Expert Reviews

2024 Polestar 2 First Drive Review

Polestar’s executives like to refer to their company as a “97-year-old startup,” in reference to its previous iteration as Volvo’s performance department.

The brand actually started life as an independent race team before being brought into the fold and finally bought by Volvo outright. Now it’s an independent brand under China-based parent company Geely that’s building its own lineup of products.

First out the door was the Polestar 1, a limited-edition hybrid sports car. The electric-only Polestar 2 sedan debuted in 2019. It gets an update for 2024, with subtly revised styling, new electric motors, faster charging, and more standard features. Most notably, the 2024 Polestar 2 switches from the previous front-wheel drive (FWD) to rear-wheel drive (RWD), including a rear bias for the all-wheel drive (AWD) version.

A Gentle Styling Tune-Up

The Polestar 2 isn’t a pretty car; let’s describe its styling as unusual. It’s minimalist in the Swedish tradition, both inside and out. The previous traditional-style grille is replaced with a solid horizontal panel, dubbed the “SmartZone.” It’s intended to show off the driver-assist technologies, such as a radar sensor that isn’t tucked away but highlighted in the middle of the panel.

The interior is also all about the Nordic simplicity, with most controls contained in the console-mounted 11.1-inch touchscreen. It’s powered by the Android Automotive operating system with Google Built-In, and Apple CarPlay is included. The supportive seats are clad in leather-look vegan fabric or Nappa leather. The panoramic glass roof doesn’t have a sliding shade and its tint isn’t enough to handle bright sunshine, glaring down through the glass and bouncing off the gloss-black console. Polestar’s reps said a snap-in sunscreen will be offered as an accessory.


New Motors = More Power

The Polestar 2 is offered with the choice of two propulsion systems, both with new motors. A rear-mounted motor that powers the rear wheels makes 299 hp and 361 lb-ft of torque – substantially more than the outgoing version that had its motor mounted up front to drive those wheels. Sister brand Volvo made the same configuration change to its C40 and XC40 Recharge electric crossovers.

The dual-motor AWD version has historically accounted for 90 per cent of Canadian sales, and there’s no reason to think that will change. Both axles are driven, but the rear wheels now provide the bulk of propulsion. When extra power isn’t required, the front wheels disengage to conserve the battery.

Those dual motors put out a combined 421 hp, along with 546 lb-ft of torque – a rise of 13 hp and 128 lb-ft from the 2023 model. It goes from stop to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds, but if that’s not quick enough, you can opt for the Performance pack. That ups it to 455 hp and shaves a third of a second off the benchmark acceleration time, and includes 20-inch wheels with Continental SportContact performance tires, along with Brembo brakes, new forged-alloy wheels, and Öhlins adjustable dampers.

More Range

The single-motor version of the 2024 Polestar 2 uses an 82-kWh battery, and it’s rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) for a range of 515 km in its base version with 19-inch wheels. With its optional 20-inch wheels with all-season tires, that drops to 494 km, but both are a considerable improvement over the outgoing model, which rated a maximum of 435 km. The maximum charging speed has also increased from 150 kW to 205 kW.

The dual-motor version uses a 78-kWh battery with 155 kW charging speed, and is rated at 444 km with 19-inch wheels; 428 km with 20-inch wheels; and 397 km with the Performance pack’s performance tires. All Polestar 2 models have a 907-kg (2,000-lb) tow rating.


It’s All About the Drive

The numbers are important, but the car still has to speak for itself, and for that I drove both versions on Colorado’s scenic Peak to Peak Highway. I drove the single-motor version first, which comes across as more of a sporty machine than a true sport sedan, and feels strong rather than quick; but it’s great fun to drive nevertheless.

The steering can be adjusted as can the regenerative braking, which can operate in full one-pedal driving. In the mid-range regenerative mode, lifting off the throttle going into the sharp mountain-road curves slowed it just enough to set up beautifully for the exit, and the near-perfect steering weight inspired confidence along with anticipation for the next corner. The ride is very smooth, but while the suspension soaked up bumps on rougher pavement, it rattled as it did.

For the afternoon, I switched to the dual-motor with the optional Performance upgrade. It’s easy to see why the AWD version is popular, and not just for winter conditions. It feels even better balanced, solid but not heavy, and with the extra canyon-carving ability of those powered front wheels and the stickier tires. Hit the throttle hard and the extra torque pushes you back in the seat, but it still has that everyday-driver demeanour.

A Slight Pricing Bump

The 2024 Polestar 2 single-motor starts at $57,450, including a non-negotiable delivery fee of $2,500. That’s an increase of $1,200 over the 2023 model, but in addition to the extra power and range there’s extra standard equipment including blind-spot monitoring, auto-dimming mirrors, parking sensors, and surround-view cameras.

The dual-motor starts at $65,450 and includes a package of adaptive cruise control, emergency front and rear braking, and LED fog lamps that previously were optional. Ordering is open now for the 2024 versions.

Both models are eligible for the full $5,000 federal rebate, along with up to $4,000 in British Columbia, and up to $7,000 in Quebec. The company is still working on its retail network, with a few Polestar-specific stores – one just opened in Vancouver at the time of this writing – or availability through certain Volvo stores. If you live in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, or Victoria, B.C., you can set up a test-drive with the vehicle brought to your home.

Final Thoughts

This brand is moving forward fast: the Polestar 3 sport-utility is now rolling out, and will eventually be followed by the coupe-styled Polestar 4 crossover; the 5 four-door GT; and the 6 roadster.

In the premium electric market, the 2024 Polestar 2’s main rival is the Tesla Model 3, which is also slated for an update in 2024. This improved Polestar 2 offers better driving dynamics and longer range than its predecessor, along with a comfortable interior with quality materials. These are interesting times indeed for those who want to plug in.