There was always a lot to like about the Polestar 2: it was handsome, very well built, extremely user-friendly, obligingly swift and, yes, properly desirable in a way that so many EVs aren’t. It was an impressive opening gambit (because the 1 didn’t really count), the 2 immediately establishing Polestar among the big players and laying the foundations for the broader range expansion now in play.
The desire that apparently exists industry-wide to reinvent a model at every opportunity hasn’t befallen the 2. As identified with the rear-wheel drive car last year, only the keenest will probably note the redesigned front end and new wheel options - and that’s absolutely fine. We’re used to seeing 2s around, and will gladly see them for a good while yet; handsome without being showy, different without being weird, chunky without being chubby, it remains a great bit of design. Same for inside, where it seems like nothing has changed at all. This means buyers will have to make do with a really solidly assembled and stylish interior, with a Google infotainment system that still makes OEM efforts look sluggish, a voice assistant that’s actually useful, great seats and clear displays. In-car tech would have a much more favourable reputation if it was this well incorporated.
However - and excuse a slight presumption - the prospective buyer of a top-of-the-range 2, the Long Range Dual Motor with Performance Pack, will likely be more concerned with the Polestar’s credentials as a driver’s car. If the fastest and most focused one doesn’t make the miles more enjoyable, then the lesser 2s surely look more persuasive. This flagship can count in its favour more power than before (476hp with the Pack, 421 without but with the boost available separate from the PP, both up from 408 before) as well as the promise of a bit more fun plumbed into the four-wheel drive setup. Back when this revised car was revealed just over a year ago, Polestar’s Head of Chassis Development Joakim Rydholm suggested that a recalibration of the torque ratio for the motors should ensure a more rear-driven feel, “elevating the Polestar 2 driving experience to a new level.”
And you know what? He’s right. Sort of. Those hoping for an entirely 'new level' will be disappointed, though there’s definitely the feel now of a car always with more motive force going to the rear than previously. It’ll squiggle away from slower bends gleefully, help wind off the last few degrees of steering in faster ones, and generally feel a tad more willing to turn now that the rear is helping a little more. It’s not a transformational difference, but a noticeable one. Almost seems a pity, then, that the ESC can’t go beyond a just-about-acceptably lenient Sport mode, or that there’s not a special driving mode (an even more rear-driven one, we mean), to really mark the Performance Pack out. As it is, this 2 is more entertaining than before, and that’s important, though this doesn't make it truly precise or athletic; the Polestar will tolerate your tomfoolery rather than actively encourage it.
The powertrain gains are undoubtedly worthwhile; this certainly feels faster than the original 408hp car we drove three years ago, and it’s a more efficient one as well. Where that test car in varied use got down to 2.27mi/kWh, this one - at a similar time of year - was at the 2.44 mark. Still not amazing, but you never drive how the test does, and it’s close to Polestar’s claim of up to 9 per cent better efficiency. You’re not going to take issue with going faster and losing less energy; it’s a shift in the right direction. Officially more than 350 miles (where it was previously less than 300) is handy as well.
And if not at the YouTube infamy level of acceleration, this 2 is certainly very brisk, accelerating with real urgency at those points where anymore really isn’t necessary. Some sort of augmented sound might be welcome, given that plenty of the driving experience - regen, steering weight, standstill creep - can be adjusted and there’s no great thrill in watching the numbers fly past on the minimalist dash. Perhaps Polestar would see that as a gimmick.
After all, it’s seemingly much keener on the tangible upgrades to mark out a proper performance model, like the Ohlins Dual Flow Valve dampers. As before, they’re only available with the 2 Performance Pack (which also brings the gold accents, Brembo brakes and forged wheels), and lend the car some real enthusiast kudos. Stick ‘Ohlins’ in the classifieds search box and everything that comes up is dream garage material. For the Polestar, the dampers drop the ride height from 151mm to 146mm and offer 22 manually adjustable settings (that incorporate compression and rebound at the same time). The test car was right in the middle, 11 on each axle, and the ride was… good. In parts. Find a fast, flowing, smooth road and the dampers feel worth every penny, tying down body movements well, engendering confidence, and complementing the newfound rear bias nicely.
But that’s not very many roads. The rest of the time the Performance Pack makes for pretty restless company, meaning it can be unrelenting and not all that enjoyable. Though lighter than conventionally made rims, the forged wheels can thump loudly into crevices, the car jostles with the surface and the effort expended in controlling 2.1-tonnes becomes all too readily apparent. For a car that takes so much of the stress of car operation and driving away, the constant tension of the suspension jars. Those who do opt for the Ohlins also receive a free first set-up, so admittedly there's a good chance of finding a more accommodating balance. But it's hard to imagine ever wanting to go stiffer than this, which speaks to the superfluousness of quite so many settings. Some elements of the 2 that at first seem abrupt after time away from EVs, like the one pedal drive or the initial brake bite, soon fade into the background, but the ride (and the resulting impact on refinement) does not.
Ultimately, then, despite the best in Swedish suspension, all that power, and monster Brembo brakes (mighty once into their travel), the 2 still isn't quite the driver's car we'd hoped it would be. It’s a lovely thing in a more general sense - and a meaningfully improved EV - yet it lacks the cohesion that marks out the very best sports saloons (whatever they’re fuelled by). Given this Polestar shares underpinnings with far less interesting models, and has been around for yonks, it is probably enough that its various enhancements still earn it a place on the recommendable EV shortlist - but clearly anyone intent on spending the best part of £70k on a performance car equipped with four doors is better served elsewhere. Buyers primarily interested in an EV for its other virtues will likely be better served by the more affordable derivatives. Keen drivers, it seems, will have to wait for whatever the follow-up to the BST 270 looks like.
SPECIFICATION | POLESTAR 2
Engine: 400V Lithium-ion battery, 82kWh capacity, twin AC synchronous electric motors
Transmission: Single-speed, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 476
Torque (lb ft): 546
0-62mph: 4.0 secs
Top speed: 127mph
Range: 344-352 miles (WLTP)
Price: £57,950 (price as standard; price as tested £68,850, comprising ‘Space’ metallic paint for £900, Pilot Pack (Pilot Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pixel LED Lights) for £2,000, Plus Pack (Harman Kardon premium sound, Panoramic roof, Tinted rear window, Weavetech seats, Heat pump, ‘High level’ interior illumination, Heated steering wheel, rear seats and screenwash nozzles, digital key, powered boot) for £4,000, Animal welfare Nappa leather interior in Zinc with light ash deco and ventilated front seats for £4,000)
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