2024 Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor review: Better, but good enough?

Last week, a 2024 Polestar 2 was dropped off in front of my apartment in downtown Berlin — less than a kilometer from the center of Mitte, the most urbanized area of the German capital city. I’d never driven an EV in Germany before. Over 1000 kilometers later, including a lot of time on the speed limit-free Autobahn, I got pretty familiar with the latest version of the Polestar — a car I first drove almost three years ago.

2024 Polestar 2 (RWD, long range) driving experience

The 2024 Polestar 2 has some significant updates, and Scooter described them in our first drive back in 2023, which you should absolutely read. The short version is that the single-motor RWD long range edition I tested is probably the Polestar 2 you want unless you care about speed. Its 82 kWh battery is rated for 655 km on the very generous WLTP cycle, and it is one of the longest-range EVs on sale in Germany today. Charging is also uprated compared to earlier Polestar 2 models, with 205kW DC charging and a reasonable estimated 10-80% time of 28 minutes.

On the road, the Polestar 2’s excellent dynamics and relatively compact size made it feel nimble and placable, whether among the madness of Berlin construction works or the narrow village roads of Bavaria. The steering is direct, the suspension is planted without being punishing, and throttle response is excellent. The Polestar 2’s strong regenerative braking allows for true one-pedal driving, which is a genuine joy in a stop-and-go city like Berlin. Stops are super smooth, and I rarely ever found myself on the brake pedal. Overall, I give the Polestar 2 strong marks on driver experience — it’s a genuinely nice car to drive, one that feels like a natural extension of what your hands and feet are doing at the controls. This single-motor RWD model is not what you’d call fast, but it’s not slow, either. At 7.4 seconds to 100 km/h, it’s respectable, and the ample torque (490 nm) makes high-speed passing pretty effortless. With 220 kW of peak output, it certainly won’t melt your face off, but I never really wanted a lot more when using this car as transportation — it is definitely an adequate amount of power.

Visibility was my one big gripe when it came to driving experience. Parking the Polestar 2 is… not my favorite. The high beltline of the car and oddly small window openings mean you’re a captive of the car’s 360-degree camera view, which I found utterly overmatched in all but the best lighting conditions. No amount of wiping could keep the cameras clean during winter conditions, and the car’s aggressive backup auto-brake made me think I’d slammed into some unseen parking pylon on more than one occasion, giving me serious anxiety about placing the car during three-point turns. (Turning circle is not a strong point on the Polestar 2.) If you owned one, you’d probably turn off some of the parking nannies as you developed a sense of the car’s dimensions — they’re just too invasive, and I found the more I relied on them, the less confident I became.

Driving on the German Autobahn — where there is frequently no speed limit — the Polestar 2 was a pretty relaxing experience. Even with winter tires mounted, road noise wasn’t bad until you started getting above 130 km/h or so (that’s 80 MPH for Electrek’s American readers), and wind noise, even at very high speeds, was surprisingly tame. This RWD model tops out at 210 km/h (130 MPH), at which speed you will still probably be passed by a middle manager in an EQS. Germany! But at a more typical German cruising speed of 120 km/h, the Polestar 2 is comfortable, quiet, and stable. The driver automation aids are a mixed bag — the car applies braking too aggressively when using adaptive cruise, resulting in jarring deceleration. Acceleration is smoother. The steering assist mode is decent but only engaged for me under relatively ideal road conditions. All things being equal, I’d just prefer to work the till myself if using a system that disengages as frequently as this one. Driving in the snow, packed ice accumulated on the front of the car over longer distances. While the automatic cruise control still worked (there’s apparently a heating element on the radar module), the parking sensors required a bit of manual de-icing to function.

2024 Polestar 2 interior and technology

The Polestar 2 is a five-seat sedan — if the people in the back don’t mind being rather intimate with one another’s personal space and if the humans up front aren’t too tall. The rear seating in this car is tight. That’s not new information, and it’s not as though the 2024 model magically found some extra wheelbase hiding under the floor. Up front, I’ve heard some people describe the cabin as cramped, but to me, it just feels like a compact sports sedan; you’re down “in” the car, not on top of it. It’s certainly not like being in a Model 3, there’s no “airiness” to the Polestar 2’s interior. It’s more like a good ergonomic office chair than a recliner — it supportively cradles you. Some people like this (I, for one, do), some people don’t. It’s a pretty subjective experience. If you really like to keep a wide-leg position (Manspreading) while driving, the Polestar 2 may not be the car for you.

