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2021 Polestar 2 review: The first fully-electric Polestar

Power is easy to come by in modern vehicles. Whether it’s equipped with a conventional internal combustion engine, a hybrid powertrain, or all-electric, straight-line speed is in abundance. Finding a car that blends speed with finesse, style, and personality, however, is tough. Few can combine those traits beautifully and the ones that do leave a lasting impression. With its restrained yet alluring Scandinavian design and performance-focused tuning, the 2021 Polestar 2 brings a lot to the table. But does this newcomer have the substance to back itself up? Let’s drive!

2021 Polestar 2 exterior

2021 Polestar 2 front three quarters 01 1
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

You’re probably thinking that the Polestar 2 looks like a Volvo and you’d be right. This is the production form of the 40.2 Concept shown back in 2016. Other than the logo on the hood and certain design aspects, nearly everything carried over unchanged. The result? A tastefully styled sedan; clean and eye-catching without looking overwrought. Full-width curved taillights and Thor’s hammer LED headlights result in a uniquely Scandinavian look. To give the Polestar 2 a distinguishing factor, it gets cool pixel LED lighting instead of a traditional projector beam.

2021 Polestar 2 interior

2021 Polestar 2 interior 05 1
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

The Scandinavian theme continues inside the Polestar 2’s cabin thanks to the attractive minimalist look. A large 11.1-inch touch screen dominates the dash and houses nearly all of the infotainment system’s functions. You still get a volume knob along with three buttons flanking it. Everything you touch feels expensive and you get a sensation like you’re in a luxury Swedish boutique trimmed in sustainable materials. The Polestar 2 gets standard vegan cloth upholstery that feels sturdy yet plush. Complementing it is unpolished wood trim hat builds to the eco-friendly, yet premium atmosphere.

Interior space is generous in the Polestar 2 with comfortable seating for four adults. You can fit five but the center hump limits the rear center position’s usability to short trips. A standard glass roof creates an airy ambience. However, we wish it had a shade to keep the sun from heating the cabin quickly. There’s good insulation, too, adding to the serene atmosphere. You only get a slight amount of road noise on rough surfaces.

For a fastback sedan, the Polestar 2 has plenty of cargo space; credit the large hatch and rear seat backs that fold completely flat, for providing lots of usable room. The center console, however, could be better designed because one of the cupholders is inside the storage area. Oddly positioned USB-C ports in the front cubby prevent you from placing two mobile devices side by side if one is plugged in. You have side bins but they’re too small and can’t hold much.

2021 Polestar 2 tech features

2021 Polestar 2 UI 08 1
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Polestar is one of the first brands to use Google Automotive as its main user interface and the result is simply game-changing. Having Google Assistant and all of your favorite apps in one place plus the ability to download directly from the Google Play Store simplifies everything. The layout is intuitive and easy to figure out. A standard 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster projects information in a clean, uncluttered manner.

Lightning-quick touch screen responses minimize distraction. Talking to your Google Assistant means you don’t need to fiddle around trying to get navigation directions or when changing songs. The only downside is you can’t download your Spotify playlists for offline use, a strange misstep when you can already do that to maps. Rounding out the multimedia experience is a fantastic Harman Kardon surround sound system that immerses the cabin in crisp tunes. It’s also highly customizable, allowing you to personalize the listening experience to your liking.

The Volvo DNA comes into full view on the driver assistance front because the Polestar 2 has the same cutting-edge technologies found in its sister brand’s vehicles. Every collision prevention feature is standard as is Pilot Assist, one of the best semi-autonomous aids currently available. With it active, the Polestar 2 does a fabulous job following other vehicles and keeping you centered in your lane. It’s neither aggressive nor conservative, like the Goldilocks of hands-on assistance technologies, blending just the right amount of steering assist with lane centering, adaptive cruise control, and traffic jam assist.

2021 Polestar 2 driving impressions

2021 Polestar 2 rear three quarters 05 1
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Driving the Polestar 2 makes you realize that technology won’t turn a car into an appliance. With 408 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque from its two electric motors and a 78-kWh battery, you get incredible acceleration on demand. However, that’s just one part of the equation because the chassis and steering show off more of the car’s energetic personality.

On twisty roads, the Polestar 2 cuts through corners with staggering precision. The low center of gravity and absence of body roll keeps the car light on its feet while the quick, accurate steering connects you to the road. You can change the steering’s heft but we found Normal mode to offer the most natural experience. The agility doesn’t come at the cost of comfort either. The Polestar 2 is surprisingly comfortable considering how sporty it is. We’ve yet to try one equipped with the Performance package so we’re eager to see how the adjustable dampers, 20-inch wheels, and summer performance tires affect the ride and handling balance.

Quite possibly the best part of the Polestar 2’s experience is the ease of one-pedal driving thanks to the strong regenerative braking. Transitions between regenerative and mechanical braking are imperceptible even when you need to execute an emergency stop. If you’re not up for one-pedal driving, you can lower the regenerative braking’s strength to keep the car from slowing down too much.

You can also use regenerative braking for going fast. How? Because it gives you more control of the car’s speed. Is there a tight corner coming up? Ease off the accelerator, turn in, and back on so you can rocket out. Multiple S-curves on the horizon? Modulate the throttle to keep the car stable and balanced without losing much momentum.

ALSO: Polestar 2 gets over-the-air updates and range improvements

When you take all of this together, you get an EV that shrinks around the driver. Between the agility and the electric motors’ prodigious power, the Polestar 2 hides its 4,680-pound curb weight exceptionally well. On spirited drives, the car feels like a proper hot sedan with intoxicating road manners.

If there was one downside, it’d be the Polestar 2’s range. At 233 miles per charge, that falls short of the Tesla Model 3 even in Standard Range Plus guise. While that’s workable for most of your driving, longer trips require more planning. Charging takes 8.0 hours to get to 100 percent using a level 2/240-volt charger. A DC fast charger will get the battery back up to 80 percent in 40 minutes.

2021 Polestar 2 pricing

The 2021 Polestar 2 starts at $61,200 and comes loaded with nearly everything. There are only three options available: stand-alone 20-inch wheels costing $1,200, Nappa leather upholstery packaged with ventilated front seats and reconstructed wood trim for $4,000, and the Performance package for $5,000. The latter includes Öhlins adjustable dampers, Brembo front brakes, gold seat belts, gold valve stem caps, and 20-inch alloy wheels shod in summer performance tires. The Polestar 2 is available with the full $7,500 federal tax credit plus additional state incentives.

Final verdict

2021 Polestar 2 front three quarters 08 1
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

If there’s one take-away from driving the 2021 Polestar 2 it’s that technology doesn’t have to sap the life out of a vehicle. Between the thrilling driving experience and Scandinavian charm, you know you’re driving something special. Yes, the Polestar 2 has all the tech features you expect, yes, it’s electric, and yes, its range is lower than a Tesla. No, this isn’t a mobile device turned into basic transportation. The Polestar 2 is a new-age sports sedan where technology and soul coexist harmoniously.

At a glance

  • Year: 2021
  • Make: Polestar
  • Model: 2
  • Type: 4-door luxury compact sedan
  • Horsepower: 408 hp
  • Torque: 487 lb-ft
  • EV range: 233 miles
  • MPGe (city/highway/combined): 96/88/92
  • Pros: Fantastic multimedia system, excellent driving dynamics
  • Cons: Range falls short of key rivals, needs better small-item storage
  • Base price: $61,200
  • Price as tested: $62,400
Written by Stefan Ogbac
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