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Polestar 3 prototype review

polestar 3 prototype 2023 01 tracking front
polestar 3 prototype 2023 01 tracking front

Polestar’s naming scheme is very literal: the Polestar 3 is the third model since the brand was spun off from Volvo as a stand-alone car maker.

Of course, that doesn’t tell you much about its positioning, and it’s getting even more complicated, because the Polestar 4, Polestar 5 and Polestar 6 have already been revealed. So here’s a refresher: the 3 is a large SUV (electric, obviously) aimed at the Audi Q8 E-tron, BMW iX and Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV. The 4 is a smaller, swoopier SUV, the 5 is a Porsche Taycan-rivalling fastback and the 6 is a roadster (yes, all EVs).

So Polestar is quickly going from a one-car offering to a big line-up. Today, it’s the 3 we’re interested in, because we’ve had an early drive of a prototype. It will be the first to arrive, in the second quarter of 2024, and is the first to be designed from the start as a Polestar (the Polestar 1 coupé and Polestar 2 hatchback were originally intended to be Volvos).

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That doesn’t mean Polestar has severed ties with Volvo – far from it. The Geely-owned Swedish brands are actually becoming more integrated and the 3 is effectively a sibling car of the Volvo EX90, the Swedish car maker’s upcoming large, three-row SUV.

Same all-new SPA platform, same mammoth 111kWh battery pack, same 2985mm wheelbase, same 250kW maximum charging speed, same dual motors (in some versions). Deep breath. Same steering wheel, same column stalks, same big infotainment touchscreen. The list goes on. The interior design in general feels quite Volvo-y and the centre console looks pretty similar to the EX90’s as well.

What’s the point, then? Just choose the Volvo, surely? Or the BMW or Mercedes, two cars that we’ve tried and found excellently relaxing. Not so fast, says Polestar, because its car is the keen driver’s choice. Yes, of these nearly five-metre-long, 2.5-tonne electric SUVs, the 3 allegedly distinguishes itself as the sporty one.

You had better believe it, because on the basis of this early taster, it actually seems to make sense.

Caveat time first: Polestar flew me out to Volvo’s proving ground near Gothenburg to have a chat with the engineers and designers and then take a late-stage prototype for a passenger ride around the more perilous areas. Finally, I was trusted behind the wheel for a few laps of the handling track. A star rating will have to wait, though, because there wasn’t enough time to get to grips with the multimedia system (which wasn’t quite ready yet) or the assisted driving features.

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