I test-drove a Polestar 2 and it went in a very strange direction

Hertz says it's buying 65,000 of these EVs. Are they fun?
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

Pretty, but not startling.

Jason Perlow

I should have listened more closely, but we'll come back to that.

The day had drifted in a very odd manner and the pouring rain didn't help.

Still, I'd heard the CEO of EV company Polestar admit that electric car companies aren't quite saving the world.

Such endearing and surprising honesty made me wonder about this. So I booked a test drive. 

But on that day, I really didn't want to go. The deluge said stay at home. My remaining sense of decency said you promised to be there. 

The Polestar salesperson showed me the car, a Polestar 2. I must have missed the first one.

Still, instant impression: it looked a little large, without any obviously dramatic stylistic bent. Would I recognize this on the street as a Polestar? Probably not. Which isn't a terrible thing. There's joy in anonymity.

The salesman pulled the car out of its parking spot. Then he got out and said: "Here you go. All yours."

He parked himself in the passenger seat and said only one thing I can remember: "The difference with Polestar is that it drives like a normal car."

He was alluding, I thought at the time, to the idea that many EVs try (too hard) to be a little different, whereas the goal of Polestar was to be deeply familiar.

So off we drove, the rain continuing to lash.

I suppose I should say something about how the car handled. Well, it seemed sturdy, smooth, and precise. Which is precisely, perhaps, why Hertz says it's buying 65,000 of these things.

The salesman pointed to a couple of features on the upright iPad-like screen. I can't remember what they were as, by that time, we'd begun to chat.

He talked of his former life in a completely different industry. He talked of his family and his experiences in Europe.

I talked about, oh who knows, sports probably. Or why England is such a twistedly irredeemable country.

"Let's turn right here," he said at one point.

And off we went up and down hills I'd never seen before, even though they weren't so far from my house.

He then invited me to take my foot off the pedal and let the car do its energy-saving thing. At least I think that's what he asked me to do. We were, you see, quite busily engaged in a conversation about the parlous state of the world. 

I listened to his instructions and his very occasional description of a car feature with, at best, a single ear.

This was all going in a very strange direction.

I began to wonder how long this test drive would take.

We'd surely been gone at least half an hour. He'd shown no signs of being in a hurry. By this stage, I barely knew where we were.

Finally, we looped back toward the freeway.

"Gun it," he said. "As fast as you like."

And off the Polestar 2 went with considerable, enjoyable verve.

When we finally got back to the dealership, more than 45 minutes had passed. The rain, sadly, hadn't.

I then realized the salesman's strategy. I didn't get any hard sell at all. He'd barely mentioned the cost of the car or any deals he might be offering.

I really should have listened from the very beginning. His whole thesis was to make me like the car by proving that the Polestar driving experience is just like the car I'm familiar with. But perhaps rather better.

No excessive pushing of tech aspects. Every effort was exercised to make liking the car itself -- and feeling relaxed in it -- the whole goal of the experience.

I didn't notice anything other than that I was driving an easy, enjoyable, oddly dynamic car and having an extremely pleasant conversation.

I don't know if I'm ready to go over to the dark side of overt planet-saving. Too many neighbors drive Teslas with sanctimonious license plates.

But hey, maybe they won't know that my car's an EV too.

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