If you’re in the market for a premium electric vehicle then the 2 brands that you can’t ignore are the all-conquering Tesla and the young Swedish upstart called Polestar.
You’d have to have been shot into space on one of Elon Musk’s rockets not to have heard of his pioneering electric car brand, Tesla. More than any other car maker, it is Tesla that has led the way in electrification, fearlessly developing and trialling new technologies that have pushed the boundaries of battery performance, charging capabilities and even autonomous driving.
For a while, all those engineering marvels could only come at a price, with the high-end Model S and SUV Model X gaining popularity across the world. But as Tesla has been able to scale up its engineering and manufacturing facilities it has also been able to pursue one of its main ambitions, to reduce the price of electric cars so that they can become available to the widest possible market.
That ambition took the form of the Model 3, which was launched in 2017 and quickly became the best-selling electric car of all time. By the end of 2020, Tesla had built more than 800,000 worldwide and it topped the charts in America, China and Europe last year.
What Is The Model 3 Like?
You can think of the Model 3 as a mid-sized saloon meets sports coupe. It has 5 doors and a sizeable boot but its clever design gives it a sort of ‘fastback’ look that really emphasises the fact that the Model is as fast as it is practical.
Is The Polestar Really Competition?
For the first few years of its life, the little Tesla had no real competition, but in 2020 Polestar – the new, electric sibling of Volvo – unveiled the Polestar 2, a family-sized, 5-door hatchback with knock-out looks and beautiful Scandi design sensibilities inside and out.
(If you were wondering what happened to the Polestar 1, that was a very rare, limited-edition hybrid coupe that was created simply to announce the brand’s intentions to the world.)
It’s the Polestar 2, built in numbers and to a price that will allow it to compete with the Model 3, that is the real competitor to the Tesla.
Both cars come in a few different guises but for a useful comparison we’ll look at how the Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor Long Range AWD stacks up against the dual motor Polestar 2 Pilot Plus (not the top ‘Performance’ model, which actually gets no more actual power but talks the part with lots of visual cues like bigger wheels and adjustable suspension).
In terms of tech specs, there’s not a huge amount to choose between these 2: both have twin motors – one on each axle – to give them prodigious all-wheel drive capability and both hold very similar sized battery packs: from 2021 the Long Range Model 3 gets an 82kWh unit, while the Polestar’s is almost identical at 78kWh.
Model 3 Vs Polestar 2 Acceleration And Speed
That’s enough charge in either car to spin those big motors hard and you’ll be amazed by the acceleration in either machine. Like all electric cars the instantaneous response from the motors means you can move at surprising pace, even in heavier vehicles. Floor the pedal in the Tesla and you will hit 60mph in just 4.4 second from standstill. The heavier Polestar 2 takes just a fraction longer, but is still no slouch at 4.5 seconds.
Of course you’ll probably not be driving these two flat out all the time and, if you do, the range will – like any car – suffer. So use them sensibly and both can go a long, long way on a single charge: 292 miles for the Polestar and a whopping 360 miles for the Model 3 (figures based on manufacturer WLTP tests).
Part of the reason for that discrepancy is in the Polestar’s weight: its nearly 300kg portlier than the comparable Model 3. That extra weight, though, actually vanishes when the car is on the move: it just feels so planted and steers and corners brilliantly. In this spec it rides well, too, with an amazing ability to switch from dynamic driving to comfortable wafting at will.
The Tesla is perhaps a little less positive in terms of its controls but like the Polestar it just moves around so effortlessly and quietly that it makes conventional cars feel like steam trains. If all you’re used to is a diesel that chatters away in the cold, then either of these electric machines will wow you with their calm and refinement.
What About The Cabins?
And refinement is the word when it comes to both cars’ cabins. Slip inside either the Model 3 or the Polestar 2 and you are entering a world of high design and even higher technology. Tesla led the way with the massive touchscreens and advanced in-car entertainment that has become its hallmark but Polestar has arguably matched or even raised the bar in terms of the quality of the interior design and the cabin materials.
Polestar are rightly proud of the fact that its standard interiors are actually ‘vegan-certified’ and the whole feel – with its soft-touch woods and contemporary fabrics – is straight out of the Scandi school of chic design.
So which to choose? The answer, honestly, is either… The Polestar 2 might just be the more interesting and less common choice right now but the reality is, in a Tesla you are just as able to say that you made the educated choice. Each car is brilliant. Both set new standards for electric vehicles. We’ll leave the choice up to you!
Right now you can lease either the Tesla Model 3 or Polestar 2 at the best possible rates simply by clicking on the links. And remember, Vanarama will pay for a free home charger worth £900 with every electric car lease (terms and conditions apply).