With just $200 separating them, is the gap between these two EVs really that close?
Polestar's first SUV is finally here. Not only does it introduce a body style that no automaker can afford to ignore, but it is the first of several EVs that the brand aims to launch each year as it looks to step out of the shadows and transform itself into more than just a small, niche EV brand. The Polestar 3 enters a hotly contested segment already populated by the likes of the BMW iX, Audi e-tron, and Jaguar I-Pace. We've chosen to compare the Polestar 3 with the newest of that trio, that being the boldly styled and high-tech BMW iX. Let's see how these two electric SUVs compare.
Although the Polestar 3 has a more intricate and unusual design than the Polestar 2, it is the more conservative of these two SUVs. Inspired by the Polestar Precept concept, the front fascia has boomerang-style headlights that are more elaborate than the iX's slim clusters. The biggest difference is the iX's elongated, enormous grilles that give it an intimidating presence, but the Polestar 3 is prettier.
Along the side, both vehicles share a beltline that kicks up as it reaches the rear, although this design choice is more exaggerated on the Polestar. At 195 inches in length, the BMW is just two inches longer, and it also stands 2.8 inches taller on its standard 20-inch wheels. The Polestar has larger 21s fitted as standard.
At the back, the Polestar 3's taillights span the entire width of the body, whereas the BMW's clusters are separated. From this angle, the Polestar 3 has cleaner, less fussy lower bumper detailing, a description that applies to its overall design, too. In both cases, a panoramic roof and power tailgate are standard.
This category is more subjective than any other, but both these SUVs are distinctly modern and represent refreshing implementations of each brand's design language.
As standard, the dual-motor Polestar 3 produces 489 horsepower and 620 lb-ft of torque. The base BMW iX xDrive50 also has dual motors and makes 516 hp and 564 lb-ft. In these trims, it's the iX that's quicker from 0-60 mph at only 4.4 seconds, whereas the Polestar needs 4.9.
More powerful versions of each SUV are available, though. In the Polestar's case, one can equip the Performance Pack, which raises outputs to 517 hp and 671 lb-ft and drops the 0-60 time to 4.6 seconds. In the iX M60, you have one of the most powerful SUVs in BMW's lineup with 610 hp and 749 lb-ft, and its 0-60 time is a rapid 3.6 seconds. On paper, then, the iX is easily the quicker vehicle here, but the 3 is hardly a slouch.
At 5,696 pounds in its lightest spec, the Polestar 3 underlines how heavy EVs are. Here, the margins between the two are slim as the base iX weighs 5,659 lbs. On a test drive in Germany, we found the iX to be remarkably quiet, comfortable, and yet responsive when taking a corner. That was on optional air suspension, though, and the Polestar has air suspension as standard. Even so, the Swede will have to put in a strong performance to match the supple yet agile BMW.
The Polestar comes with a 111-kilowatt-hour (107 kWh usable) battery with a maximum charging speed of 250 kW. Polestar promises that the battery can be replenished from 10% to 80% in 30 minutes. With 11 kW AC charging, the battery can be fully recharged from empty in around 11 hours. Polestar says it is targeting a range of 300 miles on a full battery, but the EPA has yet to confirm this figure.
In the base iX, you get an almost identically-sized 111.5-kWh (103.3 kWh usable) battery. Maximum charging speeds are 195 kW, so the Polestar takes the lead here. To get the iX's battery from 10-80%, you'll have to spend another 10 minutes or so at a charging station after the Polestar has left. With Level 2 AC charging, the iX's battery can be replenished from 0-100% in under 11 hours.
The iX xDrive50 seems to have the edge in range, however. As per 2022 EPA data, it returns 86/87/86 MPGe city/highway/combined and can go 324 miles on a full charge with 20-inch wheels. With 22-inch wheels, the range drops to 315 miles. Oddly, the 21-inch wheels are even worse, with a 305-mile range.
As for the iX M60, it has a 288-mile range with 21-inch wheels or 274 miles with 22s.
An elegant, calming atmosphere awaits inside the Polestar 3. The space is dominated by a 14.5-inch center touchscreen interface and a nine-inch digital driver interface. At launch, the Polestar 3 is coming with the Plus Pack as standard with its bio-attributed MicroTech or 100% traced wool upholstery, along with repurposed aluminum deco. If other Polestars are anything to go by, we expect the quality in the 3's cabin to be exemplary.
The BMW has a more audacious interior that is quite unlike anything we've seen before from the German brand. We described it as a "luxury masterpiece" when we drove it, and that description still holds true. The floating center console, dual 12.3-inch displays, and plush perforated SensaTec upholstery create an airy, premium, and high-tech environment. As an option, it can be equipped with controls finished in glass and sustainably grown wood.
Both vehicles are packed with features, but at launch, the Polestar 3 seems to have an edge. It comes with a 25-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system that is much better than the iX's standard 12-speaker system. A 30-speaker Bowers & Wilkins system is optional for the BMW. Soft-close doors, heated rear seats, and a surround-view camera are all also standard in the Swede, whereas these are options for the BMW. The iX does come with a standard four-zone climate control system, though, whereas the Polestar has a three-zone system.
One big advantage in the BMW's favor is cargo space. It has a trunk with a volume of 35.5 cubic feet, more than twice the size of the Polestar's 17.1 cubes. With the rear seats folded, the iX has 77.9 ft3, much more than the 3's 49.8 ft3.
In the USA, the Polestar 3 carries an MSRP of $83,900. Another $6,000 is required to unlock the Performance Pack with its extra power, Polestar Engineered chassis tuning, 22-inch wheels, laser-etched gold interior light line, and Pirelli P-Zero tires. Polestar says that the Pilot and Plus Packs will be standard at launch, so it's unclear if these will become options at a later stage, possibly opening the door to a lower base price a few months down the line.
The BMW iX xDrive50 starts at $84,100 and increases to a hefty $108,900 for the iX M60. There are many options that can raise the xDrive50's price, whereas the M60 is pretty much fully stocked as standard.
Overall, the BMW is quicker and more powerful, has a more decadent and interesting interior, can accommodate far more cargo, and goes further on a single charge. Many will prefer the design of the Polestar, though, and it also comes with faster charging speeds and an exceptional level of standard equipment. The Performance Pack isn't as expensive as upgrading to the iX M60, but even with this pack, the BMW is far quicker.
This is a great battle, as each EV brings a lot of great qualities to the table. For now, we'll give the edge to the outstanding iX, which is more expensive but seems to offer more - unless value for money is a deciding factor. Once we drive the Polestar 3, our opinion may just change, though; that's how good the brand's first electric SUV is.