2022 Polestar 2 - A Scandi Mystery
I’ve been doing car reviews for a little while now so there is a certain process that we follow. I can usually get a pretty good feel for the vehicle within a day or so of driving it for the first time. From there, it’s pretty easy to formulate a rough outline for our film review on Clutch Kick. It’s not often that a vehicle leaves me confused, conflicted even.
The night before the shoot, I was still up at 2am, trying desperately to formulate concrete thoughts about the car. The endless research and back and forth discussions with our lead fact checker did not help. We sorted through official press material, reviews from established YouTube channels and magazines and yet, when morning came, the car loaded up with our film equipment, and we were already driving to the first site to start the shoot, I was still unsure what to make of the vehicle. What is the point of the Polestar 2?
Let’s start with the tangibles. This is the Polestar 2 with the dual motors giving the car AWD. It has every possible package on it including the Performance Pack. This does not give additional power but rather adds manually (turning a knob under the car) adjustable Ohlins dampers, yellow Brembo brakes, yellow seat belts, and a remapped throttle pedal. It is worth noting that at the time of this writing, the performance pack is no longer available for the 2023 model year. The price has also increased by a few thousand dollars as well.
The Polestar 2 drives well for the most part, as is expected for any electric vehicle of this price range. The AWD model does 0-60 in 4.5 seconds vs the FWD’s 7 seconds flat. It’s not quite as quick as the Model 3 dual-motor but it’s not as expensive either and at this time, the 2 is still eligible for the full $7500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles. So, the acceleration is great and really highlights the joys of electric motor torque. The handling is pretty good as well. Body roll is well controlled despite being 600 lbs more than the Model 3 (4600 lbs). I guess the Ohlins dampers are worth their price premium, even though the 2017 Honda Civic Si had electronically adjustable dampers at the push of a button. The steering is surprisingly communicative although I’d prefer it to be a quicker ratio, but at least there’s no numbness on center. The regenerative braking is very aggressive with the car slowing down very quickly when lifting off the throttle. While this can be adjusted in the touch screen, it’s worth noting that the most aggressive regenerative setting caused crew members to feel nauseous during filming in the car, despite my gentle throttle input. The physical brakes do appear to stop the car very confidently, not that they’re needed with how well the regen braking slows down the vehicle. Overall, the Polestar 2 drives pretty well, even if it’s missing that last 10% of sharpness that I’m looking for in a sports sedan. But maybe it’s because the 2 is not really a sedan, not quite an SUV, but rather something in between. It really reminds me of the Subaru Outback sedan that they built back in the day.
However, every review out there praises the Polestar 2 because it offers an exciting alternative to the established competition from Tesla. We are a tiny media outlet but here is the benefit of not using a press vehicle, I can be 100% objective and transparent. The fact of the matter is this, I can not fathom why someone would choose to purchase the Polestar 2 other than they are extremely in love with the way it looks. Even then, there are quite a few compromises being made.
Although the dual-motor Polestar 2 is several thousand less than the dual-motor Model 3 (for the model year 2022, for 2023, it’s actually more expensive), it has a roughly 80 miles shorter EPA range, it’s 3/10th’s slower to 60 mph, and the DC fast charging is nowhere near as quick (or as convenient) as Tesla’s supercharging. The Polestar 2 also has a much smaller interior. The center console is relatively high, there’s minimal legroom in the rear due to the raised hump in the middle of the floor (a result of sharing platforms with the Volvo C40 and XC40 which come in gas engine form) and has less rear headroom due to the sloped roof while having seats that sit high up from the ground. The Polestar 2 also has far less visibility than the Model 3. It has a tiny rear window with massive D-Pillars and it’s worth noting that the Blind Spot Monitoring feature is optional.
With those limitations in mind, the best remaining way for the Polestar 2 to distinguish itself would’ve been for it to have an absolutely stunning interior design. As someone that has spent a lot of time in Teslas, I’m here to report that the 2’s interior is…fine. The way the interior is assembled is not bad, but the materials used are not great, especially at this price point. The seats are extremely comfortable but the armrest on the center console, and on the door, is not. There is a lack of thoughtfulness in the interior that is uncharacteristic of a Swedish vehicle, although these cars are now being made in China. There is a single cupholder in the front unless you open up the center console and flip it all the way back which reveals a second one. Now you get this center console lid that takes even more space away from the already limited rear seat area. The wireless charging pad offers too much room for phones to slide about, which is why my iPhone 12 Pro got very hot on multiple occasions when the charging coil wasn’t lining up. There’s also no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto at this time because the infotainment system runs Android Auto OS so it’s basically like having an Android tablet as your infotainment screen. The HVAC controls operate completely by touch screen and only adjusts in two degree increments. The volume is a beautiful physical knob but with it are the play/pause button, the hazards, front defroster and rear defroster. These buttons are capacitive and smooth which means they require looking down to operate correctly. They also will not work if you’re wearing gloves or if your skin is cold, just like the capacitive screen on your smartphone. These controls are located behind the shift lever which makes them difficult to access.
In a lot of ways then, the Polestar 2’s interior is the highlight of the contradicting visions for the car. Polestar attempted for a, and I quote, “Avant-Garde interior” but the interior is an awkward halfway point between the Model 3’s almost excessively minimalistic interior and the more “traditional” interior you would find in a BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes. Meanwhile, you are not getting the benefits of an EV drivetrain either since ICE remnants of the 2’s platform still remain.
With all these cons in mind, it’s worth noting that the Polestar 2 is more attractive on the outside than the Model 3, from certain angles. The proportions of it are still odd in some ways due to it being a high riding, high roofline, high beltline sedan sort of shape.
So if you are absolutely in love with the way the Polestar 2 looks and can live with the many areas it lacks compared to a Tesla Model 3, then this is the electric vehicle for you.
However, if that’s not the case, the Model 3 is not the only alternative. We are currently in the Genesis era of electric vehicles where many manufacturers are throwing their hat in the ring. Mercedes has the EQE, BMW has the new i4. If you don’t need a luxury brand, Toyota, Subaru, Ford, Kia, and Hyundai all have great options for you to consider. But if you just want a Volvo EV, why not take a look at the Volvo branded EVs that the Polestar 2 is based on? They have that tried and true Volvo interior while offering similar performance and range, because they are the same platform after all.
So, with all of that in mind, the question remains: What is the point of the Polestar 2?
Full Video Review: https://youtu.be/un6PtpEFglk
Gold Brake Calipers
Average DC Fast Charging
Mediocre and Cramped Interior
Engine: 2 Electric Motors
Power: 408 hp
Torque: 487 lb-ft
Transmission: Planetary gearsets (F&R) 8.57:1 reduction
EPA Range: 249 miles
Battery Capacity: 78 kWh
Wheelbase: 107.7 in
Curb Weight: 4,650-4,750 lbs (Dual Motor) (51%/49%)
Base Price: $45,900 (before tax credit(s))
Price as Tested: $63,400 (before tax credit(s), w/ destination)