Polestar 2 2020 review
"A new electric car brand from Volvo "
Polestar 2 review, 2020, white, front view, driving round corner

Polestar 2 2020 review: still want that Tesla Model 3?

  • Published 07 August 2020
  • 5 minute read
  • By Tim Pollard

Introduction

You probably won’t have heard of Polestar, but that’s likely to change in the months ahead. It’s a hip new electric car start-up from sensible Swedish brand Volvo, and our Polestar 2 review puts its spicy new Tesla Model 3 rival under the microscope. Would you invest your monthly cash in a badge you’ve never seen before? Actually, we think you should. It’s that good. Read on to find out why.

The Polestar 2 is about the same size as a BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class and has seating for four adults in comfort or a family of five at a squeeze, if younger kids are happy to squash up three abreast across the back seat. But instead of a saloon bodystyle with a closed boot like rivals, this is actually a hatchback where the whole tailgate lifts high, making it more practical for family life and stuffing clobber in the back.

But more significantly, this car is 100% electric – you can’t buy one with a petrol or diesel engine, and there’s no hybrid version either. That’s why it’s achingly on-brand for this decade, when electric vehicles (EVs) are poised to enter the mainstream.

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Looks, tech and design

There’s little gimmicky about the Polestar 2’s wardrobe; if anything, it looks quite sensible and sophisticated, as befits a product of the reserved, laidback Swedish design school. Think Ikea on four wheels – but the high-end stuff rather than the cheap and cheerful, as is it’s really well built, with quality, fit and finish that’s markedly better than sometimes flakey Tesla alternatives. That Volvo parentage really helps here (even though this car is actually built in China, not Gothenburg).

Super stylish, with a higher-than-average driving positionPolestar 2 review, 2020, white, side viewAvailable to leaseLease Now

It stands a bit taller than many saloon car rivals and I enjoyed the view out: not quite as high up as a full-blown SUV, but with a noticeably more raised seating position for extra visibility when you’re traipsing along country hedgerows or stuck in a traffic jam on the M25. It’s a fabulous interior, that fully embraces minimalism, very few buttons and most functions controlled by the world’s first Google Android operating system in the mother of all touchscreens.

This is significant. The Polestar 2 has Google Assistant built in, so you end up talking to your car – for satellite-navigation instructions, changing the temperature or even selecting your next music track. And if you log in with your Google account, it’ll port across your favourite destinations, playlists, emails and more. This is a car for those who want to make the car an extension to their digital lives. Perk yourself up by saying: ‘Hey Google, tell me a joke!’ Polestar’s working with more streaming services, so you’ll be able to watch YouTube and Netflix when parked up from next year.

The boot’s a really good shape, so if you have a family to cart about or a hobby that involves bulky gear, the Polestar should fit right into your life. You’ll find 364 litres of space back there (about the same as in a VW Golf), and there’s an additional 41-litre compartment beneath the boot floor – plus a 35-litre ‘frunk’ (or front trunk) where you’d normally find a petrol engine under the bonnet, perfect for storing charging cables and other EV paraphernalia.

The mother of all touchscreens – powered by GooglePolestar 2 review, 2020, vast central touchscreenAvailable to leaseLease Now

Disappointments? It’s a long way down to reach the button to open the bootlid (it rises and closes electrically) and the debadged Volvo key is disappointingly cheap and plasticky. But these are minor quibbles and I prefer to remember the 2 for its quirky design details like the brand’s north star logo projected in the sunroof at nighttime. Very cool.

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Driving

There is just one Polestar 2 model to choose from – and it’s a bit of a firecracker. It features an electric motor on each axle, so this car is all-wheel drive with strong traction keeping all that grunt in check (useful if you live in a part of the country where winters can be wild and slippery). Twin 150kW e-motors make it very fast: in petrol terms, that’s equivalent to 408hp – more powerful than many Porsche sports cars…

Comfortable and assured to drivePolestar 2 review, 2020, white, rear view, driving round cornerAvailable to leaseLease Now

No wonder acceleration is so rapid: the benchmark 0-62mph sprint takes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 4.7 seconds and that instant, easy thrust is but a toe-twitch away even at faster motorway speeds.

