From £39,900
Our Scandi-cool EV turned heads, but did we end up shaking ours after six months at the wheel?

Why we ran it: To see if an electric car fits into a high-mileage life. 

Month 6 Month 5Month 4Month 3Month 2Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Polestar 2: Month 6

Six months and more than 9500 miles have revealed whether this potent electric saloon is fit for long-haul daily use - 6 July

I have spent the past six months in a Polestar 2, the second car to come out of the Sino-Swedish mash-up: a bit of Geely, a bit of Volvo, with a former Volvo design director as its CEO. It follows the super-rare Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid coupé, itself first shown as a concept for Volvo.

The 2 is a much more conventional electric car and, going by the fact I see them everywhere, significantly less rare. It’s a five-seat compact executive hatch, about the size of a BMW 3 Series, with almost crossover-type looks that, I think, owe more to its mechanical layout than a deliberate attempt to be an SUV.

There’s a swathe of black plastic underneath it because, like most new EVs, there’s a big battery pack under the body. You can get a few flavours of 2 but this Performance Pack variant, £5000 more than the standard £49,900 Long Range Dual Motor version, has a 78kWh gross battery (75kWh usable), providing energy for two electric motors totalling 403bhp. At first, anyway. That initial power level was upgradable for £1000 to 470bhp in an over-the-air update (and downloaded onto this car) but the Performance Pack now gets that output as standard.

The 2 has a pleasing interior, with a lot of Volvo-based kit, such as the switchgear. Bright seatbelts aside, the ambience is relatively conservative,whichI’vequiteliked in daily driving: nothing too jarring. The driving position is very good, and the instruments are clear, but I wouldn’t have minded a bit more customisation for the instrument cluster and the trip computer is fiddly. The cupholder fouls an elbow, too.

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There’s a Google-based infotainment system on a touchscreen that is clear and responsive. Its voice control even usually understood what I was saying. But big tech companies being precious as they are, it won’t show Apple CarPlay or let you directly use apps from an Apple phone. (You can download its own apps.)

It’s practical, too. There’s a decent-sized rear boot and a small compartment under the bonnet that I never used, save for holding a three- pin charge cable. I barely used the Type 2 charge cable stored under the boot floor, either, because by the time you have a wallbox with a cable and when public chargers all have them, there’s no need.

The Performance Pack-equipped Polestar comes with adjustable dampers, courtesy of Öhlins. Unlike the power, you can’t change these over the air or even by flicking a switch. They’re old-school tweakable by turning a knob. And not one under the bonnet, either, but under the car.

It’s recommended you take the 2 to a dealer or at least jack it up to adjust the dampers, but the front adjusters can be reached if you turn the wheels to full lock, while if you’ve skinny-enough arms, you can reach over the tyre and through the wheel- arch liners to tweak the rears. Doing so takes around five minutes, and the same time again to brush dust off your clothes and wash your hands.

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As standard, the Performance Pack 2 comes with dampers set eight clicks away from full firm, which is still pretty stiff. Comfort mode is suggested at 18 clicks for the fronts, 20 for the rears (out of more than 40 clicks), which is what I settled on.

It stays pretty firm but rolls over small bumps less harshly. There are super-saloon levels of performance but it’s a secure and fast rather than exciting and fast way to travel. I don’t know who, if anyone, was asking for the damper option but I guess the idea is to add some mechanical interaction to an otherwise digital experience.

And so to the clerical EV stuff. The supposed range is 292 miles on the WLTP cycle but the car itself estimates 250 miles when it’s fully charged – still optimistic, especially in winter, owing to the current state of EV batteries, no fans of the cold.

Call it 200 miles in winter, then, assuming you want to use all of the battery. But given that Polestar recommends you don’t charge the car to more than 90% for battery durability and, if you’re using the public charger network, that you probably wouldn’t want to risk slipping too far into a single-digit charge state, you can take off another chunk of usable range. Summer adds at least 30 miles, but for very long road trips on short deadlines, I’ve guiltlessly hopped back into an internally combusted car.

