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Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor Review: Targeting Tesla At A Lower Price Point

HotCars logo HotCars 5/20/2022 Michael Van Runkle
© Provided by HotCars

Polestar recently added a new 2 sedan in Long Range Single Motor spec to the brand's American lineup. With a 270-mile range estimate and pricing undercutting Tesla's base Model 3, Polestar clearly hopes to attract more buyers to the fledgling Volvo spinoff's customer base.

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The 2's understated interior and exterior design should help, as will the fact that visitors to the growing network of Polestar "Spaces" can spec a purchase and potentially receive their car in as little as 36 hours. After following Polestar's growth for the past three years, from the super-GT 1 to the Precept and O₂ concepts, I found myself very excited to climb behind the wheel of the company's first mass-produced electric.

Introducing The Long Range Single Motor

The most pressing question in my mind approaching the 2 Long Range Single Motor involved Polestar's (and parent company Geely's) decision to power the front wheels, rather than the rear. How would all that instantaneously available torque translate to driving dynamics, as compared to a rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive EV?

But most importantly, with a starting price tag of $45,900 for the 2022 model year—less any government rebates and incentives, which Polestar still qualifies for, unlike Tesla—the 2 now offers those 270 miles of all-electric range, as well as 231 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque. Like most current EVs not called Taycan or RS e-tron GT, the 2 employs a single-speed transmission but still produces impressive acceleration with a respectable 6.8-second 0-60 time.

Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor

8.00 / 10
Key Features
  • 270 miles of all-electric range
  • Low-spec interior for cost savings
  • Single motor powering the front wheels
  • Android-based driver and infotainment screens
Specifications
  • Horsepower: 231 hp
  • Torque: 243 lb-ft
  • Drivetrain: FWD
  • Transmission: Single speed
  • Range: 270 miles
Pros
  • Undercuts Tesla Model 3 pricing with rebates and incentives
  • Scandinavian design inside and out
  • Solid range with plenty of power
  • Map in gauge cluster, big touchscreen
Cons
  • Front-wheel drive not great for one-pedal driving
  • Budgest-friendly interior will probably show wear quickly
  • Fast charge time not very fast, on purpose

Stripped Interior For Cost Savings

The specific Long Range Single Motor I drove arrived with zero cost-added options, which translates to a stripper interior featuring largely textile and plastic surfaces. The black exterior paint (which Polestar calls "Void" in a bit of existential humor) and simple 19-inch wheels contribute to the unadorned overall aesthetic, which manages to avoid feeling cheap thanks to impressively coherent design language displayed throughout.

A largely horizontal dash melds with a vertical touchscreen and a clever shifter, which I initially found strange but grew to appreciate immensely. The seats provide firm but comfortable cushioning and just a hint of sporty bolsters, with excellent adjustability fore and aft. A recessed footwell adds to already impressive legroom, though when driving with cruise control activated—adaptive cruise buttons on the steering wheel did not work on my car—my bent legs and ankles felt a little strange given the downward-sloping floor.

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Electric Performance With Front-Wheel Drive

I drove the 2 plenty through city traffic, as well as about 140 miles of freeway driving. Altogether, the 270-mile range claim seemed quite accurate combining hard acceleration and steady speeds, as well as stop-and-go. Two different range remaining displays regularly showed different read-outs, however, which adds to the sense that drivers need to pay added attention to their next charging location.

A base-spec 2 in Long Range Single Motor obviously arrives without adjustable suspension settings, though the steering weight and one-pedal drive modes allow some customizability for those who like to dial in their ride. Both indicate this car's biggest challenge, though: a tendency towards torque steer and throttle-liftoff oversteer due to a combination of prodigious torque, front-wheel drive, and regenerative braking. To help mitigate torque steer off the line, I kept the steering on a softer setting—the oversteer shows up worst on long sweeping curves with one-pedal driving maxed out, when only the front wheels attempt to slow the car but the rears want to keep rolling. I typically love one-pedal driving and appreciate the additional range made possible by regenerative braking but on this car, sacrificing those EV pros seems necessary to optimize the otherwise solid driving dynamics made possible by the skateboard battery layout's low center of gravity and excellent damping belying a 4,400-pound curb weight.

Overall, controlling the car's various drive modes, climate control, media, and navigation settings through the Android-based touchscreen felt relatively intuitive (though in full disclosure, I use an iPhone and definitely missed Apple CarPlay).

RELATED: Here's Everything We Know About The Polestar 3 So Far

Spacious Interior Front And Rear

A low-spec Polestar like the 2 Long Range Single Motor clearly aims to attract urban buyers looking for a perfect daily driver. And in terms of utility, I came away impressed with the spaciousness of the front and rear seats, the large true hatchback, and a small but much-appreciated front trunk. Little gripes include a peculiar lack of rear visibility despite the large rear glass, as well as the thin material of the trunk's privacy cover.

That trunk cover initially caused me a moment's concern, as the previous reviewer (or perhaps cleaning team) failed to properly clip in the hinges, creating a serious rattle until I diagnosed and fixed the problem. My first thought turned to all the Teslas, which sound like they might shake to pieces even when brand-new off the showroom floor. But with the cover properly installed, the rest of the Polestar 2 felt tight and rattle-free—hopefully, a good indicator of overall build quality that most industry experts and consumers hope can surpass Tesla's widespread concerns. Whether the textile seat and dash materials will age well, not to mention the piano-black plastic on the center console, remains a question only time can answer.

RELATED: 10 Things You Need To Know About Polestar And Its Cars

Can Polestar Truly Take On Tesla?

In general, the 2 Long Range Single Motor provides an excellent combination of performance, daily driveability, and design at an enticing price point. Jumping up to the Dual Motor trim, however, adds all-wheel drive and almost doubles the power output for only about four grand more. I can't wait to test that spec and hopefully get the full Polestar experience, even if the Long Range Single Motor seems like the natural competitor to my favorite Model 3, the base rear-wheel-drive variant.

Polestar continues to impress as an expanding entrant into the burgeoning EV market. The Geely subsidiary knows to focus on sustainability with optional vegan interior materials and a new blockchain tracking system to alleviate any concerns about mineral mining practices and if the forthcoming 3 and 4 crossovers can adapt some of the design principles of the Precept and 02 concepts, which further differentiate Polestar from Volvo, all the better. Based on the 2's overall package, Polestar's goal of hitting 290,000 units sold by 2025 seems fully in reach—though losing the significant boon of significant rebates and incentives may require a slight shift in strategy to keep challenging Elon Musk's Tesla products as well as the 2 Long Range Single Motor can today.

Sources: polestar.com, youtube.com, apple.com, and tesla.com.

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