It has challenged the Tesla 3 in its own yard and we think it is an evenly poised battle

Volvo has been more than vocal about its electrification ambitions. By 2025, the Swedish company plans to generate 50-percent of its sales volume from its fully electric vehicles. In fact, the automaker has decided to turn its sub-brand, Polestar, into a fully-electric performance brand. The Polestar 2 was unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show and was rather well received, but does it have in it to take on the Tesla Model 3?

Background

2018 Polestar 1
- image 792611
Back in 2016, Volvo introduced two concepts - the Concept 40.1 and the Concept 40.2.

The former took shape in form of the XC40 crossover, whereas the second one was not brought to life. However, Polestar took custody of the unused concept and based the Polestar 2 on it. The fastback-styled sedan is pumped up to wear a crossover-like look while still being a three-box car. Polestar has managed to turn the 2 into a lovable sedan that will be appreciated by all for its good looks. For some reason, automakers these days are not able to strike a balance when it comes to an EV’s looks. Either they make the car too plain to exist in the 21st century, or something that has been pulled out of The Jetsons. Amidst this transformational phase, Polestar has churned out a beautiful looking product that has its eyes set on the Tesla 3.

2018 Polestar 1
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Polestar’s first offering was the Polestar 1; a hybrid performance coupe that blew everyone’s mind for two reasons - its 600-horsepower drivetrain, and the $155,000 sticker price.

The Polestar 1 featured a four-cylinder engine that powered the front axle and two electric motors that powered the rear wheels.

This odd layout led to a lot of impracticality, including limited cargo space. But, that wasn’t that big of a deal as the brand decided to limit the production to 500 units per year because they would have a tough time selling even that many. However, Polestar seems to have rectified all those mistakes with the Polestar 2. Unlike the 1, the Polestar 2 caters to the mass market and is a legitimate threat to the Tesla Model 3. It looks smart, boasts a competition-intimidating cabin, and offers more interior space.

Polestar 2 Exterior

  • A sedan with a Crossover-esque stance
  • Thor-Hammer LEDs
  • Scandinavian design philosophy
  • Illuminated Polestar logo
left right
The Polestar 2 will be going up against the Tesla Model 3 primarily. But Polestar has taken a radically different approach when compared to its American rival.

The Polestar 2 carries a beefier stance and an aggressive face, thanks to the sleek, swept-back headlamps with the Thor Hammer LED Daytime Running Lights. Instead of slapping the company logo on the grille, Polestar has placed it above the grille, which actually makes the black grille look quite bland. The long hood has two subtle creases. The bumper houses the fog lights, which is surrounded by a black design theme that continues all along. I have to say that Polestar has done a great job in making the car look futuristic, without making it look out of place with the current crop of EVs.

2020 Polestar 2
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The boxy profile is the sportiest that we have seen on a sedan lately.

The wheel arches are subtle, yet pronounced and have a plastic cladding that runs across the side skirts as well.

The wing mirrors are placed a little deep into the doors, thus providing enough gap between the mirror and the A-pillar to avoid the blind spots. The window sills, along with the A- and B-pillars, are blackened out. The alloys are finished in silver and look stunning with the contrasting yellow brake calipers. What makes things even better is that the signature Thor Hammer LEDs are fully visible from the side. How often have you seen that in a car! All-in-all, the Polestar 2 has a very sporty, cross-country kind of a profile that looks very proportionate and really smart.

2020 Polestar 2
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Although not as impressive as the Polestar 1’s derriere, the Polestar 2 still looks good.

The C-shaped taillamps are connected by a strip that shows off the car's true Scandinavian roots with a tinge of futuristic designs.

The otherwise clean bumper wears black plastic cladding at the bottom. A black shark fin antenna on the roof sits very close to the rear windshield. The Polestar 2 boasts a raked rear windshield that adds to its fastback-styled characteristics.

Polestar 2 Tesla Model 3
Length 181.4 inches 184.8 inches
Width 70.9 inches 76.1 inches
Height 58.2 inches 56.8 inches
Wheelbase 107.7 inches 113.2 inches
Trunk capacity 15.5 cubic feet 15 cubic feet

Polestar 2 Interior

  • Thankfully, there is a proper gearshift lever
  • High-quality interior material
  • Enlarged displays in the instrument cluster
  • Cargo space at the front as well
2020 Polestar 2
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The Polestar 2, in simple words, is a cross-country version of a sedan. The car rides high, which makes ingress and egress quite easy, and it looks to be spacious on the inside.