The 2 arrived at my gaff several weeks before my ability to charge it there. So, Polestar, meet trading estate car park. The 2 can receive up to 150kW of juice but it ramps down from that quickly. 50/64kW chargers are more common, whose levels it will accept more consistently.

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During those first few weeks, then, as someone who drives at least 20,000 miles a year in my main long- term test car, I spent quite a lot of time in the 2 while it was plugged in.

What surprised me is how little that bothered me. I’ve always got a laptop and an overdue deadline so I suspect it was good for my productivity. If I had a different job, it might be a different story. After a few weeks and £930, I was able to charge reliably at home at 7kW – which transforms EV ownership. To the extent that I’ll miss having an EV in my life? Yes. And I think the Polestar is up with the best of them.

Second Opinion

All the power you could ever need in a characteristically Scandi-cool silhouette, with a decent range, big cabin and supple ride quality to boot. There’s far more depth of character to the drive than offered by its Californian nemesis, and a big hit of extra desirability, I’d wager 

Felix Page

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Love it:

Navigation cleverness What with it being Google, you ask it to find a vague place and it tends to find it. ETAs are accurate, too. 

Oomph I live on a 50mph road with poor visibility. Getting up to cruising speed in slots in traffic is effortless 

Design You can tell the CEO is a designer. Small windows, high hips, rakish. So it’s hard to see out of, but whatever 

Loathe it:

Tunnel layout Cupholder or armrest? Your choice, but you can’t use both at the same time, annoyingly. 

Reverse sensors It slams on the anchors if somebody 400 yards away flaps their arms about. 

Final mileage: 15,070

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Life with a Polestar 2: Month 5

Regenerative braking system technicalities change at different levels of charge - 1 June

The instrument panel graphic seen above deftly shows that, if it’s near full charge, the battery won’t take the 2’s full regenerative braking capability. It also shows the same but reversed if charge is seriously low, when it limits acceleration to eke out the last bit of range.

Mileage: 15,013 

Life with a Polestar 2: Month 4

The Polestar 2 contiunes to excel in warmer conditions - 18 May

I’ve just managed a 230-mile round trip to Lincolnshire, then to the shops, on one charge, allowed by warmer weather. The 2 wouldn’t manage that in cooler weather – nor if I had charged it to only 90%, the recommended maximum for battery life. I got home with 4%, or 10 miles, of range remaining. And I wouldn’t want to push it much further.

Mileage: 14,124

Warm weather brings boosted range - 4 May 

Warmer weather has brought a small but noticeable increase in the 2’s range. I reckon it would now do 220 miles from full to empty, rather than 200. Meantime, while reversing into the space you see here, the cross- traffic reverse assistant slammed on the brakes as if I had hit something. I hadn’t, and I wasn’t about to. These systems really wind me up. 

Mileage: 13,600

Life with a Polestar 2: Month 3

Downloading more power is no longer a science-fiction fantasy - 20 April

The update has landed. Yup, the £1000 optional extra – the Performance software upgrade – that adds 67bhp to the Polestar 2, which we agreed we should test on this car, announced via the touchscreen that it was available to me and that I should download it. So I did.

I mean, it didn’t say exactly that 67bhp was ready to arrive. It said that a software update was ready to download (of which I knew the power rise was a part) and that I should pick a moment when I could leave the car locked and not in use while an over- air update came down. It included a few bug fixes and other things too.

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I left it overnight to do its thing. On getting back in, I was rather hoping it would be accompanied by a loud fanfare and maybe some balloons floating up the touchscreen, like social media sites show on your birthday. Alas, no. There was a green tick. Well done, you; you let some new software come down.

To Dual Motor cars like this it gives “a power boost at higher speeds”, according to Polestar’s bumf. 

