2024 Polestar 2 First Drive Review: The Upgrade Everyone Wanted

First Drive / 7 Comments

Model generation refreshes are rarely this extensive, but Polestar has addressed all the gripes we had with this one.

We were already impressed when the Volvo-related luxury sport brand Polestar released its first all-electric vehicle aimed at the mass market in the form of the Polestar 2 a few years back. It was quick, comfortable, and looked great - however, it came with a few issues. First, the standard configuration was front-wheel-drive, which isn't ideal for a sporty vehicle playing in the premium part of the market. Second, its range of 220 miles, as we tested in its first model year, wouldn't suit everyone. The 2023 long-range version is capable of 260 miles of range, but to be truly considered long-range, Polestar needed to crack the 300-mile mark.

So for 2024, the Polestar 2 gets a significant refresh. Among other things, the update changes the standard configuration to rear-wheel drive, and the long-range model gets a significant bump in range to 320 miles while generating 299 horsepower. The all-wheel-drive long-range version can get up to 247 miles of range while generating 455 horsepower when equipped with the Performance Pack; even without the performance boost, the dual motor manages 421 hp and 276 miles on a full battery.

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Styling: Same Exact Thing

In the press release for the 2024 Polestar 2, the brand called out just about every other automaker on the planet: "Typically in the car industry, a facelift introduces superficial visual changes that often destroy the original intention of the car's design theme. With the new model year Polestar 2, we rather went below the surface and upgraded substantial tech and mechanical components of the electric drivetrain," says Polestar CEO, Thomas Ingenlath.

The crux of the matter is that Polestar hasn't changed the exterior styling as part of the refresh, and we take our hat off to that. We don't entirely buy the "superficial visual changes that often destroy the original intention" line, but exterior changes do devalue the car purchased by customers up until the moment the new model year one goes on sale. It has become a part of the business model for cars to get them back in the news cycle, whether the updates are minor or major.

Fortunately, the Polestar 2's styling has aged well, and the updates are focused where it really matters.

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Interior & Infotainment: Just One Update

If you've sat in a modern Volvo, the Polestar 2's interior, including the 11.15-inch portrait-mounted touchscreen running Google Android Automotive OS, will feel familiar. Standard equipment still includes an eight-speaker sound system, a Bluetooth-based digital key, and dual-zone climate control, but wireless device charging has been added for 2024. Just one update to the features list isn't problematic when the standard specification is as generous as it is here, with a 12.3-inch digital driver display, power seat adjustment, front, rear, and side parking sensors, a surround-view camera, and heated front seats. Safety assists are also numerous, meaning even the base model gets lane-keeping aid with steering support, road sign information, and forward collision warning.

No animal-derived products are used in constructing the Polestar 2's standard cabin, but sustainably sourced Nappa leather is available as an optional upgrade. Either way, all the materials look and feel high quality.

Our only issue with the Polestar 2's interior relates to the rear seating. Legroom is fine for tall passengers, but the curve into the roof puts taller passenger's heads close to the solid material, and sudden bumps can become sudden impacts.

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Powertrain: An Extra Detail

Along with shifting the single-motor's drive to the rear wheels, it now delivers 299 hp and 361 lb-ft, up from 231 hp and 243 lb-ft. The Polestar 2 is still heavy, so while it's quicker than before, 0-60 mph comes in 5.9 seconds.

The second motor in the dual-motor setup is supplementary to the rear motor, and they combine to make 421 hp with 546 lb-ft of torque for all four wheels - also an improvement over the outgoing model. Zero to 60 mph comes in 4.3 seconds. This can be cut down to just 4.1 seconds with the Performance Pack optioned, as this increases horsepower to 455 hp. The Performance Pack also adds Ohlins dampers and bigger wheels and tires, but it isn't available for the single-motor version. When pressed, Polestar didn't want to say with absolute certainty it would be an option later on.

To get its 320 miles of range, the single-motor version gets a new 82 kWh battery, while the rest of the range uses a 78 kWh unit. The smaller batteries can charge using up to 155 kW of power, but the larger battery can accept up to 205 kW, with charging from 10-80% in 28 min for the bigger battery and 34 minutes for the rest. The automaker was keen to impress upon us that the new 82 kWh battery's carbon emissions during manufacturing are reduced by 1.1 tons to 5.9 tons per car due to improved cell chemistry.

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On The Road: Rear-Wheel-Drive Model

As promised, the rear-wheel-drive single-motor version of the Polestar 2 has a whole new character on the road. Now that the front tires aren't doing the work of steering and laying the power to the road at the same time, it feels more nimble. Where the previous version would understeer, the new one is more inclined to hold its line under power and start pushing the rear end out. Whether it's more fun to push around a back road is a matter of preference, but to us, the new layout makes the single-motor Polestar 2 more sure of itself, whether just cruising or hustling a back road.

The extra power makes a difference beyond the 0-60 time being shorter, but it's mainly in the extra torque. Power comes instantly and helps dispatch slow traffic on shorter stretches of road where you may have held back before. Around town, the power has always been plentiful and instant, so there's no real noticeable difference.

Ride quality is comparable to the previous version, and it's perfectly comfortable and quiet for a relaxing drive while being firm enough to get a hustle on without pitching the driver and passenger around.

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On The Road: All-Wheel-Drive Model

The upgrade in power on the dual-motor Polestar 2 is painfully apparent after driving the single-motor version. While the single-motor version is best described as swift, the dual-motor version is fast. The added power and traction and change in weight add up to something that doesn't hang around and will happily surge out of a corner with utter confidence. It's a joy to carve corners in with its sharp steering but predictable grip, and there's a ton of feedback to the driver through the chassis.

Some of that confidence comes from the Ohlins Dual Flow Valve dampers as part of the Performance Pack on our test car. They're a sublime upgrade to the vehicle in ride quality as much as performance, helping the Polestar 2 become one of the smoothest cars we've driven in 2023 - even on the big 20-inch wheels that are also part of the package, on top of the more sport-focused software tuning. Also part of the Performance Pack is a set of low ­drag Brembo brakes that have all the stopping power without feeling aggressive in day-to-day driving.

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Polestar 2: Which Version Is For You?

If you need outright range from an electric car and the Polestar 2 appeals at $49,900, then the single motor version is a solid option. It has plenty of power; it's smooth and comfortable but playful when pushed. However, if you don't need all that range regularly and the extra battery size and weight that comes with it, the dual-motor setup adds a ton of straight-line performance to the mix for a starting price of $55,300 - and according to the automaker, North American buyers get the Pilot Pack as standard. This adds a list of driver assists like adaptive cruise control, blind spot information with steering support, and rear collision warning mitigation.

When it comes to the Performance Pack, $5,500 seems like a lot until you've driven the Polestar 2 with it included - we feel the Ohlins dampers are worth the price of admission alone. Polestar is also offering a Plus Pack for $2,200, which includes a panoramic moonroof, a Harman Kardon sound system, WeaveTech seats with Black Ash deco inlays, an energy-saving heat pump, heating for the steering wheel and rear seats, and more. Whatever you add or don't add, the new Polestar 2 is a brilliant purchase.

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