The Polestar 2 employs the architecture that underpins the Volvo...

The Polestar 2 employs the architecture that underpins the Volvo S40 sedan and XC40 crossover. Credit: Polestar

What’s in a name? It depends.

Consider Polestar. It was once the name of Volvo’s high-performance brand. Established in 1996, Polestar’s original mission was to build Volvo race cars for the Swedish Touring Car Championship. These days, it’s Volvo’s EV marque, one that builds cars that the company describes as pure, minimalistic, engineering-focused and sustainable. Both Volvo and Polestar are owned lock, stock and barrel by the Geely Auto Group, a Chinese automaker that includes brands you may not have heard of, including Zeekr, Geely and Lynk, along with some that you might have, like Proton and Lotus.

Polestar’s U.S. headquarters are in New Jersey, its corporate HQ in Gothenburg, Sweden. But its vehicles are built in China. Currently, Polestar is sold through 30 dealerships, which the company calls Polestar Spaces, although buyers can carry out most of their purchase online; the nearest Polestar Space delivers the vehicle.

The company’s first model was a limited-edition, high-performance plug-in hybrid, the Polestar 1. Having arrived in 2019, it is Polestar’s only gas-powered automobile. The Polestar 2 Dual Motor arrived roughly a year later, an all-electric five-door hatchback powered by two electric motors, one on each axle, allowing for all-wheel drive. But come December, you’ll be able to buy a new Single Motor model, with front-wheel drive and a $4,000 lower starting price — and it might just be the better deal.

The Polestar 2 employs Volvo’s CMA architecture that underpins the Volvo S40 sedan and XC40 crossover, and its short, stocky shape is reminiscent of its Scandinavian sibling, including its "Thor’s Hammer" headlight design. The look is upscale and sporty, possessing a distinctive identity.

Climb inside, and you’ll find a cabin that doesn’t borrow much from Volvo, aside from the occasional piece of switchgear. Instead, you’ll find a distinctive recycled postmodern, man-made vegan chic in either black or gray, unless you opt for the carnivore interior, aka leather, which comes in lighter shades.

The cabin’ s minimalist design works fairly well, with one glaring exception: the center console. There’s one cupholder in the open, and the second is nestled inside the center console bin. If you use both, you can’t use the bin for storage. And when the center console bin lid is closed, you can slide it forward, which covers both, rendering them useless. The map pockets are not shaped to accept bottles. So, make sure you’re hydrated before you get behind the wheel.

Once you do, you’ll find there’s a perceptible performance difference between the Single Motor model, producing 231 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque with a 265-mile range, and the Dual Motor model generating 408 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque with 249 miles of range. This is especially so above 50 mph.

Regardless of which one you buy, you’ll find the cabin to be extraordinarily quiet, among the quietest you’ll encounter in any car. And wait till you feel its potent off-the-line thrust. All Polestar 2s have steering effort that can be adjusted, transforming steering feel from effortless to weighty. Regenerative braking effort can also be adjusted. Uniquely, the car has no starter button. Instead, you merely climb in the car with the key fob in your pocket and put your foot on the brake. The car starts. Sweet.

2022 Polestar 2 Single Motor

Base price: $45,900

Engine: AC synchronous, permanent magnet motor

Power: 231 hp., 243 pound-feet of torque

Range: Estimated 265 miles

Bottom line: Serious price reduction

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