I’ve been looking to upgrade my old, boring internal-combustion car to a fancy, shiny battery-electric vehicle for about a year. The other day, I finally got to test drive one - a Polestar 2. It was great! And I ended up putting a deposit down the very next day.
Cars are evil!
You’re not wrong; car culture is responsible for the modern world’s awful urban planning. I bought a house walkable to necessities so I wouldn’t need a car – but they’re still convenient – especially these days, when stranger air is danger air.
Driving to my parents’, running “big” errands, getting places not served by train, and (maybe again someday?) road trips – it’s all good.
So you already have one?
Yes! I own the cutest car ever: a happy green Mazda 2:
We got it in California; it’s served us well for 11 years & a cross-country drive. It transports 2 size ‘small’ adults (and occasionally cats).
No kids, no dogs, no lumber, no garbage cans,
no corpses nobody can prove
anything stop reading this paragraph please
Tiny hatchbacks fit us great, but this one is a manual transmission, which is relevant because…
Why are you replacing such a cute car, what’s wrong with you?!
…I messed up my left ankle a few years ago. Not bad enough to qualify for a
blue placard, but it still hurts if I use it too much, such as constantly
riding the clutch
when some asshat in a BMW causes a pileup on the Merritt
in Northeastern US interstate traffic.
No, seriously, what is wrong with you?
God, where to start?
You know what, never mind. Let’s stick to cars.
- It’s better for the climate, provided the car and batteries are used long enough. Yes, even if the electricity is fossil-fuel based. I’m not gonna regurgitate the literature here.
- Less smelly, can run it in an enclosed garage without dying (always a plus), doing 99% of your refueling at home, etc.
- I’m blessed with a 2-car garage, so I can keep my Mazda around as insurance.
- Have you driven an electric car? They fly!
- As of 2021, the non-Tesla market and charging network has finally reached an early critical threshold of “good enough”.
DID YOU SAY NON-TESLA?! RARGH!
This used to have a Twitter embed, but Twitter is functionally dead now, and hilariously, it’s for the exact reason my tweet had been about: Elon is an absolute shithead. (Also, his cars aren’t very good, as it turns out. Even the range turned out to be inflated!)
So what did you consider?
If you’re interested in a messy database, I used Airtable during my search, embedded below. You may want to click ‘View larger version’ in the bottom right to dig in:
For the last few months, it’s been down to 4 of those cars:
- Chevy Bolt
- Hyundai Ioniq 5
- Kia EV6
- Polestar 2
They share a good to great battery capacity & charging rate, don’t look like a standard SUV/crossover, seem reasonably well liked, and are (or are shortly being) sold in the US.
Sadly, none of the true hatchbacks I could get here meet the “good to great battery/charging” criteria. More modern units exist overseas, but that doesn’t help me. So I knew we’d end up with a sedan or crossover.
How’d you end up on Polestar?
The Mach-E is hard to get due to supply chain issues, I’m not entirely sold on its look & feel, Ford corporate did shady crap around the launch of the vehicle (embargo’ing a known underwhelming trim until post-delivery) and on top of all that, I’d have to deal with Ford software and dealers.
The Ioniq 5 is neat looking, but WAY bigger than it looks in photographs. It’s seriously huge. I also wasn’t a fan of its cockpit when I got to sit inside, but mostly - it’s just too big!
Kia’s EV6 is shorter vertically than the Ioniq, and curves where the Ioniq uses straight lines; but it shares the same platform - so it’s still too big around. Plus most of the Kia dealers I spoke with did nothing to dispel their awful reputation.
Polestar 2s look like this:
In terms of its comparison to the others:
- Sedan shape and size is more our style than the crossovers.
- Had the most consistently positive reviews (and most “cons” were things that didn’t bother me or which I knew could be patched in software).
- Can test drive, purchase, deliver, and service almost entirely online,
including free pickup/dropoff/loaner.
- My interactions with Short Hills Polestar (both sales & test drive folks) have been nothing short of great. Intelligent, responsive, accommodating, and well informed - the polar opposite of my interactions w/ (most) local mainstream dealers.
- They partner with Volvo dealerships for service, and the one in my area is super duper well liked.
