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2022 Polestar 2 first drive review: Expanded appeal

A new front-drive model and simpler trims make Polestar's excellent EV available to more people.

The Polestar 2 still looks great.

Polestar

When the Polestar 2 EV launched last year it was solely available with a dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain and in one basically fully loaded spec, with the only options being a performance package, leather upholstery, wheel designs and paint color. But for 2022 Polestar introduced a new single-motor model with fewer standard features, significantly lowering the base price and expanding the car's appeal to a wider range of consumers. Good news is, the entry-level car is just as good.

The new base Polestar 2 has a single electric motor at the front axle putting out 231 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. That's a big drop from the dual-motor 2's 408 hp and 487 lb-ft, but the single motor is more powerful than the front motor of the AWD car. The automaker says the front-wheel-drive Polestar 2 will hit 60 mph in 7.0 seconds, 2.5 seconds slower than the dual-motor car, and its 100-mph top speed is 27 mph lower, too. At 4,396 pounds, the single-motor Polestar 2 is 263 pounds lighter than the dual-motor 2, though its weight distribution is more front-biased. No matter the powertrain, the Polestar 2 can tow up to 2,000 pounds.

Both versions of the Polestar 2 have the same 78-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The single-motor 2 has an estimated range of 265 miles -- the EPA hasn't officially rated it yet -- compared with the 249-mile range of the dual-motor car. No matter which version of the Polestar 2 you get, the battery can be fully charged in 8 hours using a 240-volt charger or gain a 10%-to-80% charge in 33 minutes using a 150-kW DC fast-charger.

Driving the single-motor 2 from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Los Alamos and back is a round trip of about 85 miles that takes me on a mix of highways, city streets and fantastic mountain roads at high elevation. Right off the bat the front-drive Polestar 2 feels nearly identical to the all-wheel-drive car. The suspension and steering setups are exactly the same, with adjustable weight to the steering but a static damper setup. From the central screen I can also adjust the regenerative braking level, switch idle creep on or off and turn off stability control.

The single-motor 2 might not have the punch of the dual-motor car, but it's still plenty quick off the line and has more than enough passing power for highway driving. The base car rides on 19-inch wheels with Michelin Primacy 4 all-season tires that provide a smoother ride than the optional 20s, most notably over rough surfaces. This standard setup is more compliant than the firm Öhlins dampers you get with the Performance package, though the base car has more body roll in corners. On really twisty mountain roads there's almost no understeer or torque steer, even when I really push it and accelerate hard out of a corner. The all-wheel-drive model has even more grip and feels much quicker and more planted in corners, but as far as front-drive EVs go the Polestar 2 is easily one of the most fun to drive, and a good set of summer tires would make it even better.

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Every Polestar 2 still has a lovely interior with a Google-based infotainment system.

Polestar

For 2022 almost nothing has changed with the Polestar 2 in the styling department. If you go for the black paint color called Void more of the exterior trim is now blacked out, but otherwise the stylish exterior looks just like it did before. The interior is pretty much identical, too. New for 2022 is a fabulous textile interior, which slots under the vegan WeaveTech leather option that was previously the base setup. The cloth seats feel and look great, especially in the lighter Zinc color, and the front seats are heated as standard. I also love the 3D trim pieces that adorn the center console and door panels, and the base interior still has the same fabric speaker covers and dashboard accents. The only other new change is a black Polestar badge in the steering wheel in place of the old chrome logo.

Every Polestar 2 comes with an 11.2-inch digital gauge cluster and a portrait-style 12.3-inch central touchscreen running the automaker's Android Automotive-based operating system. This excellent setup remains one of my favorite infotainment systems on sale -- and that's despite me being a staunch iPhone user. The Google Maps navigation integration is fantastic, with a full map view and directions available as a view in the gauge screen. Overall the interface is responsive and free of clutter, and apps like Spotify mean I don't miss having CarPlay -- though Polestar says CarPlay integration is coming soon.

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The single-motor Polestar 2 is one of the most fun front-wheel-drive EVs on sale.

Polestar

Standard features on every Polestar 2 include keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive LED headlights, four USB-C ports, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, lane-keeping assist, road sign recognition and automated emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection. The front seats are partially electric with four-way power lumbar support, but the backrest is manual and the knob for its adjustment is a little annoying to reach. The driver's seat does have a memory function, at least.

Last year's Polestar 2 came standard with items that are now part of the optional Plus and Pilot packages, both of which are available with either powertrain. The $4,000 Plus pack adds a 13-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, a panoramic sunroof, fully electric front seats with manual cushion extension, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, heated windshield washer nozzles, more ambient interior lighting, a wireless phone charger and the vegan WeaveTech upholstery. The Plus package also now includes a mechanical heat pump that's new for 2022; Polestar says it improves the car's range by about 10%, though that hasn't been reflected in EPA estimates yet. The $3,200 Pilot pack includes pixel LED headlights with a cornering function, LED foglights, a 360-degree camera system, autodimming mirrors, fun start-up sequences for the exterior lighting and a bunch of driver-assistance features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and automated emergency braking. This package also gets you the Pilot Assist system that consists of adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and steering assist.

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The new base cloth upholstery rules.

Polestar

Even though the Polestar 2 is pretty well equipped to begin with, I really find myself missing many of the optional features, especially the driver-assist tech of the Pilot package and the interior niceties of the Plus pack. But even if you do without either upgrade you're getting a solid EV with a high-quality interior and a lot of goodies. The dual-motor's $5,000 Performance package isn't available on the single-motor 2, but I find it to be pretty unnecessary anyway -- though the gold accents and 20-inch wheels do look awesome. Stand-alone options include $1,200 20-inch wheels, $1,200 for any paint color that isn't black, $4,000 ventilated nappa leather upholstery (that requires the Plus package) and a $1,200 power-unfolding tow bar.

The single-motor Polestar 2 starts at $47,200, including a $1,300 destination charge and excluding any potential incentives, while the dual-motor 2 now starts at $51,200. That's a big price drop over the 2021 dual-motor model's $61,200 base price, and even if you add the Plus and Pilot packs that were included last year the 2022 dual-motor Polestar 2 is still $2,800 cheaper. Personally I would pony up the extra $4,000 for the dual-motor car, as its increased performance outweighs the range deficit, and I'd want both the Pilot and Plus packages. But no matter the spec the Polestar 2 is a great EV, and the cheaper single-motor version and expanded configurability should make it even more appealing to a much broader audience.