Polestar 2 BST 270 Edition 2022 review
Chassis tweaks for Polestar 2 show what’s possible when the nerds get what they want.
This, the £68,990 Polestar 2 BST 270 Edition, is not a track car for many reasons. Its electric powertrain, which comprises a 78kWh battery and a motor on each axle might deliver a strong 469bhp, but the car weighs 2.2 tons. Being electric also means it lacks that nuance and precision of control those of us who enjoy driving in circles can’t get enough of. It is, however, the result of what’s possible when the boss asks if his company car can be improved upon. And the answer to that is the most unlikely of machines in which you can lose yourself playing at being a chassis engineer when given a track to play on.
Beneath the (£1000) optional stripe and the (£5000) grey wrap is the same adapted Volvo XC40 platform that underpins all Polestar 2 models. At each corner are 21-inch wheels with a new bespoke Pirelli P Zero tyre and a set of 20 percent lighter Brembo callipers that generate 70 percent less drag. There is also a set of lowering springs that drop the ride height by 25mm and are 20 percent stiffer, and across the front suspension turrets is a strut brace, beneath which are the Ohlins dampers, which are responsible for the BST’s USP.
Polestar 2 aficionados will be well aware that you can already order a Performance Pack with the standard car that includes a set of adjustable dampers produced by Sweden’s suspension gurus, Ohlins. For the BST 270 (the number relates to the build quantity, 40 are coming to the UK and they are currently all spoken for) those dampers have even more tricks available to you.
“Thomas (Inglenath) asked me if I could make his Polestar 2 company car more sporty. “What might be possible? was his question” explains Joakim Rydholm, Polestar’s Chief Test Engineer. “We didn’t want to chase performance, with a crazy 0-100(km/h) time, that’s not what driving is about. How a car makes you feel and what it allows you to do is what makes a performance car interesting and exciting. So that’s what we set out to do.”
In order to achieve what they wanted required a call to Ohlins to produce a damper that they didn’t produce at the the time: a track derived unit that could be built for a road car whilst retaining the adjustability of the former. “We wanted to have individual adjustments for the rebound and compression, but Ohlins didn’t make one for a road car so we asked them too.”
This was after a development P2 BST – called the Beast – made its static debut at Goodwood in 2020 before its dynamic debut 12 months later. “We developed the car in just 12 months, which also meant our suppliers had to design and develop their parts to the same time scale. It was a tight turn around. But when the CEO asks you, you don’t say no.”
The result is a Polestar 2 that eradicates the harsh edges and sometimes clumsy approach to ride quality the Performance Pack dampers offer. On a road setting 7/7 rebound/compression out of a maximum of 22 stages of adjustment, the BST doesn’t exactly glide over the road but only the poorest surface quality gets through to the driver via some steering kickback and a mild level of shuffle through the body. It’s a much quieter, more fluid chassis as a result.
Add in a more performance orientated compound in the P Zero tyres and recalibrated steering and the front end is much keener to turn-in and hold its line, not that you feel much of what’s going on until you hear the Italian rubber straining, the front eventually pushing wide of your chosen mark. For a car that weighs so much and has a drivetrain that’s impossible to engage with there’s still an appeal for the BST if your daily driving routine is humdrum and you have something more exciting to come to the garage for the weekends, although BMW’s i4 M50 still gets our vote if you’re spending this much cash, or a base-level Taycan if you can stretch the budget.
Back to those dampers. On the track, that natural habitat for 2.2-ton EV, the dual-valve Ohlins allow you to play with the chassis’s setup to fine-tune it to suit your favoured handling balance. Left on the road setting it feels heavy on its nose, unresponsive through Ascari’s quick corners, and under braking you try all you can to stop the seat belt pre-tensioners from crushing your collarbone and sternum.
But with the help of Polestar’s chief test engineer dissecting your feedback and a small pit crew (you can do it yourself, but you know how the life of a journo is…) you can adjust the rebound and compression rates to dial out the soft edges and add clarity to eradicate the vagueness. It does still require jacking the car up to make the adjustments; for the front dampers the rebound can be tweaked via the remote reservoirs situated in the frunk.
The results are a car that you can sharpen to suit your requirements. Dial out the turn-in understeer and loosen the rear for some fun on the exit; settle for a predictable balance in, through and out of a turn; eradicate that dive under braking and therefore the seatbelt’s desire to crush you, do these things and the BST highlights how much there is to be had from a chassis that you can adjust and fine-tune. And it’s not just for out and out performance gains, they can also be adjusted to suit poor road conditions and heavy loads. So long as you know what you are doing, of course.
The Ohlins really are quite clever and Polestar has applied them to the BST with impressive results, even if that result is one few were actually looking for. For nerds like us we’re always going to enjoy tweaking and experimenting, for EV drivers I’m not sure they’ll find themselves in enough situations to truly benefit from the wider capabilities the BST has over a regular Polestar 2.