Polestar 3 review

Category: Electric car

The Polestar 3 electric SUV has an excellent range, lots of standard equipment and is good to drive

Polestar 3 front left driving
  • Polestar 3 front left driving
  • Polestar 3 rear cornering
  • Neil Winn test driving Polestar 3
  • Polestar 3 boot open
  • Polestar 3 driver display
  • Polestar 3 left driving
  • Polestar 3 front driving
  • Polestar 3 front cornering
  • Polestar 3 front cornering
  • Polestar 3 rear cornering
  • Polestar 3 front left static
  • Polestar 3 rear left static
  • Polestar 3 front detail
  • Polestar 3 alloy wheel detail
  • Polestar 3 door handle detail
  • Polestar 3 door rear detail
  • Polestar 3 front boot
  • Polestar 3 infotainment touchscreen
  • Polestar 3 interior detail
  • Polestar 3 interior detail
  • Polestar 3 back seats
  • Polestar 3 front left driving
  • Polestar 3 rear cornering
  • Neil Winn test driving Polestar 3
  • Polestar 3 boot open
  • Polestar 3 driver display
  • Polestar 3 left driving
  • Polestar 3 front driving
  • Polestar 3 front cornering
  • Polestar 3 front cornering
  • Polestar 3 rear cornering
  • Polestar 3 front left static
  • Polestar 3 rear left static
  • Polestar 3 front detail
  • Polestar 3 alloy wheel detail
  • Polestar 3 door handle detail
  • Polestar 3 door rear detail
  • Polestar 3 front boot
  • Polestar 3 infotainment touchscreen
  • Polestar 3 interior detail
  • Polestar 3 interior detail
  • Polestar 3 back seats
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by
Neil Winn
Published09 June 2024

Introduction

What Car? says...

Pythagoras believed the number 3 stood for good fortune, but it’s more than ancient beliefs that suggest the Polestar 3 will be a big deal for the proudly Swedish brand. 

You see, the 3 gives Polestar a foothold in the highly competitive luxury electric SUV segment. It also marks the first step in an expansion of the Polestar line-up, with the Polestar 4 coupé SUV, Polestar 5 performance car and Polestar 6 roadster due to follow in relatively quick succession.

A superficial glance at the Polestar 3 might place it in the family SUV category. However, with its sleek profile, low nose, and massive wheels reminiscent of a concept car, Polestar's designers have skilfully minimised the appearance of its substantial dimensions. It's hard to believe it's closely related to the seven-seat Volvo EX90 (with the same formidable 107kWh battery pack).

Polestar is adamant that the 3 is not merely a five-seat EX90, and it's been designed to stand out as the discerning driver's choice, with technology including a mechanical torque-vectoring rear axle akin to that of the Porsche Macan Turbo Electric.

An intriguing car, then. But can the Polestar 3 challenge the best electric SUVs and prove a better choice than the Audi Q8 e-tron, BMW iX, Lotus Eletre and Mercedes EQE SUV? Let’s find out...

Overview

The luxury electric SUV segment is hard to break into, but the new Polestar 3 has arrived in style. Not only does it boast a BMW iX-beating official range, but it’s also sharp to drive, cosseting at cruising speed, competitively priced and comes packed with standard equipment. And while it’s a shame its spacious interior shares a lot of parts and design features with a Volvo EX90, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  • Competitively priced
  • Impressive official range
  • Not a sports car but surprisingly agile
  • Interior looks more Volvo than Polestar
  • Performance Pack degrades the plush ride
  • The boot isn’t massive
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Class-leading electric range
  • +Quick performance

Weaknesses

  • -Performance Pack affects ride quality

We expect a cheaper, less powerful version of the Polestar 3 to follow at a later date, but at launch there are two options. There's a Long Range Dual Motor with 483bhp and 620lb ft of torque plus a Long Range Dual Motor with Performance Pack with 510bhp and 671lb ft. 

The 0-62mph sprint takes 5.0 seconds in the standard Polestar 3, while the Performance Pack shaves 0.3 seconds off that time. Behind the wheel, the Performance Pack version feels slightly more responsive off the line, but in typical give-and-take driving conditions, it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Both could ultimately give a BMW iX xDrive50 or a Mercedes EQE SUV 500 a good run for their money, but more expensive variants such as the Mercedes-AMG EQE 53 and BMW iX M60 would show them a clean pair of heels.

