This new Volvo could give Tesla’s Model 3 a run for its money

Volvo Polestar 2 Tesla

First impressions are favourable for the fully electric Polestar 2: It’s handsome, nippy and certainly more luxurious than the Tesla.

Polestar is a new, purely electric brand spun off from Volvo and its Chinese parent Geely. It is now in Australia, aimed squarely at you-know-who, and marketed with a similar direct-to-consumer model via the internet.

The base Polestar 2, a sedan-shaped hatchback, is almost the same size as the Tesla Model 3. It matches it for price too, starting at $59,990, plus on-road costs.

That sum secures a single-motor Polestar 2, with front-drive and a projected range of 470 km on the industry standard WLTP cycle. A long-range model ($64,900) increases that to 540 km, while a dual-motor version ($69,990) is good for 480 km, while putting in 4.7 second 0-100 km/h times.



If you’ll allow a few more Tesla Model 3 comparisons, the Polestar 2 is 88 mm shorter, 36 mm higher and considerably heavier. Polestar claims the extra weight is so they could build in more body strength and safety. To this end, there are airbags even on the inner sides of the front seats.

Tesla’s Long Range was boosted this month to 614 km, and its performance model will accelerate to 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds. It’s possible future Polestars will challenge these numbers. Meanwhile, there’s plenty to like in this designed in Sweden/built in China package. The attention to detail and general sense of luxury in the interior, for example, is well ahead of the Model 3, which is also built in China for our market.

The Polestar 2 body is handsome in a chunky sort of way, though from the proportions it could be a conventional front-wheel-drive petrol car, albeit with a higher than usual nose. The packaging is good, though it’s not a skateboard platform. Some of the batteries are in a transmission type tunnel, others under the rear seats. Still, we get a fairly roomy interior, a generous boot behind a lift-up tailgate, and a small front cargo area.

That boot comes with typical Volvo cleverness, including under-floor storage and a lift-up separator to stop things sliding around. The interior is packed with useful storage nooks.

The styling inside and out is very Volvo. The Polestar 1, which we won’t see here, was inspired by the classic Volvo P1800 coupe. The 2 is based on a Volvo concept sedan, and is an under-the-skin twin for that brand’s XC40 electric. Unsurprisingly therefore, I’m struggling to work out the differentiation between the two brands, even though I’ve heard the managing director try to explain it.

Sure Polestar is a fully electric brand, but we’re also told within a few years Volvo will be too. Maybe it’s to do with speed. V-Max for the dual-motor Polestar 2 is 205 km/h, while all Volvos are now limited to 180 km/h.

An interesting trait of the interior is an almost complete lack of leather or fake leather (which marketers now call “vegan leather”). Everything including the dashboard and door trims of our car had materials with a woven texture, be they cloth, recycled plastic or something in between. The one exception was the steering wheel surround, in highest grade vegan leather presumably.



There was also a small amount of wood veneer, presumably from trees that died of natural causes and signed a consent form beforehand.

It’s an attractive and very cleanly laid out interior with relatively few buttons, but enough of them to do the things that are best done with buttons. The vital instrumentation is right in front of you (unlike the Tesla), with ancillary information via the central screen.

Our car had mostly muted, dark colours inside, but with so many interesting materials and varied surfaces, it didn’t seem drab or gloomy. Assisting this was a massive glass roof, and generous headroom, giving an airy, light-filled cabin. Oh, and bright yellow seatbelts.

The only surprise was that rearward vision was a little restricted because of the angle and shape of the rear window. Fortunately, the cameras are first-rate.

It corners fast and flat and with plenty of instant punch when needed. And the body rigidity is excellent.

Our car had the works, in terms of equipment, taking the price to nearly $90,000, excluding on-road costs. Bizarrely, none of the three Polestar 2 variants has as standard a blind spot warning system – a Volvo invention that is now fitted even to low-priced cars across most brands. For that, adaptive cruise control, 360-degree cameras and a few other safety items, you need the $5000 Pilot Pack.

A $6000 Plus Pack upgrades the sound system and trim and provides the panoramic roof and other features, while a Performance Pack ($8000), which is available only on the dual-motor model, upgrades brakes, suspension and wheels, though doesn’t change power or torque.

Our Long Range Dual Motor model, with all-wheel drive (one motor fore, one aft, driving each axle) and 300 kW/600 Nm, would jump forward instantaneously from any legal speed. We picked it up with 90 per cent charge and an indicated range of 360 km. With no attempt to conserve energy, we came to within about 10 per cent of achieving that. Not bad, but still a fair way short of the WLTP range of 480 km on full batteries. We did quite a bit of highway running, however, which is not best for range as you receive less regeneration from the braking.

Either way, like official petrol consumption, standardised electric range figures tend to be optimistic.

The ride is a little jiggly at low speeds on certain surfaces – you can sense the steel sprung suspension working hard to manage the 2113 kg mass. There are few problems when you pick up speed, though. The Polestar 2 corners fast and flat and with plenty of instant punch when needed. And the body rigidity is excellent.

It’s not trying to be a sports car. There are no performance modes for engine or suspension. Nor is there a fake engine roar, not even a start button. Just sit in it, and pull the gear lever into Drive and you are away. You can adjust the levels of retardation on accelerator lift-off; when maximum is selected, it allows really pleasing one-pedal driving. You can firm up the steering weight too, though no matter what the setting, there isn’t a lot of feedback.

This car has a world first in Android Automotive. This is not to be confused with Android Auto, the Google equivalent of Apple CarPlay. Android Automotive is, to quote its developer “an operating system and platform running directly on the in-vehicle hardware. It is a full-stack, open-source, highly customisable platform powering the infotainment experience. Android Automotive supports apps built for Android as well as those built for Android Auto.”

It seems likely that borrowed operating systems will become far more common. Polestar has adapted this one to its needs and graphic style. It allows those with a Google account to easily integrate their home and travel activities.



But is the Polestar user experience as good as Tesla’s? Hard to say on our five-hour drive. Cars are becoming increasingly like smartphones, and it takes a few days to get the full measure of a new handset – or car. I didn’t, for example, fully hook into the app experience, which allows you to enter and start the car via your phone, or monitor it from afar. On first impressions though, the signs are very promising.

Polestar 2 (Long Range Dual Motor)
Price $69,900 (excluding on-road costs); $88,900 as tested
Engine Dual AC synchronous motors with a 78 kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Power/torque 300 kW/660 Nm
C0₂ Zero local emissions

News source

Pin It on Pinterest