The Polestar 2 Impresses by Stripping Down to the Basics

Many automakers try to spice up their EVs with glitz and glam, but some brands prefer to keep it simple. That’s the case with the Polestar 2, a complex car with a simple, elegant design. Though it might not be the best EV of the year, the latest Polestar model offers something unique to the segment. 

The Polestar 2 was a contender for 2021 Car and Driver EV of the Year

Visitors look at a Polestar 2 electric car during Auto Shanghai in April 2021 in Shanghai, China
2021 Polestar 2 | VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Unfortunately for the brand, the Polestar 2 didn’t win Car and Driver‘s EV of the Year award. That distinction went to the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E, and it won for many reasons. Not only do its numbers stack up well, but it’s also a fun car to drive and ride in. For those reasons and more, the Mach-E won because it’s the model that can convert consumers to EVs right now.

That said, the Polestar 2 didn’t perform poorly in C/D’s contest. After all, the EV marketplace has plenty of competition nowadays. You’ll find cheap options like the Nissan Leaf, luxury models like the Audi e-tron, and, of course, beloved Tesla EVs. In fact, after intensive testing, Car and Driver gave the Polestar an accolade for being the “simple machine.” 

The 2021 Polestar 2: Simple on the outside, powerful on the inside

Car and Driver summed up the Polestar 2’s design by saying that it “seemingly draws from modernist architecture, with a palette dominated by gray tones reminiscent of concrete and steel.” This “clean design” essentially makes this EV look like “tomorrow’s Volvo.” Furthermore, by boasting a uniquely simple design, the new Polestar easily separates itself from the EV pack.

That said, the Polestar 2 shares something with many other EVs, and that’s performance. Thanks to its two electric motors, this model makes 408 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque. Those impressive specs allow the Polestar to go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and it also handles well. 

What it doesn’t do too well, however, is travel far. Its 75-kWh battery gives it a max range of about 233 miles, but Car and Driver got a lower range during its 75-mph highway fuel-economy test. In that evaluation, the Polestar 2 went only about 200 miles on a full charge — a disappointing number. 

Stiff competition abounds


What’s Stopping the Polestar 2 From Being More Popular?

But the Polestar 2 is still a worthy choice for many drivers. “By combining otherwise strong performance with clean design, Polestar offers a practical alternative to its more audacious electric competitors,” C/D said. Indeed, there are quite a few audacious rivals, and Car and Driver tested many of them. 

For example, C/D also tested the Porsche Taycan 4S, which starts at over $110,000 and delivers the numbers to justify the high price. It can zip from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and has a max range of about 227 miles. But, of course, the Polestar 2, starting at $61,000, is more practical than the Taycan 4S.

In addition to testing three Tesla models, Car and Driver also evaluated the Volvo XC40 Recharge. Volvo owns Polestar, so the 2 was essentially the second Volvo that C/D tested. But unfortunately for the premium Swedish automaker, Car and Driver didn’t like the Recharge much, especially compared to the Tesla Model Y.