reset
Viewed : 19,428 times

09 Mar 2022

Polestar 2
Pleasing and interesting exterior design
Functional and accessible cabin
Easier and more relaxing to drive
Better overall refinement and build quality
Tesla Model 3
Minimalist interior is more spacious and high-tech
More powerful, while also more efficient as well
Better ride composure and handling
Cooler and more buzz-worthy

The Model 3 is the more intriguing car with great promise, but right now, the Polestar 2 feels more complete and satisfying to drive daily.


The Tesla Model 3 is very much the buzz of the town right now. Since deliveries began in July 2021, the Model 3 was the best-selling EV last year, and the brand managed to sell close to a thousand cars in just half a year. Impressive, no doubt.

So, does that mean that if you were in the market for an electric four-door sedan in the region of $200+k, the Tesla Model 3 is the no-brainer choice? Well, Polestar might have something to say about that.

Facing it

The Model 3 and Polestar 2 are two all electric four-door offerings that straddle the line between mass market and high luxury
To be clear, there are other electric four-door sedan options in the market. The Hyundai Ioniq Electric sits at the slightly lower end of the price scale, while models like the Audi e-tron GT and Porsche Taycan sit way higher up on the price range. In this particular segment, one that straddles between mass market and high luxury, there are really only two choices - the Model 3 and the Polestar 2. We pit the Model 3 Standard Range Plus against the Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor to find out which four-door choice might be the one to pick.

Most people will be visually familiar with the Tesla. Chances are, you see at least one a day on the roads. The design is certainly stark and unmistakable, though its futuristic aesthetic might not be everyone's cup of tea. One design choice that will take some getting used to are the door handles - the way they function (you have to push in, then pull) is not immediately intuitive and can't easily be done with one hand, and passengers who have never been in a Tesla might be confused as to how to open the door.

The Polestar 2's bold and muscular design is visually interesting 
Some might argue that the Polestar 2 isn't strictly a sedan. While it has the general shape and four-door sensibilities of a sedan, it is raised higher up from the ground, and also has a fastback boot. Specific categorisation aside, I think the Polestar is the more interesting-looking car. I think its slightly confusing nature is part of the visual intrigue, one that makes you take a second look.

Stark use

When it comes to the cabin, Tesla is definitely going for the stark, minimalistic feel. That has its benefits. The interior definitely feels more airy and spacious, as well as significantly less cluttered. Most of the cars functions are executed via the gigantic 15-inch touchscreen, and there's certainly a novelty factor to how futuristic it all feels. After you spend some time with the car and get used to it, there is a simplicity about the cabin that does make sense.

The Polestar's cabin is more functional and accessible, whereas the minimalist Tesla cabin feels more futuristic and spacious
That said, it's not without its issues. There is definitely a learning curve to the Model 3. You need some time to learn where the various functions are, not unlike figuring out the latest smartphone or tech device. The air-con isn't very good (it was perpetually on fan speed 5 and above). The blind spot camera display is often obscured by your left hand whilst driving. There's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality, and even the Bluetooth connectivity has tiny niggles (it doesn't automatically resume playing when you start up the car, so you have to manually hit play again).

The Polestar cabin feels much more traditional, very similar to what you'd find in other Volvos. It feels more cramped because there's literally more stuff in there, stuff like buttons and knobs to adjust the volume, the wing mirrors and so on.

As most functions are housed within the touchscreen, learning the ins and outs of the Model 3 takes some time
As far as functionality goes, the Polestar is a simpler and more straightforward affair. Most drivers who hop into the car should feel at ease. The infotainment system is Android-powered, so anyone using an Android phone will feel immediately at home. I like the way Google Maps is seamlessly integrated, while the Google Assistant works very well. The downside is that Apple users might feel slightly maligned, as there is no Apple CarPlay. One other thing that bugs me is that when reversing, the default camera view is the 360 degree top view, rather than the rear view camera.

I will note that rear cabin comfort is better in the Tesla. The Polestar has slightly more rear legroom, but the seats are more upright and thus doesn't feel as comfortable to sit in. Also, the Polestar's fully vegan interior (and thus lack of leather) might not be for everyone, though I do like it.

Overall refinement and build quality is higher in the Polestar 2
In terms of overall build quality, the Polestar is definitely better. For example, the indicator stalks feel slicker and more well-oiled. In the Tesla, you can hear slight rattling when driving at higher speeds, and there's a lower level of refinement and polish to the way the car is built.

Which is better? This is very much a preference thing. I prefer the simplicity of the Polestar, though I can certainly understand the appeal of the Tesla.

