Electric showdown: Tesla Model 3 vs Polestar 2

The driving position feels also commanding but, because your hip point is set lower than in the XC40, doesn’t feel perched, while the new Google-developed infotainment is very slick in terms of response and resolution. The digital instrument binnacle works neatly, too, but given the minimalist manner in which data is presented, maybe Polestar could have gone more slimline with it, which in turn would have allowed the cowling to sit lower, giving the interior a greater sense of space. 

By the time we reach London, the 2 has made an excellent impression. The cabin feels every penny the car’s asking price and, to operate, the car is as intuitive as any EV I’ve driven. Even starting the thing involves no button-pushing or key-slotting. You simply slide in, depress the brake pedal, slip the hollowed-out gear selector into D and pull away. The fabric-trimmed seats, which use an especially good Volvo design, then underwrite the material richness with true comfort. 

Yet that comfort isn’t total. With 402bhp split evenly between the axles and a low centre of gravity, the 2 should make good on its sporting promise, but the decision to go with Öhlins dampers is curious. Later on in this journey, the suspension will exhibit moments of magic, but on the motorway, and even with the dampers adjusted for softness (18 clicks for the front, 20 for the rear, if you’re wondering), the ride is stiffer than necessary. For all its gold-tinged aesthetic appeal, the Performance Pack might be one to miss. 

Especially for shrinking violets. In London’s Zone 1, the 2 attracts attention totally out of kilter with its status. Genuinely, only the appearance of an extraterrestrial LaFerrari in searing giallo prises eyeballs elsewhere. Notchback SUVs aren’t adored within the pages of Autocar, but if the 2 needs to succeed as an object, mission accomplished. The way the afterburner rear LEDs combine with the bodywork’s bevelled edges and the neat middle ground that Polestar has found between having a traditional grille and not makes the Model 3 look clunky and anonymous by comparison. 

As for inner-city driving, the 2 is no hardship, not least because its driving controls are thoughtfully tuned and progressive. To some extent, you wear this car. The indicator blips, which sound like bubblewrap popping, are pure catharsis. Only the poor visibility afforded by the letterbox rear screen is a reminder that pursuing form over function isn’t without penalty.

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