Top Gear pits the Polestar 2 with a Tesla Model 3… that was mostly on Chill Mode

(Credit: Top Gear)

The Tesla Model 3 and the Polestar 2 were recently pitted against each other by motoring outlet Top Gear. During the magazine’s review, the two vehicles were compared according to their efficiency, performance, and overall long trip capability, to name a new. As it turns out, it appears that the Polestar 2 is both the Model 3’s current biggest rival and strongest ally. 

The Model 3 and the Polestar 2 are comparatively priced, with both vehicles commanding a price of about £600 per month in the UK. The two vehicles are also comparable when it comes to their batteries, with the Model 3 sporting a 75 kWh pack and the Polestar 2 being equipped with a 78 kWh unit. Consumption favors the Tesla during a 500-mile drive, however, as the Model 3 consumed 28.4 kW per 100 miles as opposed to the Polestar 2’s 35.7 kW per 100 miles. Part of this is due to the Polestar 2’s weight, which is about 595 lbs heavier than the Model 3. 

That being said, when it comes to raw performance, the Model 3 proved to be far zippier than the Polestar 2, with the Tesla hitting 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and the Polestar 2 taking 4.4 seconds to hit highway speed. Top Gear then mentioned something quite interesting. During their test, they opted to put the Model 3 on Chill Mode for the most part while they were operating the vehicle. But even with Chill Mode, the Model 3 still made the Polestar 2 work hard to keep pace. 

(Credit: Polestar)

“This Tesla is the 450bhp Performance, and it pulled an easy ten lengths on the Polestar off every roundabout or away from each village, but we found ourselves driving it in power-reducing Chill mode most of the time, simply to escape the sudden, neck-straining step-off every time we gently pulled away. It’s very eager. Even in reverse, which is a bit disconcerting. Chill mode smoothed the throttle nicely and still made the Polestar work hard to keep pace,” the publication noted. 

One thing that stands out is the fact that unlike the Model 3, which was built as an all-electric vehicle, the Polestar 2 is actually built on Volvo’s CMA architecture, which also underpins the popular XC40. The Polestar 2 is also made with steel panels, which are heavier than the aluminum that’s used in some parts of the Model 3. But despite this, the motoring publication noted that the Polestar, like the Tesla, does not feel heavy on the road at all, thanks to its low center of gravity. 

Top Gear did state that there are some areas where the Model 3 falls beneath the Polestar 2. One of these is the vehicles’ interior quality, which is an area where Polestar excels in. Another concerns the two vehicles’ driving dynamics. The publication noted that the softer sprung Tesla gets a bit jiggled from side to side and it does not have impressive body control. The Model 3’s steering was also described as “pretty nasty,” as it has an initial resistance that fades as the driver turns. 

(Photo: Andres GE)

The publication noted that the Model 3’s steering could not be described as “sporty or involving,” just effective. On the other hand, the Polestar 2’s steering and controls were described as reassuring in the way that they are “meatier and more satisfying.” But despite these drawbacks, the Model 3 still rides more comfortably compared to the Polestar 2. 

The two vehicles also compare very well when it comes to their tech, as the Polestar 2’s Google-powered software experience stands pretty well against Tesla’s custom OS for the Model 3. Both vehicles have robust driver-assist features as well, though Top Gear noted that both Tesla and Volvo’s autonomous efforts still have large areas for improvement. This is especially true for Tesla, which sells a Full Self-Driving suite for the Model 3. Both cars are capable of long-distance travel, thanks to the Supercharger Network and Polestar’s partnership with Plugsurfing. But between the two, the Model 3 provides a faster, easier charging experience. 

Ultimately, the Polestar 2 is a stellar effort on Volvo’s part. It’s attractive, well-built, and it carries the best of Volvo’s tech and features in an all-electric package. That being said, Top Gear concluded that ultimately, the Model 3 would likely still be the vehicle to choose if one were looking for an electric car, simply because it provides a more complete ecosystem of ownership. 

“The Polestar experience is still very Volvo – and there’s nothing wrong with that. No Volvo drives as well as this, nor oozes more Scandi calmness and cool. It’s pure hygge. I know this is less than analytical but I love what it stands for, what it looks like, it’s the one I’d rather be seen driving and yet… the Tesla wins. Given a straight choice between the two, that’s the one I’d drive away. Nothing to do with its speed or autonomy – the two things usually championed by the Teslarati – but because of its ease of use, efficiency, the supercharger network. It’s the more complete mode of transport,” the magazine noted. 

Top Gear pits the Polestar 2 with a Tesla Model 3… that was mostly on Chill Mode
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