|Fuel efficiency||Ancap rating|
Polestar’s first Australian offering brings classic Swedish style and a sharp price.
2023 Polestar 2 review: Long Range Single Motor
Polestar’s first mass-market car is settling into the Australian market with a sharp drive and tactile materials
The Polestar 2 launched in Australia in November 2021 and has had a strong start to its sales life. Despite being heavily impacted by supply constraints, this all-electric fastback has gone on to defy the typical SUV sales trend by shifting 1524 units last year to achieve fourth place in the EV sales race, ahead of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, but a long way shy of Tesla’s Model 3 and Y.
Polestar is still in its infancy, with only one model on sale and a second due on Aussie shores in early 2024. But, in its short tenure since Australian deliveries commenced, the Polestar 2 has already matured.
For a start, the base price has climbed by $3500 for this mid-spec Long Range Single Motor variant, which is now $68,400 before on-road costs.
There are no additional features, but Polestar has delivered on a carbon reduction program. The 2 now uses aluminium for its wheels refined using green energy (in this case, Chinese hydro-electric power) that, according to the brand, cuts roughly a tonne of CO2 from production.
It’s an almost Colin Chapman-esque exercise, but instead of ‘simplify and add lightness’, it’s probably more like ‘cut emissions and give parts procurers brain aneurysms in the process’.
If you've been tracking Polestar developments, you're probably also aware that a significant mid-life update is due in the second half of 2022. The Polestar 2 LRSM will switch its single motor to the rear, improve charging speeds and range, too.
Polestar 2 LRSM: The basics
- How much is it, and what do you get?
- How do rivals compare on value?
- Interior comfort, space and storage
- What is it like to drive?
- How much energy does it use?
- How fast can it charge?
- How safe is it?
- Warranty and running costs
How much is it, and what do you get?
The Polestar 2 is a fairly basic package without options, so it’s important to get into the configurator and consider what you need.
Which is both a blessing and a curse. For example, the Pilot Lite package has features that we’d typically consider a blot when missing from a premium car’s spec sheet – lane-trace assist and adaptive cruise control – but the ability to skip them is refreshing.
As standard, all Polestar 2s are equipped with four-way power-adjustable front seats with cloth upholstery, keyless entry and go, power tailgate, an eight-speaker sound system, over-the-air software updates for life, LED headlights and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Technology also sets a high standard with an 11.2-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen powered by Google’s Android Automotive software providing access to downloadable apps such as Spotify, Plugshare and more. There are four USB-C charge points in every Polestar 2.
A 12.3-inch digital driver’s display with handsome graphics features Google Maps with live traffic updates, as well as a connected 4G SIM card to power the functions associated with the touchscreen (free for three years). Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto feature on the Polestar 2.
Our tested vehicle was fitted with extras that are commonplace on Polestars delivered to Australia, bringing its total price to $79,300 before on-road costs.
The $6000 Plus pack adds a heat pump and warmed washer jets, 12-way electric front seats adjustment with power lumbar, black ‘Weavetech’ upholstery; heated rear seats and steering wheel, PM2.5 cabin filtration and air quality monitor, wireless smartphone charging pad, a fixed glass roof and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
On top of that, the Pilot Lite pack brings blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, reverse auto emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control with lane-trace and traffic assist for an extra $3400.
Finally, $1500 worth of metallic paint – in this case a deep sandy flecked beige called Jupiter – and we’re at the $80K total. Do you need all the extras? Probably not. Without the Plus pack, the Polestar 2 is still a fine car, but we do think the Pilot Lite pack should be standard.
All the above extras are available on any Polestar 2, but the 300kW/660Nm Long Range Dual Motor model is the only one available with the Performance pack ($8000). This adds lightweight 20-inch forged alloy wheels, gold Öhlins adjustable suspension, matching gold seatbelts and six-piston front brakes.
How do rivals compare on value?
Starting from $63,900 before on-road costs, the Tesla Model 3 is more affordable than a base Polestar 2, although the Long Range AWD Model 3 is dearer than the tested Polestar 2, though the twin-motor Tesla promises a faster 0-100km/h time and all-wheel drive, as well as a larger touchscreen.