It’s said to cut the 0-62mph acceleration time from 4.7 to 4.4sec. But perhaps more important is that the 50-75mph time is claimed to have been cut by 0.5sec to 2.2sec. That’s actually quite a sizable difference.

Given an electric motor makes its peak torque from rest, how much would I notice a 3% torque increase? Answer: not a huge amount from rest, but at the higher speeds where the Polestar has felt a bit stickier, the power increase is more notable.

The throttle map is adjusted too, though, and I wonder whether most of the work of the power increase could have been emulated by freeing up throttle response at higher speeds.

Either way, it seems expensive for what is basically already there – and how often are you at full throttle from 50-75mph anyway?

Customers who do buy the upgrade also get something physical, though. There’s a new badge for the front grille and new stickers for the doors. Or you could leave them off, in the sort of equivalent of having 520d badges on a BMW M5. Only not really.

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Anyway, Polestar life is otherwise very straightforward, apart from a tyre-pressure warning. I checked the tyre, but there was nothing visibly wrong, and then checked the pressure. It was a couple of PSI short, but after I topped it back up, it has stayed steady.

Love it:

Sunny days The range seems to be going up now the weather is warmer. Of course, if I were writing this in November, it could be a ‘loathe it’.

Loathe it:

Fumbling around It’s hard to see the filler flap in the dark – although with lighter evenings, that’s less of an issue.

Mileage: 12,594

Sat-nav mishap - 6 April 2022

Unhelpfully, the day before I drove the Prodrive Hunter in central London, the photography support car’s sat-nav wouldn’t work. It constantly thought it was in Milton Keynes, where it had first gone down. Online forums and Polestar support suggested various off-and-on-again reboots. None worked, until it started working again of its own accord.

Mileage: 11,610

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Unwanted tyre change - 16 March 2022

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Gah. I got a nail/tack in the tyre, too close to the sidewall to be repaired. 
I called Brackley Tyre Warehouse late afternoon and by 11am the next morning they had sourced and fitted a new Polestar-specific Continental Premium Contact 6 (245/40 R20). Pressures are a relatively high 45psi at the front, 41psi at the rear. Miles have just clicked past 10,000.

Mileage: 10,027

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Are some over-the-air updates in fact a bit of a swizz? - 9 March 2022

I still haven’t tried softening the dampers on the Polestar 2. Sorry. I promise I will. It’s just that every time I think about jacking up the car and lying beneath it several times on a tarpaulin on the cold, damp winter ground until I hit upon a good damping set-up for UK roads, a deadline (or nice a cup of tea) looms more importantly.

So the 2 has instead covered 4000 firm (but very well-controlled) miles in my hands in the standard UK damper setting for its adjustable Öhlins shock absorbers. Which puts motordom in the curious position where it’s easier today to increase the power output of this car than it is to adjust its suspension.

Late last year, Polestar announced a performance software upgrade for this version of the 2. It lifts power by 67bhp from 403bhp to 470bhp, and torque by 15lb ft from 487lb ft to 502lb ft. It costs £1000 and takes effect via an over-the-air software update. Polestar asked if I’d like to try it. As I write, I’m waiting for it to download, but I’ve had some correspondence already. Does it show a bit of nerve, is the general theme, to charge you four figures for equipment and capability the car has clearly already got?

I admit I have reservations about the idea, even though I’d happily accept two differently powered diesel engines are the same but for some lines of code yet cost different amounts. And yet I would also get uppity about having to ‘subscribe’ to, say, heated seats. More correspondence gratefully received. I have had two unrelated software downloads, which need the car to be locked for 90 minutes and the battery at more than a 40% charge state to install.

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The latest – the excitingly named v1.9 – is arriving as I speak. It will include a ‘ready to drive’ notification if the adaptive cruise control sees somebody pull away from a standstill ahead of me in traffic while I’m daydreaming; improve ‘steering support’ for the lane keeping aid (slightly worryingly, because I don’t like that); and improved object tracking and sensitivity for the automatic reverse braking.