The Polestar 2 has borrowed a lot of stuff from Volvo's inventory, including the seats, steering wheel, and HVAC vents.

That’s not a bad thing, actually, as Volvo has one of the best-finished cabins on the market today. The cargo space stands at a decent 15.5 cubic-feet, which is not exceptionally good, but Polestar also offers a small trunk under the hood to squeeze in the teeny-tiny items. Polestar has used standard vegan interior materials, black ash and reconstructed wood decor elements, and textile for the surface panels. Seats dressed in Nappa leather are available as an option.

2020 Polestar 2
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Fortunately, Polestar has offered a proper gear shift lever instead of the lame buttons seen on cars these days.

To make your long-term ownership happy, Polestar has added smart features like enlarged graphics in the instrument cluster that allow the driver to easily see the charging status and range before entering the car, and the car's ability to predetermine the driver’s next move.

Other oomph features include Pixel LED headlights and proximity lighting which enable a unique welcome sequence, Polestar’s signature frameless side mirrors, and the unique illuminated Polestar logo, which is reflected onto the car’s panoramic glass roof.

Polestar 2 Technology

  • 11-inch touchscreen system
  • Google native Android-based OS
  • Volvo Sensus UI skin
  • Phone as key function eliminates the push start button
2020 Polestar 2
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Coming to the talking point of the Polestar 2, the center-of-attraction of this EV is the 11-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment system based on Android.

Many automakers have given this a shot before, but those Android systems were not developed by Google, nor did they have the tech giant consciously involved in the R&D. Hence, they did not succeed in the market as they wound up with outdated and slower versions of Android. Back in 2017, Google announced that it was working with Volvo and Audi to deploy an Android-based infotainment system. Volvo was the ’lucky’ company to win the race and, in 2018, Google showcased a running version on the XC40’s Sensus Infotainment System which was built on Android.

Android systems have a significant advantage over the automaker’s stock systems. First, a majority of people are familiar with Android systems on their phones, which makes it easier for them to adapt quickly; as not everyone is a tech-head. Secondly, most of the mainstream ’budget’ automakers don’t provide good infotainment systems. The interface is bad, there is visible lag, and the compatibility is not that great either. Thirdly, since everything these days is moving to the cloud, the Android system also benefits from receiving over-the-air updates that will improve the car’s functions and keep the system up-to-date. I wonder when Apple will come up with their systems and challenge Google!

2020 Polestar 2
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Polestar released a prototype of the software on an app that worked on Android as well as iOS.

It looked highly intuitive to use, quite feature rich, and felt uncluttered as every icon, menu, and function is located in a logical place. The prototype also included a fun game called Polestar Space Warp, but a Polestar spokesperson said this won’t make it to the production version. Volvo has also included Phone-as-Key technology that makes car sharing an easy affair. Another noteworthy feature is that there is no start button in the Polestar 2. Yes, you read that right. The Polestar 2 has intelligent sensors that fire up the car (pun intended) the moment you place yourself on the seat.

Polestar 2 Drivetrain

  • Twin electric motors
  • 402 horsepower
  • 486 pound-feet of torque
  • 0-62 mph in 4.7 seconds
  • 78-kWh battery pack
  • 275 miles on a single charge
2020 Polestar 2
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The Polestar 2 rides on Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) architecture and features two electric motors, one on each axle, that produce 402 horses and 486 pound-feet of torque combined. It is powered by a 78-kWh battery pack housed in the floor that gives the Polestar 2 about 275 miles of range on a single charge.

Power will be sent to all four wheels, and the Polestar 2 can sprint to 62 mph from a standstill in about 4.7 seconds.

For those who want a little more, Volvo and Polestar offer performance packages that offer adjustable Ohlins dampers, Brembo brakes, and 20-inch alloys wrapped in sport tires with gold brake calipers and valve caps. The Polestar 2 also offers blended braking combined with regenerative braking that enables one-pedal driving with different recuperation braking levels that can be customized in the car or via the Polestar Connect app.

