Auto Review: This long-range dual motor is a 'Scandinavian spark'

The EV company with Euro-Chinese parentage is attempting to go from the sidelines to headlines with cars like the Polestar 2

By George Kuruvilla

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Published: Mon 22 Jan 2024, 5:58 PM

Last updated: Mon 22 Jan 2024, 6:05 PM

The EV company with Euro-Chinese parentage is attempting to go from the sidelines to headlines with cars like the Polestar 2.

Two major demographics that are taking over the car market are Chinese vehicles and electric vehicles. Polestar is one such car company that falls under both categories. I know what you’re thinking, “What’s Polestar?”. The company started as Flash Engineering, was later rebranded to Polestar Racing, and was eventually bought over by Volvo Cars in 2015. Volvo itself became a subsidiary of Chinese automaker Geely in 2010. Thus, making Polestar of Euro-Chinese parentage headquartered in Torslanda, Sweden. Also, originally it was set up to build racing vehicles, which then transitioned into performance and concept vehicles and now it has become a 100 per cent EV company. Case in point!

In a world where Tesla is dominating with its Apple-like brand presence, Polestar is gradually trying to make itself known with a good range of models of varied shapes and sizes. We got to try the only one available in the market currently, the compact crossover EV, the Polestar 2.

Design and aesthetics

The Polestar 2 is styled like a Volvo and expectedly so. The Scandinavian roots are seen in the almost-monolithic bodywork, like Volvos of the past, with details like Thor’s hammer-inspired LED DRLs and wide-extending LED rear lamps, it shares some similarities with more recent models as well. Where it differentiates itself further is in its profile. Visibly, it sits higher than a sedan, more like a crossover like the Model Y. And that makes sense since it’s based on the CMA platform, which is used for several vehicles, mostly SUVs including its sibling, the XC40. The 20-inch 4-Y spoke alloy wheels and Brembo gold brake calipers (which are curiously only for the front) that come with this Performance model add an extra degree of style too. I also liked that the front grille has a crate design, and the Polestar emblem has an interesting body-coloured aesthetic. Overall, the Polestar 2 has an appreciable design with a dash of sportiness, and it certainly is a distraction from the bulbous Model Y vehicles that crowd the roads these days.

So, what if it is relatively unknown, I wouldn’t mind turning up at an event in one, as it does have some character and style. But what I wouldn’t want to do is hand over the key fob to the valet for the simple reason that it looks and feels like a plastic case that doesn’t control anything of value. A key fob is often a device for conveying social status at business lunches and I am not sure if Polestar execs got that memo.

Once inside, there is a sense of luxury within the Polestar 2. The minimalist cabin design, all rendered in varying shades of grey has just enough spark in the details (like the yellow seatbelts) and finishes to split the difference between the ostentatious EQ models and the plain Jane Teslas. The chunky 3-spoke steering wheel is also good to hold and look at. And there’s a rising centre console that leads up to the large portrait-style infotainment screen at the top and a diamond-shaped shift lever and a knurled knob that gives access to screen options, at the bottom.

Look closer and you may start to find a few more quirks and faults. The white wood finish is nice and goes with the whole aesthetic but it's quite inconspicuous and the bezels around the infotainment screen are too big for this day and age.

As for accommodation, the driver’s seating position is great and there is decent visibility overall, if you ignore the tiny side-view mirrors. It’s also quite comfortable in the front, but there is just about enough space in the back. It’s certainly a bigger car from the outside than the inside. The leather upholstery is also nice to touch unlike some of that faux stuff we’ve been seeing in EVs lately. Also, the ISOFIX mounting points for the child seats are easier to get to than in some other vehicles.

