Winter Road Trip With The Polestar 2: Snow, Skis and the Alpine EV

Winter Road Trip With The Polestar 2: Snow, Skis and the Alpine EV

Justin Huang
Justin Huang
10 Oct 2022
What we like:
A sturdy, utilitarian build that is luxurious as well. Good and accurate driving range.
What we dislike:
An oversensitive collision avoidance system.

First Impressions

“The Polaris? The What-Star? A Volvo? Cool Car Mate!” That’s what others had to say when I took the Polestar 2 Long Range Dual Motor on a week-long road trip to the Kosciusko National Park for a Ski Trip. There’s only probably one obvious way of telling its name, and it’s stickered on the unconventional lower corner of the front door below the wing mirrors, whichever side you’re seeing it. Below its model designation, are some power figures that might interest some tech geeks, but to the common person, the crucial thing to know is that the Polestar 2 is an electric car. Safe to say, it is a very striking-looking electric car. Editor James test drove it in Singapore, but now we bring it to the mountains where the car is in its natural environment.

This stickered-up model designation reminds me very much of those you’d see from the fashion label Off-White. With simple minimalistic typography gently informing you of what you’re driving, it is chic and impressionable. It’s a consistent vibe with the advertisements that the brand is running on Instagram and inside shopping malls. We’re also quite lucky to have also met the Polestar Australia PR Team at their Bondi Junction showcase.

Minimalism is carried on into the interior as well. Our P2 came with the Avant-Garde interior pack, which is “vegan, water and dirt resistant”. The WeaveTech ash inlays definitely helped to keep the slushy grime of our skis out with a simple wet-wipe, and insofar as the “go-green” thematic is concerned, the design approach leaves no room to doubt for the sustainability-seeker.

However, the interior can be appreciated equally by someone who’s not necessarily a sustainability/climate activist. The ambient lighting is cleverly recessed into the trim, found around the centre console, dashboard and door pockets. Combined with a projected Polestar logo onto the sunroof, it is a testament to the thoughtfulness behind the visual design and ergonomics by Polestar.

The perfect road trip car with friends

When we picked up the car, Polestar graciously accommodated us with a set of snow chains for the car after hearing that we were heading to the Snowy Mountains. We left Sydney as soon as day broke hoping that we would reach our accommodation in Jindabyne before the sunset. The Polestar’s fully integrated Google ecosystem boasts an in-built Google Maps, which assisted us with the calculation of the range remaining and suggested charging stops along the way.

The in-built Spotify was the best party piece for our youthful crew of road-trippers, with a QR code feature where we could control the queue of the next song that was going to be played from our individual mobile Spotify. No more asking the front passenger for song requests, this paired with the amazing Harman-Kardon sound system kept the boys at the back very happy indeed.

While the Google Maps feature appearing on the main dashboard is not something novel, it made driving long miles with townships to navigate in between a breeze, while your mates were controlling the main tablet screen for Spotify playlists and adjusting the climate controls.

Growing up in Tropical Singapore, the persistent sub-zero temperatures meant that it was almost impossible to go around without the heated functions turned on to the max. While this function isn’t probably going to be extremely useful in Singapore, unless you’re feeling chilly on a horrid rainy day (I am the weird one to use heated seats in Singapore), I had noticed that even at max heat, which all 5 of us needed after hours of ploughing through rainy snow, the P2 wasn’t draining that much electricity as I had expected it to do. This is made possible by a very intuitive energy-saving heat pump that uses a compressor to redirect heat and power the refrigerant. Needless to say, this really helped knowing that we could still afford some extra creature comforts without the range anxiety.

Furthermore, driving back to our accommodation was a relatively easier haul than the way up, with the declines of the road allowing us to easily gain another 2% worth of charge as we headed back into Jindabyne. Talk about feeling like an F1 driver with KERS, I thoroughly enjoyed the charge energy bar boost up whenever I released the throttle and carved the weaving mountainous roads.

