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TALK TO THE CAR

Talking car Polestar 2 is a Swedish Tesla – only better

EVERY car firm has some sort of voice assistant it says will change the way you drive.

A bit like Siri or Alexa. Except when you get in a car and ask its computer to do something, it is worse than useless.

Here is the Polestar 2 in its own words - yes, it talks
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Here is the Polestar 2 in its own words - yes, it talks

The usual soulless robotic reply is: “Sorry, I didn’t get that.” Or: “Try again.” It just winds you up.

But if anyone was ever going to do it right, it was Volvo. It realised it should stick to hardware — making cars — and let a little company called Google do the software.

Guess what? It works. Because that is Google’s bread and butter.

So I had an idea. Rather than read the manual to learn all about Polestar 2, I thought I’d ask the car instead.

Here’s how we got on — the world’s first interview with a car.

Hey Google. Tell me about Polestar.

According to Wikipedia, Polestar is an automotive brand jointly owned by Volvo Car Group and its parent company Geely.

It is headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, with production taking place in Chengdu, China.

Polestar 2 has a vegan interior made from a material called WeaveTech
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Polestar 2 has a vegan interior made from a material called WeaveTech

Hey Google. Tell me about Polestar 2.

On the website polestar.com, they say: “Polestar 2 is a premium five-door fastback with two electric motors and a 78kWh battery capacity based on Volvo Car Group’s adaptable compact modular architecture platform.”

Hey Google. How much is Polestar 2?

From £49,900. (Er, make that £46,900 after the £3,000 plug-in grant.)

Hey Google. How fast is Polestar 2?

The top speed of Polestar 2 is 127.4mph.

Volvo has done the hardware and Google the software on Polestar 2
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Volvo has done the hardware and Google the software on Polestar 2

Hey Google. What’s the acceleration time for Polestar 2?

The Polestar 2 goes from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds.

Hey Google. How far does Polestar 2 go?

On the website polestar.com, they say: “When fully charged the Polestar 2 has a range of 292 miles.”

Hey Google. Where’s the start button on Polestar 2?

On the website motoringresearch.com, they say: “There’s no start button in the Polestar 2. The car powers up as soon as the driver is seated, with their smartphone acting as a key. Wireless charging is fitted as standard”.

And the rear lights on Polestar 2 remind me of KITT from Knight Rider
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And the rear lights on Polestar 2 remind me of KITT from Knight Rider

Hey Google. Tell me about Polestar 2’s vegan interior.

On website autonews.com, they say: “Polestar to introduce vegan interior. For the interior, Polestar is using a material called WeaveTech, a water-based, dirt and moisture-resistant PVC material inspired by divers’ wetsuits.”

(The carpets are made from recycled plastic bottles too.)

Hey Google. How big is the boot on Polestar 2?

There’s 404 litres of luggage space in the boot with the seats up, as well as a supplementary 34 litres in the front storage area.

Hey Google. Do the rear lights on Polestar 2 remind you of KITT from Knight Rider?

Sorry. I don’t understand.

Key facts: POLESTAR 2

  • Price: £46,900
  • Battery: 78kWh
  • Power: 408hp, 660Nm
  • 0-62mph: 4.7 secs
  • Top speed: 127mph
  • Range: 292 miles
  • CO2: 0g/km
  • Charging: 80% in 40 mins
  • Rivals: Tesla Model 3
  • Out: Now

Hey Google. Tell me about the brake regeneration on Polestar 2.

On the website polestar.com, they say: “The electric motors in the Polestar 2 use the car’s momentum to recover energy during braking which would otherwise be converted to heat and wasted. This means that easing up on the accelerator will cause the car to slow down.”

Hey Google. Can you drive without the brake pedal on Polestar 2?

On the website whatcar.com, they say: “Essentially, the Polestar 2’s regenerative brakes, which feed energy back into the battery whenever you lift off the accelerator, slow the car to such an extent that often you don’t need to touch the brake pedal at all.”

Sounds good. I just need £50k to buy one. Hey Google. Where’s the nearest bank I can rob?

OK, I’m setting your destination to Barclays Bank on Station Road.


My verdict

NOW read my verdict: Polestar 2 is a Swedish Tesla. Only better.

It’s a smooth, tech-rich electric rocketship with buckets of torque, combined with the handling, build quality and sophistication only a firm with a long history of making cars can deliver. If it wasn’t for the regenerative braking, you’d quickly forget you were driving an EV at all.

Everything else is pure Volvo: Understated Scandi design, an upright Google tablet a toddler could operate and all the safety systems that have ever been thought of.

Plus it wants to be your friend. Ask it to stick on something decent and it will. Ask it to direct you to Starbucks and it will. It can drive itself too, although you might get your collar felt by PC Plod if you try it. Heated seats will keep you toasty. I will say that it lacks the pure theatre of a Tesla Model 3’s giant centre touchscreen, Atari games and whoopee cushion fart sounds when indicating left or right.

But it feels safer, with the instrument binnacle behind the steering wheel showing speed and directions.

Now, to fill in the gaps, Polestar 1 came first. That was an expensive, low-volume hybrid GT with 600hp and trick dampers. Polestar 2 is much more for you and me while Polestar 3, an electric SUV, will follow in 2022.

Price? Hmmm. Polestar 2 is not cheap at £47k or £564 a month on personal contract hire, especially if compared to the base Tesla Model 3 at £41k.

But this is four-wheel drive with a bigger 78kW battery. The base Tesla is rear-drive and has a 50kW battery. Polestar will launch a cheaper two-wheel drive version with a smaller battery next year.

Or you could go the other way and pay another £5k for the Performance Pack. It adds Ohlins manually adjustable dampers, Brembo brakes, 20in alloys and gold seatbelts and valve caps. But no extra go.

Other observations. You can’t buy one from a dealer because there aren’t any showrooms. 

You buy one direct online. Or from a shop, when they start to open at Britain’s big malls.

As for servicing, Polestar will pick up from work or wherever you are and deliver it back. Hassle-free.

All good, then? Not quite.

The biggest obstacle of electric motoring remains . . . we still need a nationwide network of fast chargers. That’s where Elon Musk wins, because Tesla has its own.

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