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Polestar 2 – Driving the Brand’s First Pure Electric Model


The electric car is no longer an environmentalists’ token. With plans to end the sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles in the UK, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands by 2030 (Norway will bring in a ban in 2025 and France has a 2040 ban in the pipeline) electric vehicles will be the way forward – quite literally – in the not-too-distant future. Many manufacturers are having to jump in with both feet, sink or swim. And that’s the role of the Polestar 2.

Polestar is a new electric brand owned by Swedish car brand Volvo and, by extension, China’s Geely – which owns Volvo, Lotus, Proton, Lynk & Co, LEVC… It’s an electric luxury brand spun off of near-premium contender Volvo, which makes its chief competitor Tesla and the German premium electric brands. From a design perspective, it’s quite unique, especially this Polestar 2. But before we delve into that, here’s a bit of history.

Volvo 40.2 concept (2016)

Back in 2015, Volvo purchased Polestar, which was then a performance arm of Volvo but operating independently, like a contractor of sorts. In 2016, Volvo came out with the 40.1 and 40.2 concepts, both of which signaled the upcoming 40 cluster of cars from the Swedish brand and the first application of the Compact Modular Architecture – CMA – platform.

The 40.1 became the XC40, a very successful compact SUV that I reviewed a few years ago. But the 40.2 didn’t really fit in the Volvo model lineup. It was different. According to the design team, they wanted to continue with the car, and the decision was made to spin it off into becoming the Polestar brand’s second product.

In that sense, the story closely matches that of the Polestar 1, which started life as the Volvo Concept Coupe in 2013 before being spun off to become the first vehicle. But while that car is a hybrid model that shares a lot of carryover parts from the 90-cluster from Volvo – particularly in the interior – the Polestar 2 is an all-new crossover vehicle typology, blending the attributes of a sedan with those of an SUV.

EXTERIOR DESIGN

Let’s start with the exterior. The Polestar 2 is simple, yet elegant and robust. It’s a bit taller – giving it more ground clearance than its rivals – and is fitted with big wheels surrounded by cladding. In that regard, it’s similar to the Cross Country V60 and V90 models Volvo builds. But there’s more to it than that.

Polestar 2

The front end has a lot of character without being aggressive. The blacked-out grille element is arguably unnecessary, but it does conceal the front camera nicely and adds a technical feel through the numerous little squares within it. It’s also got a little recess, which is a nod to the historic Volvo P1800’s concave oval grille.

The Thors hammer headlamps are familiar and link to Volvo – but on the Polestar 2 the center DRL protrudes out of the main housing to almost join the grille. This adds to the sense of width to the front, which is underscored by the horizontal lines that demarcate the bumper.

Beneath the bumper is a secondary grill opening as well as two triangular graphical elements that house the foglamps at each corner. The fact that these are black on this ‘Snow’-white face and joined by another horizontal trim piece separates these elements from the rest of the face and subtracts visual weight.

Polestar 2

From the side, the subtle indentation around the wheelarches further serves to accentuate the arches, adding character to the fenders and anchoring the car around the 20-inch wheels. It’s also accomplished within the stamping of the body rather than through another trim piece, saving materials and weight.

Otherwise, the surfacing on the bodyside is full, with soft volumes punctuated by sharp edges, like the shoulder line. The shoulder line is continuous, running all the way through and around the rear of the car to the decklid. It’s progressively accentuated as it travels rearward, becoming more undercut over the rear door and above the rear fender. This enhances its robust quality.

In the lower section of the doors is a rising feature line and a pronounced light catcher beneath. Combined with the black sill, this disguises the car’s height quite well. And while we’re on the subject of height, the Polestar 2 is only 30mm taller than the Tesla Model 3, which is longer and wider (by 88mm and 95mm, respectively).

I particularly like the blacked-out A-pillars, chunky C-pillar treatment, and steeply raked backlight, which gives a unique, dynamic and sporty character to the profile.

Polestar 2

Like the front, the rear is bold and characterful, thanks in part to the unique lighting signature. The concave area encased within the taillamp graphic is fitted with the body color badge while the lighting is a thin, 3D element that stand proud from the surfaces. The horizontal lines emphasize the width of the car while blacked out lower element subtracts visual weight.

The squared clamp light graphic gives the car a robust yet technical aesthetic, which also subtly communicates the propulsion system within, especially when you approach and leave the car. It’s got this very cool ‘Knight Rider’-like welcome signature, another nod to the tech.

INTERIOR DESIGN

The Polestar 2 features the first all-new interior for the brand. The cabin is minimalist without forgetting that there’s a driver. There’s a dedicated 12.3-inch screen for the speedometer and all driving information in front of the driver’s seat while the central 11-inch portrait screen is clear, simple and intuitive, with no noticeable lag.

Polestar 2

The IP consists of a simple continuous line that encapsulates three slim tiers and connects to the high-mounted central tunnel. Like the exterior, this emphasizes the width of the cabin and highlights the technology showpiece at the center.

The main fabric-covered element on the IP is backlit, which adds a three-dimensional quality that’s more akin to furnishings in a high-end hotel than a car interior. The recessed lighting continues behind the gloss back panel in the center console, which make it look like it’s floating. The irony of this lightweight aspect is interesting, as the car weighs a whopping 2.1 tons.

The compact shift lever is dynamic, sporty and lightweight, being hollow and illuminated on the inside. The main knob – for the audio controls – features a 3D edge pattern, which also appears on the insert trim piece on some models. The car I tested had a black ash wood insert, which felt authentic.

As an electric car, Polestar is also emphasizing sustainability within the Charcoal WeaveTech ‘Vegan’ interior… The 3D-knit fabric covering the seats are made of 100% recycled PET bottles; the interior plastics are infused with waste cork products, and the carpets are derived from recycled fishing nets. It’s all very Scandinavian.

TECHNOLOGY

Technology is, of course, paramount, and the Polestar 2 has everything you’d expect. It features heated seats, a heated steering wheel and the Pilot Package, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and emergency braking functions.

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