Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Polestar 2 2023 review: Long range Single motor - long-term | Part 3

  • DrivetrainFully electric
  • Battery capacity78kWh
  • Battery typeLithium-ion (NMC)
  • Range515km (WLTP)
  • Plug TypeType 2 CCS
  • DC charge rate150kW
  • AC charge rate11kW
  • Motor output170kW/330Nm
  • Efficiency17.1kWh/100km
Complete Guide to Polestar 2

It’s time to bid farewell to the Polestar 2 which I’ve now been driving for roughly four months, a little over 3000km, and 85 hours behind the wheel.

In fact, it’s time to say goodbye to this initial front-wheel drive version of the car generally, as it’s about to be replaced by a heavily updated rear-wheel drive version.

I said lots of nice things about this one when it first arrived in Australia, though, and with stock of this outgoing version still pouring into the country, do I still think you should buy one?

And given how much the electric vehicle industry has developed over the last few years, would I still buy one? Read on to see what I discovered.

Which Polestar 2 should I buy?

Good question. The one we had for this long-term review is the mid-grade Long Range Single Motor variant, which at the time of writing was still $68,400, before on-road costs.

For what it’s worth, this one is still my pick of the range. It offers sufficient extended range for your longer trips, whilst not coming at the inflated price of the overkill (but deeply impressive) 'Dual Motor' version.

It must be said the sticker price only tells half the story, though, with the car we tested wearing an actual price of $84,464 as it had both pricey option boxes ticked, upping the safety and luxury features in the cabin.

The 'Pilot Pack' adds the otherwise-missing full adaptive cruise suite and upgraded LED headlights (although mercifully, the car now comes with blind spot monitoring as standard), while the 'Plus Pack' adds the fancy synthetic leather upholstery on the seats, premium audio, and the panoramic sunroof.

Our test vehicle wears a price tag of $84,464. (Image: Tom White) Our test vehicle wears a price tag of $84,464. (Image: Tom White)

I have to say, if it was my cash I’d probably be splashing for the Pilot Pack, and while the Plus Pack additions are lovely, they are ultimately unnecessary.

As I mentioned in part one of this long-term chronicle, the Polestar 2’s biggest challenge is that the base Tesla Model 3 is objectively better value.

The Tesla is cheaper, offers a longer range, and doesn’t burden you with the need to tick pricey option boxes to get what should be standard equipment.

That said, the Polestar 2 wins for me in other areas, so don’t write it off.

What does the Polestar 2 do better than the Model 3?

Let’s get straight into it. I prefer the design of this car, and suggest if you prefer your car to feel like an automobile rather than a phone, you’ll probably agree with me.

Yes, the Tesla feels next-generation in its look and feel with its fancy software and dominating centre touch panel, but keen drivers will immediately note the lack of a dashboard, and how annoying the fancy, tiny touch elements are to work with when you’re on the move.

The Polestar, however, has been designed more with usability in mind, at least from a software point-of-view, with refreshingly stripped back menu items, large touch panels for each, and a simple (if a little rudimentary) digital dash layout.

Is it a sedan? A hatch? A crossover? In a way, the Polestar 2 is all three. (Image: Tom White) Is it a sedan? A hatch? A crossover? In a way, the Polestar 2 is all three. (Image: Tom White)

I also like the design of this car. Even after four months I still like looking at it. While the Model 3 is sleek but a little anonymous, the Polestar 2 exemplifies the new design trends coming out of the electric era.

Is it a sedan? A hatch? A crossover? In a way, it’s all three, and has a premium feel to it inside and out with the lovely Volvo hardware.

I also find this car a bit nicer to drive than not only its direct Tesla rival, but most other electric cars at this price. More on this later.

What does the Polestar 2 do worse than the Model 3?

It’s just not as practical for a start. Yes, you get a decent boot with a big hatch opening, but the cabin feels notably less spacious than its Model 3 rival.

Up front, the raised centre console cladding is wide and eats into both occupants' knee room, and as mentioned in my first chapter of this review, it’s clad in a hard, scratchy plastic material which can be grating for your knee over longer drives if you’re wearing shorts.

