Polestar 2 Dual Motor Performance Plus — An EV sleeper

By David Boldt

(December 17, 2023) Back in the day (that would be my day) it was known as a sleeper. Built within the envelope of an anonymous sedan, its owner/builder would cram as much performance under the hood as the engine compartment could accommodate, but instead of advertising the installation with as many fire-breathing cosmetics as the cash-strapped owner could gather, he left it visually stock.

Stock, of course, only served to magnify the surprise when the mild-mannered Bel-Air or Tempest blew the doors off an otherwise unaware Chevelle SS or GTO.

Some 60 years later, the Polestar 2 in its Dual Motor Performance Plus guise could very well be labeled a sleeper in most areas east of Silicon Valley; there — I’ll guess — it won’t fool anyone.

If you haven’t noticed Polestar…well, you’re not alone. A corporate sibling of Volvo, and at one time serving as Volvo’s tuner subsidiary (like AMG has served Mercedes), Polestar is headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, and is available — we’re informed — in global markets across North America, Europe and Asia.

The Polestar 2, a 4-door hatchback, is available with single motor, dual motors or a dual motor installation with what the company dubs "Performance Plus;" that performance pack is the subject of this review. And it is, in my now-dated Hot Rod vernacular, a sleeper.

Despite its open-up-wide hatchback, in profile the Polestar 2 projects a decidedly 3-box profile, while the box form is accentuated by slab sides and an open greenhouse. And while there’s no pretense at making this an adventure vehicle, neither is it club coupe low. Its height, at 58 inches, is two inches taller than Volvo’s S60 sedan, and some 7 inches lower than a Volvo XC60. But with shortish overhangs and an abundance of glass, along with few if any visual affectations, it sits taller.
Inside, the driver and front seat passenger are given generous shoulder room and adequate headroom, in an environment that artfully combines wood, fabric, and plastic. In the rear two adults will be reasonably comfortable, three adults less so. And as you’d hope in a hatch, the rear seat folds, offering almost six feet of uninterrupted load floor for your bike or — in the upcoming economic apocalypse — you.

Despite a touchscreen that demands far too much attention, most of that is forgiven when lighting the Polestar 2’s dual-motor Performance Plus candle. Under your right foot is 455 combined horsepower, along with 546 lb-ft of torque driving all four wheels. And even when driven in ‘normal’ mode, that horsepower and torque are moving less than 4,700 pounds, making the Polestar 2 a relative lightweight among battery electric vehicles. Happily, the ride/handling compromise ain’t a compromise; this is far closer to what I remember of BMW than what I can recall from Volvo, where the ride/handling balance was historically closer to Buick than Bavarian.
The result is prototypically a sleeper, with the ability to go about your business in a super quick, super-efficient manner. And with 270 miles of range you could visit Polestar’s Austin outlet — from Dallas! — in a single trip. But as you’ve probably read, Tesla’s Model 3 can now be purchased for thousands less than the Polestar 2’s $51K base, while Volvo’s S60 Recharge — a plug-in hybrid — is both fast and, with its gas power and battery, can tour all of the U.S. outlets with no need to plug in.

If, however, you’re committed to the EV experience, Volvo-owned Polestar allows you to experience and experiment, without feeling like a crash test dummy. It’s like dancing with a different drummer, but not (thankfully) that different.