- Polestar, initially a race car maker, was taken over by Volvo in 2015 which turned the racecar makers into EV manufacturer.
- Polestar released its 1500 models of the first version of luxury hybrid car, the ‘Polestar 1’ in 2019.
- The second version of Polestar, the ‘Polestar 2’, a 100% electricity operated vehicle, was released in January 2022.
Driving electric cars is a truly unique experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good ICE (internal combustion engine) with some roar to it, but silently cruising down a road in a sleek vehicle scratches an itch I didn’t know I had. Unfortunately, I’m not in a tax bracket that affords me the luxury of driving luxury electric cars whenever I feel the whimsy, let alone own one myself.
Still, when life sometimes affords me the opportunity, I take full advantage. Recently, I was able to drive a car from a company that I, admittedly, have little experience with; Polestar. Here is my experience after spending some time driving the performance edition of their Polestar 2. Overall, I was quite impressed!
What is Polestar?
Polestar is an electric vehicle producer that has been around for some time, although its early days were focused on race vehicles. When Volvo took ownership of the company in 2015, the full vision for the little race-car maker was revealed: they were going to create the newest line of electric vehicles for the company.
The first model, the Polestar 1, was released in 2019 with only 1,500 models available. The Polestar 1 is a hybrid luxury vehicle that provided the company an opportunity to prove that they could make a great vehicle, even if it wasn’t fully electric yet. Despite the small release, consumers seemed to enjoy the Polestar 1. On the heels of that success, the company launched the Polestar 2, the first true consumer-facing vehicle from Polestar.
The Polestar 2 is a fully electric sedan that is set to compete with other offerings from electric car manufacturers, notably the Tesla Model 3. There are three curated configurations for the Polestar 2, the Plus, the Pilot, and the Performance. The Performance configuration is described on their website as:
“…a set of specialized handling and power upgrades, carefully tuned for the Polestar 2 Long range Dual motor. More responsive, more dynamic, more engaging.”Polestar
In terms of upgrades, the Performance configuration comes with upgraded Brembo brakes (in a wonderful yellow accent), Öhlins Dual Flow Valve dampers, a customized software package, 20” Forged Alloy Wheels, and special edition seat belts (in that same gold-yellow accent). Overall, these upgrades provide a better experience for anyone looking to get optimal performance out of their car and don’t mind paying a bit extra for it. The base-model Polestar 2 costs $45,900 for the single motor or $49,900 for the dual motor. Adding the Performance package adds an extra $5,500.
My Overall Experience Driving a Polestar 2 – Performance
When I pulled up to the Volvo dealership where the regional Polestar offices are situated, I got my real first look at these cars. I had seen the Polestar 2 before, but never stationary and in direct sunlight. At first look, they are pretty mean-looking cars with a body shape that somewhat resemble some of the Volvos they happened to be around. The comparison makes sense, as I later found out that Polestar uses mostly Volvo parts in the Polestar 2 construction.
The interior was rather minimal, but it felt extremely well-designed. After talking with the rep who had originally offered the test drive to me (thanks, Sam), I learned that most of his customers are ex-Tesla owners who want something less squeaky and better built. Despite my limited experience with Teslas, the interior did feel a bit more robust and intentional.
After getting my license set up and taking off, I was immediately impressed. One of my favorite things about electric cars is the near-instant acceleration they offer when you hit the “gas” pedal. Soon, I was cruising down a stretch of four-lane stop-and-go. As boring as that part was, it served as a good place to get a feel for the car. Overall, the brakes felt nice and responsive but not too sticky, the wheel was tight (a software preference you can control), and the acceleration felt natural. Through the course of my roughly one-hour drive, I drove the car through city streets, suburban cul-de-sacs, and opened her up on some snaking country backroads.
While I wasn’t positive that people were looking at me and wondering, “wow, what is that cool guy over there driving?”… I sure liked to imagine they were. Silently driving a mean-looking car around does something to your confidence. What did Teddy Roosevelt say? “Speak softly but carry a big stick.” That’s a good line for how it felt to drive the Polestar 2 Performance. Quietly powerful.
The closest approximation I can make is that the Polestar 2 performance felt like driving the Audi A4 Sport Edition. As both are roughly in the same price range, the comparison makes sense. The Polestar 2 feels great to drive, has all of the trimmings that you expect in a luxury vehicle, and is one of the best options for someone in the EV market. Truth be told, few EVs can compete with what the Polestar 2 offers in its respective price range.