Polestar 2 Tesla Model 3
Motor two e motors with 300 kW of power single motor
Drive AWD RWD
Battery 78 kWh 50 kWh
Range 275 miles 220 miles
Charging 150 kW charging available 125 kW charging available
0-60 mph 4.7 seconds 5.6 seconds
Top speed TBD 130 mph

Pricing

2020 Polestar 2
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Production of the Polestar 2 will commence in early 2020, and for the first 12 months, the company’s ’Launch Edition’ will cost $63,000. Once the production stabilizes, basic versions will be added, and the affordable $40,000 Polestar will be available to the masses.

Competition

Tesla Model 3

2018 Tesla Model 3 Exterior
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The Tesla Model 3 was Tesla’s first offering for the masses. The company sold almost 140,000 copies of the Model 3 in 2018. The car appealed to the public because of its sedate, clean looks that does not look overboard and futuristic as is the case with other EVs. We can also credit Tesla for doing away with conventional knobs and buttons in favor of a huge touchscreen that controls everything inside the cabin. The Model 3, powered by a 75 kWh battery pack, takes you from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds before topping out at 130 mph. These figures change drastically when you drive the performance model - that one hits 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and tops out at 162 mph. Since we are comparing it to the Polestar 2, we’ll talk about the dual motor version. The Dual Motor trim produces 346 horses and 389 pound-feet of torque, and Dual Motor Performance makes 450 horses and 471 pound-feet of torque. Polestar has cleverly hit the sweet spot that challenges both the trims with its standard trim. As for the range, the mid-range is rated at 264 miles on a single charge, and long range, dual motor, and performance trims at 310 miles.

Read our full review on the 2019 Tesla Model 3.

Jaguar I-Pace

2019 Jaguar I-Pace Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Jag is not the right comparison for the Polestar 2, but you cannot rule out the King of the jungle. The I-Pace is arguably the best EV out there today and is priced in the vicinity of the Polestar 2 Launch Edition. The styling of the I-Pace in unconventional, but it follows Jaguar’s design language all around. The interior is as spacious as you can expect a vehicle of this size to be. In terms of features, the I-Pace comes with Eight-way adjustable power front seats, ambient interior lighting, LED headlights, air suspension, keyless start, and a huge single-piece panoramic roof.

The I-Pace features two electric motors that churn out 394 horses and 512 pound-feet of twist. It is powered by a 90-kWh packed underneath the floor. The SUV takes 4.5 seconds to hit the 60 mph mark from a standstill before touching its top speed of 124 mph. The electric Jag rides and handles amazingly well. No wonder it is considered as the best EV in this segment by masses and critics alike. With a fast 50-kW charger, the I-Pace can replenish 80-percent of the battery in under 90 minutes, whereas with the regular charger, it will take 10 hours to charge that much. The I-Pace starts retailing at $69,500 and will be a legitimate threat to the Polestar 2 for at least a year before the cheaper trims are introduced and prices drop from $63,000 to $40,000.

Read our full review on the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace.

Final Thoughts

2020 Polestar 2
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The main reason for incorporating the Phone-as-key feature is because the automaker plans to offer it via the Care by Volvo subscription program. Volvo and Polestar also plan to release a well-equipped, upmarket trim of the Polestar 2 called Launch Edition, and it will gradually add more basic versions to the lineup. However, I believe the subscription program will be the preferred choice as the company itself takes care of the car’s maintenance and insurance, among other things. To start off with, the company plans to launch the car in China, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S, and will later expand to smaller markets. The car will be built in China, and if Volvo wants to sell it successfully in the States, it will have to come around a big hurdle given the U.S.-China ongoing trade war. We can’t wait to see how the Polestar 2 fares against the Tesla Model 3, and even the Model Y to a smaller extent.

  • Leave it
    • Is it a sedan, hatchback, or a crossover?
    • Launch Edition is priced quite high
    • Common sense dictates that Phone as Key feature has more cons than pros

Further reading

2018 Polestar 1
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2018 Polestar 1

Read our full review on the 2018 Polestar 1.

