Hybrids & Electrics

The Polestar 2 Is a Swede and Stylish Tesla Model 3 Rival

When it comes to reasonably-affordable EVs, the Tesla Model 3 sets the segment standard. But the competition, such as the Chevy Bolt, Mini Cooper SE, and the Mustang Mach-E crossover, is catching up. And now, the Model 3 has another competitor, courtesy of Volvo’s electric (and former performance) division: the Polestar 2.

2021 Polestar 2: specs and features

A black 2021 Polestar 2 with a white one in the background
2021 Polestar 2 | Polestar via Instagram

When it launches in September 2020, the Polestar 2 will be available in one trim, Car and Driver reports, which starts at $59,900. A cheaper version, though, will launch sometime later.

In its launch-edition form, the Polestar 2 has 2 electric motors, producing 408 hp and 487 lb-ft. Despite a 4717-lb curb weight—partially due to a 78.0-kWh battery pack—it can go 0-60 in 4.1 seconds. The Polestar 2 hasn’t been EPA-tested yet, but Car and Driver saw 190 miles during its mixed-condition testing. The Swedish EV is fast-charger-compatible and can recharge from 0-80% in 40 minutes. It also has 3 levels of regenerative braking.

Buying the Launch Edition Polestar 2 also nets you the Plus and Pilot Packages. The former adds a glass panoramic sunroof, heated wipers, upgraded LED headlights, heated front, and rear seats, wireless charging, and a Harman-Kardon audio system. The vegan interior is standard, though.

The latter is the ADAS package, and adds adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with collision warning, lane-keeping assist, and a 360° camera. It also includes the ability to use your phone as a key via a dedicated app.

The 2021 Polestar 2's interior, showin in black
2021 Polestar 2 interior | Polestar

Technically, the Polestar 2 doesn’t have Android Auto. But that’s because it doesn’t need them, Roadshow explains. It’s the first car to offer Google’s automotive OS, which includes Google Assistant, Maps, and Play Store access. It does work with iPhones, though, and Apple CarPlay is coming. The Polestar 2 pairs that with an 11.2” center touchscreen and a 12.3” digital driver display.

The only option on the Polestar 2 is the $5000 Performance Package. It includes Brembo front brakes, higher-performance tires, as well as stiffer springs and anti-roll bars. Plus, as with Polestar’s previous car, the hybrid 1, it gives the 2 adjustable Ohlins dampers.

Driving the Swedish electric sedan

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Technology-wise, the Polestar 2 works well, Roadshow reports. Google’s OS responds naturally to voice commands, but there are physical controls like a volume knob, too. And the navigation screen shows you how much range you’ll have when you arrive at your destination.

The Polestar 2’s driving-related components have a similar level of refinement, Car and Driver reports. The regenerative-braking system allows for one-pedal driving, and it has the typical EV immediate torque. Plus, not only is the interior laid out well, but the material quality is excellent. And while the shoulder line is relatively high, which cuts into window space, the sunroof still makes the cabin feel spacious.

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Even without the Performance Package, Polestar’s electric sedan is surprisingly sporty. Having all-season, rather than performance tires will also likely add some extra range. However, the package does sharpen the 2’s handling somewhat. The steering is rather numb, but the Brembo brakes resist fade without being unresponsive. The Ohlins dampers are effective, if a bit firm, but they’re manually-adjustable, rather than electronically. Though admittedly, that was also the case on the Polestar 1.

How does it compare to the Tesla Model 3?

Tesla Model 3 | Tesla
Tesla Model 3 | Tesla

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From a price perspective, the Tesla Model 3 does beat out the Polestar 2. The Long-Range Dual-Motor model starts at just under $47,000 and has a claimed 322-mile range. Plus, after a recent software update, Car and Driver’s long-term Model 3 hit 0-60 in 4 seconds. And its interior is now vegan-friendly, too.  

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That being said, Car and Driver hasn’t been able to hit that 322-mile mark, and neither did Carwow in its EV range test. It still offers more range than the Swedish EV, but depending on where you drive, that may not necessarily matter. Also, the Tesla Model 3 is arguably overly-reliant on its central touchscreen—even the windshield wiper controls are there, Forbes reports.

In contrast, the Polestar 2 feels more like a conventional car. It sits slightly higher than the Model 3, Top Gear reports, which some might prefer. But it handles just as well, if not better, and is the more-pleasant EV to drive, Wired reports.

The Tesla Model 3 is by no means a poor electric car. The fact that so many automakers benchmark against it is proof of that. But for fans of Scandinavian design, the Polestar 2 may be worth the upcharge.

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