The driver’s seat was comfortable (including lumbar adjustment), but I noticed some serious bunching in the leather on the lower seat cushion with just 7500 km on the clock. That’s a bit disappointing. The manual tilt and telescope steering wheel made the ideal driving position easy to achieve, and even at my relatively bizarre setting (wheel pulled all the way in, maybe 75% lowered), the instrument binnacle was visually unobstructed. Solid ergonomics, Polestar. The seat heaters work pretty well (I didn’t test ventilation — it’s cold here), and the heated steering wheel is very effective. The wireless phone charger is terrible. I was lucky if it could even keep my iPhone 15 Pro at the same level of charge it’d start at, let alone add to the battery. Bring your USB-C cable. Cabin heating and defrosting seemed up to the challenge of a Berlin winter, melting light snow off the exterior glass, though I can’t speak for climates with true deep-freeze conditions. 

The Android Automotive software powering the Polestar 2’s center display and instrument cluster is largely unchanged from when I first drove this car back in 2021, for better and for worse. On the upside, I love the sign-in and setup process of Android Automotive. So long as you have a Google account and a smartphone (yes, including an iPhone), setup takes under a minute. It is just so easy. If you want remote features (preheating, remote lock), though, you’ll need to set up and create a Polestar account separately. I do wish there was some kind of “all-in-one” way to handle that side of things, but I can understand this is a lot easier said than done. Google Maps routing with built-in charging planning works well, and I love that my recently viewed POIs across all my devices show up in the car’s map search — it feels like the future! Voice commands are probably solid if you speak German, but I’m not there yet, and trying to give German place names to a Google Assistant set to US English was not a good time. (This is a super unusual configuration unless you’re renting a car as a foreigner, so I don’t really consider it a negative. When set to German, the car understood place names just fine. I just didn’t understand the car.) I also loved how seamlessly the navigation displayed inside the instrument cluster, leaving the center display free for music, controls, and vehicle information.

I was less thrilled with the performance and responsiveness of the software. This was the first Android Automotive car, and it shows. The layout is so minimalist that it feels simplistic, and getting to a particular area of the interface is slow and tedious. Navigation is straight-up clunky. The use of space on the screen is highly inefficient, and the gestures to access things like the climate control interface require far too much of the driver’s attention to be used while in motion. Some decisions in the Automotive UI also just make no sense in retrospect — why on earth do I have a pull-down notification bar in a car? The discoverability of this feature is basically nonexistent. The app launcher layout also doesn’t strike me as very logical — switching between different music streaming or podcast apps, for example, is just way harder than it needs to be compared to Android Auto or CarPlay. The inconsistency of responsiveness and delays caused by poor performance also lead to a lot of double inputs or accidental presses. Despite having almost three years to iterate on the initial concept, the software in the Polestar 2 still feels very much like a first effort and one that’s not aging particularly well. I’d be very curious to see how they’ve evolved it in the Polestar 3 and Polestar 4 when they become available.

2024 Polestar 2 charging and range

The range boost and charging updates make the Polestar 2 much more competitive in the modern EV landscape. Considering I was entirely reliant on public DC charging infrastructure during my test period, I also got a pretty good sense of the car’s charging characteristics in cold weather. In my estimation, that 28-minute 10-80% claim is probably achievable under ideal circumstances, which is to say, ‘when it’s not zero degrees Celsius outside’. But using 250 kW Tesla Superchargers here in Germany, I did see the Polestar 2 draw 205 kW of charge input — once, briefly. During these cold conditions, my experience was more like 40-50 minutes to get the battery to 80%. (Granted, I was sitting in the car with the heater running. YMMV.) 

Charging using Tesla’s Supercharger network here in Germany was gloriously unremarkable (remember, Tesla uses CCS in the EU) apart from one incident where the Tesla app repeatedly just told me “Lost connection to charger” no matter which pylon I chose. This site also had a number of pylons out of order. Other Superchargers (I used four other locations during the week) gave me zero problems. In Germany, as in many European countries, you generally want to use a charging network subscription to get the best prices on charging — the cost of going “out of network” can be exorbitant, with many DC stations charging €0.79 / kWh to non-subscribers. Networks, like eNBW or Tesla, offer monthly subscriptions that can cut this cost in half.

