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Car reviews - Polestar - 3

Polestar models

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We like
Well sorted torque vectoring, excellent air suspension, fluid and communicative steering, logical tech interface, spacious five-seat cabin, roomy cargo area, neat Scandi styling inside and out, incredible audio package
Room for improvement
More road noise than expected, some wind noise from door mirrors, turning circle could be tighter, rearward vision somewhat compromised, no regenerative ‘paddle shifters’ as offered in some European rivals

Well-sized and great to drive, the ‘3’ might just be the most convincing Polestar model yet

10 Jun 2024

POLESTAR is just about ready to launch its first-ever SUV, the Polestar 3, Down Under. Ahead of its arrival, GoAuto flew to Spain to sample a pre-production model on the picturesque – and beautifully smooth – roads surrounding Madrid.


The Polestar 3 will be available in Long Range Dual Motor and Long Range Dual Motor Performance Pack guises, priced from $132,900 and $141,900 plus on-road costs respectively.


Polestar says the vehicle will be offered with an extensive list of equipment, “with a few options for easy configuration”. Standard-fit on both variants will be air suspension, a panoramic glass roof, LED lighting inside and out, retractable door handles with proximity sensing, and 21-inch alloy wheels.


Additionally, vehicles sold over the first 12 months will include Polestar’s Plus Pack and Pilot Pack as standard, adding items including a 25-speaker Bowers & Wilkins 3D sound system, soft-closing doors, head-up display and the Pilot Assist suite of active safety and driver assistance tech to the deal.


GoAuto understands that Polestar will roll out more affordable Polestar 3 variants – likely to have rear-wheel drive and smaller battery packs – once the high-end launch models are established in the market.


Both launch variants feature a rear-biased dual-motor all-wheel drive powertrain configuration. In the Long Range Dual Motor, outputs are listed at 360kW and 840Nm, the Long Range Dual Motor Performance Pack upping the ante to 380kW and 910Nm.


In addition to the dual-mode air suspension, variable one-pedal drive, electric torque vectoring (on the rear axle) and efficiency-aiding rear axle decoupling are standard on both models.


The Polestar 3 is powered by a 111kWh prismatic lithium-ion battery pack that offers 610km of range (560km with the Performance Pack) under WLTP criteria.


Recharging takes as little as 30 minutes using a 250kW DC rapid charger to get the battery pack from 10-80 per cent or 11 hours from 0-100 per cent using an 11kW AC charger.


The vehicle is also equipped for bidirectional charging, which Polestar says will enable “future potential for vehicle-to-grid and plug-and-charge capabilities”.


Beyond the hardware, Polestar says the 3 is its first vehicle to feature centralised computing thanks to its Nvidia Drive core computer. The ‘brain’ of the car processes data from the 3’s multiple sensors and cameras to enable what Polestar says are “advanced driver-assistance safety features and driver monitoring”.


Further collaborations with partners including Zenseact and Smart Eye provide the Polestar 3 with the latest semi-autonomous driving technology which “integrates seamlessly” with the central computer. Among the Polestar 3’s sensing capabilities are five radar modules, five external cameras and 12 external ultrasonic sensors.


Australian customers are also able to add the optional Pilot Pack with Lidar technology, three additional cameras and four ultrasonic sensors to provide “real-time data about the car’s surroundings, especially in the long-range field”.


Vehicles ordered with a Lidar sensor are expected to arrive from Q3 next year and will be further future-proofed against advances in crash avoidance and autonomous driving technology made available through over-the-air (OTA) software updates.


The interior of the vehicle is also replete with sensors, monitoring driver behaviour and whether children or pets have been left inside the car. Rather than simply alerting the driver that someone or something is still in the car, the technology is linked to the climate control system to prevent the likelihood of heat stroke or hypothermia.


Polestar’s latest infotainment system builds on the well-received unit offered in the Polestar 2 and is said to provide “immersive in-vehicle experiences” with its high-definition displays, premium surround sound set-up and “seamless” connectivity.


Further, Polestar says it will continue its sustainability push, enabling consumers to trace the source of the minerals used in the construction of their vehicle and its battery, and also offering vegan-friendly upholstery options.


Driving Impressions


The super smooth roads of the countryside surrounding Madrid might not have been the best datum from which to measure the Polestar 3’s ride, but they did provide a terrific insight into the model’s handling and road noise. Briefly, one is good, the other poor.


The Geely-owned Polestar 3 is the first SUV to come from the Sino-Swedish marque, and one that offers a great deal of style – and substance. It’s a terrific looking car in the ‘metal’, and one that brings a level of Scandi sophistication inside that only the Swedes could pull off.


Yes, it’s a handsome car; and one that is thoughtfully laid out with comfortable seating for five, and a decent amount of luggage space. If you need seven seats, the closely related (sharing the same SPA platform) Volvo EX90 is for you.


Like most electric SUVs, the Polestar 3 is smooth and simple to pilot, and it is appreciably fast in Dual Motor form.


Power is channelled to the tyres with a somewhat frenetic pace at times overwhelming the grip of the tyres (e.g., from a standing start or when accelerating from a sharp bend). But when you learn to modulate the throttle more carefully, it is remarkable just how fluid the Polestar 3 can become.


Connecting a series of corners, the Polestar 3 flows sweetly, the body remaining composed as the steering dictates: right, left, harder left, right again. It’s quite a nuanced and calm kind of ‘quick’ that tends to sneak up on you – a look at the speedometer the only indication that you’re really hustling along.


The Polestar 3 rides on dual chamber air suspension and utilises torque vectoring on the rear axle to distribute drive as required – from 0 to 100 per cent to either side. Add to that a direct action with the right amount of weighting for confidence at speed at it’s obvious that Polestar is true to its word in delivering a ‘luxury sport’ SUV.


In combination, the package provides a confident drive we’ll be keen to sample on ‘lesser’ local roads.


We’ll also be keen to see how the road noise from the Polestar 3 plays out on Australia’s coarse chip roads. On Spanish motorways, the tyre hum was evident at speeds around 100km/h, as was a hint of wind noise. Locally, we think the combination may be a cause for concern, but we’ll reserve judgement until the car is launched here.


If it is a bother, we’re certain the 25-speaker Bowers & Wilkins 3D sound system will come as a welcome distraction. The system provides a level of clarity and depth often lacking in ‘branded’ audio systems and handles all types of music with the kind of prowess usually reserved for very expensive in-home setups.


The only other real sticking points to come from our drive of the Polestar 3 were trivial.


We found the 11.8m turning circle a little large and the rearward vision somewhat compromised. Given the parking aids and wonderfully crisp 360-degree camera system fitted to the Polestar 3, neither are a deal breaker. On the plus side, both forward and lateral vision are very good indeed.


If we were to really pick, we also found the absence of adjustable brake regeneration via paddles an oversight in a sporty model. Yes, the regeneration levels may be adjusted via the screen (including a one-pedal driving mode), but this takes time to access, and detracts from what is an otherwise very enjoyable drive.


Which kind of sums up the Polestar 3 very well: it is an enjoyable drive. It is also one that is suitably quick, sufficiently capable, and with better real-world range than most.


Add to that a degree of styling – both inside and out – that stands tall in a market full of over-the-top attempts at some kind of ‘futurism’ and we think the Polestar 3 has what it takes to build some serious sales volume for the brand.


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Polestar models

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