What is it?
A new kid on the block in terms of a brand name, Polestar was launched in the UK in 2020 and it’s heritage is Swedish/Chinese.
Polestar 2, other numbers are available, is based on Volvo underpinnings and technology and built in China by Geeley, the Swedish carmaker’s owner. It sits on Volvo’s SMA XC40 platform while the new Polestar 3 SUV, launched last year, shares the XC90 underpinnings. Sales globally hit 51,500 cars in 2021 with hopes for 80,000 this year and 290,000 around the world by 2025.
So far, leasing companies and fleet managers have played a major part in the successful launch of the all-electric Polestar brand in the UK. Around 80% of UK sales are into fleet with leasing companies key to the growth of the EV start-up.
Head of Sales Matt Hawkins said that one of the first things Polestar did was talk to the major players in leasing to find out what their pain points were and how we could fill any gaps. he added: “We provide the opportunity for fleet managers and leasing companies to come into our facilities to meet us and drive our cars. We also encourage them to send their drivers or customers in to see us.
“Once we get a car into the company car park, then the interest starts to grow. We still have a long way to go and we are developing systems in partnership with leasing companies so that through our portal people can order, see lead times and pre-configured stock, what’s available for delivery, tracking, invoicing etc.
“They can even see how much carbon was used in the manufacture and what it will produce over the life of the car. We already have plans to bring cars into second life once they are finished with. Our growth will be organic, we will not be forcing volume or stating sales targets. Growth has to take into account residual values and remarketing.
“We have found that once the leasing companies open their customers’ eyes to Polestar, then the interest grows and the momentum builds.”
The retail proposition at the Polestar ‘spaces’ is geared around the customer rather than the transaction. There is no sales patter or finance discussion, the staff concentrate on the customer requirement and what they want to know about the car.
Launched in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, most of its staff have worked from home until recently moving into the brand’s new administrative home at Bicester Heritage. This is in addition to three other Polestar ‘spaces’ in Battersea Power Station, Manchester Trafford Centre and Touchwood, Solihull.
Managing Director Jonathan Goodman said that four more spaces are planned this year including Bristol and Glasgow as the company looks to increase sales from 7,300 last year – up from 4,000 in 2021 – to 8,000 in 2022.
He added: “We are looking to do things differently from the established dealers model. I’ve been around a number of brands for many years and often wondered why we do things the same way and expect the same things from dealers.
“We are not looking to disrupt, but just to change. Our Polestar spaces are staffed by people who do not have an automotive background, they are drawn from the hospitality and service sectors. Their job is to explain and show people around the cars – not to actually sell them or give them finance details.”
Polestar is very much a rival to Tesla’s Model 3, a performance-focused electric car brand and Polestar 2 is an all-electric crossover hatchback, the brand’s first volume-selling car, following the much rarer Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid performance GT. (which was always intended as a low-volume brand-builder).
The Polestar 2 sits somewhere between hatchback and compact saloon class in terms of size with a slightly raised ride height and, seating position.
The car’s lithium ion drive battery is under under the cabin floor and comes in Standard Range 64kWh form giving an advertised WLTP electric range of up to 273 miles or Long Range 78kWh and up to a quoted 335 miles of range.
There is also the choice of one electric motor or two. The twin-motor layout puts an AC synchronous permanent-magnet motor at each axle to produce a neck-wrenching 402bhp in total.
There are three packages, Pilot, Plus and Performance with the last one bringing chassis modifications such as adjustable dampers, lowered sport suspension, forged 20in wheels, uprated brakes and bronze-coloured styling additions.
The Plus package includes a panoramic glass roof, premium audio system and various` cabin upgrades while the Pilot package features active safety and driver assistance features.
What do we think?
Well, it’s neither a hatchback or SUV, so the older driver will not benefit from the easy access/egress of one but will enjoy the performance of the other. For the taller driver there’s not a massive amount of headroom, particularly with the panoramic roof. There’s a good amount of room in the rear seats, however.
In the boot there is 405 litres of space with useful separate underfloor storage – although that disappears in the twin-motor versions. Generally the cockpit and cabin feel uncluttered and there are some nice materials providing a relaxed air.
The dashboard is dominated by a 11.2-inch tablet-like, portrait-oriented infotainment touchscreen, simple enough to find your way around thanks to an Android Automotive operating system.
Not so upmarket is the black, plastic electronic key, with its black, plastic buttons that make it difficult to see whether you’re locking the car or opening the tailgate. However, you can just keep it in your pocket as the car will unlock itself as you approach.
Slightly unnerving is the fact that there is no on/off button. Just sitting in the driver’s seat prompts the car into life, then put your foot on the brake, select D and you’re good to go.
The electric motor provides a swift and smooth getaway and there’s plenty of grunt available for overtaking. You can do some fettling as well by turning low-speed transmission creep function on and off on the central infotainment display and adjust the default energy regeneration preferences by turning One Pedal Drive down or off.
The ride is also quiet and smooth, it soaks up many a dodgy road surface and there is no noticeable when pushing on through the country road bends.
The Polestar 2’s infotainment system can be controlled via the car’s home charging and pre-conditioning allowing you can set it from the vehicle to charge at overnight power rates and program your departure time so it warms the cabin while the car is still plugged in.
150kW rapid-charging capability should allow an 80% charge to the battery in a little over half an hour while both seven-pin and three-pin domestic charging cables are provided as standard. The cables are stored neatly under the bonnet, so no requirement to fumble around in the boot.
With prices ranging between £40,000 and £50,000, the Polestar 2 is a premium family EV but if you want to be a little more adventurous or enthusiastic then there, the dual-motor equipped with the Performance Pack, a £5,000 upgrade that Polestar says is appealing to many buyers. It includes larger 20-inch wheels, uprated Brembo brakes with larger, vented discs and four-pot calipers up front, and manually adjustable dampers.
What you will immediately notice is that when you hit the accelerator this is a very fast car. It will literally jolt your neck back and pin you to the seat as it hits warp speed – the dual motor’s s 0-62mph time is just 4.7 seconds.
Combined total output is 300kW or 402bhp plus there’s 487lb ft of torque so you will leave pretty much anything standing at the traffic lights while overtaking on single track roads is a breeze.
For technical specifications see the SwitchonEV vehicle chooser