Polestar 2 review: a solid and great-looking EV

With Android Automotive built-in and a stylish design, this electric car is turning heads

Polestar 2
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Polestar 2 paints a bright picture for electric cars, it’s a premium sedan with some serious styling and the benefit of Android Automotive powering the user experience.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Great looks

  • +

    Android Automotive built-in

  • +

    Decent range

  • +

    Seriously fast

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    The Interior is quite plastic

  • -

    Autonomous driving modes limited

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The Polestar 2 is the second electric vehicle from Polestar, the Swedish automotive brand owned by Volvo. While the Polestar 1 was a sporty GT, the Polestar 2 is a more affordable four-door sedan with a hatchback.

Despite the separation of the two brands, there is a certain Volvo feel to the Polestar 2 and it’s easy to draw comparisons the Volvo C40, which is also a four-door EV. This price and styling also pit the Polestar 2 up against models like the Tesla Model 3, though perhaps unfairly.

One of the highlights of the Polestar 2 is it runs Android Automotive natively, allowing you to access all the features of Android Auto without having to connect your phone and also use the Google Assistant and interface to control a range of vehicle functions. You can read the full Android Automotive review based on this Polestar 2 on T3.

I tested the Polestar over three days, driving on a range of different roads and found the car a pleasure to drive. Overall it feels like a competent electric vehicle that sits well in the premium sedan market.

Polestar 2 review: Price and availability

The Polestar 2 first launched in summer 2020 with a single offering. The new 2022 edition now comes in two versions. The dual motor model starting from $42,400/£45,900 and a single motor version starting from $38,400/£39,900. While the single motor model offers a longer 265-mile range, the 249-mile dual motor version ultimately has more power, with 408hp and a 4.5-second 0-60mph acceleration. In the UK there are two versions of the single motor model: standard or long range. The range figures in the UK are based on the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WWTP) rather than the US MPGe conversion and give up to 335 miles from the long-range single motor model and 298 miles from the dual motor model.  

Polestar 2

(Image credit: Future)

Polestar 2 review: Design

The exterior of the Polestar 2 is extremely pleasing. It looks like a modern design without being radically different. While on a profile view you could certainly mistake it for a range of other sedan models, the front and rear provide character.

The large, black front grill provides a stark contrast to the surrounding paintwork, especially on the lighter paint colors. The model I tested came in a silvery tone listed as magnesium, but it is also available in white, thunder (silver-gray), moon (a warmer gray), midnight (dark blue) and void (black).

The front lights a long and thin, as if the car is giving you an intense stare. This was often matched by passers-by as they tried to work out what the car was. Some even resorted to asking when the car was parked, as the star-like badge doesn’t give much away.

The rear has a long LED strip that joins the left and right rear lights to create a shape much like an upside-down staple. This is pretty distinctive, and while a few other vehicles provide a similar continuous rear light, the Polestar 2’s LEDs are unique.

The interior is where the Polestar 2 really stands out. The design is fairly minimalist for a regular sedan – though not to Tesla levels. There is still the normal array of vents and controls here, as well as an instrument panel behind the steering wheel but it feels spacious and uncluttered. The focal point of the design is the 11-inch display that appears to float in the center console. This can make the screen feel out of place and somewhat stuck on, rather than part of the car design, but most large screen cars have the same issue.

The shift lever has a diamond-shaped design and offers a subtle movement. The parking brake is a button next to the lever and is all you need to press before leaving the car.

The fabrics used here offer vegan options as well as constructed wood and claim a 35% reduction in plastic. However, there does still feel like there’s a lot of plastic here – particularly surrounding the center console, which doesn’t feel as premium as it looks.

Helping with that airy feel to the interior is a panoramic glass roof that comes as part of the Plus Pack (for an additional $4000). The glass roof is tinted to avoid glare but it really opens the car up, especially on sunnier days. The only view that is slightly restricted is through the rear, as the view through the rear window is quite thin.

Polestar 2 review: Features

The Polestar 2 has Android Automotive built-in. This not only provides the entertainment but also provides the controls for the vehicle’s driving assistance, climate, cameras and charging. Many new cars offer the use of CarPlay or Android Auto through a connected phone, but they still require a proprietary operating system to run the rest of the functions.

With Android Automotive, the Polestar 2 becomes one big Android system, operated by a very Android looking tablet. This is a much more integrated system that offers a more natural user interface. However, the current build (based on Android 10) is a bit limited on functions and has a reduced number of apps available for use.

To learn more, you can read my full Android Automotive review, which was based on my experiences in the Polestar 2.

By downloading the Polestar app, you can connect your phone to the vehicle to act as a digital key, as well as to remotely activate the climate control and view the charge status. This also allows you to activate driver profiles, setting everything from the mirrors and seat position to the entertainment. Each driver can have their own profile and on recognizing the approaching digital key for that person, the car will revert to their presets.

