2024 Polestar 2 Review: Subtle Scandinavian Charm

The Polestar 2’s 2024 refresh makes it more entertaining to drive but doesn’t change its fundamental character.

byMaddox Kay|
Volvo Reviews photo
Maddox Kay


When is a Volvo not a Volvo? It’s not a riddle or a trick question—it’s the 2024 Polestar 2’s existential crisis. “Since 1959” is still proudly emblazoned on its seatbelt buckles (the year Volvo pioneered three-point belts) and the five-door hatchback shares its basic architecture with the Volvo C40 and XC40 crossovers, but nowhere is a circle and arrow to be found.

Volvo officially sold its 48% ownership stake in Polestar in February but as both companies are owned by Chinese automaker Geely, they are, for all intents and purposes, different entities under the same roof. But that doesn’t answer the question from non-car-geek friends: “What is that thing?”

After unsuccessfully trying to explain what a Polestar is a couple of times, I resorted to: “Think of it as a really fast, electric Volvo.” 

“Ahhh.” No further questions. And you know what? There are far worse things to be.

2024 Polestar 2 Dual Motor Performance Plus Specs
Base Price (as tested)$63,000 ($69,650)
Powertraindual-motor all-wheel drive | 78-kWh battery
Torque546 lb-ft
Seating Capacity5
Curb Weight4,719 pounds
Cargo Volume14.4 cubic feet behind second row | 38.7 cubic feet behind first row
EPA Range247 miles
Quick TakeStylish, restrained, and easy to live with … just like a Volvo.

The Basics

The Polestar 2 is a five-door electric hatchback. It’s the first mass-market product by Polestar, a one-time Volvo performance division that spun off into its own brand in 2019. When we drove it in 2021, we liked its design and performance but weren’t sold on its overly firm ride or value for money. Three years into its lifecycle, the Polestar 2 received a pretty comprehensive update for 2024. How many cars switch drive wheels at a mid-cycle refresh? Single-motor Polestar 2s are now rear-wheel-drive instead of front-wheel-drive, powered by a rear-mounted 220-kW electric motor. (The single-motor 2024 Volvo XC40 and C40 Recharge are also now rear-drive, as they share the Polestar 2’s CMA underpinnings.) 

Total capacity for the 400-volt lithium-ion battery grows from 78 to 82 kWh in single-motor cars, but remains 78 kWh in dual-motor Polestar 2s. This helps the single-motor model post an impressive gain in EPA range: 320 miles, up from 265. The dual-motor’s EPA-estimated range is now 276 miles (247 with the Performance pack), up from 249 last year.

Power is up for both the single- and dual-motor models, jumping from 231 to 299 hp and 408 to 421 hp respectively. Interestingly, in the spiciest Performance variant, total output falls from 476 hp to 455 but torque is up from 502 lb-ft to 546, dropping Polestar’s claimed zero-to-60 time from 4.5 to 4.1 seconds in the quickest variant. Rounding things out, 2024 Polestar 2s also get the upcoming Polestar 3 crossover’s SmartZone radar and camera safety suite located on the front grille area as well as a wireless phone charger as standard equipment.

At a glance, it’s hard to tell the new car from the old one, inside or out—and Polestar says this was intentional. It didn’t want to “destroy the original intention of the car’s design theme,” according to the company’s CEO, so it focused on updates beneath the skin. But this update will leave some on dealer lots scratching their heads as to what exactly is new, at least visually.

Driving the Polestar 2

My first drive in the Polestar 2 was in the wet, where its primary drive wheels are readily apparent. A quick stab of throttle spins the rear tires, revealing a playfulness that simply wasn’t there in the old car. Power is abundant, instant, and easy to modulate with one pedal, which makes merging or shooting gaps in traffic a breeze.

There wasn’t anything wrong with the last Polestar 2’s handling, but there wasn’t anything particularly exciting about it, either. The 2024 model is both easier to turn in and more eager to power out of a corner thanks to its improved weight distribution and rear-biased power. It still isn’t a sports car, with steering that gets a bit vague off-center (my test car’s winter tires might not have helped with this) and a 4,700-pound curb weight, but as a fun daily driver, it absolutely works.

The ride on the Öhlins manually adjustable shocks is a bit firm over bumps, though it’s composed on long highway drives. On those same highway stretches, I noticed another issue: a strange buffeting sensation between 65 and 70 mph. On a couple of occasions, I checked that all four windows were up. My colleague James Gilboy complained of road and wind noise in his 2021 review, and I’ve heard similar comments from others who’ve driven the 2024 car.

The Polestar 2’s built-in Android Automotive dash tablet and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster both work well at their intended functions, though I mostly used Apple CarPlay through a wired connection. My biggest gripe was having to make multiple taps to adjust heated seats or change the cabin fan speed. Let the record show that touchscreen-only HVAC controls are not an acceptable solution, especially from a company supposedly committed to safety and crash avoidance.

