Driving The Planet-Friendly Polestar 2 In Europe’s Low-Traffic Capital

By Jeremy Taylor & Jessica Talbot-Ponsonby

3 weeks ago

Ghent is cool, chic and stylish – and best explored in an EV


Sustainability is a way of life in Ghent – the Belgian city is also working with tourists to achieve a carbon neutral city. Motoring editor Jeremy Taylor and Jessica Talbot-Ponsonby visit in a planet-friendly Polestar 2.

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Exploring Ghent In The Polestar 2

The Polestar charging

JT – Any idea which city has the largest, low-traffic pedestrian zone in Europe? It’s also been the vegetarian capital of the continent since 2009.

J-TP – Well, considering beautiful Ghent is best discovered on foot or by bicycle, it probably doesn’t have a serious rival anywhere. With organic markets, electric Vespa scooter hire and green, waste-free festivals, the Belgians are showing us how it should be done.

Can you imagine a car-free London? Since 2020, polluting vehicles have not been allowed inside Ghent’s ring road. That’s backed up by eco-friendly transport, such as electric boats on the canals, car-sharing schemes and lots of public charging points for electric vehicles.

Yes, it’s so green and peaceful that even driving an all-electric Polestar 2 into the city centre seemed slightly incongruous!

Indeed, but we made it all the way from London without recharging, via the LeShuttle tunnel. The Swedes’ classy hatchback is offered with various battery configurations, plus either a single or dual-motor. We drove the Long Range, single motor version priced from £47,950, with a maximum range of 406 miles.

The quickest way to Europe with a car this summer is still LeShuttle – the crossing formerly known as Eurotunnel. The tunnel celebrated its 30th anniversary in May, carrying over 100 million vehicles from Folkestone to Calais during that time.

Inside the car

And we found the UK terminal now has a bank of eight Tesla chargers, complemented by five new public chargers – although only one of those was in service when we arrived. Topping up while waiting to board is definitely the best use of time too.

The drive from Calais to Ghent is just over 90 minutes, so easily doable for a long weekend away. We stayed at the Yalo hotel, which just happens to be part of the Green Globe Society, guaranteeing genuine sustainability credentials. The hotel is currently working on electric car charge points too – no easy feat in an ancient city centre like Ghent.

And we should mention the rooftop bar. Something of a honeypot for locals who want to escape the main tourist haunts in the centre of Ghent. Great food, good views and the cocktails aren’t bad either.

And what did you think of Ghent? It’s one of the most chilled out cities I’ve visited in Europe, with a student vibe, countless mediaeval buildings and a network of quiet lanes and alleyways to explore.

The word ‘quirky’ comes to mind. There are tons of tourists in the summer but the city still feels like a hidden gem. The locals are a friendly, down-to-earth bunch, while the architecture is more accessible than Paris, perhaps because there are very few cars.

A cultural hotspot, very cool, chic and stylish – a city that doesn’t take itself too seriously that’s also loaded with landmarks. And take a boat trip on the canals – it’s a chance to see Ghent from a different angle.

Ghent

DISCOVER

Discover more about the Polestar 2 at polestar.com

Return crossings with LeShuttle from £196 for a car and passengers leshuttle.com

Rooms at Yalo Hotel start from £180 per night. yalohotel.com

Jessica Talbot-Ponsonby is Director of Programmes at London College of Fashion, studying for a PhD in sustainable e-textile design.