The electric journey

On the road, the Tesla is once again the more immediately impressive offering. There's more power on tap (321bhp and 420Nm of torque vs the Polestar's 228bhp and 330Nm), so in a straight line it's notably quicker. And, even in corners, the Tesla drives better - it's lighter, rear-wheel drive offers more agility, and it also feels much more planted to the tarmac. So, as far as a sporty sedan is concerned, the Tesla certainly comes out ahead. The Tesla also impresses with its ride composure - the suspension is well-judged and keeps the car planted, whilst soaking up bumps very well.

On the road, the Polestar 2 (left) is easier and more relaxing to drive, whereas the Model 3 is faster, and handles and rides better
Driving this Model 3 Standard takes some getting used to, though. The steering is very heavy (can be tiring at low speeds), and the one pedal feel is very strong. The throttle is quite sharp, and the regenerative braking can be quite stark. Again, there will be an adjustment period for most drivers. There is also a decent amount of wind noise once you cross 80km/h.

The Polestar is the easier car to drive. Throttle modulation is better (perhaps because it's less powerful), the regenerative braking smoother and gentler, and the lighter steering feel makes for a slightly more relaxing experience.

That said, the car immediately and obviously rides higher than the Model 3, and that hampers overall ride composure. This car doesn't have the Ohlins dampers as on the Dual Motor variant that we drove, so ride quality is better, but over bumps there's still more body movement than the Model 3.

In the Polestar, you can adjust between three levels of regenerative braking
Much has been made about Tesla's autonomous capabilities, but it's prudent to note that what's currently operable in Singapore is very much not fully-autonomous. You still need to have your hands physically on the wheel and pay attention to the road.

As a result, the assistance systems in the two cars are actually pretty similar. Both are two clicks away to turn on, both accelerate and brake for you, and both steer you to keep in the middle of the lane. The Model 3 does a better job of visualising it (showing the cars, lorries and bikes in your surroundings), but functionality-wise both cars operate very similarly, i.e. semi-autonomously. Whether or not the Model 3's greater inherent capabilities will be unlocked in the future is still uncertain at this point in time.

In terms of electric capability, the Model 3 supersedes the Polestar. It may have less on-paper range, but it also has a notably smaller battery. The Tesla managed 6.3km/kWh, which is a fair bit better than the Polestar's 5km/kWh. There's also the availability of Supercharging, though it's to be noted that currently there are just four locations available. It's here, in the battery technology, that Tesla is definitely already ahead of the competition.

A forward look

While undeniably tech-forward, living with the peculiarities of the Tesla takes some getting used to
The Tesla Model 3 is conceived primarily as a tech product. Most of the functionality is found within a screen (either the car's, or your phone's). And the tech capability is stellar, no doubt. It's faster, the battery tech is better, and it's got the flash factor. There are some teething issues to work out, but the promise of what's possible is tantalising.

This is the shiny new gizmo, complete with all the gimmicky features as well. And some people like and want that - likely the same people who will queue up for the latest iPhone 13 and rock the latest smartwatch. So, the appeal of the Tesla is completely understandable. My concern is that, not unlike the latest and newest tech products, I wonder if this Model 3 will quickly be replaced by the next buzz-worthy product in just a few years.

The Model 3 is the more intriuging and promising tech product, but right now, the Polestar 2 is the better and more complete car
The Polestar 2, in contrast, is still fundamentally a car in the traditional sense. Anyone can hop in and drive off straight away. And what the Polestar may lack in outright capability, it makes up for in refinement. That's where you see the car making experience come through. I think it may not be the most immediately impressive at the get go, but it offers the more pleasing experience over time. It just works - no need to think too hard.

I will concede that the Model 3 is the more intriguing proposition. There's the as-yet-unrealised promise of fully autonomous driving, as well as the Supercharging capability. But at this present moment, March 2022, the Polestar 2 is the more satisfying and complete car. And it's a car that won't lose its shine over time the same way I worry the Model 3 might.

And at least for me (who still happily uses an iPhone X in 2022), that's what I want. I want the Polestar.

Car Information

spacer

Price

: $235,000

Engine Type

:

AC Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor

Engine Cap

:

-

Horsepower

:

170kW (228 bhp)

Torque

:

330 Nm

Transmission

:

Single-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

7.4sec

Top Speed

:

160km/h

Energy consumption

:

5.8km/kWh

spacer

Price

: $114,455 (w/o COE)

Engine Type

:

Single Electric Motor

Engine Cap

:

-

Horsepower

:

239kW (321 bhp)

Torque

:

420 Nm

Transmission

:

Single Speed Fixed Gear

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

6.1sec

Top Speed

:

225km/h

Energy consumption

:

8.2km/kWh

You may also like

1-10 of 20    

Tags :  

tesla  polestar  model 3  polestar 2  ev  electric  electric sedan