The Elephant in the Room: Range

Realistically, driving in city conditions like one would expect in Singapore, the Polestar 2 would have no qualms quelling the worries of range anxiety, and would even barely make it on a single charge when driven conservatively to Kuala Lumpur. The outbound trip’s range prediction by Google Maps was mostly accurate, but we decided to not heed the suggested route by the in-built system. Instead, we used the Polestar’s projected range of 400 kilometres and plotted a one-stop route which turned out to be equally successful as the 2-stopper initially suggested. In fact, we reached our Goulburn pitstop with more than 24% range even though the P2’s system predicted that we would reach Goulburn with 9%.

Somehow, we’d managed to increase our range by powering through without any rest stops. The only downside was that our food choices were confined to Mcdonalds’ at the charging station, while the rest of the travelling party enjoyed their cafe lunch in Canberra.

During the 6 days in Jindabyne, we slowly realised that much of our movement had to be concisely planned so that we would strategically have enough charge for the next day to travel up the mountains. This was not helped by the fact that there was only one DC charger in the whole of Jindabyne with plenty of other EVs (mostly Teslas) clamouring to juice up quickly. However, the hidden benefit of driving an EV (now) is the camaraderie amongst EV owners, everyone in the small community was always willing to share their charging tips and chat about their cars, which tremendously helped us as alpine EV greenhorns to better plan for our trip up. Furthermore, with the android system in the Polestar, I was able to download Plugshare as an app into the system, and it gave me secondary backup suggestions on charging locations further out of Jindabyne (Cooma).

One Tesla owner tells us that it takes in general 20-30% from Jindabyne to Perisher, and approximately 5% down. He advised us that we should get at least some form of DC charging (no matter how short it’ll be) if we were to travel up the mountain the next day, as the charge remaining will snowball into the next few days as the accommodation’s 220V outlet will only manage about 20% on a good night. In fact, what we did was to make sure the car reached the accommodation with at least 75-80% range after a quick pitstop at the DC charger in town, then we’d leave it to charge till morning when it’ll have been fully charged before we set off.

The only problem only really came about the third morning, when the accommodation owner told us that we couldn’t charge the car with the outlet “because it’ll overload the circuit”. We devised a backup plan to charge only after 8 pm at the DC outlet knowing there wouldn’t be anyone queuing to charge at that hour. Despite this, the DC charger only allowed the P2 to charge to 95% range, meaning we’d reach our accommodation with around 92% charge and around 91% when we’d set off the following day. In summary, it required some quick maths to make sure that we had an ample cushion of range to sustain us for the runs up and down the mountains.

Other owners were very gracious in giving us a courtesy call whenever they were done charging so that we wouldn’t have to stay at the car park to hog the next slot and in turn could have more time around grocery shopping.

Pottering Around

The P2 that was loaned to us was equipped with the optional Performance Pack that had the Ohlins dampers and Brembo brakes equipped to it. While it exudes serious performance car credentials, these were not the standout features that made a difference during our alpine road trip or the city commute. These performance features, however, were safety reassurances that we had more than adequate stopping power should we encounter any wildlife. The brakes came in extremely handy in what is “road kill land” since wherever we went, there was always bound to be a dead wombat or kangaroo on the side of the road. In fact, we nearly went into a scampering deer and wombat if not for the powerful brakes on the Polestar.

However, the brakes did not come without any foibles. Coupled with the rear braking assist intervening, there were more than a few times when the system abruptly interjected and violently grabbed the brakes, even though the obstacle behind was merely an upright McDonald’s drink cup.

Snow, Skis and the Alpine EV

It helped that Polestar loaned us a white car to ultimately match the environment we were going to. While I was in the car getting some work cleared before heading for the slopes, I’d occasionally hear remarks of “Oh wow, Polestar!”, “That’s the new electric car isn’t it, mate!”, a keen testament that Polestar is definitely making its inroads into the Australian consumer market. While back in Sydney, the Polestar was no short of attention-grabbing. Its imposing, Nordic Thor-inspired DRLs invoked multiple thumbs-ups and car guys coming up to check out the P2 wherever we stopped. The affirmation from people of all walks of life definitely is an ego boost, though your consideration to get the Polestar 2 should really still be, are you ready for that leap into EV ownership?

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