When I tell people I recently drove the new Polestar 2, the first question I get is a variation of "What's a Polestar? Never heard of it."
Electric car aficionados have been eagerly awaiting its arrival as the first true direct competitor to the Tesla Model 3. The reception of automobile buyers and reviewers will help determine whether buyers really want electric cars - or just Teslas. It's already available in Europe; U.S. deliveries begin in mid-September, starting in Southern California.
The Polestar 2 was designed and engineered in Sweden and manufactured in China. Polestar is a new company, a 50/50 joint venture combining Sweden's Volvo and China's Geely.
Like the Model 3, the Polestar 2 is a joy to drive, albeit with different characteristics. To me, the Model 3 is a youth machine, a bit weird in a "hey, look at this" way - and if it isn't held together all that well, who cares? It's more cool than practical.
The Polestar 2 is more of an adult's car, comfortably appointed. It carries a somewhat heavier feel behind the wheel but in a confident, reassuring way. But if you want to push it, it's fast, it holds the road and the steering is precise.
I drove a Polestar 2 last week through the twisties on Highway 84 near Silicon Valley, on the way to Alice's Restaurant in Woodside for a turkey sandwich.
The two-lane is known locally as La Honda Road and runs past the town where Ken Kesey hosted some of his LSD "acid tests" in the '60s.
Nearly 60 years later, perfectly sober and drug-free drivers can still get their kicks on a road that's all curves, double yellow lines and trees. Best to go at dawn, because there's no safe way to pass slowpokes. I encountered a hay truck and had to pull over for awhile and check my email.
I found the Polestar 2 to be one of the very best driving electric vehicles on the market right now. Its suspension and steering were nearly as satisfying as the Porsche Taycan electric sports sedan. But where the Polestar 2's base price comes in at $60,000, the Taycan can easily cost more than twice that.
The Polestar's exterior design is handsome enough. The interior is elegant, in that simple-luxury Swedish way. Not as bare bones as the Model 3's austere screen-on-a-shelf aesthetic, but then you don't need to scroll through a menu to work the windshield wipers in the Polestar.