Polestar’s first EV is a challenger to Tesla’s Model 3

With its first fully electric car, Polestar delivers a fully evolved sedan engineered for economy and more than enough performance.

The engineer, who designed the chassis and happens to be the program’s chief test driver, hammered the handsome, unassuming sedan through every turn, seeming to squeeze every bit of torque from the 78-kWh battery pack and dual permanent-magnet motors. (That’s a very healthy 487 pound-feet, to be precise, complementing 408 horsepower.) Despite damp conditions, the car stayed planted and poised, but still squeaked out a few satisfying hints of back-end looseness in several turns.

When the Polestar 2 arrives next year, it will be a worthy competitor to the performance-oriented version of Tesla’s Model 3. Granted, the prototype I drove included the optional, 5,900€ “Performance Pack,” which provides Brembo brakes, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a set of Öhlins suspension dampers that are tuned manually at each wheel, to better balance the car in the corners. “It makes the car smoother without the driver losing confidence,” Rydholm says.

Drivers uninterested in stomach-churning track expeditions will be glad to know that Polestar’s first fully electric car is a useful, family-friendly sedan. And to go with that performance, it promises a practical 440 km of range—to be eventually validated by the EPA, of course. Rydholm and his team spent years at the proving grounds, tuning the car’s performance on the handling track to be at its best. “Your primary tools are the anti-roll bars, springs, and dampers,” Rydholm says. “If you have head-toss on a bumpy road, you work with the anti-roll bars. Hard impacts, you work with the tires and shock absorbers.” The all-wheel-drive setup, using the front and rear motors, delivered power immediately to accelerate out of the turn and onto the next straight. On public roads, the car was smooth and quiet, with negligible wind or tire noise—especially impressive in a vehicle without an engine masking those sounds.

Those who opt for the 40,000€ base version, which will come about a year after the Launch Edition debuts at 57,000€, will still be able to go from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds. (Polestar hasn’t yet released the car’s top speed.) All customers will also get a water-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, developed with LG and capable of charging in just 35 minutes through a 150-kW charging station.

A clean and attractive design both inside and out caps off the package, with a bonus industry premier lurking inside: This is the first car to include Google’s Android-based infotainment system. All the vehicle systems and connectivity features—navigation, search, contacts—are accessed through Google, with wireless access included in the purchase price. Though the prototype I drove didn’t have this system fully operational yet, a stand-alone test rig I tinkered with showed a simple and elegant interface, with a single dominant screen and quick and easy access to features and controls (GM vehicles will also offer Android-based infotainment systems in the near future).

As the name suggests, this is the second vehicle from Polestar. The first, the Polestar 1, is just now entering production. That one is a 600-hp plug-in hybrid luxury touring car. Polestar will make just 150, selling each for more than 135,000€. The Polestar 2 is the brand’s first mass-market production EV, and Volvo’s as well—though the car’s power train is also headed for the parent company’s newly announced XC40 Recharge SUV.


Other EVs tout a variety of capabilities tied to their all-electric power train architecture. Tesla offers Ludicrous acceleration. Audi’s E-Tron SUV drifts with glee, thanks to a precise all-wheel-drive setup. Porsche’s new Taycan accelerates more aggressively, thanks in part to tech like a two-speed transmission. But even at half the Taycan’s base price, the Polestar 2 offers ride quality near to the Porsche’s standard. And it has one popular feature the Porsche doesn’t: single-pedal operation. The motors will slow the vehicle both while coasting and in lighter pedal use; the mechanical brakes kick in once the force exceeds 0.3 g. On the track, where almost all braking is beyond that, the Brembos performed smoothly and powerfully. On the road, the re-gen braking was pronounced but unobtrusive, a satisfying feeling for EV enthusiasts who like to pump power back into the battery every chance they get.

Even at half the Taycan’s base price, the Polestar 2 offers ride quality near to the Porsche’s standard

In lieu of a key parlor trick, the Polestar 2 delivers a fully evolved EV, engineered for reliability, economy, and more than enough performance to satisfy its driver.

2020 Polestar 2 EV walkaround – better than the Tesla Model 3? | What Car?