Polestar 2 Electric Car Prototype.
Which one is the Polestar 2?
You will remember the Polestar 1, a plug-in hybrid that looks a bit like an S90 from the front and a muscle car from the back, with a fittingly hench £139,000 pricetag. While that car is a performance-orientated grand tourer, the Polestar 2 is more of a family-focused EV with a sporty edge. It has a (comparatively) more palatable bottom line of £49,900, putting it between the standard and Performance Tesla Model 3 in terms of price as well as range and power.
The Swedes say that while they’re not targeting Tesla owners, their car is more fun to drive than a Model 3, and features a much slicker Google Android operating system. It’s actually the first car to offer such a thing, but we’ll get onto that later. For now, consider Polestar’s assertion that this is an electric car for the type of driver who’d rather have a BMW M2 or Ford Focus RS than a Renault Zoe.
Our test car was very pre-production (although it felt and looked pretty damned finished), and confined to the Hallered Proving Ground near Gothenburg. This facility has 16 test tracks including a 66km high speed oval, a handling circuit and a collection of the worst roads in the world, with a stretch that very accurately reproduced our own terrible UK tarmac.
Polestar 2: ride and handling
While this car inherits rack componentry from Volvo it certainly doesn’t steer like one – thank some clever programming for that. There’s not a huge amount of feel but it’s way more predictable with linear weighting and quick responses. This is to be something of a Polestar hallmark, we’re told.
Bodyroll is kept in check too – there’s a bit of initial lean when you turn in hard but then a strong sensation of the car bracing itself against those sideways forces. This makes it feel neutral and poised with traction limits that would be hard to breach on the road. It simply strides on with great confidence regardless of how much you try to over-drive it.
How much of that is due to the Performance Pack our cars had – one of the only options at launch, focussing purely on the chassis – we’ll have to decide when we drive a normal one. For £5000 this pack gets you 20-inch wheels with Continental Premium SportContact 6 tyres (the standard car gets a 19-inch Primacy or 20-inch PremiumContact 6 depending on wheel size), plus larger Brembo brakes up front, gold seat belts and valve caps.
What about that Android operating system?
Perhaps the most exciting element of the Polestar 2 for techheads is the fact it’s the first car in the world to feature Google Android infotainment. It’s set on an 11-inch, free-standing portrait screen, and once you’ve logged in to your Google account it works just like your phone or tablet with all your apps and contacts already saved. You can use it as a guest, but then it’s not as good.
A familiar home screen with status bar showing phone reception, Bluetooth and internet connectivity etc is the default screen, and four customisable tiles show summaries of things like the sat-nav or media info.
How is it better than Android Auto?
For several reasons but chiefly because of ease of use. You log into the Polestar 2’s infotainment by simply walking up to the driver’s door where a Bluetooth antenna picks up your phone in your pocket for verification. An addition PIN can be set up if you’re paranoid, but otherwise there’s no need to plug your phone into the car’s USB or press buttons on the screen, it just works.
It’s also connected to the car’s various systems in a way Android Auto isn’t, and because everything is integrated and saved to your Google profile, by the time you open the door the car has already started moving the seat and mirrors for you, selecting the steering weight you prefer and configuring the various safety systems to your liking.