look better in person? I’m just so baffled by how it can look so different from the incredible V60.” — Bryan Journey
I’m not sold on the rear end myself, but it seems we’re in the minority here.
Q: “I’m curious about the build quality—especially the details that are easy to overlook or cut corners on. This is a Chinese-built car that is supposed to live up to and even exceed Volvo’s standards. I love the S90’s design and execution, especially the interior. I’d like to know if China has finally reached the point Japan did in manufacturing.” — MotoRider
It’s solid. I’d be less worried about this car falling apart than anything made by Tesla or BMW, who are all Polestar needs to beat in this segment right now. It bodes well for the Polestar 3 crossover, which’ll be built in the States.
Q: “What is it actually like when road tripping it? I’m thinking along the lines of the charging network, autonomous driving features, comfort etc.” — Bummerhummer
Not my first choice, but not my last. It’s spacious, the seats are fine, and range and charging are adequate. But the firm ride, road and wind noise, and unremarkable audio system don’t make it a standout.
Q: “I will be curious though if its range is good enough to get you up to the top of Pikes and back, assuming you live somewhere in the Denver area. Mileage should be fine but does mileage get affected if you are just sitting in traffic for a long time like is common now on I-25?” — nothingtosay
Negative on both counts. I left Louisville (near Boulder) with an estimated 220 miles of range, took a short detour, and arrived in downtown Colorado Springs with 110 to go—charging en route was a must. Traffic jams aren’t a problem for EVs, though, as they don’t keep an engine running at idle. It only takes a small amount of current to keep accessories like AC and music going.
Q: “What’s the ‘point’ of this vehicle? I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, as every vehicle has a reason for existing, even if they don’t achieve it. Is this a sports sedan? A technological showcase? A Swedish version of luxury? How does it compare to not only Tesla, but Ford and Audi’s versions of electrified transport? What thing most surprises you about this vehicle? And would you put four people with luggage in there?” — George Darroch
Good questions, my dear Curious George. It’s definitely not a luxury car, not with Volvo aiming for that market itself. It’s more of a sports sedan attempting to be a technical showcase, though as I hope I’ve made clear, it’s not cutting-edge enough for that to be a selling point. Comparing it to Audi or Ford doesn’t make sense yet, as neither offers an analogous EV, though it doesn’t have the whimsical flair or sheer performance of a Model 3. The biggest surprise by far was how much attention it got, and yes, four people and their travel bags definitely fit.
Q: “I’d love to know how it handles, since it is a heavy-ish car. Electric cars have a low center of gravity I’m assuming it won’t be too bad” — SuperShep
Quite well, if you ask me. I’ve heard other people complain of understeer, but I think you have to be really moving to find it—and I can’t but wonder if they were fiddling with its adjustable shocks. It bears mentioning, though, that I have a strange point of reference for what constitutes understeer.
Q: “I almost leased one of these but the lack of center storage, usable cup holders and America’s horrific EV charging network made me second-guess myself. Was I wrong?” — jpk325
If those are your top priorities, no.
Q: “I want to know how the aero is in freefall…lol… Blue Skies. (when the people look like ants…you have time… when the ants look like people… its too late.)” — O_OBilly
I’m afraid you’ll have to test this one in BeamNG. Doubt Polestar’d forgive me for figuring this out on my own.
Something Still Adds Up
Standard 2s come with 19-inch wheels, a panoramic roof, a 13-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, a 12.3-inch digital driver information display, an 11.15-inch center display, and a suite of driver-assistance systems such as forward collision warning, lane-keeping aid, and adaptive cruise control. The test car came in a shade of Snow white paint ($1,200) and included the Performance Pack ($5,000). Total vehicle price landed at $67,550.
The 2’s stats admittedly do not measure up to the performance and (estimated) range offered by the 2022 BMW i4 M50, or, as someone brandishing a referral code will tell you, a Model 3 Performance. Spec sheets never tell the whole story about a car, though, and it’d certainly be a mistake to conclude any comparison there. But if a spec sheet is enough to sell you a car, the Polestar 2 ain’t for you. If a car’s other traits also matter—like build quality or distinctive styling—a Tesla can’t compare.
Alongside the Polestar, the ubiquitous Model 3 might as well be a Corolla, and when it comes to build quality, legacy carmakers still have the advantage. Fresh approaches like Fremont’s should never be discounted, but neither should decades of manufacturing experience.
Though the Tesla is brisker and longer-legged, the Polestar is by no means slow; it’s perfectly capable of delivering a thrill. And once its infotainment acknowledges Apple’s existence—or its buyers cease to—its tech ecosystem will become competitive too. The 2021 Polestar 2 makes a solid enough case for itself as-is, and its case will only become stronger with the looming 2022 model.
Later this year, dual-motor Polestar 2s will gain range and become cheaper, starting at $51,200, allowing them to undercut the Model 3 Performance by nearly $5,800. Single-motor models will launch later on, with a hair more projected range than the Model 3 Standard Range Plus, and a starting price of $47,200. Subtract federal EV tax credits from the price, and it drops to an advertised $39,700 for the single-motor 2, including the $1,300 destination charge. Just be sure to check that you’re eligible for the full tax credit.
It’s easy to get sucked up into the thinking that EVs are an arms race, where each new model must outdo the last, but viewing the Polestar 2 from that perspective misses the point of the car completely. Rather than court headlines with whoopie cushion sound effects or oversold ADAS features, Polestar has built an uncomplicated EV that fits together properly and drives well. It’s still not what I’d call cheap, but for the money, it’s hard to find an EV that makes a bigger impression in your driveway.
Have any questions about the Polestar 2? Send them here: [email protected]