by Brian Byrne.
If Polestar is an unfamiliar brand, but somehow resonates, that’s fair enough. As a car brand it only began selling here earlier this year, but the Polestar name has been used as a performance grade by its owner, Volvo, since 2015. The name began 26 years ago as a motor racing team developing its cars from the Swedish brand’s models, and was later fully acquired by Volvo. Polestar was spun off as a standalone brand in 2017 by Volvo and its owners Geely Holding in China.
The Polestar 2 is the first model to be sold in Ireland, and is the first of a range of all-electric cars which the brand is developing after a decision that it would only be an EV carmaker. It a compact liftback format, in size it edges in to the space occupied by, for instance, Alfa Romeo’s Giulia, Skoda’s Octavia, and Tesla’s Model 3.
The style is distinctive by being clean and uncluttered. There are tilts to its Volvo connections, but the Polestar 2 is rather more smooth than, say, the Volvo C40 Recharge EV, the slightly smaller car to which it is related. The front lights design is similar, while the Polestar 2 sits lower than the Volvo. The rear styling may well be my favourite of any car design this year.
Inside, there’s also a Volvo familiarity, with differences. The Polestar motifs are discreet but in numbers, the seats look and proved to be very comfortable, and my only criticism was that the door opening was low enough to constantly be rubbing my head getting in and out. Polestar is not the only problem car for me in this, which is probably due also to me not being as supple as I once was.
There’s good room for the rear passengers, and a fine long boot space in which the dog we are minding at the moment was quite comfortable on a trip we took with him (said dog, a lively cocker spaniel, will be on the way to Australia as you read this, to be reunited with his owners, our daughter and grand-daughters).
Like current Volvos, there’s no start-stop button. The car senses you are in with the key and sets itself ready to drive, closing things down automatically when you leave — also with the key, of course. It’s a bit disconcerting for a while, but one gets used to it.
The Polestar 2 is unique to other contemporary cars in that the infotainment system, including the manageably sized centre screen, is an Android OS provided by Google. It works so cleanly and simply — including a ‘Hey Google’ voice control — that every other carmaker out there should be using it. I’m a critic of too-complex touchscreen management most of the time, but this one is intuitive, tidy, unobtrusive. Beautiful. Especially with the simple way the navigation tells you how much charge you’ll have when you reach a destination, and how much when you return home. Talk to the system about where you want to go and it will select the most appropriate depending on traffic, weather, and the state of charge of your battery.
The powertrain comprises two electric motors and a 78kWh battery, with up to 408hp on tap and a potential sprint to 100km/h in only 4.7 seconds. The two motors mean the Polestar 2 is all-wheel drive, which helps to keep everything steady if you do much of that last. The practicality is that if you want to achieve the decent 480 km range, you mostly drive in a steadier fashion. A 35 minutes 10pc-80pc recharge is claimed, and proved to be correct during my time with the car. The safety technology is, as would be expected from the related brands, all present and working.
Polestar 2 is expensive, but it IS in the premium spectrum, with the performance of cars that would be powered by 5-litre V8s. Absent the sound and fury.
PRICE: From €56,135; review car €63,850.
WHAT I LIKED: A smooth and practical alternative to the internal combustion engine breed.