That last aspect does need some work: it will slam on the anchors if it spots somebody walking several metres away but also if I’m still a good foot or two from a static object. And if you like skulking to the edge of a parking bay to reduce the chances of damage from someone’s door or trolley, the all-round cameras are very good but the sensors are loud and the braking is premature.

Alongside all of that, everyday Polestar life is still grand. Quite commuter-ish recently, including motorway trips, where it’s secure and stable in high winds. I parked at Heathrow during three very stormy days and cold nights, and the battery, showing 68% when I left it, showed the same when I got back in. (I’ve known EVs where that wouldn’t necessarily be the case.) It also – because it doesn’t require combustion heat – warms up and demists really quickly.

A quality foible, though. The mute/ pause button sits above a deck that also houses the hazard warning switch. If I push the mute button hard and on its edge, it presses on and sets off the hazard lights. Easily avoided with some thought, but shouldn’t really happen.

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Love it:

Easy charging Type 2 cables really do slot in easily, don’t they? And one push of a soft rubber button very quickly releases the lock on it when I’m done.

Loathe it:

Cold case I’d like the 2 to be ‘on’ while I’m not in it so I could clear the windows or load up while it’s heating up (if, say, I haven’t set a conditioning timer).

Mileage: 9714

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Life with a Polestar 2: Month 2

Polestar's impressive tech means no more dirty hands - 2 March

The 2 has a physical boot release, a rubber button hidden from view above the numberplate. It gets dirty, unlike the inside of a normal handle would. Polestar puts aesthetics over practicality in places. But there are also buttons in the cabin and on the keyfob, or you can shake your foot beneath the rear bumper (standard on the 2) to keep fingers clean.

Mileage: 9402

Parking is more difficult than it needs to be, but a reversing camera saves the day - 9 February

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The 2’s all-round camera system is very effective at helping you line up square to a parking bay, which is handy, because the mirrors and rear window are small and there’s no rear wiper. It also has rear automatic emergency braking, which would be great if it didn’t slam on the anchors because it has spotted somebody miles away across a car park.

Mileage: 8601

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Motorway top-ups could be a thing of the past for our EV - 2 February

Maths and paperwork. Yikes. That is what’s occupying my Polestar time when I’m not driving the car at the minute. It’s new and an EV, so there are a few things still to sort out. One of them is ensuring I get a £350 grant under the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, which until April this year allows new EV buyers to part-fund a domestic EV charger. From April, it will apply only to flats or rental properties, so if you own a house, you’re on your own, squire.

The grant made the charger cost slightly more palatable: a high-three-figure bill (£930), rather than a four-figure one. I called a local company with decent reviews: they then recommended, and I agreed to, having them install a British-made unit from Hypervolt.

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To comply with the grant regulations, it needs to be a smart charger in range of one’s wi-fi; apparently it will be pinged a few times a year by the grant giver. Not sure how you will comply with those regs from the sixth floor of a block of flats you don’t own, but there you go.

A smart charger like this allows owners to schedule cheaper off-peak charging, but the advantage for a high-mile work driver like me, who usually needs juicing to start as soon as I plug the car in, is that I know how many kW and pounds sterling I have deposited into the Polestar, so I can work out my expenses. (HMRC alternatively allows a rate of 4p per mile to cover business miles, which doesn’t really cover it.)

Which brings me to maths part two: working out precisely what the Polestar’s efficiency is, and how long public chargers take, by way of a spreadsheet and some head-scratching. For internally combusting long-term test cars, we just have a card sheet on which we scribble the mileage, litres and cost of each fill. EVs are necessarily more complex. I’m still working on it, because there are lots of things we, as a number of editorial teams, could calculate from the data, down to rating the average speed and reliability of charging networks.

Anyway, what I can tell you is that having a solid 7kW charger athomeistransformativefor heavy EV users (you will be absolutely unsurprised to learn).