There are four cameras on the outside of the Polestar 2, and these can all be accessed from the center display. These are principally used as a parking aid and can form a 360-degree view of the car. What you see on the screen is a bird’s eye view of the vehicle, allowing you to easily line up the vehicle for parking. This view also activates when driving through narrow gaps. Unfortunately, there is no automatic parking option though.

The 360-degree camera set up is part of the Pilot Pack upgrade ($3200). This pack also includes automatic rear braking, adaptive cruise control, pilot assist (also known as lane assist) and LED front fog lights that can adjust their angle when cornering.

The standard wheels are 19-inch five-spoke alloys, and have a really interesting design that elevates the car. However, you can also upgrade to one of two 20-inch alloys or choose the Performance pack ($5000), which also includes special edition gold colored seat belts, Brembo brakes and DFV dampers.

Polestar 2

The Polestar 2's trunk houses the charging leads

(Image credit: Future)

Polestar 2 review: Performance

For charging, the Polestar 2 can access a network of public chargers, including Electrify America chargers in the US, as well as home chargers. An 80% charge on a fast public charger takes around 40 minutes, while home chargers can take anything from 10 hours to 32 hours, depending on the power.   

As with many electric vehicles, there’s no actual start button here. The Polestar 2 is always on standby and comes to life when you get in. Some functions, such as the cameras won’t activate until you put the car in gear. It’s still a strange feeling not turning the car on or off – especially when you exit the vehicle.

Moving at slow speeds is deadly silent, and only when you really build up speed to you get the road noise from the tires to give you a sense of speed. At which point, it feels like any regular gas vehicle.

One of the driving options on the Polestar 2 is one pedal driving. This provides breaking as soon as you release the accelerator, meaning that you rarely have to use the actual brake, apart from more urgent stops. This takes some getting used to, especially on occasions where you would normally let the car coast – and instead come to a stop. After a while though I actually loved the feature. It really helps for busy city driving, or when sat in traffic.

On the highway, I tried out the adaptive drive control and Pilot assist. These are all linked as part of the cruise control buttons on the steering wheel, though you can turn the adaptive and pilot assist parts off and just use regular cruise control if you prefer.

Adaptive cruise control is really handy on busier roads, as it will slow you down to the speed of the vehicle in front, and even stop when they do. You do need to re-engage it to start moving again, if you have been brought fully to a stop. There’s also a handy distance adjustment on the wheel to change how far you want to stay from the car in front.

Pilot assist uses the Polestar 2’s cameras and radar to detect lane markings and make small adjustments to the steering to stay within the lanes. This is not the same as an autonomous driving mode and when you indicate to change lanes or make any significant changes to the steering, the function disengages. You also need to keep pressure on the steering wheel.

The general ride is on the harder side in the Polestar 2 but still very comfortable. The power from the electric motors provide instant response at any speed and the sheer acceleration is really impressive. The dual motor model that I tested is all wheel drive and it felt really planted going into and out of corners. This is certainly a car that could handle some serious driving, as well as cope with the hard winters that Chicago brings.

Polestar 2

(Image credit: Future)

Polestar 2 review: Verdict

The Polestar 2 is an excellent car, not least thanks to the power of the Android Automotive system. What is nice about this car is that, while it has elements of future technology, it still behaves in the main, like a regular car. The look and feel of the Polestar 2 are premium for its price point. You feel special driving it – not least because of all the attention it gets.

It’s not perfect. The Android user interface feels at odds with the rest of the design at times and it would have been nice to have a little more on the autonomous driving side. However, this is not an $80k machine, it’s a relatively mid-priced sedan, and so what it does offer is still impressive.

While driving a Tesla often feels like a different driving experience, the Polestar 2 feels more familiar. It certainly will compete on quality with many European cars, such as the Mercedes C-class or BMW 3-series and will outstrip most of them in performance.  

Polestar 2

(Image credit: Future)

Polestar 2 review: Also consider

Tesla’s Model 3 starts from a similar $35,690/£40,990 for the single motor version and at $45,690/£48,490 is slightly more for the long-range dual motor model. Like on the Polestar 2, you do pay extra for all the fancy functionality and if you want full self-driving you will end up paying much more. However, it also benefits from the Tesla charging network and a currently more advanced operating system.

Ford’s Mustang Mach-E will cost you a little more, with prices starting from $42,895/£41,330, and to get the extended range and dual motor you are looking at over $55k/£57k. However, this is a great looking car that features the Ford Bluecruise technology for hands-free highway driving and uses Amazon Alexa for its voice assistant.

Mat Gallagher

As T3's Editor-in-Chief, Mat Gallagher has his finger on the pulse for the latest advances in technology. He has written about technology since 2003 and after stints in Beijing, Hong Kong and Chicago is now based in the UK. He’s a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, Apple, electric cars, musical instruments or travel.