The Polestar 2 was the first car to really launch Polestar as a separate entity to Volvo, and it was also one of the first cars to truly try and take on the Tesla Model 3. It’s an all-electric car with up to 469bhp (which is more than a Porsche 911) and a range of between 322 and 395 miles, thanks to a smattering of updates for 2023.
In terms of pricing, the Polestar is bang on the Tesla's territory too, starting at £44,950 for the standard model, the standard range, single motor option. Prices extend up to the hot dual motor 'Performance Pack' version from a Model 3 Performance rivalling £57,950.
That pricing is crucial, as it puts the 2 slightly overlapping or above electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Kia Niro EV but makes it more affordable than the raft of posher all-electric SUVs such as the Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes EQC. It's within the reach of company car drivers, who will find that the tax and running cost advantages could make driving an electric model like the Polestar as affordable as a mid-range diesel BMW 3-Series over a few years. Talking of BMWs, the Polestar is usefully cheaper than an i4 too, which will be considered a key rival.
The crucial advantage the 2 has over the Model 3 (but not the i4) is its hatchback though. Where the Tesla has to make do with a smaller bootlid, the Polestar’s more practical hatch will make it a more obvious choice for anyone who needs to carry larger loads such as bikes. It’s also a slightly strange half-way between having a raised ride height like an SUV and being lower like a traditional saloon. There’s no suggestion that the Polestar has any off- road ability, but it does mean the driving position is raised higher than in a traditional hatchback.
Polestar has also thought hard about the technology, most notably by incorporating Google’s Android operating system into the heart of the car. It’s supposed to have the best voice recognition of any car and, just like Teslas, it will get updates over the airwaves so it can have the latest apps and software. There’s no doubt it works brilliantly.
Out on the road, the 2 feels generally great. The brakes are among the best we’ve tried in an electric car and it is really easy to drive. The performance is there if you squeeze the pedal, but it never makes you feel like it’s going to take you by surprise.
However - it could get better still. As part of the car's mid-life facelift, Polestar's reconfigured the electric motor system to send power to the rear wheels instead of the front ones, for single motor versions, while four-wheel-drive cars now have a more 'rearward bias' to the way they drive - and that's something that the typical BMW buyer might sit up and take notice of.
Another crucial change for 2023 comes in terms of the battery and charging technology. Updates under the metal mean that the longest range version can now notch up an impressive 395 miles on a full battery, while the fastest charging rate gets closer to the industry's top tech, capping out at 205kW.
The bad bits? Well the steering can feel a bit odd at times, even if you’ve turned off the lane departure gadgets which can tug at the wheel if you nudge across a white line. And the big 20-inch wheels on the Performance Pack equipped cars make the ride really firm – you’ll feel every bump and pothole.
Is it better than a Tesla Model 3 or even Volvo’s own XC40 Recharge? In lots of ways they are very different cars and have different things going for them. Hatchback versus saloon, versus an SUV. Firm ride and sporty or more relaxing? The Electrifying team are split on this, so we can only recommend that you look at them all closely.