The brand-new Polestar 2 is the first fully electric car to challenge the Tesla Model 3 since its arrival in UK showrooms in June 2019.
Previously, Polestar was known for being Volvo’s performance arm. But that has changed. Now, as their own company, they focus solely on electric vehicles.
So, does this Scandanavian newcomer have what it takes to topple the American king? Let’s find out.
Find the section you want to read.
- Polestar 2: A Brief Overview
- Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3: Design & Practicality
- Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3: Technology
- Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3: Speed & Range
- Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3: Comfort
- Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3: Price & The Verdict
Polestar 2: A Brief Overview
Although Polestar is no longer officially attached to Volvo, the long-running Swedish manufacturer’s influence is certainly evident in the 2’s design.
The front lights, body panels and front grille look as though they’ve been lifted from the Volvo XC40. And that’s because they have been.
In fact, the Polestar 2 shares many mechanics with the XC40, but not everything. The Volvo is a crossover on the verge of an SUV, whereas the 2 is more of a raised saloon/hatchback type – not really like anything else we see on the road.
And there are several other differences between the two, even if the original ingredients remain the same.
The biggest shift can be witnessed inside. Whereas the Polestar 1 – a highly-expensive, limited-edition super-coupe – cloned the inside of a Volvo S90, the Polestar 2 is very much its own being. (We’ll take a closer look at that shortly.)
Originality can also be found through the frameless door mirrors, which add an edge of sophistication to the design, as does the full-width light bar at the rear.
So, yes, the Polestar 2 may be based on a Volvo XC40, but it has enough of its own spirit within it to be classed as a separate entity. And to look at, it’s really quite eye-catching.
Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3: Design & Practicality
Putting both the Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3 side by side, you can see a significant difference in styling influence.
The Polestar is very much conservative yet modern, striving towards the less is more philosophy. While the Tesla’s striking curves and long body look as though they’ve been crafted by the designers at Porsche.
And while which is better looking will depend on personal preference – we’re torn between the two if you’re interested – something that won’t be is how practical the design is.
In the back, there’s ample legroom in both the Polestar 2 and Tesla 3. Both challenge the luxurious super saloons of Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW in terms of comfort.
But where the Polestar falls down compared to the Tesla is headroom. The 2 comes with a panoramic roof as standard. And while it may be a welcome feature for some – giving the interior ample natural light and creating an airier ambience – it does compromise on space for your rear passengers.
Another downside to the Polestar in the back is the large central beam running along the floor from underneath the front armrest towards the boot.
This is a common occurrence in petrol and diesel-powered cars, but it’s not in an electric. And it doesn’t feature in the Tesla, meaning the Model 3 is both easier to get in and out of as well as more comfortable in the back.
In the boot, however, it’s not the same story. Both the Polestar and Tesla have two storage spaces – one where you’d expect it to be at the back – and one where an engine would usually sit at the front.
With the seats up, the 2 has a 405-litre boot with an extra 35 litres under the bonnet. Meanwhile, the Model 3 can only house 425 litres – 15 litres less.
Yet, with the front boot in the Polestar being so shallow, you won’t fit much more in than your charging cables. In the Tesla, you’ll comfortably get a cabin bag under the bonnet.
In both cars, you can drop the rear seats to create a bigger space, which is where the legroom we discussed earlier really benefits.
And even though the Polestar is easier to load than the Tesla given its rear styling, the Model 3 has more useable space. And for that reason, the American claims victory.
Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3: Technology
As you’d expect, the Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3 are awash with tech.
In both, the majority you can see and use is housed in a large centre touchscreen infotainment system.
But that can cause an issue while driving, as the absence of physical dials can make it tricky to use either system without taking your eyes off the road. And it’s for this very reason the Polestar 2 comes out on top in the technology category.
Both give you Sat Nav, music streaming and an abundance of other features. But the Polestar also has a second screen where a conventional car’s dials would be behind the steering wheel.
This readout provides data such as current speed – which is only available through the big central screen in the Tesla – as well as remaining charge and all the other facts and figures you’d expect.
Another feather in the Polestar’s cap is their centre-screen interface. Working in partnership with phone OS provider, Android, the 2’s infotainment system feels like a big tablet, with processes simplified and customisation easy.
Yes, the Model 3 also has a user-friendly interface, but with a second screen and a more refined system, the Polestar 2 just edges out the Tesla on this occasion.
Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3: Speed & Range
An electric vehicle’s range has always been its downfall in the past. Despite them often being more fun to drive than petrol or diesel cars, and of course more economical and friendly to the environment, they just haven’t been practical.
But that belief began to change when Tesla came onto the scene. They proved that you can live with an electric car on a day-to-day basis.
So how does the Polestar 2 stack up in comparison?
Although its numbers are impressive – a WLTP range of 275 miles, which would get you from London to Newcastle on a single charge – it’s still around 50 miles shorter than the Tesla Model 3 Long Range.
And when it comes to charging, the Polestar faces more challenges.
The 2 will charge 80% in just 40 minutes through a 150kw charging point, although they’re few and far between.
The 50kw charger is more realistic in everyday life, which will cover between 20% and 80% in an hour.
Meanwhile, an 11kw charger, which is the one you’d use at home, takes eight hours to complete a full charge – which works out just under 35 miles of range per hour.
They’re not deal-breaking waiting times, but when put up against Tesla’s Supercharger network, which is now more than 16,000 strong across the UK, it’s a grave comparison.
The same can be said for the speed. The Polestar 2 will break 60mph from a standing start in just 4.5 seconds.
On the face of it, that’s blisteringly quick. A time to rival – and beat in a lot of cases – most sports cars. But it’s still over a second slower than the Tesla Model 3 Performance, which does it in 3.2 seconds.
Therefore, there’s only really one winner in this category, and deservedly so; the Tesla Model 3.
Polestar 2 Figures
Range: 275 miles
0% – 80% Charge (150kw): 40 minutes
20% – 80% Charge (50kw): 60 minutes
0% – 100% Charge (11kw): 8 hours
0-60mph: 4.5 seconds
Tesla Model 3 Figures
Range: 322 miles (Model 3 Long Range)
0% – 80% Charge (Tesla Supercharger): 20 minutes
20% – 80% Charge (50kw): 53 minutes
0% – 100% Charge (11kw): 8 hours (Model 3 Long Range will take longer)
0-60mph: 3.2 seconds (Model 3 Performance)
Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3: Comfort
There’s no denying the Polestar 2 has a nicer interior compared to the Tesla Model 3. It’s also better equipped in the technology department.
However, the ride is a different story. The 2 weighs 2123kg, which is around 300kg more than the Model 3 and almost the same weight as a Range Rover.
As we’ve seen, the extra weight doesn’t hamper performance in a straight line, with the Polestar reaching 60mph in 4.5 seconds. But in the corners, the chunkiness stands out.
It’s not overpowering and it doesn’t spoil the drive, but the 2 certainly isn’t as dynamic as the Tesla. The steering isn’t as responsive and there’s a lack of feel.
And when you’re pushing the Polestar around the bends, the ambience of quiet electric power is broken by suffering suspension as it tries to support the two tonnes of electrified motoring.
It’s not such a problem at low speeds, and the 2 absorbs standard road surfaces and speed humps well. But if you drive over a pothole you’ll know about it.
You do have the option of changing the ride settings through the Polestar’s centre screen. You’re given light, standard and firm, but really, there’s limited difference between then.
In the Model 3, however, these issues don’t arise nearly as much. It’s a complete car. Obviously, the Performance version is a tougher ride than the Long Range, but you accept that for eye-watering speed.
So, again, we have a clear winner when it comes to comfort. The Polestar 2 may be a nicer place to sit aesthetically, but the Model 3 is certainly the better ride.
Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3: Price & The Verdict
If by reading this you think the Polestar 2 isn’t worth buying, then you’re wrong. It’s still a genuinely fantastic car with a stunning interior and face-splitting speed.
It’s practical, good-looking, and as it comes in under £50,000 as new, it also qualifies for the UK government’s £3,000 plug-in grant.
Really, the Polestar 2 is a fantastic electric vehicle and another great stride towards an all-electric future.
But while it’s a competitor for the Tesla Model 3, it’s not quite there yet. The Model 3 still has the edge in almost every category, even if by only the smallest of margins.
The Tesla has a better range, it’s faster off the mark, it’s a better drive and it sits in the same price bracket as the Polestar 2.
There will be more variety added to the Polestar 2 range as time goes by, but for now, the Tesla Model 3 still reigns supreme.