What’s better than 1 electric vehicle in the garage? Two electric vehicles.
Tonight, a Polestar 2 was delivered to my house, which is a pretty spectacular event, seeing it emerge from the back of a truck. Being the owner of a Tesla Model 3 Performance, it provides a fairly unique opportunity to compare the Polestar to the market leader.
The Polestar 2 is one of the latest EVs to reach Australia and after success internationally, Polstar believes that now is the right time to launch in the Australian market.
This car is a very welcome addition to the Australian market, which has typically struggled to a range of EVs at an affordable price point. An EV is affordable in 2021 really means somewhere between $60-$100k, which is obviously well above (maybe even double or triple) what some are prepared to part with for a car.
It is important to understand that what’s on offer here is not only electric but great performance and a high-end, luxury design and feel. From the moment I set eyes on it, it was clear this was a great looking car in person, not just in photos from the website.
The white colour of the review unit provided a great comparison to the Model 3 and it’s surprising just how dimensionally similar the two are.
I was keen to jump in and drive the car and in retrospect, probably should have forced myself to join the car to my phone, or phone to the car, before I put it in drive, but the temptation to experience what the Polestar 2 has in terms of performance, was too great.
I got the top model to review, the Long range, dual motor variant which also comes with the fancy gold seatbelts, gold brake calipers and gold valve covers. These really do help to make the Polestar pretty special, but it’s the big bold grill at the front, the full width light bar at the rear and the 20″ rims really grab your attention.
The body offers really nice proportions and strong styling, without being overly aggressive. This should really appeal to many.
Something that doesn’t make sense to me is the regular door handles. Almost every other EV has flush door handles for a very good reason – aerodynamics. This is a quick, easy win for designers to help engineers meet the best efficiency and range numbers possible. Despite both the Polestar 1 and the upcoming Polestar 3 (precept) both feature flush door handles, so it feels a little like these were left over from the Volvo spare parts bin.
I did take a second to sit in the back seat and I can tell you that tall people over 6 foot are likely to have headroom issues. I think the issue here is that the glass roof, doesn’t extend over the rear seat passengers, so there’s an additional inch or more, combined with the slope of the roofline to make this uncomfortable for taller people. If you plan on just having kids back there, you’ll be fine.
Other than that, there’s very little to complain about, there’s lots of storage in the rear, complete with a built-in divider and cargo net to avoid groceries flying everywhere. Polestar have even included a pass-through section from the boot to the rear set and into the cabin, great for transporting longer items. It’s little touches like this that show they’ve considered, practical, everyday use of the vehicle.
Driving Experience & Performance
The vast majority of people who buy this car, will be coming from an ICE car, so their expectations are perhaps very different to mine, however, let’s get into it.
Opening the door was a little foreign as I had to use a physical key fob, but once in the car, it felt very familiar. With your weight in the driver’s seat and seatbelt on, you can then shift into Drive or Reverse and you’re away. There’s no push-button to start the car, you’re just driving.
Polestar also copied another good idea which is to automatically put the car in park if they detect the driver’s door opens and the weight leaves the seat, which is both smart and safe.
Setting off for a drive to get my head around the car, I noticed the driver’s electronic chair adjustments and lumbar supports were nice, stored in a regular driver profile button on the door, rather than through the integrated (Android-powered) touchscreen, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
There was a real adjust to make, with controls being located in a different place and a few more buttons and knobs to deal with than I’m used to. Humans are notoriously good at adapting and within a few corners I had it nailed.
Driving the Polestar 2 is a really nice experience, the suspension is sport, firm, but not too firm that you feel every bump, but also soft, without being a boat around corners. The engineers have done a great job here and dealing with the extra weight from the battery is important.
I need to spend more time with it to really appreciate the performance of this car, but it is certainly quick, although being so accustomed to the savage 3.3s acceleration, 4.7s did feel a little more tame to me, but again, this is likely to appeal more to the general populous, as most people don’t plant their right foot at every green light.
The acceleration in the Polestar 2 is probably best described as linear. It starts and feels like it’ll never stop, without having an aggressive, throw you back in your chair instant hit, then tapering off as the km/hr climb up. It’s quick, fun and would easily get the job done to overtake slower drivers, or confidently pull out in traffic.
What was missing for me was Autopilot. It’s scary how much I’ve become dependent on not just lane-keeping alerts, but actual Autopilot with lane centering. This was a little like stepping back in time for me, but for most potential buyers it’ll be more of the same from what you experience today. Naturally, there is adaptive cruise control which is an absolute must-have on any car I’d recommend, it really is that important for safety.
