Lifestyle Motoring

A Closer Look at Polestar

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Written by Staff Writer

For those unfamiliar with Swedish car manufacturers, two have dominated the market in recent years – Volvo and Polestar, writes Colin Cumming.

You will know the former, but perhaps the latter isn’t as familiar. Polestar’s journey began in the mid-90s as Flash Engineering, a Swedish racing team, before later transforming into Polestar Racing. In 2015, Volvo acquired the company, and by 2017, it had become a standalone brand focusing on electric cars. More recently, Chinese company Geely has taken majority control, even venturing into the smartphone market with their very own Polestar device. The name derives from the Swedish translation of the North Star – Pole Star.

With sales continuing to rise, the brand’s first pure EV – the premium electric fastback Polestar 2, has undergone a midlife refresh to stay competitive in an ever-growing sector. As such, I put it through its paces. The drive coincided with the launch of Scotland’s first-ever Polestar Space and a look into Polestar’s mantra of using ethical and sustainable materials with a tour of the highly acclaimed Bridge of Weir leather facility.

The limited-run hybrid Polestar 1 was a significant milestone for the brand in 2017. However, it was the introduction of the Polestar 2 in 2020 that truly made a statement. As the competition intensifies, with the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq 6 and the Tesla Model 3, Polestar took steps to enhance the 2’s appeal with a midlife refresh.

As midlife refreshes go, the Polestar 2’s is subtle yet with some significant updates. Externally, changes are minimal, with new alloy wheels and a new ‘smart zone’ – a front panel with driving sensors and technology that replaces the old Volvo-influenced honeycomb grille.

Inside, things haven’t changed much either. The minimalistic cabin still feels fresh, with the 11.2-inch digital central touchscreen being the focal point. There’s a high-quality finish with well-appointed materials and surfaces. Adults can sit comfortably with plenty of space, though rear legroom is a little snug. The raised ‘transmission tunnel,’ more akin to combustion engine cars – the Volvo XC40, to be exact, remains; however, it’s far from cramped. The addition of lighter colours and upholstery materials helps brighten up the cabin, with the vegan interior creating a perception of more space and the optional panoramic sunroof adding to the ambience.

Tech is state-of-the-art, with an intuitive, easy-to-use 12.3-inch digital interface. The car receives regular over-the-air updates that optimise functionality. The Polestar 2 was the first car in the world to feature an infotainment system powered by Android Automotive OS, with Google built in. Fun fact: Polestar allows apps to be developed for potential use in their cars.

While not much has changed on the surface, Polestars 2’s pièce de résistance lies underneath. The car has received key upgrades, including larger batteries, more power, better efficiency, and more range. Two electric powertrains are available: a single motor and a long-range dual motor. One of the most significant changes is to the single motor, which is now beefed up to 296bhp. It’s available as a standard range and long-range, and it is fitted with rear-wheel drive instead of front-wheel. There’s a new 79kWh battery, which increases the range by 22% to 406 miles. Thanks to 205kW capabilities, it uses 9% less energy and 34% faster charging.

The range-topping long-range dual motor model comes with all-wheel drive and delivers 416bhp. Add the ‘Performance Pack’, and you get adjustable flow valve dampers, forged alloys, gold detailing inside and out, and 469bhp. It delivers 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 127mph. The efficient 79kWh battery produces up to 352 miles of range, with a 10-80% charge taking less than half an hour.

Stormy, rain-soaked, winding Scottish country roads provided an excellent testing ground. Despite its two-tonne weight, the refreshed Polestar 2 delivered an impressive drive with excellent road holding, poise, and precision. Every turn was sure-footed, with a confident response and a smooth ride. An array of safety features is standard, including lane keep assist, active steering, collision avoidance, intelligent speed assist, driver alert, and road sign recognition.

Three option packs are available—Pilot, Plus, and Performance – each offering a multitude of options and features. Heated seats, LED headlights, and dual-zone climate control are standard, with a choice of vegan Weavetch, Nappa leather, or embossed textile upholstery. Higher-spec models feature a Harman Kardon stereo, ventilated front seats, and a cabin air filtration system.

The Polestar 2 comes with a 3-year vehicle warranty, an 8-year battery warranty, and a 12-year corrosion warranty. Prices start from £44,950 for the standard single-motor and £52,950 for the dual-motor model.

