2021 Polestar 2 Review

The Volvo Spinoff Brings a New BEV to Battle With the Other Guys (That’s You, Tesla)

Jason Fogelson
Managing Editor
PROS
  • All-electric powertrain with significant zip
  • Volvo-derived safety systems
  • A new brand with significant legacy
  • Will qualify for federal and state rebates
CONS
  • Range is not quite up to Tesla standards
  • Tiny dealer body
  • Light steering on heavy acceleration

2021 Polestar 2 Review

The 2021 Polestar 2 is a 5-passenger premium battery electric vehicle (BEV) with a fastback sedan body style. The Polestar 2 is the second new vehicle from the new all-EV brand. In 2019, the company released the Polestar 1, a proof-of-concept high-end electric car with a limited run of 1,500 vehicles for a scheduled three-year run. The Polestar 2 has a more popular target of 2,000 units this year, with the goal of selling tens of thousands per year thereafter at new Polestar dealerships. Pricing for the 2021 Polestar 2 starts around $60,000.

Polestar 2 Exterior

Polestar started as a race-engineering company specializing in Volvo vehicles, eventually getting absorbed by the Swedish maker as a kind of in-house tuner. Now, Volvo’s corporate parent company, China’s Geely, and Volvo have spun off Polestar as a stand-alone brand (on paper, at least). The first four Polestar dealerships in the U.S. have opened in Manhattan, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Marin, with dealerships set to open in Austin, Boston, Denver, Seattle, South Florida, and Washington, DC in the first half of 2021, with the goal of opening 15 locations by the end of the year. 

Like almost all of the current crop of EVs on the market, Polestar 2 is still a legacy vehicle. However modern and advanced its technology may be, it still looks, feels and operates like a car, and fits into the traditional mold of a five-door fastback. On those terms, the exterior is nicely designed, with an aerodynamic look that still manages to retain a tall roofline with a panoramic laminated sunroof. The fastback roofline has a liftgate that’s hinged above the back glass, opening up in hatchback style for great access to the cargo compartment. You can fold down the second row, and Polestar 2 is almost SUV-like in its utility. Six exterior finishes are available for the exterior. They’re almost greyscale with the exception of one slightly blue choice. It’s a Scandinavian winter palette, for sure.

Polestar 2 Interior

Inside the Polestar 2, the look is clean, crisp and uncluttered. The center stack is occupied by a free-floating 11.5-inch touchscreen display in portrait orientation, and the center console houses just a brief row of buttons ahead of a helmet-shaped gear selector. The instrument panel is digital, too, with a 12.3-inch driver display with three display modes (Calm, Car-Centric, and Navigation). 

Materials within the cabin are designed to be environmentally friendly and sustainable, and have a high-quality look and feel. A vegan interior is standard. The WeaveTech upholstery feels more like a high-tech winter garment than vinyl or traditional cloth, and looks great. Chrome-free ventilated Nappa leather upholstery is available, too. 

Befitting a new, fully modern car, Polestar 2 is loaded with the latest technology, like inductive charging, USB-C charging ports, OTA (over-the-air) software updates, personalized lighting, and more.

Polestar has included some innovations into the cabin. Most interesting, there’s a sensor built into the driver’s seat to detect when an operator is in position and ready to drive. If the key’s in the cabin, and a driver is in the seat, the car’s ready to go. Just depress the brake, select a gear, release the brake and press the throttle pedal. When you’re done driving, select “P,” get out of the car and walk away, and the car shuts down. Later in the model year, Polestar promises to offer a digital key, in essence an app on your smartphone, to replace the physical key fob, so you won’t have to carry a key at all. 

When you look around the cabin, the Harmon Kardon speakers are not visible. They’re integrated into the door panels and elsewhere behind cloth coverings that are acoustically transparent, so you can hear them but not see them.

Polestar 2 is the first production vehicle to feature Android Automotive OS, an infotainment platform that integrates the functionality of Google Assistant into the automotive environment. In addition to the interactivity that has become the norm for infotainment, the new OS allows new actions. Activate the Assistant with a steering wheel button, or by saying “Hey, Google,” and you can change vehicle HVAC settings, access Google Maps Navigation, play music, read messages from your smartphone, or even operate your Google Home appliances and devices – and it all works wirelessly, without the need for a USB connection to your Android or iOS device. 

2021 Polestar 2

Polestar 2 Powertrain

Polestar 2 has two electric motors (408 hp/487 lb-ft of torque for the system), one front and one rear, delivering all-wheel drive with a rear-wheel drive bias and electronic torque vectoring. That means the system directs torque to the outside wheel during a cornering maneuver, which improves turn-in and control. 

