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Car Review

Polestar 3 review

£75,900 - £81,500
710
Published: 09 Jun 2024
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‘Pre-production’ test cars had some inconsistencies, but the bones of a really lovely large SUV are all present and correct in the Polestar 3. Less aggressive than the usual SUV trucks, and the better for it

Good stuff

Looks good, drives well and feels spacious, has a defined Polestar ‘feel’ that will appeal

Bad stuff

Early test cars had some gremlins, lack of buttons can be intensely annoying when the touchscreen gets grouchy

Overview

What is it?

A five-seat, full-size (think Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5), pure electric SUV from Chinese-owned Polestar. Premium everything, tonnes of kit, some really quite expressive styling. Initially we’re looking at ‘Launch Edition’ cars, both dual-motor all-wheel drive, both with a 107kWh useable battery.

The ‘base’ is the Long Range Dual Motor from just under £76k, the slightly quicker one the Long Range Dual Motor Performance Pack which gets a mild power/torque bump and some extra ‘Swedish gold’ bits for £4,600 more.That’s 390 miles of WLTP range for the LRDM, 348 for the slightly more power-hungry LRDMPP.

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Sorry for the abbreviations. It’s kind of a slight sidestep from the brashness of a Range Rover or Cayenne, something a little more intellectually gentle. Although it has got a really cool aero wing built into the bonnet. Still, it’s got loads of space and a quality speedy lollop to it, as well as looking great out on the road. Plenty to recommend.

What are you actually getting?

Volvo’s funkier cousin, essentially. Polestar has long been Volvo-adjacent, and the 3 comes under the same Geely parent company. This car shares the same SPA2 (scaleable product architecture) as Volvo’s EX90, a bespoke EV set of bones, but comes as a five-seat only where the Volvo will be a seven-seater.

And it’s pretty striking; a proper EV nose rather than just a blanked off grille, a low roofline, some lovely C-pillar shapes. One of the best quotes from the designer is that he wanted to change the face of the SUV ‘from breathing to seeing’ with the design of the SmartZone ‘face’ - and that makes a lot of sense. It’s not trying to be different for different’s-sake (see Polestar 4 and it’s lack of rear window, for reference), just feels like a well-executed take on something that’s not as punchy as a Cayenne or BMW X5.

The - mostly recycled - interior is techy, spacious and lovely, the driving experience rapid but calm. There’s torque vectoring via brakes for the rear axle, air suspension, a variety of adaptive systems and loads of advanced driver assistance. Plus lots of space. After the über-niche hybrid that was the Polestar 1, the company has been fighting for market share with essentially a single model, the 2, and the 3 feels like a natural next step, both sequentially and in terms of offering Polestar product in another big-selling market.

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Polestar. Comes across as lightly sporty and eco-conscious. Is this more of the same?

A little more than that. The 3 might be a full-size SUV, but it doesn’t present as particularly in-your-face or blocky. The roofline is low (1,614mm), the general design clean and neat. It looks great with the contrasting body cladding in a lighter colour, less so without or in, say, black, where you lose all the definition. It’s simply not a threatening car. It’s long and decently wide, but not imposing.

It’s also not slow, so the slightly sporty thing is covered; the base Long Range Dual Motor has 483bhp/620lb ft and can hit the 62mph benchmark in 5.0-seconds flat, the Performance Pack car with 510bhp/671lb ft some 4.7 seconds. That’s rapid for a big, 2.6-tonne SUV thing. Plus it’s got lots of dynamic tweaks to try and make it feel a little more nimble, but more detail on those in the Driving section.

The one thing it does major on is being conscious of its own manufacture and sustainability. Recyclability, whole-life CO2 debt, reclaimed materials - Polestar is really leaning into the game here, and it will appeal to a lot of people. TG liked it a lot, though these early cars did suffer some wayward electrics which mean it doesn’t get a higher score.

What's the verdict?

A solid effort from Polestar, and one you should try if the usual brands are beginning to grate

We were warned that these Polestar 3s were pre-production models and they did suffer from some electrical inconsistencies which have lost them a point (see the ‘Driving’ section). But the fact remains that the Polestar 3 feels like a natural and useful progression for the brand. It also feels very much like a Polestar - which sounds trite until you think about the fact that Polestar has no real heritage apart from the 2 saloon.

There’s calm and considered exterior design, excellent physical build quality, a conscious and thoughtful manufacture. No, a 2.6-tonne electric SUV isn’t going to save the environment, but if it has to exist, you might as well be careful about how you do it. The interiors could do with less reliance on touchscreen elements and a few more well-judged buttons, but generally it feels expertly premium without being flashy or overblown.

It also drives with a kind of calm authority which many people will appreciate - long-legged and comfy, but perfectly capable should you wish to go faster. Again, not necessary for a big SUV, but welcome. It’s a solid effort from Polestar, and one you should try if the usual brands are beginning to grate.

The Rivals

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