2016 Volvo Concept 40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 676359

Read our full review on the 2016 Volvo Concept 40.2

2018 Tesla Model 3 Exterior
- image 801510

Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3.

Polestar reveals new Polestar 2
Polestar has taken the next step in its development as the electric performance brand with the reveal of the new Polestar 2. Polestar 2 is the new all-electric fastback that brings electric performance cars to a broader and increasingly progressive audience. It offers avant-garde design and a unique customer experience in the premium compact electric segment. Polestar 2 is the first electric car to compete in the marketplace around the Tesla Model 3, with the range starting at a guide price of 39,900 euros. For the first 12 months of production, guide price of the launch edition is 59,900 euros1.

“Polestar 2 is our first fully electric car and first volume model. Everything about it has been designed and engineered with passion and dedication. As an electric performance brand, and through the forthcoming launch of a portfolio of fully electric cars, Polestar is determined to address the world’s air quality challenges. Polestar delivers electric performance cars that are great to own and drive,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer of Polestar.

Polestar 2 is a premium five-door fastback with two electric motors and a 78 kWh battery capacity2 that will enable a targeted range of 500 km3, based on Volvo Car Group’s adaptable Compact Modular Architecture platform (CMA). The 27-module battery pack is integrated into the floor and contributes to the rigidity of the chassis as well as improves the car’s noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels – road noise has been reduced by 3.7 dB compared to a traditional chassis.

Polestar will answer the important question of charging Polestar 2 with a smart, convenient and extensive approach. With a connected digital solution available both in-car and on mobile devices, Polestar is setting up strategic collaborations to give Polestar 2 owners easy and hassle-free access to the world’s largest public charging networks.

For Polestar, performance underlies the entire driving experience. The all-wheel drive electric powertrain in Polestar 2 produces 300 kW (408 hp) and 660 Nm (487 lb-ft). This translates to a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of less than 5 seconds.

The standard dynamic chassis can be enhanced by the Performance Pack that improves driving dynamics with Öhlins dampers, Brembo brakes and unique 20-inch forged wheels. Polestar’s signature gold seat belts, brake callipers and valve caps complete the performance visuals.

Highlighting the technology spearhead role that Polestar plays within the Volvo Car Group, Polestar 2 is one of the first cars in the world to embed an infotainment system powered by Android. The Android backbone provides a solid and adaptable digital environment for apps and vehicle functions to coexist, and brings embedded Google services to a car for the first time – including the Google Assistant, Google Maps with support for electric vehicles and the Google Play Store5. Natural voice control and a new 11-inch touch screen display bring the new interface to life.

Phone-as-Key technology enables car sharing and a more integrated ownership experience, as well as Polestar’s connected services such as pick-up and delivery. It also allows Polestar 2 to sense the driver upon approach. Smart features like enlarged graphics in the instrument cluster allow the driver to easily see the charging status and range before entering the car. Polestar 2 can also predetermine the driver’s next move to create a seamless experience with a prepared cabin and quick start sequence.

Maximilian Missoni, head of Design at Polestar, comments: “We decided to bring something different to the segment. Our avant-garde design has evolved from Polestar 1 into an edgier, bolder statement. We have also designed a standard vegan interior with progressive textiles that will appeal to the forward-thinking audience who will subscribe to Polestar 2.”

Design-led features include Pixel LED headlights4 and proximity lighting which enable a unique welcome sequence, Polestar’s now-signature frameless side mirrors and the unique illuminated Polestar logo, which is reflected onto the car’s panoramic glass roof.

In common with all Polestar cars, Polestar 2 will only be available for ordering online. The guide purchase price for the launch version of Polestar 2 is 59,900 euros1 with subscription pricing to follow at a later date. Pre-orders are open at polestar.com. Production of Polestar 2 begins in early 2020 in China for global markets in both left- and right-hand drive.

Polestar 2 will make its first public appearance at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show in March, and then embark on a global roadshow in Europe, North America and China throughout 2019. Polestar 2 will also be available in a network of soon-to-be-opened Polestar Spaces that will provide physical viewing and test drive opportunities.

Initial launch markets include China, the United States, Canada, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. Other markets are under consideration for future expansion.

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