It also has more limited storage options, with a small centre console box which hides the second cupholder. It’s a bit silly to have to pick a padded armrest or a second cupholder, an issue I frequently ran into when my partner and I both wanted to enjoy a coffee on the road.

Unlike many of its rivals, there’s no additional storage under the floating console (probably in part due to its combustion-first platform which also underpins the Volvo XC40), so you have to make do with the pockets in the doors, glove box, and small tray under the screen suited to two phones.

  • The Polestar 2 has a premium feel to it inside and out. (Image: Tom White) The Polestar 2 has a premium feel to it inside and out. (Image: Tom White)
  • Rear passengers score heated outboard seats at this spec level. (Image: Tom White) Rear passengers score heated outboard seats at this spec level. (Image: Tom White)

The high beltline in this car is also not as well suited to shorter people. My partner had to raise the seat to its maximum height to be able to see over the bonnet and be more comfortable with visibility generally.

I fit in the back seat behind my own (182cm) driving position pretty well. Any taller than me and you might run into some issues, mainly in the headroom department.

Interestingly, I see lots of these cars as Ubers, and it doesn’t strike me as the best choice.

Not because it’s electric, but because the big, thick rear doors don’t open super wide. This means it’s not the easiest back seat to get in and out of, but it also might be tricky to fit a child seat just from an access point of view.

  • The Polestar 2 has a boot capacity of 405-litres (VDA). (Image: Tom White) The Polestar 2 has a boot capacity of 405-litres (VDA). (Image: Tom White)
  • The Polestar 2 has a suitably sized boot. (Image: Tom White) The Polestar 2 has a suitably sized boot. (Image: Tom White)

The middle seat is also all but useless for adults as there’s a very tall raise which is clearly required to facilitate a drive-shaft in all-wheel drive combustion Volvos which also use this platform.

The Tesla, of course, is perfectly flat back there (although it does also suffer from headroom issues.)

On the bright side, rear passengers score heated outboard seats at this spec level, an efficient way to keep warm, and I can also report the 405-litre (VDA) boot was suitable for all my needs in the time with the car.

Does the Polestar 2 match its range claim? Is it efficient?

Out of curiosity at the end of this review, I ran some numbers. I took the total distance I travelled and divided it by the average energy consumption in the trip computer, which gave me an estimated total energy consumption of 541kWh in my time with the car.

If you take a worst-case DC charging scenario, (the 50kW unit near me costs 45c per kWh), you end up with a rough total energy cost of $250.

Not bad for four months of daily driving. I can tell you for sure I spent less, as roughly 30 per cent of my charging was done on a free solar-powered slow charger, too.

Even taking the worst-case scenario, though, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol price-rival like a BMW 320i, it would cost almost double to run (based on the official consumption numbers) over the same distance in fuel alone.

Charging is a pretty good story, with the Polestar 2 shipping with a 150kW DC fast-charging capability. (Image: Tom White) Charging is a pretty good story, with the Polestar 2 shipping with a 150kW DC fast-charging capability. (Image: Tom White)

And that's ignoring the fact the Polestar only needs to be serviced once every two years or 30,000km, and the first two services are free.

The official range claim for the Long Range Single Motor is 515km on the WLTP testing cycle, and the official energy consumption is 17.1kWh/100km.

I found those numbers interesting given my car would never show more than 500km on the dash on a full charge, despite consistently beating the official consumption number.

Over my 3000+ km I managed to consume 16.8kWh/100km on average, and yet my car would only ever show between 450km and 480km on a 100 percent charge.

After measuring my distance travelled between charges, though, I found a realistic range to expect between charges was more like 480km. It’s short of the claim, but a solid range, regardless.

The official range claim for the Long Range Single Motor is 515km on the WLTP testing cycle. (Image: Tom White) The official range claim for the Long Range Single Motor is 515km on the WLTP testing cycle. (Image: Tom White)

Charging is a pretty good story, with the Polestar 2 shipping with a 150kW DC fast-charging capability, for a 10-80 per cent charge in just over an hour.

This is how I ended up doing most of my charging. Once every week or two, I would simply take the car to the local fast unit and leave it on there while I did my grocery shop. Easy.

The AC slow-charger capability for this car, meanwhile, is 11kW, which is nice as an industry standard, and beats many EVs which still have 7.2kW inverters which are too slow to make public charging worthwhile.

