BMW i4 vs Tesla Model 3 vs Polestar 2: safety and reliability

All three cars get an impressive list of safety kit, but Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system continues to leads the industry

Polestar 2

Once you remember that Polestar is an offshoot of Volvo, it’s no surprise that its first electric car achieved the maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating. Assessed in 2021, the Polestar 2 scored 93% in the adult occupant protection category, 89% for child protection and 83% for safety assistance. In terms of safety kit, all Polestar 2s get a collision-mitigation system, which uses front and rear-facing radars to take 'preventative measures' when a crash is likely to occur; these include warning the driver by a pulsing through the brake pedal, as well as visual and audio cues and applying the brakes itself if required. The system also incorporates steering assistance, seatbelt pretensioners and automatic pre-braking.

The Model 3 was crash-tested in 2019, and also managed five Euro NCAP stars. Predictably for a company that is leading the industry with its semi-autonomous driving technology, the Model 3’s 94% rating in the safety assistance category is one of the highest ever achieved. It also received 96% and 86% scores for adult and child protection respectively.

All versions of the Tesla come with lane-keeping assistance, parking aids, traffic-sign recognition and a full suite of airbags, as well as the basic version of the company’s Autopilot system. Upgrading to ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ adds the ability to ‘summon’ the car and let it park by itself, among other things. Above that is ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’, with plans to add automatic steering for city streets at a later date. These extra packages are priced at £3,400 and £6,800 respectively.

The i4 hasn’t yet been assessed by Euro NCAP, but its combustion-engined counterpart, the 3 Series, beat the Model 3 in the adult occupant category in 2019, scoring 97% to the American car’s 96%. As well as a five-star overall rating, the BMW also received 87% child occupant and 76% safety assistance scores. Taken together with BMW’s track record in this area, a five-star score is to be expected when the i4 is evaluated.

Excellent standard safety kit for the i4 includes BMW’s Driving Assistant package of camera and radar-based systems that help prevent collisions. Further semi-autonomous safety functions are offered as part of the Tech Plus pack, which includes the Driving Assistant Professional system.

In the 2021 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, BMW finished 21st out of 29 brands in the manufacturer rankings. Tesla, the relatively new kid on the block in this company, achieved an excellent third-place finish and the Model 3 ranked 18th out of 75 on the list of best new cars to own. Owners were kinder about BMW’s dealer network, although it still came in 11th out of 21 brands. Tesla, meanwhile, doesn’t have traditional dealerships, but Polestar owners do have access to sister brand Volvo’s network, which took seventh place overall.

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