There’s another new sparkly from Sweden’s Volvo: the Polestar 2, a fully electric, midsize performance/luxury fastback/hatchback that can more than hold its own with many of the electrics that now are popping up like shoots in a garden.
It can compete handily with another all-new electric from Volvo, the XC40 Recharge, a small crossover SUV. That’s because they share power sources — separate electric motors for the front and rear wheels to enable all-wheel drive.
There are minor differences. The Polestar’s motors together make 408 hp with 487 lb-ft of torque, or twisting force. The XC40’s make 402 hp and 486 lb-ft of torque. But the vehicles bear little physical resemblance to each other.
Each also claims to be the first on the market with Volvo’s new UX infotainment system, which makes use of the Android Automotive Operating System with Google Maps, Google Voice and Google Assistant. As on the previously reviewed XC40 Recharge, the system can be frustrating to use without detailed instruction and practice.
Like the XC40 Recharge, the Polestar has a small trunk of one cubic foot under the hood — a good place to store charging cables.
Yet they are both essentially Volvos, from the company that pioneered the three-point seatbelt and other safety innovations. It held up during some difficult times, including a decade when it was owned by Ford. Now the owner is Geely Holding, a Chinese company based in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Wisely, the owners let Volvo be Volvo, with the result that the new Polestar 2 delivers Scandinavian flavor with classy but minimalist design. Though Nappa leather upholstery is an option, everything else inside, the company says, is “sustainable, vegan materials, like a fully vegan interior with the new WeaveTech fabric and reconstructed wood.”
The test car provided for this review had the vegan interior. Though the WeaveTech cloth has previously made an appearance on Volvo cars, it continues to be cozily comfortable and supportive — superior to leather, in this view. Besides, the Nappa leather option comes with a $4,000 price tag.
Like the XC40, the Polestar 2 is something of a dragster, with a zero to 60 miles an hour acceleration time, according to the manufacturer, of 4.45 seconds and a top speed of 125. The XC40 Recharge is only marginally slower with a zero to 60 time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 112 mph.
With its powerful electric motor and a 75-kWh battery, the Polestar gets a rapid jump off the line. Because electric motors deliver maximum torque, or twisting force, as soon as they are activated, there are no shift points — and no engine roar. Silent running is the mode for acceleration and cruising. The suspension is biased toward sharp handling, which sometimes makes for a choppy ride.
The Polestar’s range is about 200 miles when fully charged. But it can be enhanced with regenerative braking. There are Low and Standard settings. Both enable one-pedal driving. When you lift off the throttle the Polestar automatically starts braking and will come to a stop without touching the brakes. It takes practice but is not difficult.
There’s also creep mode that allows the Polestar to keep moving in slow traffic without much intervention from the driver. All of the drive modes, including another that determines steering effort, are controlled from the center touch screen.
One feature shared with the XC40 that likely will lead to lively discussion: There’s no Start button. Simply unlock the car, sit in the driver’s seat, pull the shift lever back to the Drive setting and the Polestar can go. When you leave, it all shuts down.
The Polestar seats four comfortably. There’s a fifth seatbelt for the center-rear position. But it is compromised by a large floor hump, intrusion of the center console and a high, hard seat cushion.
Rear vision also is restricted by large headrests in back. So it’s important to get the side view mirrors properly adjusted to eliminate blind spots.
There’s a full panoramic glass moon roof that does not open and lacks a sun shade, though it has automatic light dimming. And the front sun visors do not slide on their support rods to adequately block sunlight from the sides.
- Model: 2021 Polestar 2 four-door hatchback sedan.
- Electric motors: Two permanent-magnet synchronous AC; total system 408 hp, 487 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: direct-drive automatic with full-time all-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 15 feet 1 inch.
- EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: 96/15 plus one cubic foot in front trunk. 39 plus one cubic foot with rear seatbacks folded.
- Weight: 4,715 pounds.
- City/highway/combined miles per gallon equivalent: 96/88/92 MPGe.
- Range: Up to 200 miles.
- Charging time: Eight hours with 240-volt, level 2 charger; 22 hours with household 120-volt current; 40 minutes to 80% capacity with DC fast charger.
- Base price, including destination charge: $60,000.
- Price as tested: $66,200.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.
Photos (c) Polestar