Reader test team: Polestar 2
This electric executive car from Volvo’s newly independent sister brand is designed to take on Tesla. What Car? readers give their verdict...
When Jan Nilsson set up a team to race in the 1996 Swedish Touring Car Championship, never could he have conceived that it would one day be turned into a maker of premium road cars, let alone one funded by a firm from Zhejiang. But 23 years later, China has become an automotive hotbed, Geely is its star player and Polestar is ready to challenge the traditionals.
After the Polestar 1 (a £139,000 plug-in hybrid coupé), the brand has a model for the masses – the 2, of course. A high-riding electric hatchback, it uses a motor on each axle for 402bhp and a 78kWh battery for a range of 311 miles, while the rival Tesla Model 3 extracts 329 miles from 86kWh.
The mechanical basis of the 2 comes from the outstanding Volvo XC40 SUV, as does the look of its interior, which features luxurious materials and a large, portrait-orientated touchscreen. So, how easy will the Polestar brand find it to settle into its new place in the world? Let’s find out.
Age 47 Job Designer Drives Mercedes C-Class
“I really like the 2. Polestar is presenting its brand image brilliantly, too, so I find myself buying into not just the car but everything surrounding it.
“The power and performance figures are very impressive to hear, but the 2 still feels to me like a design-led product, rather than something that has been engineered from the inside out.
“It works functionally as well as it does aesthetically, too. Lots of thought has gone into important details, such as the boot layout and interior storage spaces.
“The same goes for the connectivity features; I really like the user interface of the infotainment. You can see all your music and Google Maps very clearly and neatly.
“The claimed range of 311 miles could easily get me from my home on the south coast up to London and back. So, the 2 is right up there in the desirability stakes with the Tesla Model 3.
“In fact, I can see its Scandinavian feel being more appealing to European drivers. “I also like Polestar’s proposed sales model, in which you’d be able to swap your 2, for example, with a big SUV to move house or a sports car for the weekend.
Age 38 Job Property manager Drives Volvo XC40
“I’ve been a huge fan of Volvo for a long time, and this car from its new sister brand absolutely lives up to my expectations. I particularly love the design of the 2; next to today’s premium electric cars, including the Audi E-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model 3, I think it’s the nicest of the lot.
“The performance and range are more than enough for most people; no doubt for me, because I commute from outer London into the centre. Using an electric car for that would be both more relaxing and cheaper, because it would be exempt from the congestion and emissions fees.
“Volvo’s portrait-orientated touchscreen was okay already, but Polestar’s use of Android-based software is a significant improvement. In fact, this could be the best system in the class.
“In addition, the build quality inside the 2 feels very solid. The options of wood trim and Nappa leather are really appealing.
“Unfortunately, though, it isn’t a practical family car, because there’s not great amount of room in the back seats or in the boot. “The only other problem is our public charging infrastructure; it’s just not good enough yet.”
Age 39 Job Data scientist Drives BMW 7 Series
“The is clearly a very well-engineered car, and every aspect of it looks beautiful. It reminds me of the Skoda Octavia Scout, to a degree; although it’s a family hatchback, there’s a rugged, four-wheel drive element to it.
“There’s sportiness as well, and it sounds as if the 2 will have similar performance to the Tesla Model 3; I’ve driven one before and it was incredible, so that would be a major selling point.
“Living in a city, I could easily live with a 311-mile range. It’d be good for a motorway commuter as well, though, especially when the battery can be rapid-charged to 80% in only half an hour.
“What’s more, the 2’s sat-nav system knows how much energy the battery has left and where all the public charging points are, so it can plan your route accordingly. Charging at home would be a problem for me, though, because I live in a flat.
“It’s good that while you’ll buy your 2 from a Polestar shop, you’ll have it serviced through Volvo, because Volvo already has a large dealer network here. It’s also reassuring to know that Polestar can call upon Volvo’s expertise concerning safety.”
Age 48 Job Consultant Drives BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo
“I was interested in the 2 because it’s electric and it has a fastback design, like my car. I came to hear the plans for Polestar, too, but I must admit I still struggle with the brand’s image.
“This a very handsome, good-looking car. However, the rear passenger area is really too tight, both for head and leg room. I’m tall and could barely fit in there. So, it would be okay if you were single or partnered, but not for a family unless you have young kids. The boot capacity of 405 litres is a little low as well.
“The design of the interior is great, and the layout is well done. I like how the centre console rises up into the dashboard, because that creates a nice cockpit feel for the driver. However, the standard woven fabric upholstery feels cheap to me. The Nappa leather option sounds appealing, though.
“For me, £49,900 for the Launch Edition seems a little pricey; I’d look at a cheaper version, but then I’d hope they wouldn’t cut significant corners, especially with the impressive infotainment system. “Overall, then, I’m a lot more likely to buy a Tesla Model 3.”