Instead, where the Polestar 3 really impresses is in its ability to confidently pick apart a country road. With its dual-chamber air suspension set to Firm it stays remarkably flat through quick changes of direction, while its quick, well-weighted steering allows you to place the nose with accuracy and confidence. It also generates plenty of grip mid-corner and feels surprisingly nimble considering it lacks the four-wheel steering of some rivals. 

Polestar 3 image
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We suspect that's because the Polestar 3 features a torque-vectoring device on the rear axle (similar to the system in the Porsche Macan Turbo Electric) that can send anything between 0% and 100% of the motor’s power to either rear wheel. That improves agility in tight bends by sending power to the outside rear wheel to give you a gentle push around the corner, helping set you up for a better exit. 

Up in the mountains above Madrid (our test location), we found that the Performance model felt a touch more playful on the exit of corners and a little more tied down when really pushing on. However, keen drivers will have to consider whether the extra dynamism is worth the compromise in ride quality. Generally speaking, stiffer suspension tends to degrade ride comfort, and that holds true here.

In the regular Polestar 3 with the air suspension set to Standard, it wafts down a motorway with the relaxed gait of a luxury limousine yet around town the adaptive dampers have the control to round off harsh abrasions. The same isn't quite true in the Performance Pack model, with its stiffer suspension tending to patter over broken-up sections of road. 

It does, however, settle down at speed allowing you to enjoy what must be one of the quietest interiors in the electric SUV class. Wind noise is almost non-existent, and while there is some road noise, it's acceptable for a car riding on very big 22in wheels. In other words, it shouldn’t be tiring on a long drive, which is a relief considering its official range of 390 miles (349 miles with the Performance Pack) – longer than all the main rivals.

Polestar 3 rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Eclectic mix of modern materials
  • +Clear driver display
  • +Supportive seats

Weaknesses

  • -No simple steering wheel adjustment buttons
  • -Door mirrors controlled through touchscreen

Slide behind the wheel of the Polestar 3 and you’re met with an interior that is crisp, clean and contemporary. It looks, dare we say it, very similar to the interior of Volvo’s recently unveiled EX90. That might come as something of a disappointment to those hoping for a more bespoke environment but there’s no arguing with the eclectic mix of materials and textures on display. 

You can choose between a traditional selection of materials such as Bridge of Weir leather and black ash wood trim or a more modern blend of "animal welfare wool" with repurposed aluminium trim. If it wasn’t for the odd bit of hard plastic located lower down in the interior we reckon it would have the measure of a BMW iX when it comes to build quality. 

Unlike the iX, however, physical controls are notable by their absence in the Polestar 3. You get a pause-play-volume button on the centre console but almost every other function is controlled through the portrait-oriented 14.5in touchscreen infotainment system. It’s a similar set-up to what you get in the Volvo EX30 but Polestar has done a far better job with its digital interface.

Unlike Volvo’s system, the Polestar user interface uses big, obvious tiles. The menus are not too deep and it’s possible to save a number of shortcuts to the main screen (with a very welcome off button for the speed-limit warning and lane-keep assist).

We also love that the system is augmented by both a head-up display and a 9in driver's display. The driver's display is fixed to the steering column so it's always visible, and can display important information including battery status, power usage, speed and maps. 

Like in a Tesla, you have to use a combination of the central touchscreen and steering wheel buttons to adjust the steering wheel position and the door mirrors, which is a bit of a faff. Each family member can save their driving position under their own individual user profile so, in theory, you should only need to make the adjustments once. 

Once you’re comfortable you’ll find that the seats are wonderfully supportive and all-round visibility is decent. Front and rear parking sensors come as standard as does a 360-degree surround-view camera. While some might complain that the driving position is too high for a sporty SUV, the same criticism can be levelled at the BMW iX and Mercedes-AMG EQE 53

As standard, Polestar 3 Launch Edition cars get a 25-speaker, 1,610W Bowers & Wilkins sound system with Dolby Atmos. If you use the Tidal music app (the only music provider that caters for Dolby Atmos) the experience is wonderfully immersive, with sounds placed precisely round the interior to give you a real studio atmosphere.