Seriously, if you’ve never driven an electric car before, you’ll find this silent, smooth performance utterly addictive. And if you’re an EV early adopter who has driven them previously, you’ll be super-impressed by the sophistication of the Polestar’s power delivery and regenerative braking. You can effectively drive the Polestar 2 as a one-pedal car most of the time, the electric motor turning into a dynamo as you lift off, topping up the batteries and acting as a brake to slow it down.

Minimalist interior works so wellPolestar 2 review, 2020, white, interiorAvailable to leaseLease Now

If you like how German premium cars drive, you’ll be at home here. It has a very grown-up, mature feel to it – you wouldn’t guess this is the first full production car from Polestar. It’s those Volvo genes again; the 2 is actually based on a similar platform to the Volvo XC40 crossover, and it has a similarly comfortable ride quality around town. Yet it’s equally happy darting along your favourite back road. This impressive duality of purpose frequently brought a smile to my face even as it underlined what a quality product this is.

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Cost and economy

Polestar 2 prices are quite high on the face of it – starting at around £50,000 if you buy outright – but monthly leasing costs are around the £500 mark. That’s a lot of very attractive car for that kind of monthly outlay, and only a little more expensive than its Tesla Model 3 arch rival.

Although expensive battery technology still makes EVs pricier to buy, significant savings are available from the moment you purchase one. The Polestar 2’s battery is rated at 78kWh, which means it’s got a pretty big energy capacity. One full charge will deliver a claimed 292 miles of range, and at typical domestic electricity costs, that would only cost you about £11 if you plug-in at home (ker-ching!).

Sensibly-sized boot offers easy loadingPolestar 2 review, 2020, white, boot spaceAvailable to leaseLease Now

Like most electric cars, the driving is a little optimistic, but we’d still predict an easy 200+ miles of range in mixed, day-to-day driving. Stick to the city and you’ll be more likely to approach 300 miles between charges.

We wouldn’t really recommend buying a Polestar 2 if you don’t have easy access to home charging, but if you do then plugging in overnight means you’ll start every day with a full tank, so to speak – and many drivers will never have to visit a garage or fill up on the highway ever again.

If you drive long distances and do need to top up at public chargers, be reassured that the latest breed of faster 150kW chargers will replenish the 2’s battery from 0-80% in just 40 minutes. That’s not too much slower than refuelling a petrol or diesel car, once you factor in a leg stretch, loo break and coffee on a longer journey. The public charging infrastructure is still quite patchy though.

Great value if you pay monthly, tooPolestar 2 review, 2020, white, front view, drivingAvailable to leaseLease Now

As a fledgling brand, Polestar doesn’t yet have a full dealer network and is in fact proposing a new, more digital customer relationship. Only two ‘Polestar Spaces’ exist in the UK, in London and Manchester, and therefore most of your interactions will be over an app. Need a service? Request one via your smartphone and the car will be collected, worked on and returned to you. Neat.

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Verdict

We’d wholeheartedly recommend the Polestar 2. It’s a great electric car and one of the most zeitgeisty choices you can currently make. While I’d normally be nervous about recommending a new brand, this company’s Swedish provenance fills me with confidence – in many ways, it takes the best bits of Volvos (the calm, slick interiors; excellent quality; crash safety) and gives them an EV makeover fit for the 2020s. 

It’s a compelling recipe and Polestar has beaten the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, each of whom is working on all-electric versions of their mid-size saloons to mop up the rising interest in electrification.

But even after they’ve arrived, if you really want something in which to stand out from the troop of Teslas crowding our city streetscape, the Polestar 2 comes very highly recommended indeed. It’s that good.

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