What is a Polestar? In short, it’s a subsidiary of Volvo Cars that produces only electric cars. Before producing their first stand-alone car, they upgraded Volvo models such as the S60 and V60. In 2018, they produced the Polestar 1; a sporty grand tour hybrid with 600 hp. Their second car is the all-electric 2023 Polestar 2 that competes against the likes of the Tesla Model 3, Kia EV6, and BMW i4 to name a few.
Motors – The 2023 Polestar 2 is available as a single motor or a dual motor. The single motor version has a front-wheel-drive layout and it produces 231 hp & 243 lb-ft of torque (172 kW & 329 Nm). For the 2024 model year, this will become a rear-wheel-drive layout. The Polestar 2 that I have on demo is the dual motor setup with 408 hp & 487 lb-ft of torque (304 kW & 660 Nm). There’s also a performance pack for the dual-motor version that bumps the power to 476 hp & 502 lb-ft of torque (354 kW & 680 Nm).
But getting back to this standard AWD variant, power delivery is just like in every other electric vehicle. Smooth when driving around a city and punchy when the accelerator pedal goes to the floor. This dual-motor Polestar 2 accelerates from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 205 km/h (127 mph). More than enough for a vehicle like this.
Battery & Charging – Whether it’s the single motor or dual motor, the Polestar 2 has a 78 kWh battery pack that provides up to 434 km (270 miles) of driving range in the single motor variant and 418 km (260 miles) of range in the dual motor variant. During my time with the car, I averaged 20.7 kWh/100km.
It will take approximately 8 hours to recharge the battery from an 11 kW level 2 charger. From a level 3 DC charger, 10% to 80% is achieved in as little as 35 minutes with up to 150 kW of charging. It will take 65 minutes for the same state of charge from a more common 50 kW charger.
Braking – Unless you opt for the Performance pack which will add 4-piston Brembo calipers, the standard brakes on the 2023 Polestar 2 provide an adequate amount of stopping force. Pedal feel is progressive and firm without any odd pedal movement like in the Mercedes EQS SUV.
Like many other EVs, the Polestar 2 comes equipped with a one-pedal drive mode. You can select between Low & Standard regen braking. Low is similar to a strong engine braking mode and it will eventually bring the car to a complete stop. Standard smoothly and quickly brings the car to a stop and is similar to other EV regen braking modes. You can also select the creep function which will allow the car to creep, for a lack of a better term, at slow speeds or the car will stay stationary when lifting your foot off the accelerator pedal in the one-pedal mode.
Handling – The 2023 Polestar 2 is not a particularly sporty car to drive but it is an easy and comfortable car to drive. The suspension allows for some body roll but it doesn’t feel overly excessive. Steering is a little numb feeling but you can adjust the effort of it from Light, Standard, or Firm. I just kept it in the Standard setting. If you do want a slightly more sporty feel from the Polestar 2, the Performance pack adds Ohlins dampers with 22 manually adjustable settings.
Ride Comfort – The ride of the 2023 Polestar 2 is well balanced. It effectively absorbs bumps and road imperfections, offering a smooth and controlled ride quality. But it doesn’t feel overly soft to the point where it begins to feel floaty while driving on highways.
Interior Space – As per usual, front occupants have a lot of space. I am above average in height at 6’4” but I can’t complain about headroom or legroom. But one thing I will complain about is the hard plastic material to my right knee. Another thing I will complain about is the cupholder situation. There is one that is partially covered by the arm rest. Moving the arm rest back fully reveals it but then the arm rest is too far back to use properly. There’s also another cup holder when lifting up the arm rest but only smaller drinks will fit there and most likely if you close the lid, you’ll probably forget your drink there. Also, the center armrest is lower down than the armrest on the door. Visibility is good out the front and side with a decent view over the left shoulder. Visibility out the back is a bit restrictive due to the roofline and it’s made worse by a person sitting in the middle seat.
In the back seats, space is a little on the tight side. Legroom is not too bad with my knees right up against the back of the front seat behind my driving position. But my knees don’t feel squished at all. However, headroom is to be desired with my head touching the back of the moonroof. It’s really showing my double chin. Also, there’s a giant hump in the center which most other EVs don’t have. Also, the back doors don’t allow for too much space when fully open.