Maddox Kay

The Highs and Lows

The Polestar 2’s impressive performance and handling are high points, aided as they are by its new drive layout. So is its cabin, which is spacious and comfortable. Special mention goes to the front seats, which in typical Volvo, erm, Polestar fashion, are exceptionally supportive on long journeys, such as the four-hour interstate slogs from New York to Boston and back that my fianceé and I logged.

What’s most impressive is the Polestar 2’s lack of gimmicks and singular focus on being a Good Car. It’s easy to add fart noises and claim a car will be bulletproof; it’s much harder to deliver a fundamentally solid product and then improve on it in meaningful ways, as Polestar has done here. The Polestar 2 looks and feels well-built and well-executed, more like a mature, second-generation product than a facelift.

However, as significant as this update is, it doesn’t address some of the Polestar 2’s biggest flaws or really change its position in the EV market. The ride in the Performance model is still too firm, rear visibility is still atrocious, and there’s the wind buffeting issue I mentioned earlier. I’m still not sold on iPad-in-dash as the solution to HVAC and music controls, either. Perhaps not deal-breakers, but with rivals offering similar range and features, everything counts.

Polestar 2 Features, Options, and Competition

The 2024 Polestar 2 comes in three flavors: long-range single motor RWD, long-range dual motor AWD, and long-range dual motor AWD with the Performance pack. The single motor normally starts at $49,900 while the dual motor starts at $55,300—but Polestar recently rolled out an incentive that drops the price on both to $49,200 including delivery. The dual motor upgrade also includes the $2,000 Pilot pack with adaptive cruise, lane centering, LED front foglights, and other active safety features.

Other available upgrades include the $2,200 Plus pack that encompasses Harmon Kardon sound, a panoramic glass moonroof, full power seats, a heated steering wheel, a heat pump that scavenges waste energy from the powertrain to warm the cabin, and a few other comfort features. My test car also came with $1,250 Midnight blue metallic paint, $4,000 of ventilated Nappa leather, and the $5,500 Performance pack which adds 34 hp via a software upgrade, Brembo brakes, the Öhlins suspension, and all-important gold seat belts on top of all Plus goodies.

Maddox Kay

Which one to choose is really a function of where you live and what your range requirements are. If 276 miles of range is sufficient for your needs, there’s really no reason not to get the dual motor, at least while it’s a free upgrade with more standard equipment. If I were speccing one today, I’d go for the dual motor model with the Plus pack and skip the pricy Performance upgrade. It’s only a hair slower to 60 mph at 4.3 seconds, and I doubt I’d miss the harsh ride in everyday commuting.

The Polestar 2’s biggest rivals are the recently-refreshed Tesla Model 3, the BMW i4, and the Hyundai Ioniq 6. Only the Tesla qualifies for the $7,500 federal tax credit when purchased, but all three are theoretically eligible for a tax credit of the same amount when leased. The Model 3 Long Range comes in at $48,880 delivered before incentives and offers 341 miles of range, while the Ioniq 6 is $49,865 delivered with a $3,500 dual-motor upgrade that drops range from 305 to 270 miles. The i4 is the priciest at $53,195 delivered and can go 276 miles on a charge.

Having driven both, I prefer the Ioniq 6’s more feelsome steering and agile chassis responses to the Polestar’s more stoic demeanor, but some will prefer the Polestar’s more angular looks and forceful acceleration.

Range, Charging, and Efficiency

I tested the Polestar 2 during a cold patch of Northeast winter and at full charge, the car indicated 220 miles of range. The range meter was consistent and even conservative, a welcome change from some optimistic EVs I’ve driven.

Since my test coincided with a 500-mile road trip, I relied on the public charging network and found it reasonably effective, if expensive. On the way north, I stopped at a 150-kW Electrify America DC fast charger and spent $35.39 to charge from 19% to 80%, at a rate of $0.64 per kWh. On my return trip, I stopped at a different EA station and juiced up from 20% to 84% for $27.06, at a rate of $0.48 per kWh. The Polestar 2 accepts up to 155 kW charging speeds, so there’s no need to wait for a 350-kW charger.

Charging up at an EA station in Connecticut. Maddox Kay

Each stop took around 35 minutes, and on the return leg I did my grocery shopping for the week while the car charged, so it wasn’t all bad. Still, the cost was roughly equal to driving a 30-mpg gas car on the same route, even with a free eight-hour Level 2 charge I snagged at a Boston train station. 

I know most EV owners who have home charging won’t have to interact with the public charging network this frequently, but since a lot of city- and apartment-dwellers don’t have that privilege, it feels worth noting.

Value and Verdict

The 2024 Polestar 2 isn’t a spec-sheet superstar—it’s a car you appreciate by living with it. It has a subtle charm that’s hard to tally up on paper, but it feels safe, well-made, and incredibly capable. There are other great options in the class and for similar money, but I reckon lots of folks will be taken with its premium feel and overall package.

In other words: Think of it as a really fast, really nice electric Volvo.

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