Driven: Polestar 2 is the High-Style Substitute for a Tesla 3
Swedes are a stylish bunch, as we discovered last time we drove across their country. For proof, look beyond celebrated Swedish labels like Acne Studios, Fjallraven and IKEA to the work of Claesson Koivisto Rune, an interdisciplinary architecture and design firm based in Stockholm, who did the incredible lobby of the Nobis hotel. Or, try dinner at Ekstedt, Niklas Ekstedt’s Michelin-starred restaurant in Stockholm, where everything is cooked over smoke, soot, ash and wood fire. It’s not a minimal aesthetic, but honest, functional and well-made.
The Polestar 2 was designed and engineered in Gothenburg, an industrial city on Sweden’s rugged coast with a low-key punk-rock atmosphere. The city is also home to Volvo, which, together with its Chinese parent company Geely, operate Polestar as an independent automaker with a mission to push the envelope.
We recently had a chance to drive the Polestar 2, an all-electric, more affordable offering from the brand. It’s the more mature sophomore album to the Polestar 1, the explosive excitement of the brand’s debut.
The first thing you notice about the Polestar 2 is its avant-garde shape: It has four wheels, but it doesn’t look like other cars and it doesn’t fit into the usual categories; it’s got four doors like a sedan, but a huge trunk like a hatchback; and it’s tall, with the high-riding ground clearance of an SUV. What do you call it? Something new.
The colour palette consists of only six choices, but they’re the best in the biz: Snow, Magnesium, Thunder, Void, Midnight, Moon… you can’t go wrong.
The basics: The Polestar starts at $69,900 and for that you get a lot, including a dual-motor all-wheel drive system and a 78 kWh battery. It’s good for 408 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque, which makes it quick like machines from BMW M or Mercedes-AMG. Range is rated at 375 km on a charge, which is probably plenty for most people, but we expect that official government figure could be conservative, as it has proved to be on the Porsche Taycan.
Inside the cabin you’ll find more superb design details like a glass roof with a “Polestar” star projected onto it and a centre console that appears to float over a wooden base. The cabin can feel a bit dark, unless you go for the Barley leather colourway with reconstructed wood trim, which we wholly recommend. (Polestar is big on sustainable materials, but that’s a whole other story.) The cabin is clean and uncluttered while still feeling warm. The cloth fabric dash feels especially Swedish.
The Polestar 2’s driving experience is largely defined by its incredibly smooth drivetrain, even by electric car standards. One pedal driving is completely intuitive here. It’s monstrously quick, obviously, accelerating even at highway speeds the moment you touch the accelerator. But it’s not trying to be a sports car; it’s best when driven at a relaxed pace, cruising around, enjoying the quality and calm of its cabin. It would be a pleasure to live with day-in, day-out.
The truth is that we just like the Polestar 2 and its Good Design. We like the brand and its sustainable bent. We like its whole Swedish vibe. It’s a refreshing change of pace compared to every other car out there. And, finally, yes: if all of your friends already have the Tesla Model 3, this makes a stellar substitute.