The refreshed Polestar 2 continues to be a highly impressive premium EV. It’s not only online where you can view them. Polestar’s latest Space recently opened in Glasgow, making it Polestar’s first venture into Scotland and their eighth Space in the UK. Located in the affluent Silverburn Shopping Centre, Polestar’s modern Space (they don’t use the word showroom) offers a direct-to-consumer approach, emphasising digital sales with customer interaction and delivery options.

Polestar Spaces are minimalistic and offer the opposite approach of your traditional car showroom. Space manager Nairn, assistant Space manager Ross, and their team of non-commissioned product specialists are on hand to answer any queries, arrange test drives, and guide customers through the online purchasing process by tailoring their journey from inquiry to delivery.

The new Scottish Space follows the brand’s latest $1 billion funding round, which will help the brand expand its line-up and enhance its sustainability goals. Head of Polestar UK, Jonathan Goodman, said, “We are delighted to be opening our first Space in Scotland in what will be a transformative year for our brand. The timing couldn’t be better with the updated Polestar 2 available to customers now and Polestar 3, our luxury SUV and Polestar 4, our SUV coupé arriving later this year.”

Polestar has been a strong advocate for sustainability issues. With Polestar 2, they released their first Life Cycle Assessment report with full methodology and transparency, calling on the automotive industry to be open and transparent about the carbon footprint of electric vehicles.

To emphasise this point, Polestar invited us to one of the purveyors of the finest automotive leather. Located in the village of Bridge of Weir, a few miles from Glasgow, the highly acclaimed Bridge of Weir Leather has a rich and proud history. Since 1758, the company, which is part of the Scottish Leather Group alongside brands Muirhead and Lang, has been synonymous with some of the world’s finest leather products.

Bridge of Weir Leather (BoW) was founded in 1905 by Arthur Muirhead. Their foray into the automotive world started in 1911 when Muirhead travelled to New York to discuss the Model T’s success with Henry Ford. Whilst Ford was preparing to begin production across the pond in Manchester, he and Muirhead agreed that BoW would provide upholstery for the British-built models. Over the years, BoW has furnished everything from Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Polestar, Concorde, Cunard’s RMS Queen Mary, and the British Houses of Parliament, to name but a few.

Taking the tour of their facility not only opened my eyes to the process and world of leather but also enabled the company to explain how their sustainable automotive leather is produced in ways which will never use irreplaceable resources or damage the environment.

Their ethical and sustainable process starts when hides arrive from the meat-production industry, of which 98% is sourced within the UK (50% from Scotland alone) and 2% from Europe. Some 16,000 hides arrive weekly. They ensure that all cattle have been raised in accordance with the five Freedom principles of Farm Animal Welfare Committee guidelines. So much so that the BoW goes as far as stamping each hide with an individual barcode, allowing all leather to be traced back to its source, even after it has been tanned and upholstered into a car. This is evident in the upcoming Polestar 3 model, where Nappa Leather seats feature the declaration “Animal welfare secured. 8.1kg of CO2 per 1m2. 100% traced leather”.

To improve efficiency and reduce water consumption, BoW installed fourteen new tanning drums and introduced two new tanning agents: BioTan and FreeTan. BioTan includes renewables, making it more sustainable, and FreeTan eliminates heavy-metal ingredients while elevating the product’s biodegradability.

Water-based dye pigments are used, and any excess goes to the company’s on-site water treatment plant. To reduce waste, excess scraps are burnt and used to help power parts of the plant. 100% renewable electricity and zero waste have helped BoW lower its carbon impact by 90% since 2003, and by next year, they hope to be zero-carbon.

Not all Polestar models have full leather upholstery; some have optional trims with cloth, wool, and animal-free leatherette. However, Polestar can be confident that its leather follows their ethical and sustainable principles. Its partnership with Bridge of Weir Leather is an excellent fit, and both will continue to strive for sustainability improvements within the automotive industry.

About the Author

Colin Cumming is a well-known name among FQ‘s readers. Not only is he our entertainment correspondent, but he also has many other talents. Colin writes exceptional movie screenplays, produces remarkable short films, and is a published author, car enthusiast, and film critic.

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