National Post (Latest Edition)
New EV kicks sustainability and handling up a notch
High-performance gran turismo sends eco-friendly message
Polestar’s new 2 has a huge task: it must take on the might of the fastest-selling electric car ever — Tesla’s Model 3. And rather than outright performance and range, the Polestar message seems to be one of all-around environmental friendliness. Not just the emissions reduction of powering motors by battery, but also in the materials in its interiors.
Thanks to a one- day ride in the first all- electric Polestar, here are the highlights:
The Polestar’s twin electric motors team up for a total of 408 horsepower and 487 pound- feet of torque. But it has to motivate nearly 2,123 kilograms of battery, and so we’re looking at 4.45 seconds to accelerate from rest to 100 km/ h. Punch it and there’s a delicious rush of completely silent acceleration, the throttle response instant, if not quite bone crushing.
Corner- carving falls into the same way- more- thanadequate category. This Launch Edition tester was equipped with the Performance Package which throws some high- performance Brembo brakes and waytrick adjustable Ohlins suspension into the mix.
The steering — which is adjustable — is delicate, roll during hard cornering is minimal and, thanks to all that battery weight down low, the 2 feels tremendously planted. The bottom line is that Polestar is a high- performance gran turismo that just happens to be electric.
The Polestar 2 is powered by a 78 kwh lithium-ion battery. In Europe, it’s rated for 470 km ( 291 miles) by the continent’s ever- generous — that’s my polite way of saying downright fraudulent — WLTP rating system. The EPA has yet to reveal its official range estimation, but fudging a little from the WLTP, we can expect something in the range of 385 km.
Volvo’s own testing reveals the same optimism. In what the company called its “run till they die” test, running at a constant 112 km/ h (70 mph), the Polestar 2 eked out 328 km ( 205 miles) before running out of juice, while a Model 3 Long Range managed 374 kilometres ( 234 miles) — relative to its 496- km ( 310 miles) EPA rating. The Model 3 still has the advantage, but it is not nearly as much as Tesla fans like to boast.
The first thing you need to know Polestar’s new infotainment system is that it is Android Automotive, not Android Auto. In other words, the Polestar 2’ s 11.2- inch touch screen is not running off your phone, but rather a full operating system running on the car’s hardware.
For those familiar with Android mobile operating systems, Polestar’s infotainment system will present a familiar face. There’s an on/off button that doubles as the volume control, but that’s about it. Everything else is an app.
The interior of the Polestar 2, is wonderfully automated. Thanks to sensors at all four corners, you don’t have to unlock the car — the doors open as you arrive. There’s also no start button; the proximity of the key fob is enough to get all systems operating as soon as you sit in the seat. Just flick the gear selector and off you go.
The crowning achievement is the Polestar’s Google Assistant, the voice- command system that finally delivers on the promise of hands- free control. “Google, set the temperature for 22 degrees Celsius” sees a comfortable climate in the cabin without touching a button.
Ditto for firing up the heated steering wheel, changing a radio station, or pretty much any command one can imagine giving, short of “kids, be quiet.” I predict that, within 48 hours, virtually all Polestar owners — even the computerphobic — will be voice commanding their way to more attentive driving.
Volvo takes this sustainability stuff seriously. The standard seat upholstery is made from something called Weavetech, which according to Polestar, is vegan. It’s water- based and dirt- resistant, as well as water- beading. Even when you do order leather, it’s totally free of chrome additives. And rather than cutting down new trees, the Polestars trim bits are made of reconstructed wood.
Throw in carpeting made of recycled water bottles and one has as eco- friendly an interior as is available in the auto industry.
It’s worth noting, however, that all this environmental friendliness has not diminished the Polestar’s luxury quotient one iota. The interior, besides being surprisingly roomy, is as hedonistic as anything from BMW or Audi. Like Tesla, minimalism is the order of the day; almost all of the 2’s buttonry is contained on the steering wheel. Unlike the Model 3, though, it doesn’t come across as Spartan.