Polestar 2 threatens Tesla dominance below

It’s always exciting for a new car brand to enter the market – but Polestar presents a particularly interesting prospect.

For those who don’t know, Polestar was originally a high-performance division of Volvo, like BMW M or Nissan Nismo, for example. It has since turned into a brand in its own right and has shifted its focus towards electric vehicles. Indeed, Polestar has lofty aspirations to become the world’s first carbon-neutral car brand – a bold undertaking.

The Polestar 1, the brand’s first car, was a limited production hybrid sports coupe that was only available in a select few markets. However, the Polestar 2 is purely electric and is the brand’s first major production car – as well as the first Polestar to hit Australian shores.

But why are you trying to launch a new electric car brand in Australia when both the federal and state governments here have done so much to discourage electric car ownership?

it is easy. The Polestar 2 goes down Tesla’s throat—specifically the Model 3. The Tesla Model 3 has always been the best-selling EV Down Under, in large part because it’s a great car, but also because there isn’t much competition. Other car brands moved away from offering electric cars of the same size in Australia because they discovered that they could not survive against the dominance of the Model 3.

So, how much does the Polestar 2 weigh compared to the Model 3? In fact, how does it weigh on a larger scale? Well, we drove the new Polestar 2 to find out, and spoiler alert: It weighs pretty well. Very good actually.

Plenty of room for friends. Photo: Jamie Weiss/DMARGE

First things first: pricing. Polestar 2 starts at $69,332 (standard range, single-motor, NSW pricing) — more than the $63,900 Tesla Model 3, but less than any other similarly sized electric vehicle from premium brands like Audi or Polestar mother brand Volvo. In fact, it costs less than the Volvo C40 and XC40 Recharge, which share its platform. The main thing is that it is in the ballpark of the Model 3.

The Polestar 2 is also slightly larger than the Tesla Model 3 and is closer to an SUV crossover than a compact sedan or hatchback. More on that later. Here the comparisons end. Regardless of trim position, the Polestar 2 is a very different beast than the Model 3, or anything else on the market.

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Maybe it’s just because we’re used to Teslas now but the Polestar 2 really stands out on the road – nothing else compares to it, it’s very futuristic. You really feel as if you are driving the future of cars. It makes other cars look old by comparison.

Part of this has to do with the unique body style that defies easy description. It’s not a hatchback, it’s not an SUV… It’s more like a big, high-end sedan. With its large wheels, steep rear hatch, and sturdy stance, it feels incredibly purposeful.

Elegant and simple, the cockpit of the Polestar 2, is a great place to be. Photo: Jamie Weiss/DMARGE

The fact that he’s also got some goodwill for performing hard really supports that sentiment as well. With 300 kW and a 0-100 km/h time of just 4.5 seconds in a long-range twin-engine guise, the Polestar 2 moves its mass in an impressive way. The novelty of petrol-car shredding with the lights turning green never gets old – they wouldn’t expect to see a Polestar 2 size car like this!

The Performance package also benefits from Öhlins’ suspension and large Brembo brakes, the latter of which have been painted in eye-catching Swedish gold – a nice aesthetic touch.

In fact, the Polestar 2 is packed with a lot of great aesthetics, especially with the addition of the Performance Package. Like the brake calipers, the seat belts on the Polestar 2 Performance were gold. It sounds dumb but makes the car feel more luxurious than it actually is – colored seat belts are usually the domain of luxury or sports cars. I don’t know why more car brands make colored seat belts, but I digress.

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Other nice touches include delicious real wood paneling that runs across the dashboard and center console, body-color exterior decals and nice-looking four-spoke edges.

There’s plenty of Volvo DNA in the Polestar 2, too – as evidenced by sharing parts such as the use of the familiar Volvo-shaped square wheel hub design and the many buttons and switches throughout the car. This is by no means a bad thing: it serves Polestar well to remind passengers of its Swedish heritage, even if the car is entirely made in China.

Close-up of the Polestar 2 Performance Package wheels. Everyone loves some Brembos. Photo: Jamie Weiss/DMARGE

Yes – Polar is made in China. Chinese car company Geely bought Volvo back in 2010 and plans to make all Polestars in China go ahead. The car was built mostly in Sweden (looks very Scandinavian) but it’s not a Swedish car.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The quality of Chinese cars has made leaps and bounds in recent years, and the Polestar 2 is particularly impressive in that respect. Volvo has always had a good reputation for build quality, and if you didn’t know too well, you’d assume the Polestar 2 was also made in Sweden. Not to keep framing everything about Tesla but it also influences all around Tesla when it comes to build quality.

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All in all, it’s a pretty excellent driving experience — which you’re kind of hoping for, considering its price tag puts it in the luxury car territory, even with state incentives softening the blow.

The biggest negative about the Polestar 2 is also one of its biggest selling points. Compared to a Tesla – or indeed any other modern luxury car – the Polestar 2 is surprisingly light on technology, even though it does the “put everything on a touch screen” thing many cars do these days.

However, the Volvo effect shines through in terms of safety technology. The Polestar 2 has amazing collision avoidance and mitigation systems with braking and steering support as well as vehicle, cyclist and pedestrian detection (maybe elk too); Anti-lane departure with steering support and can even scan road signs to automatically adjust cruise control speed.

MMI also runs some Android kernels and doesn’t feel particularly dedicated, although those familiar with Google products like Maps probably won’t be alarmed.

Polestar 2 brings a smile to your face. Photo: Jamie Weiss/DMARGE

But in reality, we don’t see this as a deal breaker. In fact, we think the very traditional driving experience of the Polestar 2 makes it great for those who want an EV but might be intimidated by the technical nature of many modern cars. It’s an absurdly easy car to drive, and there’s a lot to be said about that.

In fact, simplicity is the name of the game here with Polestar 2. In typical Scandi fashion, it’s beautifully simple. It is a very advanced design while being unpretentious. The now-defunct Swedish SAAB brand used to be the joke car of choice for architects and other creative types, but we see that’s the case with the Polestar, but entirely positively.

In essence, the Polestar 2 is a car for those who want something a little different. It represents a change of guard in modern cars – in many different ways – as well as one of the best luxury car experiences on the market. We are touched, and we think you will be, too.

Find out more about the Polestar 2 and book a test drive at the Polestar showroom online here.

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