Although Tesla’s interior presents splendidly, the Polestar’s build quality and material tactility remain a cut above the American start-up.
It’s hard to beat Tesla’s captive Supercharger network, though, which currently remains closed to other brands. A Hyundai Ioniq 5 Dynamiq rear-drive costs $69,900, while a Kia EV6 Air RWD $72,590, both before on-road costs. Each is similar in price to the Polestar but trade more cabin space for less material finesse.
Looking outside EVs for a moment, the Polestar 2 compares favourably with the standard luxury trio, too. A BMW 330i will set you back $93,400, an Audi A4 45 TFSI $75,700 and Mercedes-Benz C300 $93,500 (all before on-road costs).
Interior comfort, space and storage
We’ll start with the Polestar’s shortcomings first, some of which are very noticeable in Australian conditions. Insipid air conditioning combined with a glass roof and Weavetech upholstery (a recycled textile designed to regulate cold, Scandinavian winters, not searing Aussie sun) make the 2 a heat box in 30ºC+ temperatures.
Teslas suffer a similar fate with their ‘vegan leather’ (read: vinyl) upholstery and glass roof – though it must be noted that the Weavetech is preferable to PVC. You can also opt for sustainably tanned Zinc leather with fan-cooled seats for an extra $6000.
The back seat isn’t great either. Despite being an EV, the Polestar 2’s converted CMA platform retains a high transmission tunnel. Legroom and toe-room are solid, but headroom is compromised for taller occupants. It’s also a dark place to be, and the Polestar 2 has a firm ride in the rear.
Back to the good stuff though, the Polestar 2’s boot measures 405L and has a generous hatchback opening (there’s another 45L in the ‘frunk’, too) and while there is a load lip to hoist heavy goods over, it’s not as bad as sedans of old. Polestar has also borrowed a fold-up shopping bag organiser from sister company Volvo.
Ergonomically, the Polestar’s front cabin is stunning. Unlike a Tesla Model Y or Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Polestar snuggles the driver’s seat right down into the car. With quality plastics rising high to ensconce you and flourishes of Black Ash wood trim, Polestar 2 is no knock-off mid-century modern lounge, but rather an audiophile’s listening room.
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The Plus Pack helps that analogy with its 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo (tuned by the sound brand, not Polestar), delivering cracking renditions of your favourite music with deep, powerful bass and clear mid-tones.
As icing on the cake, the Polestar 2’s stubby gear selector has a perfectly flattened top and is placed ideally as a wrist rest when interacting with the touchscreen as you drive. Even the indicator sound is pleasing.
What is it like to drive?
With headline claims made by the dual-motor all-wheel drive Polestar 2, you might have forgotten that the front-wheel drive Single Motor versions exist, but with 170kW of power and 330Nm of torque available instantly and a 0-100km/h sprint of 7.4 seconds, the 1994kg Polestar 2 is no slouch. It feels about the same in pace terms as a Mazda 6 turbo, thanks to its instant pick-up.
Polestar’s one-pedal driving mode is excellently calibrated, too. There are three settings: Off, Low and Normal. If you’re au fait with regenerative braking, you’ll be like a duck to water in the most aggressive setting, but the option to lower its power is welcome too. You can also easily enable or disable a ‘creep’ function in the Polestar 2’s driving menu.
In the same menu, you can play with the steering feel. Firm gave the most confidence while remaining light enough around town. There’s no real weight build-up through a corner to give you an impression of how hard the car’s front axle is working, but the rack itself is direct, consistent and smooth all the way through.
The Polestar 2 has a reassuring balance that defaults to safe understeer as you push beyond the limits of its 245/45 R19 Michelin Primacy tyres. When equipped with the Performance pack, the Dual Motor version eliminates the body roll of the cooking models for a rally-car-like ride.
Even on the softer standard spring and damper package, the Polestar is firm, especially at urban speeds. On smooth roads, the rear end settles but the high-frequency stutter bumps that litter Sydney roads tend to jiggle the Polestar 2’s occupants vertically. Above 70km/h, the ride improves and on country roads, body control is excellent with minimal head toss.
