Following in the footsteps of the plug-in hybrid Polestar 1, the all-electric 2021 Polestar 2 is—as the name implies—the second creation from Volvo's standalone performance brand. Trying to be all things to all people, the design blends the three-box proportions of a sedan with a sloping roof, a rear hatch, and the raised ride height of a crossover. While the Polestar's minimalist appearance borders on anonymous, its cabin is the epitome of engrossing and contains a potentially revolutionary infotainment system. Its twin electric motors provide prodigious quickness and there's a satisfying amount of engagement when the driver seeks it out. With the 2's ambiguous body style, Polestar attempts the two-birds-one-stone method to combat the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y in terms of technology and performance. But, for now, it's still short on range and recognition.
What's New for 2021?
The first full EV to grace Polestar's lineup, the 2 sets the tone for the company's mainstream aspirations.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- Base: $61,200
The launch edition of the 2 opens at $61,200; that's before federal EV incentives. Polestar also offers a subscription option for the 2—an all-inclusive use arrangement that covers insurance, maintenance, and excessive wear for one monthly fee. Buyers have their choice of six muted colors for the exterior, three for the interior, and not much else. There is an optional Performance package for those so inclined. The package brings Öhlins dampers, 20-inch forged wheels (in place of the standard 19s), and Brembo brakes with gold-colored calipers and matching seatbelts. Nappa leather upholstery and optional 20-inch wheels both cost extra.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Power comes from two electric motors, one up front and another out back, providing all-wheel drive. Each produces 201 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque, for a total system output of 402 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque. The result is an impressively quick hatchback that zipped to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and sped from 50 to 70 mph in 2.2 ticks during our testing. Our example was equipped with the Performance package that includes 20-inch wheels and summer tires, stiffer suspension components as well as adjustable Öhlins dampers, and upgraded Brembo front brakes. This combination contributed to the 2's 0.90 g of cornering grip and 157-foot stopping distance from 70 mph. Polestar also provides three levels of regenerative braking, with the strongest capable of bring the car to a complete stop without touching the brake. While the aforementioned kit caters to the enthusiast crowd, we're convinced the 2 will ride better on the base suspension. The standard all-season tires should improve its driving range, too. Besides, who really wants to have to get out of the car to manually adjust the damper settings? At this price point, the answer is probably almost no one.
Range, Charging, and Battery Life
Like the Volvo XC40 crossover, the 2 rides on the Swedish brand's Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), though the electrified version of the platform accommodates a 78.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack under the floor. The electrical system supports fast charging up to 150 kilowatts, and Polestar claims this method will recharge a dead battery to 80 percent in 40 minutes. The company also says the 2 should be able to cover 275 miles of road on a single charge, but that number hasn't yet been confirmed by the EPA. Still, while that range is reasonable for a luxury EV, it does fall short of the 310-mile EPA estimate for the Model 3 Performance.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
While the EPA has yet to weigh in on the Polestar 2's efficiency, we did test it on our real-world highway route, which is a 200-mile loop that we travel at a steady 75 mph. Our 2 traveled 190 miles on a full charge, which aligns with the Audi e-tron and Chevy Bolt we've tested, but behind the Model 3 Long Range that managed 230 miles.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The 2's interior brings together wood, fabric, and plastic in a simple yet artful way. It looks modern, with clean lines, a spartan color palette, and minimal switchgear. The 2 borrows a couple things from its Volvo brethren, like the steering-wheel buttons and knurled start knob, but the overall design reads less busy here. In keeping with the electrified powertrain, Polestar swaths the interior in ecofriendly vegan fabric (though, you can get leather, if you really want it). The power-operated liftgate opens to a not-so-cavernous cargo hold boasting 14 cubic feet of space. Need more? There's another cubic foot of storage in the frunk.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Inside, the driver faces a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster as well as a centrally located iPad-esque portrait-oriented touchscreen. The latter measures 11.2 inches and handles most functions, running Google's new Android Automotive OS infotainment system. It's not all that different from other modern interfaces: Picture a box subdivided into four squares, each devoted to a different category of apps, be it navigation, phone, or audio. By grouping similar apps into a specific corner of the screen, Polestar believes users will have an easier time finding what they need, thus minimizing distraction. But what's really great about this whole thing is that it makes Google Maps the integrated nav system and provides useful EV-specific information to the driver, such as where the nearby charging stations are and how long you'll have to sit there once you arrive. Other things worth noting: You'll find two USB ports in the front and two in the rear, satellite radio comes standard, and Harman/Kardon provides the sound.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have had the opportunity to crash-test the Polestar 2. That said, the car does come loaded with several driver-assistance and safety features, which may provide some peace of mind in the meantime. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard blind-spot monitoring
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Polestar’s limited warranty sticks to the industry standard, on par with that from Tesla. The company also provides competitive coverage for the 2's electrical components. Surprisingly, Polestar doesn’t offer the same three-year complimentary maintenance program as Volvo, its parent company.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Electrical components are covered for eight years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance