Auto123 reviews the 2022 Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor edition.
Barely a year ago, the Polestar brand set up shop in Canada with the goal of attracting customers with means who are interested in electric propulsion. While the impressive Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid coupe remains a rarity on our roads, the pure-electric Polestar 2 was positioned as an declared rival to the Tesla Model 3. The 2's dual engine allowed it to deliver blistering acceleration, but its 375-km range left something to be desired, especially when compared to the California-based automaker's very popular sedan.
For 2022, Polestar has upped the distance you can travel between charges with a remote update for its 2 (we're now talking 400 km for the Dual Motor version). In addition, it adds a variant with a single motor capable of covering a greater distance than the one with two. Simply called Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor, this newcomer has qualities galore, but does it have enough to pull buyers away from the irresistible magnet that is Tesla?
A cheaper Polestar
With this new addition to the lineup - pending the arrival of reinforcements such as the Polestar 3 SUV - the brand is clearly on a mission to sell more vehicles, especially, here in Canada, in those provinces where government rebates can dull the pain of the sticker price. In Quebec, where this test drive was conducted, the new variant qualifies for an $8,000 rebate, a detail that roughly wipes out the applicable taxes with a price tag of around $51,000 (including preparation fees and taxes). That's not insignificant! On the other side of the country, the British Columbia government gives $3,000 to EV buyers.
More km, less power
While it's true that this more affordable variant is virtually identical to the 2 Long Range Dual Motor, as Polestar calls it, there is one notable difference: the absence of a motor on the second axle. Polestar's engineers kept the same engine as in the other 2, but they added a little power to it. The machine now develops 231 hp, 27 more than the original. Nothing to write home about, but we’ll take it.
Meanwhile, the theoretical range goes from 400 to 427 km, according to the EPA's estimates. At the time of writing, Natural Resources Canada had not yet announced its ratings, but we can expect a very similar result. The extra range is due in part to the weight savings from the absence of the rear motor.
A true base model
Our test vehicle was an American pre-production model. How did I know this? Well the New Jersey license plate was a pretty good clue, that plus the speedometer only displaying in mph. A matter of updating, according to Polestar.
However, what was most surprising about this Polestar Single Motor was the lack of options included with it. Indeed, the car was a basic model with steel roof, unlike the Plus package, which provides a panoramic roof for occupants. The 19-inch wheels are also an indication of the more-humble demeanour of this sedan, which comes pre-made with high ground clearance I should point out. (After all, the Polestar 2 shares its platform with a certain Volvo XC40...)
The interior is also more sober, thanks in part to the anthracite-coloured fabric seats, a choice that can be judicious when you factor in the unforeseen events of everyday life (damage, calcium stains, etc.).
Still, the basic trim isn’t completely devoid of options. In the middle of the dashboard, you'll find the excellent infotainment system developed by a certain company called Google. That system proves relatively easy to use, with its clear graphics and the responsiveness of its vertical screen. After a few tries, you get used to this touch-sensitive environment.
Plus, the voice recognition system is quite efficient. I was able to find my way around by simply "dropping" a "Hey Google" with the button on the steering wheel. No sign of Apple CarPlay connectivity in sight though!
The steering wheel and front seats are heated, another feature all Canadians will surely welcome, while it's possible to charge a smart device thanks to two USB ports installed in front of the small gearshift. Note also that the seats are very comfortable. While some of the plastics are cheap-feeling, quality of assembly is up to the standard of Volvo products. Polestar and Volvo are both part of the consortium owned by Chinese giant Geely, by the way.
The presence of a rear hatch gives this sedan a utility-vehicle look, since the rear seat folds almost flat. However, the 2 can be criticized for the parsimony of the view afforded out the back, as if it were a performance coupe. But then, it’s not like the Polestar 2 is the only model in the industry with that fault.
At the wheel
Within minutes of getting behind the wheel of this Single Motor edition, it started to rain. Followed the inconvenience of having to take a few pictures in a hurry, but then I was back up and running, and about to discover how this front-wheel-drive car handles on a wet road.
The first salient point I noted is that the Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor doesn't offer the same kind of acceleration as its twin-motor counterpart. Torque is still instantaneous, and the 231 hp on offer are enough for drivers who don’t care too much about the performance of his vehicle. But this variant clearly lacks a bit of punch when you push it. With a car priced at just under $50,000, one has a right to expect more.
Selecting Sport mode deactivates the stability system, which can cause the front drive wheels to spin when pushing hard in corners... coupled with a little understeer, just for good measure! To my surprise, it proved harder to repeat the feat - if you want to call it that - when starting from a standstill. I also felt a bit of torque steer when passing on the highway. As for the steering, the three modes offered (in the touch screen) are not precise enough for me to call the 2 a responsive sedan.
On the plus side, even when I pushed on winding roads in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal, the Polestar 2 did very well in terms of comfort. The presence of the 19-inch wheels is a factor, while the rigidity of the chassis is reassuring to the driver. At the risk of repeating myself, the seats are as soft as you could wish for and the silence that reigns on board contributes to improving comfort. Only the imperfections of the road occasionally disturbed the reverie.
The last word
Polestar needs to sell more vehicles in North America, no question, and it’s the main reason for this Single Motor variant. I’m sure that if it had been at all possible, the automaker would have lowered the price below $45,000 and made the sedan eligible for the $5,000 federal EV discount too. Nevertheless, the arrival of this second variant is certainly good news both for electric-car fans out there and for those charged with growing this very young brand on our continent.
The driving pleasure
The torque under acceleration
The build quality
We like less
The poor rear vision
The range, which doesn’t rival Tesla’s models
Some cheapish plastics
Tesla Model 3