Can this new Polestar 2 be a real competitor for Tesla’s 3?

Initially, I found this week’s test car, the new Polestar 2 Electric Hatchback, underwhelming.

The shape, size and design didn’t really appeal to me. Additionally, while the handling was exceptional, the ride was too harsh.

And the gray upholstery in the cabin, especially on the dashboard, only added more doubts to my first impression. Was this a package to woo someone with around 65,000 euros for an electric car – maybe with a view to a Tesla 3? With that gray interior? We will see. Of course it doesn’t have to be a gray interior, but apparently it’s a trendy color.

I didn’t need a second opinion on my first reaction: it was given – in spades – by someone who knows colors and all.

And it totally went against my instincts.

Being the stubborn old idiot that I am, despite extensive viewing and representative rides, I couldn’t admit to any of my initial concerns.

I’ll tell you what I finally came up with after driving through Wicklow, along the M50, town congestion and suburban roads pockmarked by people digging holes and holding up stop and go signs every few hundred yards.

The dampers and the large tires (19 inch standard on the test car, 20 inch option) didn’t fit. There was too much impact from rougher road surfaces. For the same reason, these tires and flared wheel arches add dynamism to the car’s look.

What really put me in a good mood (no!) was the Google Assistant voice control system. It called someone in America without clearing it with me even though I just wanted to get in touch with Fergus in Sandyford. And it offered all sorts of business options if I just wanted to check in at Olive. However…

The Polestar company is five years old, Swedish and has just started selling the ‘2’ in Ireland. In any case, there was a lot of interest.

It is certainly a tremendous effort to attract attention. It has big plans: This standalone premium electric car maker, founded by Volvo Cars and Geely Holding, hopes to be sold in at least 30 markets worldwide by the end of 2023.

The Polestar 2 is the brand’s first all-electric performance car, but it will be followed over the next three years by a first electric performance SUV (2023), then a smaller SUV and then a 4dr GT.

There are single and twin engine powertrains. My test car was the 408 hp Long Range Dual Motor version with all-wheel drive (electric motors on both axles).

And it was in this whole range of traction, acceleration (0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds) and handling that the car came alive and forced me to reconsider some of my preconceptions.

The feeling of grip and movement in banked curves and tight corners, the propulsion on straight and bad roads were exceptional.

It was tempting to go (legally) fast because it was tremendously sure-footed despite poor cushioning from ruts and bumps. It inspired confidence, was solid, well built and well finished. However, oddly for a large car, I struggled with headroom getting in and out. That’s because I like a high riding position, so my seat was adjusted accordingly. I had no problems behind the wheel.

And there was plenty of room in the back. Two six-footers would have plenty of room. The trunk, which can be split to prevent bulky items from rolling around, was shallow enough but stretched far back. I started to have a slightly different view.

Aside from the silly voice control episodes, the iPad-like central screen worked efficiently. For example, it was easy to change the battery’s energy recovery rate when I took my foot off the accelerator.

It claims a range of 480 km. I estimate 400 km.

So now I can say that this is a car in its own right. There’s nothing dramatic, and it doesn’t boast an overpowering visual flair (my personal opinion).

But I was wondering: does the Tesla 3 have a direct view? no But the more I see of it, the more I like it. If that’s going to be the case with Polestar 2, then they’re on the right track. We will see.

The cabin? It’s simple, straight-forward, and functional, and scores high on comfort and space (but that dash of gray didn’t help).

Yes, it’s a more than decent package, maybe better than I initially thought, but it’s not really outstanding – performance aside.

would i buy it I’m not sure I would do that.

To part with more than 60,000 euros, a car would have to appeal to both the head and the heart. It didn’t.

I feel very much in the minority, but that’s my honest judgement. Can this new Polestar 2 be a real competitor for Tesla’s 3?

Fry Electronics Team

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