The Polestar 2 electric sedan — which competes with the Tesla Model 3 — has been out since 2019, and is now getting what the auto industry calls a “mid-cycle refresh.” As is typical for mid-cycle action (MCA), the Swedish EV gets revised exterior styling, more power, and various performance improvements, but in addition to those, the revision brings a change that I’ve never seen before in an MCA: a change from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive. This is extremely unusual, and possibly an industry-first for a mainstream car. Let’s talk about it.
First things first: Here’s a look at the outgoing Polestar 2:
And here’s a look at the upcoming 2024, post-refresh model:
The rear end looks pretty much the same, but the nose does look quite a bit different, ditching the grille-like section between the headlights for a big panel that Polestar calls the “SmartZone.” From Polestar:
The SmartZone makes its debut on Polestar 2, signifying the shift from “breathing” through a front grille to “seeing” the road ahead reflecting the high-tech nature of Polestar vehicles. Like on Polestar 3, the SmartZone hosts some of the vehicle’s most important active safety features, including the front facing camera and mid-range radar.
Other changes include 205kW charging power (up from 150 kW) for a new 82kWh battery. Up until this point, the largest battery was a 78 kWh, which offered up to 270 miles of EPA-estimated range:
The 2024 Polestar 2 cranks things up a bit, with “preliminary” EPA range estimates hitting 300 miles, per Polestar:
Next-generation electric motors and inverters are fitted to both Polestar 2 variants, offering increases in both efficiency and performance. The single-motor variant is now rear-wheel driven, powered by a newly developed permanent magnet motor and silicon carbide inverter. The new motor has a power output of 299 hp (increased from 231 hp) and is optimized for maximum efficiency and high torque (361 lb-ft, up from 243 lb-ft) to further increase the dynamic performance of the car. The 0-60 mph sprint time has been reduced by as much as 1.1 seconds, down to 5.9 seconds.
The dual-motor version now has a rear-drive bias that increases driving pleasure and performance thanks to a completely re-balanced drivetrain setup and torque-ratio. The new rear motor is the primary drive source, supported on the front axle by a new asynchronous motor. This enables higher total system output of 421 hp and 546 lb-ft (increased from the original 408 hp and 467 lb-ft), vastly improved traction, greater overall efficiency and higher performance – with 0-60 mph now achieved in 4.3 seconds. Supporting efficiency gains, the front motor can now be disengaged completely when not needed. When the driver wants more power, the front motor re-engages instantly and seamlessly.
“Changing from front- to rear-wheel drive in the single-motor variants, and re-calibrating the torque ratio in the dual-motor variant for an increased rear-wheel drive feel, elevates the Polestar 2 driving experience to a whole new level,” says Joakim Rydholm, Head of Chassis Development at Polestar. “The updated Polestar 2 is an even more playful and agile car, retaining its compactness and complete sense of control, while at the same time becoming more mature with added comfort.”