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Recent trips include the shortish hop to my younger child’s new university digs. For all of the Polestar’s high window line, rakish rear screen angle and narrow glass area, it’s worth remembering that it kind of comes from the people who bring you Volvos. So the rear seats fold to lift the luggage volume from 405 litres to 1095 litres and the frontmost cupholder is perfectly sized to take a small Japanese peace lily, almost like they planned it.

Longer trips include visiting my folks in Hampshire, a round trip approaching 200 miles that, at this time of year, is borderline making- it-without-stopping territory if you cruise relatively quickly. 

Will it be faster to give a quick squirt of juice at the Instavolt chargers in West Meon while I’m looking at some motorbikes? Or should I just back off to a slower cruise to get home with a comfortable few per cent to spare? I suspect the latter would usually be true and is more efficient and cheaper. But more answers next time.

Love it: Discreet cabling:

A small luggage compartment in the front is big enough for charging cables, which keeps them in place and means you can’t hear them even if they do rattle around.

Loathe it: Indiscreet labelling: 

Stickers on the door telling you what variety of 2 you have is a bit technical, a bit weird and a bit like you would see on a prototype.

Mileage: 8313

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Life with a Polestar 2: Month 1

Quirks take some learning - 19 January 2022

I’m still getting used to the Polestar’s various range estimates. The one in the instrument panel is optimistic, while the ‘range assistant’, which is meant to be more realistic, I find is too pessimistic. I’ve taken to just looking at the remaining charge percentage and doubling it for miles, which seems pretty accurate, depending on how fast I go.

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Mileage: 8189

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Welcoming the Polestar 2 to the fleet - 12 January 2022

There’s a tendency among car makers, especially makers of posh cars, to complicate things. To throw at them technology and features – some of which you will never use – to wow you. This, the Polestar 2, from a company part-owned by Volvo, is refreshingly simpler than that.

The 2, Polestar’s second car after the wild plug-in hybrid Polestar Polestar 1, is a pure EV. This one is with us as my daily wheels until the middle of the year. It’s 4.6m long and 1.8m wide across the body, with a five-seat interior and a 78kWh (usable) battery pack beneath it. There’s four-wheel drive, from two powerful permanent-magnet synchronous motors, each making the same output. There’s one at either axle, so it makes a total of 402bhp and 487lb ft.

At that size and pace, I suppose you would call it a sporting family hatch or a quick compact executive car, with a 4.7sec 0-62mph time. The top speed is ‘only’ 127mph, but I don’t suppose I will ever trouble that.

The 2’s base price is £49,900, but this one has a couple of options: metallic paint, which doesn’t look overly metallised but which I do rather like, at £900; and the £5000 Performance Pack. That adds 20in rather than 19in wheels, larger front brake discs with four-piston calipers, Öhlins manually adjustable dampers and gold-painted brake calipers and valve caps.

This being the 2020s, though, the options don’t end when the car gets to you. Polestar recently announced a £1000 over-the-air update that can bring an additional 67bhp, raise the torque to 502lb ft and drop the 0-60mph time to 4.2sec. Polestar has agreed to send it over, so as I write I’m waiting for the car to ping me a message to say it’s ready to download.

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I think the 2 is a rather handsome thing, too. Polestar’s gaffer is Thomas Ingenlath, a designer, so he probably gets to choose who wins all of the ‘engineer versus designer’ arguments we’re told happen in car companies.

The 2 has a high beltline with a narrow window area, thick pillars and a small back window. I think it looks great from the outside. But, yes, that makes it harder to see out of. It’s a compromise that I’m prepared to accept, right up until I lose sight of another car behind the A-pillar.

Inside is where you find more of the simplicity I opened with. The driving position is straight and easy, with a round wheel with normal buttons on it. There’s a big, upright touchscreen using an Android Automotive and Google system, rather than a car maker’s own bespoke software. And while I would rather the heater controls stayed on physical buttons, every icon is large and clear and it’s very intuitive, plus not over-burdened with features that I couldn’t use while driving anyway.

