Polestar 2 review.
Highway cruising range – 88.56 miles or 41%.
For – handsome, well-made, terrific performance, great specification.
Against – underwhelming quality, hopeless range on highway/questionable off it.
£49,900 (before subsidy)
“Too expensive to compete with the Volkswagen ID.3, and not good enough to compete with the Tesla Model 3”
The fact the Polestar 2 is handsome, very well equipped and a terrific drive has to take a back seat because this is an electric car which will induce chronic range-anxiety.
That was a huge surprise to me because the big 78 kW battery promised the reverse. And Polestar is the subsidiary of Volvo, in turn owned by Geely of China, charged with winning sales of electric vehicles in the premium market, which sets it firmly in a head-to- head contest with Tesla, and then the big guns from Europe in the shape of BMW, Audi, Porsche, Mercedes (and in its dream’s Jaguar).
But the Polestar 2 hatchback performed poorly in my high-speed (but legal and everyday) cruise test for long-range economy, returning only 41% of the miles promised by the range-availability monitor, which was just under 90 miles. Not only that, over territory designed to produce excellent electric economy, Polestar 2 sometimes only gave back 46% of the promised range. This was over 37 miles of rolling hills, country lanes, village crawling, all with the regenerative braking set at maximum. A similar run also produced 46%. Other country/urban rides were a lot better, but the average was 63%; and that over territory you would at least expect the available miles to tally with the actual miles travelled with the help of regenerative braking. Incidentally, the maximum setting for regenerative braking which I used all the time during my 5-day test, will bring the car to a halt in slow city driving without you doing anything.
One caveat to my data; the Polestar range availability meter only changes every 10th mile, so it might well give slightly warped results, plus or minus. But only slightly. In my calculations I started off with a battery capacity of 270 miles, which was the maximum I ever attained and compared with the makers claim of 292 miles. I removed 54 miles from that because Polestar recommends you never fill the battery past 80%, giving an average highway high-speed range of 88.56 miles.
Excellent in many ways
The car itself is excellent in many ways, although for a vehicle aimed at the premium sector, it left something to be desired. The performance was terrific from the 2 electric motors providing 408 hp through all four wheels. The steering was accurate and light, with little roll through fast bends. Standard electric instant acceleration was there right through the useable speed range, and I’m sure way above that too. It was very well equipped, from every known safety gizmo to a powered rear door for this hatchback. The boot was well able to please this golf player. Rear visibility wasn’t good and it could use a wiper.
There is only one option because of the high level of standard content. That’s a “performance” version, with snazzy Brembo brakes, flash alloys and gold coloured seat belts which match the brakes, and just like on the (£139,000) Polestar 1.
The dashboard is dominated by a huge screen whence all control is centred. And for an er mature citizen, that was more of a problem than advantage. For instance, I managed to activate the voice-control to initiate the Sat-Nav. That prompted a command to “insert your google postcode”, which brought the transaction to an end. Luckily, I have Sat-Nav on my phone. I’m sure that an owner of the car wouldn’t find that a problem with a bit of assistance, but I like my technology to be intuitive. For that reason, I never did get to play my Apple iPhone stored music or link the phone to the car. I only managed to stumble on one radio channel, while the automatic phone charger didn’t automatically charge my phone.
I could be wrong, though because Polestar says this –
“Resulting from three years of cooperative development between Google and Polestar, the Android HMI (human-machine interface) significantly expands and improves the user experience of automotive infotainment, making its global debut in Polestar 2. One of its primary benefits is familiarity. Many users are already familiar with Android and Google apps from their daily digital lives. By integrating this familiarity in Polestar 2, the learning curve is almost entirely removed, and users find themselves instantly at home.”
Sit down, turn on
Another oddity was turning on the car. Unusually, these days with automatic ignition activated by the key fob, this car turns itself on when you sit in the driver’s seat. Fine, but how do you turn it off while waiting in the car? I never did find out. And for a vehicle attempting to assault the premium sector with all those BMWs, Audis, Mercedes, Jaguars and Lexuses, the interior was very drab and uninspiring, although the little gear shift and its surrounding material certainly did look the business. And the control screen too did look terrific, until you started using it, that is. The suspension was fine until you hit the bumpy bits and being Britain and not Germany that happened all the time.
What to buy
The market for premium electric cars is getting crowded, but the Polestar 2 is in a kind of limbo. Too expensive to compete with the Volkswagen ID.3, and not good enough to compete with the Tesla Model 3. It’s not going to get many takers, particularly given my experience with the range. Yes, it’s big and roomy and has leather seats and all the gizmos imaginable, but it never convinces as a premium machine. I wouldn’t hold my quibbles with the media controls against it because I’m sure with a bit of experience all would fall into place. But I had to mark it down because of the surprising battery limitations.
I asked Polestar to comment on my battery range findings, but it hasn’t replied yet.
|Against:||underwhelming quality, hopeless on highway/questionable off it|
|Torque:||2 x 330 Nm = 660 Nm|
|Electric motor:||2 x 150 kW = 408kW|
|Charging:||DC-80% 40 minutes|
|Wintonsworld range Test:||capacity – 270 miles|
|*Highway cruising range:||88.56 miles or 41% of claimed availability|
|Acceleration:||0-62 mph-100 km/h 4.7 seconds|
|Top Speed:||127 mph|
|CO2:||0 at tailpipe|
|Service Intervals:||2 years/18,000 miles|
|Warranty:||3 years, battery 8-years/100,000 miles|
|Boot capacity:||405/1,095 litres, frunk 35 litres|
|Rating:||** out of 5|
|Price:||£49,900 (before govt subsidy)|
|For:||handsome, well-made, terrific performance, great specification|
(*highway cruising at real world indicated 80 mph)