The Model 3 is a best-seller for Tesla, although it now has steep competition from the Polestar 2. Buyers looking for a relatively affordable all-electric vehicle have more options now than ever, with several companies jumping on the EV bandwagon. The Tesla Model 3 and the Polestar 2 are among the foremost options in their segment, although there are significant differences between the two.
Electric vehicles have become increasingly mainstream over the past few years, and Tesla is one of the most recognized names in the industry. However, it is hardly the only all-electric automaker, thanks to the likes of Rivian and Polestar. The latter currently has only one offering in the market, the Polestar 2, but is expected to launch the Polestar 3 SUV sometime in 2022. The company also recently debuted its O2 concept sports car, but there’s no definitive launch date for it yet.
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Both the Tesla Model 3 and the Polestar 2 are compact, entry-level luxury cars with similar price tags. However, their design varies significantly. While the Tesla has a more flowing, curved body, the Polestar is edgier, with sharp creases and angles. The build quality of both cars is decent for EVs in this class, although the Polestar has the upper hand in this regard, with solid fit-and-finish. It also has a long line of standard features, including, but not limited to, heated power front seats, LED headlights and taillights, touch-less entry, and dual-zone automatic AC.
Fun To Drive Vs. Practicality
The Polestar also has better driving dynamics, and together with the slightly stiffer damping, is clearly more of a driver’s car than the Tesla. While the former feels more planted around corners, the latter’s softer damping leads to excessive body roll. The Tesla manages to get the job done, but is simply not as involved, nor is its steering as weighted and accurate as the Polestar’s. Both cars also claim to have self-driving software, although it is still a work in progress in each case.
Where the two cars really differ is in range and efficiency. In their standard battery configurations with 19-inch wheels, the single-motor Polestar 2 can go 270 miles on a single charge, while the Tesla can do 267 miles, according to the EPA. However, while the Polestar is said to ship with a 78 kWh battery pack, the Tesla comes with only a 60 kWh battery, making it significantly more efficient. The difference in efficiency is even starker with the dual-motor models. The Polestar, which sticks with the same 78 kWh battery, can only run 249 miles before needing a recharge, while the Tesla can go 334 miles, thanks to a larger, 80kWh battery.
The one area where the Polestar 2 is sure to appeal to many buyers is its price tag. The single-motor FWD Polestar 2 is priced at $45,900 (plus delivery charges), while the corresponding RWD Model 3 lists for $46,490 (plus delivery). While the numbers are similar on paper, the Polestar qualifies for a $7500 tax credit in the U.S., and Tesla no longer does. Following multiple price hikes, the Tesla Model 3 is no longer as affordable it once was, so the Polestar 2’s price tag, along with the federal tax credit, will appeal to a lot of buyers in the segment. However, the higher efficiency means that the Tesla option will be cheaper to run.
While the two cars trade blows in most respects, the one area where the Tesla Model 3 currently has the Polestar beat is the global EV charging eco-system. Tesla has been around for a while now and has developed a large charging network infrastructure that the Polestar just cannot hope to match at this point. Tesla’s charging network is miles ahead of Polestar’s circa 2022, and it might be a while before the latter catches up. All things considered, the Polestar 2 is the more fun vehicle to drive and will be a bit cheaper to buy after the tax credits, while the Tesla Model 3 is much the better choice in terms of efficiency, running costs, and overall practicality.