Neil Winn test driving Polestar 3

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Limo-like head and leg room in the rear
  • +Panoramic roof creates an airy environment
  • +Storage space under the bonnet

Weaknesses

  • -Rivals have bigger boots

There’s plenty of space up front in the Polestar 3, but it’s in the back where it really impresses. While it's based on the same platform as the seven-seat Volvo EX90, it's a five-seater so the rear seats can be moved much further back, creating limo-like levels of leg room.

We’ve yet to get our measuring stick out, but leg and head room feels comparable to a BMW iX and greater than you get in an Audi Q8 e-tron. Despite the side windows being relatively shallow due to the 3’s coupé-esque roofline, the massive standard-fit panoramic sunroof floods the interior with light creating an airy feeling environment.

Boot space is less impressive at 484 litres below the parcel shelf (less than you get in all the rivals we've mentioned). That said, there is still more than enough space for a family trip to the Alps, and if you lift the boot floor you’ll find a well big enough for ski boots and wet gear.

The rear seats can be dropped in a 40/20/40 configuration and you get the added benefit of a ski hatch. We also like that Polestar has incorporated a small 32-litre "frunk" under the bonnet, with space for the charging cable and a soft bag. The iX doesn't get a front boot.

Polestar 3 boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Finance rates should be lower than for rivals
  • +Launch Edition cars come packed with kit
  • +Lots of safety equipment

Weaknesses

  • -LiDAR system isn’t fully operational yet

The Polestar 3 is not cheap but it is competitively priced, significantly undercutting an equivalent Audi SQ8 e-tron, BMW iX xDrive50 and Mercedes EQE 500 regardless of whether you go for the Long Range Dual Motor car or the Performance Pack. 

Polestar is offering competitive PCP financing on the 3 compared to those rivals and if you’re lucky enough to have a 3 on your company car list it’s even better news. All electric cars attract fantastic benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax breaks right now, so it will set you back a tiny amount in monthly salary sacrifices compared with combustion-engined SUVs in the same price bracket. 

At launch you can only specify your Polestar 3 in one trim – Launch Edition. It comes with loads of kit including air suspension, a panoramic glass roof, full LED lighting (inside and out), 21in alloy wheels, soft-closing doors, a head-up display and the incredible Bowers & Wilkins sound system.

Performance Pack cars don’t get more kit but do benefit from a number of mechanical upgrades, including an increase in power and torque and tweaked settings for the air suspension. Visually you can distinguish a Performance Pack car from a regular 3 by looking for the unique 22in forged alloy wheels and Swedish Gold brake calipers and seatbelts. 

The 3 benefits from a big 107kWh battery pack that can be charged at speeds up to 250kW. That’s a quicker charging rate than an Audi SQ8 e-tron (170kW), iX xDrive50 (195kW) and EQE 500 (170kW), but a touch slower than the smaller Porsche Macan Electric (270kW) and more expensive Lotus Eletre (350kW). In theory, its charging rate allows for a 10-80% charge in around 30 minutes but you'll need to find a fast charging station to do so.

The list of standard safety technology includes automatic emergency braking (AEB), traffic-sign recognition, a post-impact braking system, a blind-spot warning system, lane-keeping assistance and more. 

You will also be able to purchase a Pilot pack with a LiDAR camera that adds three cameras, four ultrasonic sensors and cleaning for the front and rear-view cameras. It enables enhanced 3D scanning of the car’s surroundings in greater detail and is apparently Level 4 autonomy capable, although there’s no legal framework for it to operate as such just yet.


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Polestar 3 driver display

FAQs

  • The Polestar 3is positioned as a luxury electric SUV and is therefore inherently not cheap. However, everything is relative and it manages to undercut an equivalent Audi SQ8 e-tron, BMW iX xDrive50 and Mercedes EQE 500.

  • Yes. Polestar’s naming scheme is based on when a model was introduced rather than size. The 3 is the third model from the brand after the Polestar 1 and Polestar 2. While the 3 is an electric luxury SUV the Polestar 4 is an electric coupé SUV to rival the Porsche Macan Electric.

  • The Polestar 3 has an official range of up to 390 miles, or 349 miles with the Performance Pack.

At a glance
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Target Price from £69,900
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RRP price range £69,900 - £88,800
Number of trims (see all)1
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £140 / £177
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £279 / £355
Available colours