After another drive this morning, I engaged Pilot Assist by pressing the right button on the left-hand side of the steering wheel. Not exactly intuitive, but once enabled, it actually works pretty well. The car then identifies the lane and keeps you in it. It does work around corners, but was hit and miss in its availability in places around town.
While this doesn’t feel like a 1:1 for Autopilot, it does offer a similar opportunity to reduce the cognitive load on the driver as you can stress less about staying between the lines. On highway driving, this will certainly be a big advantage.
As soon as you climb into the Polestar 2, you realise how high the center console is. this places your vehicle controls at an easy resting height, with access to the portrait touchscreen in easy reach.
This car’s brain is powered by Android, not Android Auto, but Android OS. Polestar has done some customisations to Google’s new vehicle OS, but ultimately you have access to Google Maps for navigation, Google Assistant for voice commands, Spotify for music and more.
The great thing about this platform, is that it’s expandable, there are apps being added to the platform every day which means you can choose how the car’s capabilities get increased over time, personalised to your needs and wants. This approach differs considerably to Tesla’s which has no 3rd party applications and unless you happen to draw the attention of Elon on Twitter, have very little chance of getting things changed.
There is still a section of the console that surrounds the gear selector that is piano black and is obviously a dust magnet, but given the generous glovebox, you could easily store some microfiber cloths to keep it clean. Generally, I think the materials used would help make maintenance fairly easy and are welcoming to the touch.
After pairing my phone, I did find that sometimes I was told I had no internet connection, despite the phone showing a fairly good 4G signal, so I do wonder if a SIM in the car is a better approach to smart car connectivity.
The car does indeed have a built-in sim and can do over-the-air updates, but I’ve found in just a couple of drives, connectivity often drops around Wodonga, a regional town with pretty solid 4G coverage. This does interrupt Spotify playback which is annoying.
The Android UI itself for vehicle information, settings, music etc is all fine, however, I didn’t really understand the positioning of the play/pause button and volume dial being located ahead of the gear selector and actually awkward to reach when driving. The steering wheel controls give you access to some of this functionality, but not all, so I think that needs a revisit in future years.
Overall the experience of using Android in the car isn’t bad and while my daily driver is Android (now a Pixel 6 Pro), this is definitely a car that iPhone users can buy and have a good experience with.
This car is brand new, having been driven less than 250kms when it arrived to me. When I first opened the door, the driver’s display showed the remaining range and current charge level. At 98% state-of-charge, the Polestar 2 showed 400km.
Interestingly, the main display showed a different figure, which I assume is based on a different formula, like driving history over the past 50km.
I certainly haven’t driven enough tonight to provide an insight into real-world range figures, but from my experience, you should expect some battery degradation (particularly over the first 12 months, which then tapers off).
Charging the Polestar 2 can be done from the DC fast charging port in the rear-left quarter panel, or using the included 240v wall charger (obviously slower). I haven’t yet dived into all the charging options, but they do appear to offer some scheduling options to take advantage of off-peak rates.
Price & Availability
The Polestar 2 is available in 3 different variants which are detailed below. You can get the full set of information from Polestar’s website, but pre-orders will begin in late 2021 and be on-sale from January 2022. Actual customer deliveries are expected around February 2022 at this stage, with a few opportunities to test drive in major cities between now and then, already proving popular.
|Model||Range (WLTP)||Power||Acceleration (0-100km/h||Price (driveway)|
|Standard range, single motor||440km||165kW||7.4s||$64,618|
|Long range, single motor||540km||170kW||7.4s||$69,827|
|Long range, dual motor||480km||300kW||4.7||$75,163|
You can see from the performance figures, particularly the top-end model, it’s pretty quick and at $75k is certainly priced aggressively for what’s on offer. With up to 480km of range and the ability to DC fast charge at a growing list of locations, that’s certainly enough for most Aussies.
Initial impressions are really good with the Polestar 2, the car looks fantastic, uses a bunch of great sustainable materials inside, is quick, can really stop well with those big brakes and Android OS has a lot of potential.
I’ll spend a lot more time with the Polestar 2 this week, so ask any questions you have in the comments or on Twitter and I’ll try to answer them.
Overall I’m really glad to have another EV in the garage and if my wife had her way, this would be her next car.
More information at https://www.polestar.com/au/polestar-2/