The Polestar 2 is also quiet and refined; it’s amazing how much of a luxury not hearing a combustion engine whirring away actually is.
How much energy does it use?
The Polestar 2’s driving experience and interior are cohesive and enticing, but its energy use isn’t quite as outstanding.
Its rated WLTP energy consumption is 13.6kWh/100km, for a driving range of 551km from its 75kWh lithium-ion battery. We returned an average of 15.5kWh/100km over a week of testing, for a 484km real-world driving range.
That’s a reasonable roving range. Polestar also has a dynamic range calculator to help plan trips as, unlike combustion-engined cars, EVs are typically less efficient when travelling at 110km/h on the highway.
Some of the inefficiencies can be attributed to using a converted combustion car platform, but there are other factors at work. In Single Motor guise, the Polestar 2 uses a 10.51:1 ratio in its single-speed transmission, comparable to Ioniq 5’s 10.64:1.
In the recent Wheels EV megatest, the most efficient car tested was the Hyundai Kona electric. Although now dated and running – like the Polestar – on a mixed-use platform, its higher 7.981:1 ratio likely has a part to play in keeping efficiency high, if sacrificing some initial kick.
How fast can it charge?
The Polestar 2 has a peak DC fast-charge speed of 150kW, for a 10-80 per cent (52-441km of WLTP range) in 37 minutes.
In practice, it took the Polestar 2 22 minutes to charge from 28-67 per cent on a 350kW ultra-rapid charger, with a peak speed of 135kW noted. Previous testing has shown us that Polestar’s charge rate drops off significantly after 80 per cent.
Home charging will take eight hours from 0-100 per cent using an 11kW three-phase wallbox, 12 hours on a 7kW single-phase unit and 38 hours from a three-pin socket.
How safe is it?
The Polestar 2 was rated five stars in ANCAP safety testing. Its rating applies to all grades and will expire in December 2027.
As standard, the Polestar 2 is equipped with eight airbags, forward auto emergency braking with pedestrian, cyclist and junction detection, lane departure warning and speed sign recognition.
To get all the safety features – reverse AEB, a more advanced adaptive cruise and lane-trace assist – you need to pay $3400 extra for the Pilot Lite pack. Polestar’s lane-keep assist was good to use but the adaptive cruise did once run up to 5km/h above the set speed, which isn’t ideal in a country obsessed with speeding laws.
Warranty and running costs
The Polestar 2 is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, while the 27-module battery is guaranteed to remain above 70 per cent capacity for eight years or 160,000km.
Each battery module can be replaced in the Polestar 2, and there are provisions to do this in Australia. This means less potential downtime should you need to replace a module at a dealer.
Servicing is due every two years or 30,000km – double that of a typical combustion car. Routine maintenance is also included in the price of purchase for the first five years or 100,000km. Five years of roadside assistance comes complimentary with all Polestar 2s.
The Polestar 2 is not a perfect electric vehicle for Australians. The cabin is a hot place to be with the fixed glass roof, and its real-world efficiency falls a little short of both the brand’s claims – and rivals such as Tesla.
But as a product that you can walk out to and appreciate, there is little that comes close to the Polestar 2. Its pumped shoulders, menacing stance on the road and architectural cabin make it very attractive indeed.
That it happens to ride pretty well, go around corners excellently and have a rapid turn of speed with up-to-date technology is the icing on the cake.
When judged on its EV credentials, the Polestar 2 isn’t a stand-out, but next to increasingly samey luxury rivals, it’s a refreshing and bold choice.
Thing is, with big improvements on the way later this year, you're probably best holding off on buying a Single Motor until it goes rear-drive and bumps driving range to nearly 600km.
Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor specifications
Things we like
- Built-in Google software
- Material tactility
- Composed, secure handling
- One-pedal driving
Not so much
- Weak air-con and hot cabin
- Slow 80-100% charge speed
- Small and dark back seat
- Jiggly urban ride
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Polestar 2 Prices and Specifications
|2||$63,900–$73,400||Electric||170–300 kW||1 SP Automatic|
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