As it was, though, I could get roughly 75km per hour on a local, free solar powered unit, making it worthwhile to top-up when visiting a local cafe or the gym. Super.

The Polestar 2 has an official energy consumption of 17.1kWh/100km. (Image: Tom White) The Polestar 2 has an official energy consumption of 17.1kWh/100km. (Image: Tom White)

What’s the Polestar 2 like to drive?

Another reason I prefer this car over the Model 3 is the way it drives.

There’s a European touch to everything about the Polestar 2’s slick feel from behind the wheel.

It has a feline stance, an athletic steering feel, and solid handling backed by the big weight from the 78kWh worth of batteries under the floor.

It’s not quite as fast as a Model 3, with the front-mounted electric motor producing 170kW/330Nm, although its easily on-par with other EVs at this price and offers the instant torque to best many of its combustion rivals.

The Polestar 2 has a feline stance, an athletic steering feel, and solid handling. (Image: Tom White) The Polestar 2 has a feline stance, an athletic steering feel, and solid handling. (Image: Tom White)

One thing it’s clear the brand has been able to focus on is tuning the response of the motor, for acceleration and regenerative braking, which winds on and off at a smooth, linear rate.

It's certainly more a driver’s car than the Model 3, which is missing not just the digital dash, but also the tuned dynamics and more organic steering feel of this Polestar.

If anything, this car is more for a person coming out of a performance-oriented combustion vehicle.

The Polestar 2's drive can be jarring on poorly sealed surfaces thanks to the large wheels and thin tyres. (Image: Tom White) The Polestar 2's drive can be jarring on poorly sealed surfaces thanks to the large wheels and thin tyres. (Image: Tom White)

However, like many EVs, particularly at this price-point, it also suffers from another issue, and that’s firm suspension.

Yes, the locked-down ride combines with the weight to improve handling, but it can be jarring on poorly sealed surfaces and even noisy on longer trips thanks to the large wheels and thin tyres.

Despite its flaws, though, this is still one of my favourite EVs to drive. It’s more real than the Model 3, whilst also being more of a driver’s option than many of the SUVs out there.

It’s closest rival for fun-factor in this sector of the market is the Cupra Born.

The incoming Polestar 2 is $3000 more expensive across the board. (Image: Tom White) The incoming Polestar 2 is $3000 more expensive across the board. (Image: Tom White)

What’s the difference between the 2023 Polestar 2 and the 2024 Polestar 2?

The incoming car is $3000 more expensive across the board, but makes the switch to rear-wheel drive for Single Motor variants. It also scores more efficient new-generation motors, which have their outputs boosted to 220kW/490Nm.

The Long Range also ups the battery capacity from 78kWh to 82kWh, and range goes all the way up to a claimed 654km.

It can also charge faster, upping the DC rate from 155kW to 205kW, cutting charge time down by 34 per cent, according to the brand.

From what I’ve experienced daily driving this car, I’m excited to try the new one.

  • DrivetrainFully electric
  • Battery capacity78kWh
  • Battery typeLithium-ion (NMC)
  • Range515km (WLTP)
  • Plug TypeType 2 CCS
  • DC charge rate150kW
  • AC charge rate11kW
  • Motor output170kW/330Nm
  • Efficiency17.1kWh/100km
Complete Guide to Polestar 2

So do I have to eat my words? Is the Polestar 2 not as good as I originally thought, especially given how much the EV industry has evolved in the last few years?

No way. I love this car, and was very sad to see it go. Yep, I’d part with my own money for one of these. It’s suited well to a keen driver, offers plenty of range, and comes with such neat Scando design. I also agree with its sustainable messaging.

This isn’t to say I’m not ready to be up front about its flaws. The Polestar 2 won’t be for everyone. It’s not the greatest family car, with its comparatively cramped cabin, it rides a bit hard, and objectively not as good value as its key Model 3 rival.

Still, I know which one I’d rather put in my driveway.

Acquired: April 2023

Distance travelled overall: 3200km

Odometer: 11149km

Average energy consumption overall: 16.8/100km

$68,400

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Score

3.8/5
Price Guide

$68,400

Based on new car retail price

Have you considered?
Check out more Hatchbacks
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.