Polestar 2 review: A worthy Tesla alternative?
A week with the swanky Swedish selectric s... car
Considering how rubbish my collection of pants is, I'm not a very aesthetically concerned person. They're mostly full of holes but they do the job. I've never bought a motorcycle based on how it looks. I'm far more concerned about how a burger tastes than what it's presented on.
Which just goes to show how ugly the Tesla Model 3 is. Because it's the one modern car that actively triggers my gag reflex when I see one. But it's been a watershed car for Tesla, because it brought the go-fast high-tech whizziness to a huge market of £50k car buyers. It's been the only affordable medium-size electric car with performance to impress.
Until now. The Polestar 2 is here. It costs about the same as the Tesla, yet it doesn't give me the same reaction as uncovering a month-old plate of salmon at the back of my fridge. Is it any good as a car? Watch below to find out, or read on for more thoughts.
What do I need to know about it?
The Polestar 2 is, currently, only available in a 400hp dual-motor form that'll get from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 127mph. It's not as fast as a Tesla Model 3 dual-motor, but it still gives you a huge passenger-troubling shock of thrust when you floor it at 50mph.
It handles neatly, corners without drama or body roll, and the suspension is a little on the firm side, but not enough to get annoying – like a Merc-AMG C63. Ahem.
It's a bit more Volvo-ey here than from other angles, but that's not a bad thing
It's a pretty thing, albeit a thing that takes a while to get used to looking at. It's a bit like a saloon that's slightly jacked up on its suspension. It's not an SUV, and it's not low like a hatchback – it's somewhere in between, to accommodate the 78kWh water-cooled battery pack, which will get you a claimed 292 miles on a charge.
What sets it apart from the competition?
The interior, really. It smacks of Scandi style, and the car I tested for a week had one of the Vegan cloth options in a light grey shade of whale intestine. The yellow/orange seatbelts added a splash of colour – but what really sets the cabin apart is the infotainment system.
Watch the video above for a look at the ground-breakingly simple infotainment system
It's an Android system developed by Google, and I think it really is the pinnacle of in-car touch-screen tech. It's beautifully simple to use, thanks to using mobile apps for all the main functions. Sat-nav? That's just a streamlined version of Google Maps that has a few add-ins to redirect you to chargers, and to show you your car's predicted level of charge upon arrival. The search function works just like on your phone, so you don't have to do the thing we all do, where we google the destination on our phones before tapping it laboriously into the car.
Music comes via a built-in radio app, or you can just use the built-in Spotify app. What more do you really need? The Harmon/Kardon sound system is punchy and you can do the whole 'OK Google' thing to switch songs or ask for hilarious jokes created by a panel of computer people in California.
The driver's display is similarly straightforward – it's all digital and always shows your charge and speed, and there are only three display options to flick between, including a full-screen sat-nav map. It's been designed by someone who understands that we don't need 150 pieces of information rammed down our throats at once.
That was a short review, you lazy hack
Well, that's because the Polestar 2 is an easy-to-use EV with a refreshingly pared-back approach to being a car. There are no gimmicks. What's missing in confusing and needless frippery is made up for with solid build quality, a big boot (with so much room under the floor you could lose a few pumpkins with ease), and a dedicated frunk space for your charging cables. It's a car designed by people who understand what we really need in a car, and it makes all those things super easy.
Frameless door mirrors are a first for me – they look excellent
Perhaps the most telling part of the Polestar's utilitarian philosophy is its ignition system. There isn't one. No start button, you just hop in and go. Sure, it's been done before, but it doesn't ever get confused. I've lost track of how many times I've gone to move James May's Model S and had to hop in, hop out, lock, unlock and then curse Lord Elon to get it moving. None of that with the Polestar.
It may sound as if I'm underwhelmed by the Polestar 2, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The reality is that it's exactly the right car for our tech-overloaded, frustration-filled driving lives. A trip in it is a blissfully brainless experience.
If they can give the next model a more cushiony ride then it'd be the perfect car for our times. Real-world car of 2020? It might just be.