Enlarge/ On the road with the new Polestar 2.
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Any day I get to drive a new battery electric car is a good day. Which made last Friday a good day, because we got our first drive in the $59,900 Polestar 2. It’s the first mass-production model from a new standalone brand that was spun out of Volvo and Geely a few years ago. And the tl;dr is that the Polestar 2 is a stylish sedan with a wonderful interior, some very fancy suspension bits, and ohit’s also the first car to use Google’s Android Automotive OS.A brief history of Polestar
Once upon a time, Polestar was to Volvo as AMG is to Mercedes-Benza tuning company that spiffed up more pedestrian models, imbuing them with a little Nürburgring magic. But in 2017, Volvo and Geely (which owns the Swedish automaker) spun Polestar out as an independent company, one focused on sustainability and performance. Its first product was the Polestar 1, a hand-built $150,000 plug-in hybrid GT that dazzled me when I drove it in late 2019.But with a total production run of only 1,500 cars over three years, you can think of the Polestar 1 like a calling card or a statement of intent. The future of Polestar is purely electric (so no more PHEVs)and shipping cars in much greater volumes. By the end of 2021, we’ll see the Polestar 3, an SUV that promises to look a lot like the stunning Precept concept shown off in April. But first, there’s the Polestar 2. (Interesting fact: because Polestar is recognized as a standalone OEM, it has its own allocation of 200,000 vehicles for the IRS plug-in tax credit, as opposed to being counted together with Volvo.)
- The Polestar 2 uses an angular design language.
- Refreshingly, this one isn’t a crossover, it’s a fastback sedan.
- Polestar might be an independent company but you can see the family connection to Volvo in the shape of the tail lights.
- It’s a smaller car than either the Jaguar I-Pace or Tesla Model 3, which I think are probably the two closest competitors based on spec and price.
- 80 percent of Polestar 2 orders have opted for the $5,000 performance pack, which gets you larger Brembo brakes up front. These gold calipers draw a lot of attention in traffic!
- You also get Öhlins DFV dampers, which are very good at their job.
- The front and rear both use identical 150kW, 330Nm permanent magnet electric motors.
- The performance pack also gets you 20-inch forged alloy wheels and performance tires. The standard wheel is a 19-inch alloy wheel on low rolling resistance tires.
- The branding is subtle on the Polestar 2, with body-colored logos.
- The headlights are very similar to Volvo’s Thor’s hammer units.
- Charging is at up to 150kW. The plug is a CCS Combo.
- These anodized gold valve stem covers are going to get stolen if you park this on the street.
The Polestar 2 is built using Geely group’s Compact Modular Architecture, which also underpins the Volvo XC40 as well as vehicles from stablemate Lynk and Co. This car is no crossover, though. Rather, it’s a fastback sedan that mostly manages to hide the fact that it’s full of batteries, with a decent but not class-leading drag coefficient of 0.28. Size-wise, it’s a little smaller than a Tesla Model 3 or a Jaguar I-Pace, measuring 181.3 inches (4,606mm) long, 70.8 inches (1,800mm) wide, 58.2 inches (1,479mm) tall, and with a wheelbase of 107.7 inches (2,735mm). The weight distribution is 51:49 (towards the front), and at 4,680lbs (2,123kg), it is closer to the Jaguar than to the much lighter Tesla.
Under the skin, you’ll find a pair of identical permanent magnet AC motor-generator units (MGUs) from Valeo-Siemens, each rated for 150kW (204hp) and 330Nm (243lb-ft), one for each axle. You can’t often just add together the outputs of both MGUs to get a total output for a BEV, but in this case the Polestar 2 is capable of putting down all 300kW or 660Nm on the road. Each motor uses a single-speed gear with a ratio of 8.57:1.
Those MGUs are powered by a 78kWh, 400V lithium-ion battery pack with a useable 75kWh. For US-market Polestar 2s, the pouch cells (of which there are 324 in a total of 27 modules) come from LG Chem, with CATL supplying prismatic cells for Chinese-market vehicles. The packs have been developed by Volvo (and will be shared with the XC40 Recharge BEV, which goes on sale in late 2020), and they are built in-house and supplied to Polestar.Although the battery pack is where you expect to find it, Polestar says that its vehicle does not really have a skateboard layout. Instead, the shape makes best use of CMA by filling what would be a transmission tunnel in a conventionally powered vehicle with cells, as well as double-stacking them at the back, underneath the rear seats. This leaves room for the rear seat passengers’ feet, similar to the Porsche Taycan (without awkwardly calling them “foot garages”). The pack weighs 1,100lbs (499kg), including its structural reinforcement, and is warrantied for eight years or 100,000 miles.
AC charging is via an onboard 11kW charger, which will take up to 22 hours if you plug it into a standard 110V socket. With an AC charger in your garage or car port (or a public level-2 AC charger) Polestar says it takes up to 8 hours to go from zero to 100 percent. For road trips, you can DC fast charge at up to 150kW, which should take 40 minutes to go from zero to 80 percent.
As with other CMA-based vehicles, the Polestar 2 uses a MacPherson strut for the front suspension and a multilink arrangement at the rear. Opt for the $5,000 performance pack (as in our test car) and you get a 0.2-inch (5mm) lower ride height, some very fancy Öhlins dampers (along with different spring and anti-roll bar rates), and bigger front brake disks with four-piston calipers from Brembo.
- The interior of the Polestar 2 is one of the car’s best features.
- There’s a great mix of materials and textures.
- The fabric is called WeaveTech and it’s made from recycled materials with no phthalate plasticizers.
- Room in the back is OK, but it’s not an enormous car.
- There’s even storage cubbies on the center console.
- You get a little storage room under the hood.
- You can fold this panel up from the floor to divide the cargo area and keep your stuff from rolling around.
- Or you can fold the seats down and put big things in here.
- I love these frameless mirrors.
- The Polestar logo is illuminated onto the glass roof.
- The second cup holder lives under the center arm rest.
- Behind the power flap are a pair of USB-C ports.
The Polestar 2’s interior is one of the car’s best features. Polestar is serious about being more sustainable than the average OEM, which is most evident in the choice of cabin materials. The standard interior uses a textile called WeaveTech, which incorporates lots of recycled materials and uses almost no phthalates as plasticizers. (A brown nappa leather is a $4,000 option, and this uses no chrome in the tanning process.) Similarly, the carpets are made from recycled water bottles. The mix of materials is very modern and feels influenced by techwear.
If you’ve been in a recent Volvo, you’ll instantly recognize the Polestar’s multifunction steering wheel. In fact, from the driver’s seat the layout may be familiar if you’ve sat in an XC40. Ahead of you, there’s a 12.3-inch digital main instrument panel, which has 3 different UI modes; one with basic information like speed, another that adds a bit more situational awareness from the car’s sensors, and a third with full map display. One neat feature is the power display, which shows when you’re using or regenerating energy. This is a pretty standard feature for a BEV, but the Polestar 2 might be the first car I’ve noticed that, under deceleration, indicates when it has switched over from regenerative to friction braking. (The switch from regen to the friction brakes only happens above a 0.3G braking threshold.)
Listing image by Polestar