In the trunk, the 2023 Polestar 2 has 405 L (14.3 cu-ft) of space behind the rear seats and 1,095 L (38.7 cu-ft) with the rear seats folded. A divider with grocery bag hooks can be lifted from the floor and underneath the floor is just empty space for the charging cable. There’s also a little compartment under the hood that accommodates 35 L (1.2 cu-ft) of space.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The interior of the Polestar 2 is well-insulated, minimizing external noise and vibrations. This contributes to a quiet and serene cabin environment, enhancing the overall ride comfort. The Polestar 2 doesn’t have any funky, futuristic EV noises to elevate the driving experience.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – The long range single motor version of the 2023 Polestar 2 starts at $54,950 CAD ($49,900 USD) which makes it eligible for government rebates. Up to $9,000 here in British Columbia. This Dual motor version will cost you $62,950 CAD ($55,300 USD) but it is not eligible for rebates here in BC.
Gadgets – The Polestar 2 comes with a large 11.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system powered by Android Automotive OS but it also allows for Apple CarPlay connectivity. The system supports over the air updates and has some elements of Volvo’s version of the infotainment system. For example, the temperature controls are accessed the same way and through the touchscreen, not individual buttons. But the graphics and the menu design is a bit easier to navigate around than Volvo’s version. The layout and the settings are large and simply laid out.
The Polestar 2 does not have a push button start and instead is just like a Tesla with the car ready to go as soon as you put it into Drive or Reverse with the fob in the car. There’s also heated seats in all four corners, a heated steering wheel, wireless phone charger pad, surround view cameras, power liftgate, and the moonroof.
Interior Design – Like the Volvo of which this Polestar 2 is based on, it has a minimalistic interior design that is dominated by the infotainment touchscreen. You’ll be hard pressed to find any physical buttons. There’s one on either side of the steering wheel, a knob for radio volume, and the button for Park. Everything else is controlled by the touchscreen.
The materials are a mix of gloss black plastic which attracts fingerprints and scratches and the rest of the materials are “vegan” with no animal-derived products. But you can option the Polestar 2 with leather upholstery if you want it instead of the standard embossed textile upholstery.Overall, it is a good looking design but like many other EVs, having commonly used functions buried in the touchscreen can be distracting while driving, especially over a bumpy road.
One design that I really don’t like about the interior has to do with the moonroof. Normally, I don’t mind them in cars because I can close the blind but this one doesn’t have one. It’s also not tinted enough like the moonroof in the Ford Mach-E nor does it have electrochromic glass like the BMW iX. So on really hot days, it can feel like a greenhouse inside the Polestar 2 which means the climate control has to work extra hard which in turn uses more battery electricity.
Exterior Design – The 2023 Polestar 2 looks like a sedan but it is based on the same platform as the Volvo XC40 crossover. So it is a bit larger on the outside than a more traditional sedan. It has elements of Volvo design with the daytime running lights which double as the turn signals. I do like the rear light bar and the side mirrors which are almost frameless and it’s something I haven’t seen in any other car.
Safety – Being based on a Volvo vehicle, the 2023 Polestar 2 is equipped with a wide range of active and passive safety features. Some of these features include a full suite of airbags and high-strength chassis, automatic emergency braking, blind spot sensors with rear cross traffic alert & braking, lane keeping aid with lane departure warning, and oncoming lane mitigation to name a few. One of the most impressive driver aids is the Pilot Assist that is also found in Volvo vehicles. It is not a hands-free system but it does provide gentle steering wheel inputs to keep the car centered in a lane and reduce driver fatigue. It also incorporates the adaptive cruise control and can operate from a stop up to 130 km/h (80 mph).
Warranty – The 2023 Polestar 2 is covered by a 4 year / 80,000 km new vehicle warranty. The battery is covered by an 8 year / 160,000 km warranty so long as the battery’s state of health doesn’t drop below 70% during that time. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For USA warranty information, click here.
Conclusion – The 2023 Polestar 2’s closest competitor is the Tesla Model 3. Not only in terms of performance, features, space, and so on but also in how it gets to you. You don’t just go to a dealership and haggle with a sales person, instead you configure it and order it online. The price you see is the price you pay. This is how car sales should be done in the 21st century.
As for the car itself, it has some Volvo DNA but it’s different enough to stand out from the parent brand. It doesn’t excel in one particular area like driving dynamics or interior space but it is a good overall package that is looking to take shoppers away from Tesla.
Thank you to Polestar Cars for providing the vehicle www.Polestar.com