Polestar 2: the CAR lowdown

Published: 29 April 2022

► Polestar 2 gets upgrade
► The biggest changes since release
► More charge, and faster recharging

The Polestar 2 has been given an overhaul, marking one of the biggest changes to the brand’s first BEV since its launch. Updates include improved range, quicker charging times, more power, two new colours and improved interior materials. 

So what’s new? 

Optimised battery chemistry means the single-motor 2 now boasts a 69kWh capacity, with the range extending to 295 miles (WLTP). A jump from 115kW to 130kW on the Standard variant also means charging time qill be slightly quicker, too. That might come in handy, because the rear motor makes 7bhp more than before, now up to 228bhp. 

Everything you need to know

Cast your mind back to 2016 when Volvo revealed two new concept cars named Concept 40.1 and 40.2. While the 40.1 was quickly turned into the chunky XC40 crossover, the 40.2 remained an enigma for some time.

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Now we know what happened. Polestar managed to get its cool, electrified hands on the idea, and the Polestar 2 is almost unchanged from that first preview. A three-box saloon shape jacked up like a Cross Country model, slimmer ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlights and a blocky wraparound rear light bar are the key design highlights.

Like the S60 Polestar Engineered, the 2 comes complete with a raft of gold colouring – provided, that is, you go for the optional Performance Pack; more on that later.

polestar 2 static 2021

The move to electrification – and autonomy – provides new-found design possibilities, as the Volvo group’s three most senior designers – Thomas Ingenlath, Robin Page and Maximilian Missoni – explained to CAR from Stockholm.

The trio have prioritised ‘clean Scandinavian design’ inside and out, as Volvo moves to greater electrification. Since 2019, all new Volvos launched have been either hybrid or electric – making Volvo the first ‘mature’ car manufacturer to make this commitment. 

‘Electric cars give us exciting opportunities,’ says design chief Ingenlath, now also CEO of Polestar. ‘The lack of an engine, more compact powertrains and smaller radiators can mean sleeker front styling and roomier cabins. Underbodies will also be cleaner. This improves the aerodynamics, crucial for driving range.’

He says Polestars will be more boldly designed than Volvos. ‘Volvo has a design history defined by comfort, safety, practicality and risk-free nature. Polestar is not bound by [this]. Polestars will be designed more around the individual, and be more progressive and performance-oriented.’

Polestar 2

What’s it like inside?

The Polestar 2 is not just a straight Volvo clone like the Polestar 1 coupe. The brand points to the all-vegan interior, as leather upholstery fast becomes such a 20th century idea. Design boss Maximillian Mission says it is aimed at a ‘forward-thinking’ audience.

Google’s Automotive OS: does it work?

Fitted in the Polestar 2’s dash is the new version of Google’s interface. 

‘The Android platform which we have introduced in Polestar 2 has so much potential for innovation that we immediately identified the chance to engage with the developer community,’ said CEO Thomas Ingenlath. ‘Together with Google, our own digital team has created an exciting interface in the car, and we know that this system will enable great opportunities. We look forward to inspiring new ideas that could make the digital experience in Polestar 2 even better.’

polestar 2 interior 2021

Polestar says customers will be able to download a range of apps for the system, much like a smartphone. Google Assistant is baked-in to the Polestar 2’s infotainment system, so apps can be voice controlled with commands such as ‘Hey Google, play some music’. That also throws open the possibility of smart home integration in the future. 

Google is releasing a software development kit for app developers to speed up development of new apps, and ensure they follow driver-distraction guidelines and restrictions. Apps scheduled to be available in Polestar 2 include Bauer Media Audio’s Magic Radio and Radioplayer apps – as well as Spotify.

polestar 2 grey static

What about these option packs?

The optional Performance Pack remains available for the long-range dual-motor variant only. The new optional Plus Pack gets you a full-length panoramic glass roof, premium Harman Kardon audio system and fully-electric heated front seats with memory, heated rear seats, steering wheel and wiper blades, and a new interior heat pump.