- Priced competitively, and NO dealer markup BS, which is currently rampant with the other models, especially the Hyundai/Kia (which are going for $10+K over MSRP right now!)
By the time I’d emerged from my research, the Polestar was clearly calling my name…
The test drive
Note: I’m skipping some points that are repeated frequently in the reviews you can easily find on auto blogs and YouTube; if you are considering this car at all, absolutely look that stuff up. Ars Technica has a good article or two, Throttle House has a couple videos, there’s a ton out there.
The car I test drove was:
- a dual-motor / AWD model
- with the Plus pack (sunroof, leather seat option [installed], heated steering wheel, better speakers, etc)
- but not Pilot (adaptive cruise, extra cameras/sensors/safety features, 360 park cam) or Performance (I don’t drive that fast)
- in the Moon paint.
Here it is being fit tested in my garage:
I love those headlights.
- An online refrain is that these cars look better in person than in photos – it’s true! Something about its physical presence really sells the design. I really like it.
- It has real door handles, not style-over-substance flush nonsense.
- The Plus pack has a pleasing interior design with wood accents and other attractive materials. Both the WeaveTech and (recycled) leather seating options were comfy.
- The build quality is extremely good, as I’d expect from a Volvo spinoff. Pleasingly solid door feel, minimal road noise on the highway, etc.
- Touch screen was responsive and easy to use, even on the go (altering
drive settings and climate).
- Do I love Android styling? No, but it’s inoffensive, and Android Automotive was clearly designed for its environment.
- The Google Assistant-based voice control also worked pretty well, comparable to my (limited) experience with Siri.
- Gauge cluster extremely crisp and well presented; plus having a map there is great. No glancing over at phone or tablet.
- I absolutely loved how it drove:
- The accelerator felt well tuned at all speeds.
- Tons of power, both when rabbiting across a busy intersection & passing at speed.
- Cornering and changing lanes was super smooth (really, the whole ride was.)
- One-pedal driving is fantastic & if anything made me feel even more “in tune” with the car’s movement than in a manual.
- Plenty of room in the trunk, so at least we’re benefiting from the larger
- The Plus pack adds conveniences here such as a flip-up divider and a bunch of hooks/nets.
The less good
- The cabin’s a bit cramped coming from my Mazda, at least vertically. Many
medium/large-sized reviewers point this out and I can see why - when I
notice my on-top-of-head sunglasses smacking the roof, that’s not a great
sign for the rest of y’all.
- The center console apparently gets in the way of people who have actual legs. Thankfully, for me it’s no worse than the similarly placed console hosting my Mazda’s shifter, and has more storage compartments too.
- The acceleration/torque from the electric motors was literally intimidating/scary in spots. It would be very easy to get into a bad situation with this power, very quickly. I’m terrified to think what the roads will be like when everybody has an EV!
- The keyfob. It’s huge (a common complaint) and the car “turns on” simply by having it in range and a butt in the driver’s seat. My inner Pythonista would prefer something more explicit.
The bad (but overlook-able)
- Visibility towards the rear is dire, with thick (Volvo safety!) B pillars and
wide C pillars / tiny rear window.
- A big change from my Mazda 2; I’ll have to train myself to rely more on the mirrors & safety cameras.
- I said I wouldn’t revisit constant refrains, but…the cupholder situation is
also dire - actually worse for me than larger folks (you slide the armrest
back to access the first cupholder, and open it for the second).
- When in use, though, the first cupholder isn’t in my way…and the Mazda had no armrest anyways!
Result: dear reader, I paid a deposit
After a final visit to Polestar’s “Space” at my local mall to check exterior & interior colors/fabrics, and a night of thinking, I reserved a dual motor “Snow” (white w/ black trim) 2022 model with the Plus and Pilot packs & WeaveTech seats (we don’t like light-colored leather).
I’m reserving the option to switch that reservation to a single-motor once they’re available for test driving - if it’s still enough power for me, I’ll gain some range in exchange. Either way, I’m excited!
I leave you with a photo of my automobile past and future (with a “Midnight” P2 in between) and a thanks for reading! Reach out via email or Twitter if you have burning questions about my experience not listed here.