Best job in the world. People tell me that’s what I’ve got, and I agree every time. I remember being one of the first to drive the Tesla Model S in Australia, and my review was simple – rethink everything you know about cars and driving – and that still stands today. Well there’s another new brand in Australia, and the Polestar 2 is the first of its kind and I think it will fit in very, very well here.
I had the chance to drive the Polestar for a good few days, including a weekend at home and those trips to the shops, with the kids or just running about really give you a sense of presence for a vehicle and this one has it.
People turn to look at it, because it’s familiar – yet new. People wonder about it because it glides by them humming not revving. But overall because it’s refined, high quality and aimed fairly and squarely at the centrepiece of the Aussie EV market – the Tesla Model 3.
Like it or not, that’s going to continue to be the comparison for any new electric car, and that’s justified. Tesla created the hype, they’ve sold more of those things than any car company would have imagined and everyone else is playing catch up. Simple.
Polestar was once a performance / race brand. Under Volvo’s ownership it was the fast stuff, the fun stuff, but it was spun off to be it’s own “startup”. Headquartered in Sweden but under the same Chinese ownership as Volvo itself – feels like less of a startup and more of a spin off – but who cares, it’s got solid Volvo DNA.
And before you go off on your stupid racist rant about not buying a car made in China, get with the program, every Tesla Model 3 sold in Australia today is made in China. So lets get past that rubbish right now.
Volvo design cues in the headlights, the grill, the shape, and all the interior fittings, but enough differences to still feel new.
Most importantly, top notch fit and finish. Materials to die for, and panel and interior fittings that don’t look like any expense has been spared. This is its first huge advantage over Tesla. And while every Tesla fan boi will fight you on it, it doesn’t take a trained eye to see the quality shortcomings in a Tesla – yep, its a sleek minimalist design – but it’s not perfect in it’s fitting.
I love this interior. A really nice layout, modern yet extremely traditional in every way. Outrageous yellow or orange coloured seatbelts make a statement – one some don’t love, but I don’t mind at all.
And – a centre infotainment system that looks like Polestar took Volvo’s and went – nah, Bigger!
But not Model S style, although vertical like the S, and much smaller than Model 3. But screen size shouldn’t be a determining factor about which car you buy.
It’s a fully digital dashboard too, and all of it, the entire “in car” system is Google.
Not Android Auto where you plug your phone in – just Google. So there’s a SIM card, and the car is connected like it is the phone. Spotify is there, Google maps is there, it all just works.
In fact while initially I was frustrated not to have Apple CarPlay I came to accept my Google overlord, in the same way Tesla Owners have similar integration though on a Tesla proprietary software which similarly integrates apps.
Most impressive of that, though still not to Tesla’s standards, was the mapping. Google’s in-built Automotive maps draw data from the car on power and let you know your battery status on arrival, and plan stops on the way.
Yes, other EVs do this, but not in the same way, not as if they are “part” of the planning process. It’s a real advance for an owner.
Certainly needs a lot more apps, and it needs Apple CarPlay – that would one-up Tesla in a big big way.
On the road, it’s a joy. Snappy acceleration, great handling a real joy to drive. 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds (long range dual motor), or 7.4 in the single motor variant. Snappy. Not the fastest, but as I’ll continue to say – show me someone who cares about 0-100 and I’ll show you someone who has nothing else in life to brag about. You just don’t use that figure in real life. Ever.
It will surprise passengers and give them a thrill. That’s all that matters.
It’s more likely the logo and rarity of the car will get you more attention than any speed figure.
There are THREE different powertrain/battery options to choose from. Let’s take a look at how they stack up.
Standard Range, Single Motor – $59,900
170kW Power, 330Nm Torque
160km/h Top Speed, 0-100km in 7.4 seconds
470km range, 69kWh battery
Long Range, Single Motor – $64,900
170kW Power, 330Nm Torque
160km/h Top Speed, 0-100km in 7.4 seconds
540km Range, 78kWh Battery
Long Range, Dual Motor – $69,6900
300kW Power, 660Nm Torque
205km/h Top Speed, 0-100km in 4.7 seconds
480km Range, 78kWh Battery
That top model is a real cracker, but totally not necessary for the average driver who will be well suited with the base model.
Because it’s what will need to happen, compared to Tesla , that’s the same entry price as the Model 3, which has just 20km more range, and is 1.3 seconds faster to 100km (because you care). Tesla’s “long” range is properly long at 614km, but that’s $73,400, and the performance model which gets you down to 3.3 for 0-100 for whatever reason you need that and has 567km range is $84,900.
Now, The Polestar is also lacking some features you may or may not need, know of, or expect. Available as fixed price “packs”.
Sadly, Blind Spot monitors and rear cross traffic alert are not in the base models, and that’s insane given how fundamental they are in many much cheaper cars. Feels like an oversight for a company born out of one of the safest car brands out there. Fix that Polestar, packs shouldn’t be about safety.
The car we tested was $77,00 as tested, fitted with the Pilot ($5,000) and Performance ($8,000) packs.
Pilot adds more safety systems, better headlines, adaptive cruise control, 360 camera and a bit more.
Performance Pack adds Brembo brakes, better dampers, 20 inch wheels and those Golden seatbelts.
A $6,000 Plus Pack includes a full panoramic glass roof, Harman Kardon speaker system, heated seats and such things, including a heat pump that helps reduce battery drain when using climate control.
Ultra-Fast or Rapid highway chargers will pump in up to 155kW power when recharging, meaning a 35 minute 10 to 80% charge, which is bloody rapid!
I fell in love with this car. I did want the Telsa, but am very glad I didn’t buy one, not just because I can’t afford one and would be broke, but because they’re kinda everywhere:). This will be a solid unique car for a few years now – and there’s nothing not to love about it.
No, it’s not a cheap car. But it’s not aimed at a Mazda 3 buyer. It’s aimed, like the Tesla at people who have the income or finances to get a european car but want to make the EV switch.
It’s ticking boxes, in a big, big way.
I highly recommend you book in for a test drive. Then go to Tesla and do the same. Then back to the Polestar. And remember, don’t let them fool you with their acceleration tests. It’s a dumb, dumb metric unless you are visiting the Western Sydney International Dragway or Willowbank. Seriously, see through the numbers, and look and feel the actual car.