Charging the Polestar 2’s 78-kWh battery pack is achieved with the included 11-kW onboard charger via a standard 120- or 240-volt outlet (up to 22 hours for Level 1; up to 8 hours for Level 2). Commercial charging stations of up to 150 kW DC are compatible for DC Fast Charging. Range is estimated at 233 miles. EPA estimates are 96 MPGe city/88 MPGe highway/92 MPGe combined. 

Polestar 2 Driving Experience

Takeoff from a stand-still is brisk – Polestar reports a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds. There’s a bit of lightness in the steering and handling during heavy acceleration, almost a go-kart feel that is a little unsettling. But for the most part, the Polestar 2 is smooth and comfortable on highway runs, tight enough to be fun on the curvy roads, and predictable in all situations. You can set up Polestar 2 for one-pedal driving, which is an effective way to drive an EV in traffic. Basically, regenerative braking is set to the maximum, which means that when you ease off the throttle pedal, the car automatically decelerates, all the way down to a full stop if you let it. You can modulate the car’s speed with one pedal in most situations, going to the brake only when necessary for a quicker stop. This can be a less taxing way to drive in moderate to heavy traffic, and Polestar 2 does it well. 

2021 Polestar 2

2021 Polestar 2 Trim Levels and Pricing:

The 2021 Polestar 2 will come in just one trim level this year, starting around $60,000.

  • The major option is the Performance Pack ($5,000), which adds Ohlins dampers, optimized Brembo front brakes, 20-inch wheels, gold valve caps, gold seat belts, and a high-gloss black roof.
  • Ventilated Nappa Leather interior is $4,000. 
  • Twenty-inch wheels (upgrade from 19-inch) are $1,200.
  • Paint (other than Void/Black) is $1,200.

If you are looking for a more accurate idea of pricing, you can build and price a Polestar 2 on Polestar’s official web site. 

Polestar 2 Best Features

Polestar 2’s powertrain is its best feature. The smooth, efficient EV is fast, has decent range, and allows for near-silent operation at all speeds. Instant torque at any time is a very addictive feature, one of the hallmarks of an electric motor. It’s almost not fair to get such hot rod exhilaration without burning an ounce of gasoline.

2021 Polestar 2

What is Our Favorite Version of the Polestar 2? 

Since there’s only one version of Polestar 2 for 2021, the answer is easy. We would stretch to add the Performance Pack, as the Ohlins dampers and Brembo brakes can enhance the driving experience, and the gold seat belts are just plain cool.

2021 Polestar 2

Polestar 2 Notable Safety Features

Even though Polestar is technically a start-up company, its close ties with Volvo mean that it gets to build on Volvo’s technology, not start off from scratch. Polestar offers the same PilotAssist system and other safety features you can find in a Volvo – which is to say, advanced and industry-leading.

2021 Polestar 2

Who Should Buy a 2021 Polestar 2?

We’re getting to the point where you don’t need to be a risk-taking early adopter to buy an EV. Families with good access to a charging station, either by installing one at home or having one at work, will appreciate the 233-mile range.

Buyers who have been considering a near-luxury EV but have been put off by fit-and-finish issues in some startup company products will have no such issues with the Polestar 2, which lives up to corporate ancestor Volvo’s build quality standards.

One of the advantages of being a startup is Polestar 2 buyers can qualify for Federal, state, and local tax rebates and credits which have expired for several other manufacturers, so shoppers looking for the best bargain on a premium BEV should take notice.

2021 Polestar 2

CarExpert’s Take on the 2021 Polestar 2

As a new entrant, Polestar has a steep hill to climb. The Polestar 2 is a strong offering and the connection with Volvo will solidify the brand, but those two things don’t guarantee success. EV buyers don’t conform to traditional demographics. Instead of being objective or hyper-focused on sales price, EV buyers tend to be early adapters who are affluent. They shop with emotion and are very brand-focused (uniqueness, innovation, and cachet is important). Polestar has to establish itself as a player that offers consumers more than just combustion-free transportation — Polestar 2 is an entire lifestyle. Keep in mind that convincing traditional buyers to alter their mindset has proven to be a monumental hurdle for many others in this electrified segment.

2021 Polestar 2

Polestar 2 Competitors to Consider: Bullet List

  • Audi e-tron
  • Ford Mustang Mach-E
  • Jaguar E-Pace
  • Porsche Taycan
  • Tesla Model S

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OVERALL RATING8.7
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 8.2
Ride Comfort 8.6
Safety 8.8
Fit for Purpose 8.7
Handling Dynamics 8.6
Interior Practicality and Space 8.7
Fuel Efficiency 9.5
Value for Money 8.4
Performance 8.7
Technology Infotainment 8.8