Breaking down my Polestar 2 Performance driving experience
My overall experience with the car was great, but getting into the details of the car is what some people prefer. Let’s break down some of the aspects of the car that stood out to me.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the best things about an eclectic car is the acceleration. Since there isn’t any combustion chain that needs to occur in order to power the car, the response is near-instant. In the Polestar, that seemed to also be the case. Off the line, the Polestar 2 Performance boasts a 4.5 0-60 time, and you can feel it. Still, I did notice that there wasn’t a jerkiness to the acceleration from a dead stop that I normally notice in electric cars. This may negatively impact performance, but it was definitely a bit more comfortable. I also noticed that once cruising, you could tap the pedal and get a bit of instant acceleration and jerk. Maybe the car has a software setting to limit the takeoff power that wasn’t there during the rolling acceleration, but it was interesting to feel.
Hitting the back roads was my favorite part of the entire drive. Opening the car up a bit showed that the Polestar 2 has some oomph to it. I will say that it didn’t feel as “agile” as some other electric cars I’ve driven, with my most recent comparison being the Model X, a larger, faster car.
One interesting feature that Polestar offers is creep control. In a standard ICE vehicle, slightly letting go of the brakes will let your car coast forwards. In an electric vehicle, that action isn’t necessary as there isn’t any excess power that needs to go somewhere. I kept the creep option on because that’s what I am used to, but the option is still there.
The Polestar 2 felt great to handle. Whether it was on busy roads or country ones, I felt like I was glued to the pavement. I kept the steering wheel on Sport mode, although two other “looser” options were available.
I also got to test the brakes rather well, despite it being a near-collision. While I was driving around 35 mph in a left turn lane, someone pulled in front of me from a dead-stopped center lane heading straight. I had to SLAM on the brakes and even triggered the ABS on the car. Despite my decent speed and the weight of the car, I didn’t go squirrely at all. If I had been in the massive F-250 that I was driving earlier that day, things would have been a bit different.
The comfort of the Polestar 2 was, in my experience, on par with any other luxury vehicle in the comparative price range. One important note is that the center console is pretty expansive. Once you have a seat, you feel pretty low and the console feels pretty high up. Different people would call this “restrictive”, while others called it “secure”, but it’s most definitely a preference thing. The security of it did come in handy when I was hitting curves and kept me from flying out of my seat.
Although not specifically “comfort,” I did enjoy the touch screen that acts as your operations control. It was extremely responsive and compatible with Android Auto, a feature I use.
When it comes to appearance, there are a few things I noticed. First, I didn’t feel like the body of the Polestar 2 is all that unique. In fact, it’s pretty easy to look past until you notice the unique logo on the front. I would describe it as a more “brutal” design that isn’t the best, but it also isn’t the worst car body I’ve ever seen.
The interior of the car is quite nice. It had alternating finishes of wood, vegan leather, chrome, and a little plastic here and there. The build quality of everything felt incredibly nice, one of the biggest selling points for “ex-Tesla” drivers. One weird element was that the vegan leather actually felt more like cloth or canvas, despite it being marketed as a leather alternative. I would probably opt for the real leather interior that Polestar also offers.
The screen was large and easy to read, important for a driver who can only briefly look. The app system was nice, and the screen was really responsive. The only flaw I could see was that it really liked to accumulate fingerprints, despite the fact that it was cleaned right before I left. Overall, the Polestar had one of the cleanest and nicest interiors of any car within a similar price range.
Should you get a Polestar 2 Performance?
The Polestar 2 Performance is a wonderful electric sedan that I had a great time driving. But should you get it?
You should get a Polestar 2 if:
You are in the market for an entry-level luxury electric sedan and want something more “established” than a company like Tesla. The comparable Tesla Model 3 has some better performance options and a longer range, but it doesn’t have the established network that Polestar has. You are essentially buying into the quality-controlled system that is Volvo, and they run a really tight ship. Tesla is known for build quality problems, long waits, and slow repairs. Those may get ironed out in the future, but the Polestar is a readily available alternative for people who don’t want to take the risk.
Additionally, the Polestar 2 is probably the best electric sedan option in the $40k-$60k price range for anyone who is opposed to Tesla (whether moral or practical). There aren’t many people selling electric cars, especially at volume. Polestar isn’t struggling to roll out cars for the first time, and they have an established track record of quality.
You shouldn’t get a Polestar 2 if:
You want the best-performing eclectic vehicle on the market. Don’t get me wrong, the Polestar is a fun drive, but it isn’t intended to be the record-breaker that other companies are trying to go for. For many, this is actually a selling point as the company is more focused on quality and materials. Still, the Polestar 2 isn’t as fast and has a lower range than the Model 3.
- Polestar 3 vs. Tesla Model Y: How Do They Compare?: How does the Polestar 3 compare to the Tesla Y? Here is a comparative piece that will clear up any doubt.
- EVs vs. Hybrid Vehicles: What are the Real World Pros and Cons?: What is the real difference between an electric vehicle and a hybrid one? Find out here.
- 7 Solar-Powered EVs You Can Buy Today: Using solar energy to recharge your EV, that is a gamechanger for environmentally conscious people. Here are 7 solar powered EVs that you can buy right now.