Thursday, October 22, 2020
First Reviews 2021 Polestar 2 First Drive Review: A Conventional EV

2021 Polestar 2 First Drive Review: A Conventional EV

The Polestar 2 is the first EV to challenge the Model 3 with an approach that is far more in tune with today’s ICE cars


  • Starting price is $69,900 in Canada, $59,900 in the US.

  • The 2 is the first full-EV from Polestar.

  • This car’s strengths are its familiarity and ease of use.


The funny thing about this review is that there’s possibly more to say about Polestar, its relationship with Volvo and the parent company Geely, than there is about the actual car. This is due in large part to the fact that the Polestar 2 could be badged as an S70 or S80 and no one would doubt that it’s a Volvo.

Polestar’s current approach, which could be described as very Swedish, will do more good than harm in the medium and long run. Many EVs, PHEVs, and Hybrids (at least early on) were quite different from conventional ICE cars, denoting that it was special. There are those who want to be noticed and there are others who prefer to go on doing their thing.

2021 Polestar 2 | Photo: Olivier Delorme


The car-ossover

Polestar designers managed to cater to both schools of thought by creating a car that is completely recognizable and that you’ve never seen before. There are countless design cues lifted from Volvo vehicles, such as the front fascia and which reaches beyond the top of the grille before it meets the bonnet. As well, the Polestar’s profile is reminiscent of the previous generation Volvos up until the last 2000s.

The best way to describe the 2 is as a crossover 5-door hatchback, or a modern electric version of the Subaru Outback sedan. Or, more flatteringly, a coach-built Volvo sedan with a raised beltline and increased ground clearance. And like all Volvos, it’s got that bank-vault when you close the doors.

2021 Polestar 2 | Photo: Olivier Delorme


Luxurious “normal” interior

This same blend of new/familiar can be found in the cabin. The Polestar’s interior is Volvo-themed with an evolved, modern and spartan approach. The important takeaway is that potential buyers, stepping out of a Lexus ES, BMW 5 Series, or Volvo S90, will feel right at home in a recognizable environment.

What’s more, they’ll also be seated in some of the most supportive and comfortable seats money can buy. All five occupants will be treated to decent space with the possible exception of the driver who will find knee-room to be tight against the center console. Like many EVs, there is a frunk but, at 35 litres (1.2 cubic feet), it’ll fit a backpack and the portable charging cable. The rear trunk, on the other hand, is capacious and accessible at 440 litres (15.5 cubic feet).

2021 Polestar 2 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

Out of the box, 2021 Polestar 2 is fitted with an 11.15-inch touchscreen centre display with a full suite of Google services powered by Android, a 12.3-inch digital driver display, a Harman Kardon audio system, wireless phone charging, WeaveTech (fully vegan materials) covered heated front and rear seats, dual-zone climate control and much more. All of this makes it a thoroughly well-equipped premium automobile.


Very solid cruiser

Separating the Polestar 2 from the common sedan are two identical AC permanent magnet electric motors, one per axle, with one inverter per motor. Total system output is rated at 408 horsepower and 487 lb.-ft. of torque, which is enough to launch the car to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, or to 60 mph in 4.45 seconds. The Polestar is setup with a RWD bias and torque vectoring via braking.

2021 Polestar 2 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

On the topic of slowing down, the Polestar 2’s regenerative braking has three stages: off, low and standard. With the creep mode set to off coupled to standard, one-pedal driving quickly becomes one of the easiest habits to form. Incidentally, steering assistance is also variable but no matter the setting, it communicates very little with the driver. It responds admirably well though.

The two latter elements point to Polestar’s desire to market the 2 as an athletic sedan, which it is not. At over 4,800 lbs, the 2 isn’t light on its toes but it is decently entertaining. The tested car was equipped with the $6,000 Performance package which includes massive front Brembo calipers and Öhlins Dual Flow Valves dampers, both set behind specific 20-inch wheels.

2021 Polestar 2 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

The manually adjustable dampers (via a dial on the dampers themselves), set to normal (as opposed to comfort or sport) provide an impressive balance between sporty firmness and compliant comfort. For most drivers, I suspect that a “softer” setting would dial in an extra layer of cushiness, always welcomed on less than perfect roads. By far the most notable improvement is the braking system – the gargantuan front calipers are monstrously powerful.


The great failing

I quickly grew to appreciate the Polestar 2 but it does have a major flaw. The car sports a 78 kWh battery (75 kWh usable) capacity that, on a 150 kW fast charger, will go from 0% to 80% in 40 minutes (8 hours on 11 kW home wall box) which is close to average – many EVs need only 30 minutes.

2021 Polestar 2 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

But that’s not the Polestar 2’s failing. The car’s rated range is of only 375 km (233 miles) which is considerably short of the Tesla Model 3 dual motor Long Range version’s 518 km (322 miles). What’s more, the Model 3 is $13,000 cheaper in the US, $5,000 in Canada. There are numerous other differences and they will be touched upon in another story.


A sign of a bright EV future

At the moment, there are a few other premium “affordable” EVs on the market such as the Audi e-tron and e-tron Sportback, Jaguar I-Pace, and there are many more coming. If you can’t wait another six to twelve months or so, the Polestar 2 is the best alternative to the Tesla Model 3.

This is especially true if you are looking for a more conventional electric car. This is one of the Polestar 2’s greatest strengths where the period of adaptation is limited to remembering to plug in the car overnight.

2021 Polestar 2 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2021 Polestar 2 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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