What Is It?
For many years, the Polestar name had been the high-performance arm of Volvo, but in 2018 the Volvo Car Group — along with owner Zhejiang Geely Holding — announced that Polestar would become its own standalone electrified performance brand. Following the limited-edition hybrid Polestar 1, the Polestar 2 is the brand’s first fully electric model. With a powerful drivetrain, all-wheel drive and a versatile hatchback design, the 2021 Polestar 2 is a great option among new EVs.
Polestar provided us with a 2021 Polestar 2 painted in Midnight Blue. The test vehicle arrived equipped with the only available factory option — a Performance Package that adds optimized Brembo brakes with gold calipers, Ohlins Dual Flow Valve dampers, 20-inch wheels and gold seat belts. The MSRP for this car is $67,550; however, the Polestar 2 is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. Competitors to the Polestar 2 include the Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach-E, BMW i3 and Volvo XC40 BEV.
Designed as a 5-door fastback, the Polestar 2 is built on Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture platform that integrates the battery pack into the floor for improved chassis rigidity and reductions in noise, vibration and harshness. The compact lines and large 20-inch wheels are a nice combination, giving the Polestar 2 a powerful, premium look.
The Polestar 2’s LED taillights span the lower decklid, giving the vehicle a wide look as well as a unique lighting signature.
Aside from a temporary decal on the door, the Polestar 2 is only identified by Polestar logos up front and on the rear hatch. Given that the brand’s logo is not widely known, during our test drives the Polestar 2 was a bit of a mystery to motorists. On more than one occasion passersby would ask, “What is that?” with our response often followed by a smile and a thumbs up from inquisitive folks.
The 2021 Polestar 2 is designed to be environmentally friendly, and that includes more than simply a zero-emission powertrain. Many elements of the vehicle are 100 percent vegan — made from a material called WeaveTech — including the seat trim, which is both stylish and soft, as well as the steering wheel that looks like it is trimmed in leather although it too is WeaveTech. All wood trim is constructed using irregular pieces that are typically considered waste. The cloth trim on doors and dash give the Polestar 2 an overall classy — not fancy — vibe.
While the interior materials of the 2021 Polestar 2 provide a homey feeling throughout the cabin, the car also possesses a high-tech ambience thanks to a large center display as well as a smaller digital driver display. Aside from those on the steering wheel, the vehicle has virtually no physical buttons for systems operation.
Premium Sound System
Although most AutoNXT reviews normally don’t highlight a vehicle’s audio system, the standard Harmon Kardon premium sound system in the 2021 Polestar 2 is of merit. The system has 13 speakers with 600 watts of output, and the sound quality is excellent.
No Start Button
The Polestar 2 automatically recognizes the driver approaching the vehicle and immediately powers up display screens and other systems. Starting the vehicle requires no key turning nor button pushing — simply press the brake and put the car in gear. After arriving at a destination, the driver shifts the car to Park and gets out — the Polestar 2 shuts itself off.
The 2021 Polestar 2 is as much about technology as it is about electrification — as such it is the first car to embed Google’s Android operating system as the platform for its infotainment system. In addition to bringing together apps and vehicle functions, the Polestar 2 features embedded Google services such as Google Maps, Google Assistant and the Google Play Store. These functions are accessed via voice control (simply by saying “OK Google”) or via an 11-inch touchscreen display. Google users can log into the vehicle to sync personal preferences as well as Google Maps locations.
The WeaveTech-trimmed seats of the 2021 Polestar 2 are comfortable with decent support. The seats have heating and cooling with multiple adjustments. Those with longer legs will especially appreciate the extendable seat bottoms — a thoughtful feature. As part of the optional Performance Package, the gold seat belts add a welcome splash of color.
Although the 2021 Polestar 2 is not a large vehicle, the rear seat feels spacious with adequate legroom and headroom — certainly comfortable for two adults during a long trip. Rear seats are heated, and occupants have two USB power ports. A panoramic roof adds to the Polestar 2’s overall roomy ambience.
The 2021 Polestar 2 offers plenty of utility thanks to a large rear cargo space. The hatchback design provides a cavernous rear opening for easy loading. A panel can be raised from the floor with hooks and straps to provide multiple methods of securing loose cargo.
With no engine under the hood, the 2021 Polestar 2 has storage space up front. Granted, the space is not all that large, although this frunk (or front trunk) works well for the vehicle’s charging cable or other small items.
The 2021 Polestar 2 is equipped with two electric motors, one powering each axle, to create four-wheel drive. Total system output is 408 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque — enough oomph to provide strong acceleration.
According to press materials, the Polestar 2 will sprint from zero to 60 mph in a mere 4.5 seconds, attain 100 mph in a bit under 11 seconds, and can complete a quarter-mile run in 12.76 seconds. Although we had no calibration devices during our test drives, these figures seem accurate based on experience — the Polestar 2 feels very quick.
According to the U.S. EPA, the 2021 Polestar 2’s 78 kWh battery pack provides a range of 233 miles; as with any electric vehicle this can vary depending on everything from weather conditions to driving habits. As we’ve learned from spending more time in electric vehicles (and Polestar calls this out in their charging screen) charging to just 80 percent of battery capacity can extend the life of the batteries. Getting the last 20 percent of capacity a battery’s charge time slows dramatically (and causes considerable strain on a battery).
At 80 percent charge the Polestar displayed 160 miles of range; plugged into a 50 kW charger the 2021 Polestar 2 went from 50 percent to 80 percent charge in about 30 minutes.
In our ever-expanding digital world where readouts can be very precise, we were surprised that the range readout for the Polestar 2 displays in increments of 10 miles. If the display reads 120 miles, it can literally mean 120 miles — or 129. In the grand scheme of things it’s unlikely that 9 miles will make much difference in driving or planning; that said, exact figures bring more peace of mind and would be better for easing any thoughts of range anxiety.
Polestar recently announced a new partnership with ChargePoint, one of the largest electric vehicle charging networks in America. The two companies will work together to promote electric vehicle adoption; to that end, a new ChargePoint App will be integrated with the Polestar 2’s infotainment system. The new app will allow drivers to not only find the closest charging station but also connect and pay via the display screen in the car.
On the Road
Possessing a Polestar 2 for everyday driving would certainly be a pleasure — the car is both comfortable and quiet. Throttle response is smooth and immediate — easy to modulate for cruising around town or quickly merging into traffic. And the Polestar 2 is quick; when a traffic light turns green, full throttle will leave most cars far behind — a trick that never fails to bring a smile.
Many new electric vehicles offer one-pedal driving — pressing on the throttle accelerates the vehicle, while easing off the throttle employs regenerative braking to slow the vehicle. Polestar allows the driver to adjust the level of brake regen that occurs, ranging from coasting to applying full braking that can bring the vehicle to a complete stop. Although It takes a bit of time to get used to it, one-pedal driving ultimately feels more efficient and responsive for everyday driving as well as for more enthusiastic motoring.
With power at all wheels all the time, the 2021 Polestar 2 has no wheelslip — even when applying full throttle from a standstill on wet roads. Grip is impressive, and acceleration is so strong that a sudden burst of the throttle from 60 mph will still push occupants back into their seats. Steering is precise, and the Polestar’s low center of gravity makes the car feel planted even when pushed hard on winding roads.
The 2021 Polestar 2 possesses a nice mix of everyday drivability and great performance. From the stylish exterior design to the innovative materials, versatile interior space and connected technology, the Polestar 2 really stands out from the EV crowd. Add in the fun-to-drive factor and efficient yet powerful advanced drivetrain and the Polestar 2 elevates to one of the best EV choices on the market.