Monday, May 27, 2024
Reviews2023 Polestar 2 Review: Tesla Goon

2023 Polestar 2 Review: Tesla Goon

Fast, Attractive, Small.

  • The 2023 Polestar 2 starts at $49,800 in the United States and $56,250 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included.

  • Attractive design, great performance, good driving range.

  • Costly option packages, tight back seat, cabin insulation could be better.

We’ll probably sound like a broken record, because every new electric vehicle that arrives on the market is invariably compared to one of Tesla’s products, but the 2023 Polestar 2 may be one of the most direct rivals to the Model 3.

Comparable dimensions, similar pricing structure, and good range, the Polestar 2 is a worthy rival for the Model 3 sedan, but its five-door hatchback also makes it a foe to the Tesla Model Y as well. Built in China, it’s the brand’s second model after the limited-production, very pricey Polestar 1 coupe, which will soon be followed by the bigger Polestar 3 crossover.

What makes the 2023 Polestar 2 tick? Two drivetrains are available, including a single-motor setup with 228 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque sent through the front wheels. Driving range is set at 260 miles or 434 kilometres, thanks to a 78 kWh battery pack. The 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) dash is said to take about seven seconds.

The Long Range Dual Motor configuration features all-wheel drive, a combined output of 402 horsepower, 487 pound-feet of torque, a 0-60 mph sprint in 4.5 seconds, and a driving range of 260 miles or 418 km—increasing slightly compared to the 2022 model. A Performance Pack is available as an option, upping the ante to 469 hp and 502 pound-feet, and reducing the 0-60 mph time down to 4.2 seconds. During our test of the 402-hp P2, we observed an energy consumption of 44 kWh/100 miles or 27.2 kWh/100 km, while the combined city/highway rating is set at 34 kWh/100 miles or 20.9 kWh/100 km. We could’ve done better, despite the cold weather and the winter tires.

The brand just unveiled its latest limited-edition variant, the Polestar 2 BST 230, which isn’t more powerful than the Dual Motor variant with the Performance Pack, but gets a stiffer suspension, manually adjustable Öhlins dampers that no one will manually adjust ever, unique wheels and tires, and special paint colours. Only 230 units will be produced for worldwide consumption, including 60 for North America.

This time around, we’re behind the wheel of the 2023 Polestar 2 with the Dual Motor setup. This car is plenty fast off the line, with neck-snapping get-go that’s a trademark of torque-rich EVs. It’s not quite as quick as the Model 3 Dual Motor, but we’re talking about a few tenths of a second here. The P2 feels solid and sure-footed, although it doesn’t have the handling of a true sports car to go with its straight-line speed. That said, neither does the Tesla.

Equipped with the optional 20-inch wheels, ride quality suffers a little as the lower-profile tires have a harder time absorbing the plethora of cracks and potholes that winters do to the Canadian roadways. We do wish a little less road noise would infiltrate the cabin, though.

The 2023 Polestar 2’s interior design is lovely, if we’re into the pure, elemental Scandinavian look. Out tester was decked in the costly interior colour called Zinc, which also accentuates the cabin with Light Ash wood trim. If the switchgear and the overall appearance resembles what’s found in Volvo models, that’s not a coincidence. Remember, up until a couple of years ago, Polestar was Volvo’s performance sub-brand before spinning off to become an EV peddler.

2023 Polestar 2

The instrumentation is also similar to Volvo’s, and the infotainment system interface is almost identical as well, but presented on a fancier 11.2-inch touchscreen. It takes a little time to get used to said interface, but once we figure out how to access the settings menus and stuff like that, it’s relatively simple to manipulate while driving. However, aside from the defrost buttons, virtually every climate control setting is an on-screen multi-step process. We’re also unimpressed with the 13-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system that’s part of the Plus pack, which puts too much emphasis on the dashboard-mounted speaker instead of offering a surround-sound atmosphere. It’s a shame, because Volvos used to have excellent Dynaudio systems.

And this car is small. Its square-ish exterior shape makes it seem like a compact-sized vehicle, but it’s more like a subcompact. The rear-seat area is particularly tight, while entry/exit isn’t all that easy. The seatbacks can’t be reclined, either. Trunk space is limited to 15.4 cubic feet or 440 litres with the rear seats in place, which is smaller than what’s found in the Hyundai Kona Electric, the Chevy Bolt EV and barely bigger than the cargo area of the Mazda MX-30. The Model 3’s trunk is bigger as well, although the P2 offers up to 38.7 cubic feet or 1,095 litres once we fold the seatbacks down. There’s a storage compartment under the load floor for stashing the charge cable, and one under the hood for storing a jug of washer fluid and other small items we don’t need on an everyday basis.

2023 Polestar 2

Pricing starts at a reasonable $49,800 in the United States and $56,250 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included. The Dual Motor variant is listed at $53,300 (USA) or $61,250 (Canada), while our test car equipped with the 20-inch wheels, the Plus pack and the Pilot pack ring the cash register at $67,450 (USA) or $79,650 (Canada). That’s not as reasonable, despite the available U.S. EV tax credit and the applicable Canadian EV rebates that we didn’t calculate in these prices.

What’s a shame is that there are nice-to-have features in both option packages, but not all of their items are worth the extra dough. Blind spot monitoring is a critical safety feature, but we could live without the rest of the Pilot pack’s contents. The Plus pack is a must-have for Canadian winters as it rounds up the heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and a heat pump, among other things, while we could resist the glass roof and Harman/Kardon stereo.

The 2023 Polestar 2 is fast with its dual motor powertrain, offers good range and great interior fit and finish. However, it’s a small car that isn’t very family friendly, and although its base price is interesting, the option packs quickly raise the final tally. And as these lines are being written, there are only three locations in Canada and about 30 in the U.S. to buy and service these vehicles. Still, it’s one of the most compelling EVs that unsatisfied Tesla owners might consider. If, of course, it can succeed in breaking their loyalty in the American brand, which is no small feat.


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