As for the range, I was hardly operating the car in “normal” driving conditions — these figures really only serve to illustrate the brutal effect of winter Autobahn driving. Traveling at 120 km/h (a pretty conservative cruising speed here in Germany) at 0C temperatures, I saw consumption of around 25 kWh / 100 km, compared to the 14.9-15.8 kWh / 100k km Polestar advertises based on the 2’s WLTP rating. Given the car’s surprisingly high 0.278 drag coefficient (worse than even the VW ID.5 crossover, at 0.26), I don’t think the Polestar 2 is a good choice if long highway drives are your typical mode of use, regardless of temperature. At lower speeds (50-80 km/h), efficiency improved dramatically (closer to 17-19 kWh / 100 km). As a suburban runabout, this car’s range is probably pretty respectable. But as it stands, for pure Autobahn range, the Polestar 2 will be lucky to get more than 350 km in winter, just above half of the delusional 655 km WLTP rating. In warmer conditions, I suspect you can manage over 400 km driving the way I did.

And, if you want to expedite your Autobahn journey? I don’t recommend it for any extended period unless you really like visiting public charging infrastructure. At 160 km/h (around 100 mph), the Polestar 2 was consuming an eye-popping 30 kWh / 100km. I don’t expect anyone to use the car this way, but I just wanted to know for the sake of, uh, thoroughness.

2024 Polestar 2: Electrek’s take

I was testing an EV under demanding circumstances — highest speeds, lowest temperatures, and exclusively using public charging. The Polestar 2 never let me down, even if it wasn’t necessarily the best tool for the kind of driving I was doing. The disappointing highway range is probably less of a headache in the summer, but I had to make two charging stops on what really should have been one-stop legs of my journey because the car was just shy of being able to make do with one. But that’s a wholly individual experience and one that was unique to my demands of the car.

On the more objective marks, the Polestar 2 is a challenging car to place in the broader EV landscape. It doesn’t offer the passenger space of even a Model 3, and it’s by no means a better value than one. The real-world efficiency is certainly decent if you aren’t doing a lot of highway driving. But if you care about saving money on the front end of your purchase, the Polestar 2 is not a cheap vehicle — as equipped, my test car was over €62,000 (options included napa leather, premium tech and stereo, and driver assistance packs). This RWD variant effectively competes with the BMW i4 eDrive40, at least on paper. I haven’t driven that car, so I’d be curious to see how it stacks up. But absent the competition, I have to wonder how much demand exists for a small EV luxury sedan that really can’t credibly claim to fit five passengers — at least not comfortably. The pressure coming from the crossover segment of the market is also hard to ignore here.

More concerning to me than any of the above is that the Polestar 2’s tech stack isn’t aging well. That would be my reason, personally, to avoid picking one up. The Intel processor powering this car’s infotainment system is a dog, and it just makes using the car clunkier and more unpleasant than it needs to be. Even when it debuted three years ago, this hardware was outdated. Today? I can’t imagine wanting to be stuck with this level of software performance for 3 or 4 more years. No thanks. That said, you could just use set your nav in the built-in Google Maps EV routing, plug in CarPlay for media, and avoid the Automotive experience for everything but dedicated vehicle controls. I suspect most folks will do this.

There’s still a lot to like with the Polestar 2. The upgraded Harmon Kardon stereo is genuinely excellent, and I say that as a pretty discerning listener (most modern car stereos seriously underwhelm me — the tuning on this HK setup is stellar). The look of the car is boldly Scandinavian, even if it may scream “fancy Volvo” at the end of the day. The driving dynamics are also quite good for a compact luxury sedan. Driving position is good (if narrow), the hatchback and lower trunk compartment offer lots of storage, and you get a usable frunk. This car turned heads when it launched, and many of the reasons behind that are still valid today.

I think Polestar’s real challenge is in convincing a potential customer that what it adds — effectively, a premium touch and driver-first dynamics — is meaningfully attractive compared to the obvious alternative (a Model 3/Y Long Range). While BMW may have a more price-analogous competitor to the Polestar 2, the kind of customer considering this car is far more likely cross-shopping with Tesla. This is a tech-first brand, not a traditional luxury automaker. And here in Europe, you have growing competition from Chinese brands like NIO’s ET5 and BYD’s Seal to consider in this space as well, where you’ll get far more performance and tech for less money.

In some ways, the 2024 Polestar 2 already feels like it needs an update to remain on the bleeding edge — and that’s not a great place for a just-updated car to be. It’s certainly a good car, but it’s one that’s becoming less competitive by the month. Unless Polestar starts considering some aggressive price reductions, I think the Polestar 2 runs a real risk of falling out of the electric sedan conversation. That’s too bad, because it’s a lovely vehicle in many ways. It’s just tricky to translate that charm into economic or utilitarian rationale.

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