[TEST DRIVE] Tesla watch out, the Polestar 2 is coming to town
HANAM, Gyeonggi — It’s no exaggeration to say that Tesla rules the Korean electric vehicle (EV) market. Polestar is trying to tackle the dominance with its first all-electric model, Polestar 2.
When looking at the latest premium vehicles, it’s all about luxurious designs with fancy accessories. Polestar 2, however, cut out the deadwood and is betting on a simple outlook. Polestar 2 is the Gothenburg, Sweden-based EV manufacturer’s first model for the Korean market since it set up a wholly owned subsidiary in Korea in March last year.
The five-door fastback comes in two powertrains: a long-range single motor and a dual motor. The single motor version is able to generate up to 231 horsepower and can run 417 kilometers (260 miles) on a single charge.
The dual motor vehicle, with a maximum of 408 horsepower, can reach 100 kilometers per hour within 4.7 seconds. It can travel 334 kilometers per charge.
The Korea JoongAng Daily recently got behind the wheel of the single-motor version of EV, equipped with 78 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery to test on a 25-kilometer (16-mile) course outskirts of the greater Seoul area.
From the exterior, the blueish-gray color, which the company marketed as “Thunder” was extremely appealing. Polestar 2 is available in six different color options without additional cost in Korea, which the company said is a special offer for local customers. In the United States, black is standard and other colors cost an additional $1,200.
There was no engine start button in the EV. All this reporter had to do was get into the driver seat with the smart key and press the brake pedal, and the car engine automatically started. It’s similar when turning off the engine — shifting the gear to park and open the door to power the engine car off.
The interior was simple. An 11.15-inch touchscreen in the center of the car offers various services that could be controlled at once such as turning on and off the air conditioner and heater, notifications about battery charging levels and locations of charging stations nearby.
A navigation service is also available through the screen, which Polestar said it developed in collaboration with SK Telecom’s Tmap Mobility. The Tmap navigation service is one of the most preferred systems for drivers in Korea since built-in car navigation systems are known to be less accurate and cannot respond to real-time traffic situations quickly.
The voice recognition system was especially useful, which the company says has some 96 percent accuracy. When this reporter asked about the Kospi index, it responded accurately to the second decimal point.
But it appeared that the space inside is quite small compared to mid-sized sedans from other brands. The front seat wasn’t bad for this 5-feet-3-inch reporter, but it seemed like it would barely fit anyone much taller.
Driving was smooth. However, the noticeable noise made the ride a bit less pleasant when driving at speeds above 100 kilometers per hour.
Maybe it was designed too simply as it seems like the vehicle doesn't offer many services that are helpful to drivers such as warning signs when other cars are approaching nearby or when the car is veering out of its lane. Polestar said the EV is equipped with the partially autonomous driving system, which automatically detects the lane and moves the car back when it is about to move out, but the reporter barely felt it while driving.
The Polestar 2 takes 30 minutes to charge from 10 percent to 80 percent using its 150-kilowatt fast-charging charger. Its rival Tesla’s Model 3 takes around 26 minutes.
The cost may be the biggest advantage of the Polestar 2. The sticker price for the single motor version starts from 54.9 million won ($46,100), while Tesla’s Model 3 begins at 61.6 million won.
The price was apparently set to ensure it receives 100 percent of a subsidy from the Korean government. Under a law recently revised by the Environment Ministry, only vehicles costing 55 million won or less will be eligible for the entire central government subsidy.
The price of the dual motor version begins from 57.9 million won.
Orders for Polestar 2s can only be made online on the Polestar Korea website, and the vehicles will be delivered from mid-March.
Polestar aims to sell 40,000 Polestar 2s in Korea this year, and the company said it has already received more than 2,000 orders on the first two days of its release.
BY SARAH CHEA [firstname.lastname@example.org]