The (Google) map is quick and comprehensive and, for once, this is a car whose voice control actually understands me. It will sync with an iPhone but won’t use CarPlay, which brings some limitations (it will receive audio but not allow app controls via the car’s screen), but it’s generally as good and straightforward as car systems get.

The 2’s 78kWh battery gives an official WLTP range of 292 miles, but I’m not getting near that. At full charge, the car usually estimates range at 250 miles, but a secondary ‘range assistant’ is more accurate, pessimistic and, at this time of year, tends to predict 200 miles fully juiced. My fag-packet calculations suggest a return of 2.6 miles per kWh on a typical journey, which puts 200 miles at the edge of its limit.

The car suggests you don’t charge to more than 90% to preserve battery life; and it’s a brave soul who goes deep into single-figure percentages if they’re holding out for a public charger. So the usable range is even less than that, and while the battery can apparently charge at rates of up to 150kW, it tends not to. In short, it’s not really good enough.

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During my first few weeks with the car, I couldn’t charge it at home, which made life a bit tiresome, but I always have something to write so didn’t feel like I had wasted much time charging. More on all of that in another report, though, once I’ve accrued more time/consumption records. Meanwhile, I’m £930 lighter but now have an AC charger screwed to a wall of my house, which means the 2 is fully juiced every morning and I’m only occasionally topping it up on the road.

I’m enjoying the 2 to drive. It has an easy one-pedal mode if you want, but its retardation and low-speed creep level can be adjusted. The steering has a few weightings, but the handling is always sure-footed and confident, if a bit firm around town.

To adjust those optional Öhlins dampers, though, requires sticking the car on a ramp. Bonkers. I can’t imagine many owners doing it, but it’s a project for some downtime I’ve got coming up. Maybe I’m weird, but that’s the kind of complexity I’m on board with.

Second Opinion

I tested the Long Range Single Motor version of the 2 recently without the Performance Pack, and it made me wonder how much more an owner could really need from the car. I will be interested to find out if Matt’s long-termer can offer a meaningful reason to spend more.

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Matt Saunders

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Polestar 2 specification

Prices: List price new £49,900 List price now £52,900 Price as tested £55,800

Options: Performance Pack £5000, metallic paint £900 

Battery and range: Official range: 292 miles Battery (total/usable): 78/75kWh (total/usable) Test average 210 miles (2.8mpkWh) Test best 230 miles (3.1mpkWh) Test worst 190 miles (2.5 mpkWh) Real world range 203-230 miles 

Tech highlights: 0-62mph 4.4sec Top speed 127mph Engine Two permanent magnet synchronous motors Max power 470bhp Max torque 502 lb ft Gearbox 1-spd reduction gearing Boot capacity 405-1095 litres (rear), 35 litres (front) Wheels 9.0Jx20in, alloy Tyres 245/40 R20 Kerb weight 2113kg

Service and running costs: Contract hire rate £530 CO2 0g/km Service costs £0 Other costs £0 Fuel costs £966 Running costs inc fuel £966 Cost per mile 10 pence Faults None

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Comments
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Add a comment…
405line 13 July 2022

One of the reasons it needs to be near to wifi (smart charger) is that the authorities will need to be able to them turn on and off when the local mains is becoming overloaded so cars will be charged by "batches" your actual charger may be plugged in but not charging all the time the car is connected and be alternating charging for half an hour with your neighbours car, then half anhour with someone elses car in another street, then back to your car, to prevent the local mains from overloading.   

spqr 12 July 2022

So, £55800 for a short range second car that cannot replace an internal combustion engine car for range, convenience, practicality or driving pleasure.  Middle class eco-nutter waste of time and money. 

henrymosley 6 April 2022

Great for standing up on what this is.