SPECIFICATIONS

Body type- 5-seater; 5-door crossover SUV

Battery/Motor- 78kWh Lithium-ion battery; dual Motor w/ all-wheel drive

Peak output - 408 PS & 660 Nm

0 to 100km/h- 4.7 seconds (claimed)

Top speed- 180kmph (drag limited; estimated)

Range- 474km

Price- Starting at Dh184,000

Powertrain and performance

Much like the Tesla there is a range of motors you can choose from. The cheapest is the Standard Range Single Motor which can generate as much as 170kW (231 PS) of power from the 69kWh Lithium-ion battery. It has a claimed 474 km of range. Then there is the Long Range Single Motor variant with just as much power and a 542 km range. And in case you’re unimpressed with the 7.4 seconds, it takes for the sprint to 100 km/h (especially after watching all those EV drag racing videos) you can also choose the Dual Motor variant like our test vehicle. It comes equipped with a 78kWh Lithium-ion battery which can generate 300kW (408 PS) of power and 660 Nm of torque, thanks to which it only takes 4.7 seconds to sprint to a ton. It is all the power you need, but some EVs are still quicker.

Like in every EV, there’s no need to kick down and there is no need for the engine to be in the power band for it to get going, just step on the “gas” and it surges ahead. Thanks to the AWD system you also don’t get the wriggles associated with a powerful RWD vehicle, but the lack of a satisfying, growling exhaust note means it’s a “Plus one, minus one” situation.

With the advent of EVs in the market, we have also been introduced to one-pedal driving. Yes, engine braking did exist before EVs which helped slow the vehicle down and this works a bit like that, except here the regenerative braking technology allows you to recover as much as 5 to 10 percent of the range. And you can adjust the force of retardation through the menus to suit your driving style.

It also rides smoother than the Model Y. It’s not floaty, just composed in the way it overcomes bumps. The feel from the steering wheel on the other hand is artificial and disconnected, but that’s the case with most EVs, save a few. Our test car also came with the Performance pack which adds Öhlins Dual Flow Valve dampers and ventilated, drilled discs, and four-piston aluminium calipers, besides the aesthetic changes. Together they add a small degree of dynamism to the Polestar 2’s handling.

I saw an indicated range of 370 km at 90 percent, so it doesn’t match claims, but it works for everyday use. However, the longevity of the battery life over the years and the effect of sizzling summer temperatures on the range is something only time can tell. Thankfully, it comes equipped with both AC and DC charging. From a regular home outlet, it would take about 8 hours, but if you have access to 155kW DC charger it can go from 10 to 80 in 35 minutes, which isn’t bad at all – just about enough time to have a coffee.

FUN FACT

The Polestar 2 is based on the Volvo Concept 40.2 which was designed by was designed by Thomas Ingenlath who is currently the CEO of Polestar

Features and functionality

I wasn’t too impressed with the A/C cooling power and the blower lacks power. So that’s something that could be improved in the otherwise comfortable cabin.

The 405-boot size is decent, and it does come with a flip-open separator. The hatchback-style liftgate also offers good access. Meanwhile, the 35-litre front boot is shallow and won’t hold more than its charging cables. It can also tow up to 1,500 kg if you’re into that sort of thing. Strangely enough, there is only one cupholder in the central console, but there is some space under the center console, and the glove box is of a reasonable size.

The Polestar has a good-sounding audio system and you won’t miss a beat. But it only comes with Apple CarPlay, which also gives you some insight into their priorities. The wireless charger and USB ports are accessible but slant away from the driver and passenger.

The good news is that even with the base model you get cruise control, a rear camera, the 12.3-inch digital driver display, the 11.15 infotainment with 8 speakers, and a bunch of safety features like 9 airbags, parking sensors, TPMS, Forward collision warning and collision avoidance system. But feature-wise it’s the Long Range model you would want. It comes with a Harmon Kardon system, Blind spot warning with steering assist, a panoramic roof, etc.

Verdict

The Polestar 2 is an everyday EV with a Volvo-inspired chic exterior and comfortable interior. It also has decent amounts of power and range, but it doesn’t quite excel in any one department. And with a price ranging between 184k to 273k Dirhams, it’s a whisker too pricey, in my opinion. But I must add that this is a good first attempt and we expect great things to come from the Polestar brand.

GOOD: Scandinavian design inside & out; decent build quality; comfortable cabin & ride

BAD: Relatively unknown; tough competition; a tad pricey

EDITOR’S RATING: 7/10 stars

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