2021 Tesla Model 3 vs. 2021 Polestar 2: The Numbers Aren’t Everything

As the electric car market continues to grow, the Tesla Model 3 remains the model to beat. Motor Trend calls it one of the best sub-$50,000 EVs. But it now has a stylish new rival courtesy of Swedish brand Polestar: the Polestar 2. And as YouTube team Throttle House explains in its recent video, comparing these two EVs is more than just a number’s game.

How do the 2021 Tesla Model 3 and 2021 Polestar 2 compare on paper?

Tesla Model 3 on the pavement
Tesla Model 3 | Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 has more trims than the Polestar 2. The former is available with either one or two electric motors, and with two different battery packs, Car and Driver reports. In contrast, as of this writing, Polestar’s EV is only available in dual-motor form, with just one pack size, Car and Driver reports. However, a single-motor model is coming.

In terms of range and performance, the Tesla Model 3 beats the Polestar 2. True, it lacks the Model S’ Cheetah Mode. However, after a recent firmware update, Car and Driver’s long-term Dual Motor Long Range Model 3 went 0-60 in 4.0 seconds. The update also reportedly increased the motors’ combined output from 425 hp to 446 hp. The Performance trim is even faster, Motor Trend reports.

Tesla claims the Model 3 Dual Motor Long Range goes 322 miles on a charge. In real-world scenarios, that turns out to be somewhat optimistic. Especially, as InsideEVs explains, in extreme heat or cold. Still, Car and Driver’s long-term range of 236 miles is both impressive and more than sufficient for most people.

A white 2021 Polestar 2 in front of a body of water
2021 Polestar 2 | Polestar

That’s not to say the Polestar 2 is slow, exactly. Its dual motors produce 408 hp, and let the AWD EV go 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, Road & Track reports. Car and Driver recorded a 4.1-second time. And it has a larger battery pack than the Model 3: 78 kWh vs. 75 kWh, Top Gear reports. Unfortunately, it also weighs almost 700 pounds more than the Tesla.

The side view of a white 2021 Polestar 2 Launch Edition
2021 Polestar 2 Launch Edition side | Polestar

As a result, the EPA reports the Polestar 2 only has a 233-mile range, R&T reports. However, independent testing showed that, while the Tesla Model 3 has more range, the Polestar 2 meets its estimates better, Roadshow reports.

2021 Polestar 2 vs. 2021 Tesla Model 3: what the numbers don’t tell you

So, the Tesla Model 3 is faster, lighter, and has a longer range than the Polestar 2. However, once you start to look beyond the numbers, and drive the EVs, the Swedish sedan starts to pull ahead.

RELATED: Is the Tesla Model 3 Any Good for Road Trips?

Admittedly, the Polestar 2’s launch hasn’t gone smoothly. European and Chinese models are being recalled due to random shutdown issues. However, even though the Tesla Model 3 has been in production for years, it still has quality issues, such as a continuing suspension problem, InsideEVs reports. The example Throttle House drove even had condensation in the taillights.

Then there’s the equipment. Even though it’s been updated for 2021, the Tesla Model 3 still lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. In contrast, the Polestar 2’s infotainment system is based on Android, and Apple support is coming, Roadshow reports. And unlike the Tesla, the Polestar will reportedly offer a factory tow hitch, InsideEVs reports.

The 2021 Polestar 2's front interior
2021 Polestar 2 interior | Polestar

Tesla is offering a Track Package for the Model 3, complete with grippier Michelin tires as well as larger brakes and wheels, Car and Driver reports. However, the Polestar 2’s Performance Package counters with Brembo front brakes, adjustable Ohlins dampers, and larger wheels, Hagerty reports.

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Driving these two EVs back-to-back also highlights their differences. The Polestar 2 has a slightly better interior than the Tesla Model 3, Business Insider and Automobile report. The seats are comfier, while the materials are roughly equal in quality. Plus, while the Polestar is heavier and rides higher, it handles its weight well, Throttle House reports. Also, the Ohlins dampers work better than the Tesla’s suspension.

The Tesla Model 3's front interior
Tesla Model 3 interior | Tesla

The Tesla Model 3’s cabin, though, maybe slightly quieter. Its steering is also slightly sharper, and it has more storage capacity. However, it lacks the Polestar’s rear trunk hooks and multiple compartments.

Which is the better EV purchase?

In the end, Throttle House was split over deciding between the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2.

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It’s worth pointing that, at the moment, you can get the Model 3 for less than the 2. The single-motor Model 3 starts at $37,990 before incentives. And you can get the Dual Motor Long Range model for $46,990.

RELATED: The 2021 Polestar 2 Might Be the Most Convenient Road Trip EV

Meanwhile, the Polestar 2 Launch Edition starts at $59,900. Plus, as of this writing, there are far fewer Polestar stores than Tesla ones, Car and Driver reports. However, the base model will likely go for less.

Ultimately, there’s no shame in getting a 2021 Tesla Model 3. But if you can swing it, the 2021 Polestar 2’s quality and features are arguably worth the upcharge.

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