The Pilot Pack focuses on safety, and you get uprated Pixel LED headlights, Driver Assistance with Adaptive Cruise Control and Pilot Assist, a 360-degree surround view camera, all-round parking sensors, and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with steering support, Cross Traffic Alert with brake support, and Rear Collision Warning.

polestar 2 infotainment screen

You’ll be hard pushed to tell which model of Polestar 2 it is on the road, given that exterior and interior design is largely indistinguishable between variants – another facet shared with Tesla. But all models come with 19-inch wheels, LED lights and frameless mirrors, which we love. Other standard features include high-performance audio with eight speakers, front- and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera.

The rest of the Polestar family

The Polestar 1, revealed in 2017, was based on 2013’s comely Concept Coupe. The Polestar 3 will be a large SUV, expected soon. Apart from Polestar 1 – a plug-in hybrid – all new Polestars will be fully electric from now on.

Where can I buy a Polestar 2?

The expanded range now starts at £39,900, which means it doesn’t come under the the £35,000 price break that would have seen it receive the £2500 government Plug-in Car Grant. Going to the long-range single motor adds £3000 to that, while the dual motor adds another £3000 on top of that.

Polestar 2 bonnet

Is this the electric car to kickstart the EV rush? Be sure to comment below and tell us what you think.

Is there an even hotter version? 

Polestar revealed a fettled version of its ‘2’ crossover at the 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed, and it harks back to the brand’s tuning focused roots. Created to make a splash at the annual motorsport event, the Experimental Polestar 2 may look familiar; another, equally extreme model was commissioned – and later posted on Instagram – by CEO Thomas Inglehart himself.

‘I challenged the design and engineering teams to play with Polestar 2 and come up with something that makes a strong statement for Goodwood’ said Ingenlath. ‘For a few months I have enjoyed driving another experimental Polestar 2, nicknamed ‘Beast’, around our Gothenburg campus, which inspired the team to come up with this version for Goodwood. We want to flex our muscles and explore opportunities.’

So, what’s different?

The Experimental Polestar 2 benefits from a power increase to 469bhp (allowed in short bursts) but most of the upgrades come from the Polestar 1 hybrid. The track is now 10mm wider, the car is 30mm lower, and the 2’s 21-inch wheels are now stopped by the 1’s six-piston front brakes and Pirelli PZero’s.

The mechanical grip is unlocked with springs 80% stiffer on the front and 40% stiffer at the rear, as well as three-way Öhlins dampers which are 30% more rigid than the stock car’s. A Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered has also donated a strut bar to firm things up even more.

polestar 2 experimental brakes

As you’d expect from a brand with its roots in tuning, the Experimental Polestar 2 also benefits from beefed-up front and rear bumpers and exclusive wheels. We’ve ridden on track with Joakim Rydholm, Polestar’s chief chassis engineer – and while the car has a touch more power, it’s the extra grip and traction where the added performance is most felt.

‘This car is what happens when we are given freedom to go beyond our limits,’ added Rydholm. ‘We already have such great handling and performance characteristics in Polestar 2, but when Thomas asked me to make something special for Goodwood, I was really excited to up the stakes.’

Is it going to production?

While there are no firms plans to put the Experimental Polestar 2 in production, CAR understands that it’s not completely out of the question as the car shown at Goodwood is’ feasible.’ What’s more, Polestar’s startup nature means it could react if demand is high enough…

The Tesla Model 3-chasing Polestar 2 has been given a bigger armoury in its battle to establish itself as the go-to family-sized EV for those looking not to join Elon’s gang. The expanded range is part of Polestar’s plan to expand its European sales in the light of booming interest in electric cars in general.

In a nutshell, the former range of one has expanded to include dual- and single-motor powertrains with long- and standard-range battery options, as well as three new option packs designed to make speccing simpler.

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By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast