Hällered proving ground sits an hour’s drive east of Gothenburg and seems an exemplary place to experience a Polestar 2 for the very first time.
Sets of quiet, remote test tracks wind among the forest and chime with the car’s environmental brief. Unlike the plug-in hybrid Polestar 1, the 2 is entirely electric, with a WLTP range of 311 miles and nothing less than the Tesla Model 3 in its sights.
This place also has space enough to properly exploit the performance on offer. Which is lucky because, with a dedicated electric motor for each axle, the 2 makes 487lb ft – more even than the Nissan GT-R – and does so almost instantly.
But Hällered also feels an odd place to become better acquainted with the 2, which at £49,900 will cut the cost of entry to the Polestar owners club by almost two-thirds and will exist as a big-volume model next to the hand-built, 1500-off £139,000 Polestar 1 grand tourer.
These smaller cars will be assembled in the Luqiao facility of Polestar parent company Geely in China and the battery modules are from LG Chem in South Korea. Siemens in Germany builds the motors and the brand recently opened a 120-strong R&D facility in Coventry. It’s an amazingly global product whose muscularly attractive design will ensure that it draws eyeballs and graces the streets in fashionable places around the world. Yet here we are, standing in the Swedish bush.
But this is where the magic happens. “The first thing the driver gets from the chassis is how the steering feels,” says Joakim Rydholm, the lead chassis engineer and someone not only with a clear mission sense but also softly voiced but nevertheless Italianate levels of passion. “Then the rest of the suspension should work in harmony with the steering,” he says, revealing that the chassis is set up for slight oversteer. He says the manually adjustable Ohlins dampers alone were iterated through 120 different tunes, with removal and hardware changes required each time: “There are no shortcuts: it’s hard work behind the steering wheel to get a good car. The human is sensitive and you cannot calculate that.”
All of which should be music to our ears because, as always, it comes down to priorities. Polestar will not operate dealerships but chic ‘spaces’; the cars can be ordered online only; it will make a splash among the general public, with cutting-edge looks and zero-emission powertrains; and it is a subsidiary of a marque that recently announced an intention to limit its cars to 112mph and, bluntly, has never given us a world-class driver’s car. It would have been so very easy for driver appeal to descend so far down the 2 to-do list as to become irrelevant, but that has not at all been the case.
No point beating around the bush: the Polestar 2 is good to drive. It may never set your synapses on fire but the natural steering response is well matched to what the suspension is doing, and on Hällered’s quick, flowing handling course, the Ohlins dampers – hydraulically textured in their movements – only ever need one bite of the cherry to get the body under control.