A cab for the thinking driver

Complete presentation of the polestar 2

What is a good conscience worth to you? If you’re avoiding single-use plastics or repairing aging clothes, you know it’s not always easy to do what’s good for the planet. That might be why you’re interested in an electric vehicle, but forgoing fossil fuels is only part of the equation, as the Polestar 2 indicates.

We spoke to Maria Uggla, Senior Design Manager for Colors and Materials at Polestar, about how the cabin of this electric vehicle showcases the brand’s focus on sustainability. But your interior ideals might not align with what this electric fastback offers – it certainly sent us to a place of soul-searching. Perhaps the fact that this interior elicits such an inward look is reason enough to take a closer look.

Durable to the core

Zero tailpipe emissions is just the start of Polestar’s global promise. “Everything we do in terms of materials is about sustainability and pushing that forward,” Uggla said. To that end, the standard interior of the 2 is completely vegan and emphasizes the use of recycled materials.

You can’t miss it – few surfaces resemble those of traditional luxury cars, requiring some adjustment and acceptance. The main padding of the firm and supportive seats is a nylon textile that is somewhat rough to the touch. Likewise, the center console and dashboard trims are textured, in technical fabrics and plastic. The dials and buttons also have a diamond-cut tactile texture.

A backlit Polestar logo illuminates from the center of the rubberized drive selector knob. However, other items like the door handles, window switches and steering wheel are exactly what you’ll find in a Volvo. They look and feel good, but we’ll be happy if future Polestar vehicles become more distinctive.

Some materials look like animal products. One is the speckled Alcantara on the seat side bolsters. Another is the steering wheel, which only appears to be leather-wrapped. Its vinyl finish is grained for texture and color, and it has a pleasantly soft grip.

Everything comes from recycled and sustainable sources wherever possible. “We won’t wait for the next car to come out to find a better solution, but rather constantly and continuously improving within a car through model year updates,” Uggla said.

Leather to make a vegan proud

Even if improvement is the goal, environmental benignity is not necessarily an outcome. Uggla conceded that many materials are made. Conversely, wood and leather are industrial by-products, even if these industries are heavy. Indeed, such materials are offered as a finish for motorists looking for a more classically upmarket ambience.

“It’s hard to find a replacement for high-level luxury details,” said Uggla, who sees future potential for leather in Polestar vehicles. “It’s a by-product and will continue to be a by-product. Throwing away those skins wouldn’t make sense.” She reiterated that as long as Polestar uses leather, it will come from suppliers who care about reducing environmental impact and treat their stock with the utmost care. “Increasingly, as we have been firm and clear in our position, suppliers are adapting to work with us,” she said.

Google Gizmos

As you’d expect from such a modern cabin, technology is front and center. Ahead of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital gauge display, which organizes key data in a clean, uncluttered format. These points are minimized when the full screen navigation map view is selected.

Physical buttons are few; we’d prefer buttons for temperature and fan speed. Instead, most functions are contained in the 11.2-inch infotainment touchscreen, which runs a Google-designed Android-based interface that proliferates across Volvo’s lineup as well. Oddly, Android Auto isn’t part of the program, and neither is Apple CarPlay. They may eventually be added via an over-the-air update, but so far we were pleasantly surprised not to miss them. Google Assistant provides robust voice recognition and the Play Store offers downloadable apps to cover entertainment, charging or connectivity needs.

Two USB-C ports are equipped in each row of seats and a wireless charger is available. The standard audio system hits hard and avoids distortion.

Not exactly a sedan

Don’t let its sedan styling or 15.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity fool you – this vehicle doesn’t have a conventional trunk. Instead, the rear trunk lid opens to reveal a hatchback cargo area. A removable cover separates the space from the cabin, and when the rear seats are folded down there is enough room for bulky items like a bicycle. Plus, there’s a little extra space hidden under the load floor.

Conversely, there is not much frunk. The enclosure is sized approximately for a briefcase; in our review car, it was largely occupied by a Level 2 charging cable.

Uggla said his team decided to create a forward-looking interior that was different from the rest. “It doesn’t sound traditional, nor should it be traditional for the sake of it,” she said. “We are looking for something else: a mix of modern innovations and high technology. We think of everything.” We only dispute his last point – otherwise the cabin of 2 would work better.

Slim windows add to the look of concept cars on the outside, but create a cramped and enclosed environment inside. That’s especially true in the second row, where, once you’ve squeezed through the slim door opening, you’ll find little legroom under the shadow of the blocky C-pillar. The rear window does not lower completely into the door.

While the cargo area is indeed cavernous, spaces for storing everyday carry items in the cabin are small. Those under the infotainment screen, on the sides of the center tunnel and on the door panels aren’t sized for much more than your smartphone and wallet. There’s a single fixed cup holder, plus another in the small bin under the armrest. The battery running through the 2’s spine seems to preclude larger, more convenient storage spaces. Those carrying purses may run into trouble, though the deployable hook in the glove box door helps.

In the car, in your head

This is where we come to introspection: does it matter? Even though the 2’s interior functionality isn’t great, ultimately it works. You might feel a bit confined or have to spend a while figuring out where to put your stuff. Yet, considering Uggla’s efforts to make your stylish surroundings as eco-friendly as possible, such downsides seem insignificant.

Drivers looking for a traditional luxury interior won’t find what they’re looking for in the Polestar 2. However, those seeking the luxury of a clearer conscience just might. For them, the only reason to overlook this electric vehicle is to wait for the Polestar 3 – Uggla promises that the brand’s first SUV, made in the United States and due to arrive in 2023, will put even more emphasis on materials recycled interiors.

This seems good! More details?

Betty K. Park