Polestar 2 gets new look, more power – and RWD

Updated Polestar 2 promises better agility – and up to 395 miles of range. What's not to like?

By PH Staff / Tuesday, 24 January 2023 / Loading comments

When we reported on the return of the rear-drive Volvo last week, it was more with a sense of bemusement than in the expectation of something new and exciting happening to the XC40. And that wasn’t just us – Volvo itself made no claim of improved dynamism from its previously front-drive electric SUV. For the Polestar 2, however, which shares the car’s platform, the tone is a little different: “Changing from front- to rear-wheel drive in the single-motor variants, and re-calibrating the torque ratio in the dual-motor variant for an increased rear-wheel drive feel, elevates the Polestar 2 driving experience to a whole new level,” says Joakim Rydholm, Head of Chassis Development at Polestar. 

“The updated Polestar 2 is an even more playful and agile car, retaining its compactness and complete sense of control, while at the same time becoming more mature with added comfort.” This is more like it. The original Polestar 2 was worthy enough, but ‘playful’ it was not. Whether or not Polestar pushed for such a fundamental alteration is unclear, but undoubtedly it is to the brand’s wider benefit – both in terms of market position, and (we can but hope) performance. Helpfully, the latter has benefitted from a boost, too: the single-motor car’s output is up to 272hp in the £44,950 starter model. Plump for the ‘long range’ version with the larger 82kWh battery, and you get 299hp. Which is sufficiently punchy for the 0-62mph time drop to a spritely 6.2 seconds. 

Of course, it’s the upgrading of the batteries which is at least as important as any fiddling with the motor or inverter. Even if you stick with the standard 69kWh LG-made one, Polestar quotes up to 322 miles of range when measured the WLTP way. But it’s the larger, updated 27-module CATL-supplied unit that you really want; hooked up to the rear-axle motor alone, it offers up to 395 miles of silent running. And that’s really quite a lot. In fact, it’s more than Tesla claims for the Long Range version of the Model 3 – and at £48,950, the Polestar 2 is a smidge cheaper. 

It is quite a lot slower, too, mind. But if that’s a concern, there is always a brace of dual-motor iterations to consider. These share the 82kWh battery, but drastically ramp out the output and add AWD to the mix. Again, much like Volvo’s efforts, the more expensive models are said to have benefited from a ‘completely re-balanced drivetrain setup and torque-ratio’ – which means that the back axle motor is the beefy one, supported by a new asynchronous motor at the front. Polestar doesn’t specify the power split, but the combined output is up to 421hp as standard, or 476hp if you opt to pay the £5k premium that buys the Performance Pack. 

The additional clout gets you a slightly quicker 0-62mph time (4.2 versus 4.5 seconds) although on the basis that peak torque remains the same at 546lb ft, we’d be inclined to save our money – particularly as the Performance Pack (fancier wheels aside) is to be made available as an over-the-air downloadable upgrade, should you feel you need the extra grunt. Regardless, both dual-motor models will now surreptitiously disengage the forward motor when it isn’t needed (another reason why the one at the back is the larger of the two) thereby improving range, which is now claimed to be up to 368 miles for either variant. 

As well as being physically quicker, the latest Polestar 2 ought to charge a bit faster, as well. Thanks to improved cell chemistry, the manufacturer says the 69kWh battery will accept 135kW, with the 82kWh one now up to 205kW. And if that weren’t enough, there’s the prospect of a lightly modified front end, which brings the updated model in line with the design language introduced by the Polestar 3. The firm likes to call the styling alterations ‘SmartZone’ because it incorporates a plethora of camera and radar-based safety features – but let’s forgive it that eye-rolling moment, and reflect instead on a faster, rangier, cleverer, potentially more playful and arguably better looking Polestar 2. Expect deliveries to kick off later this year. 

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