New Tesla Model 3 versus used Tesla Model S: range & charging
The Model 3 is one of the fastest charging cars on sale, and delivers a similar real-world range to a used Model S
The Tesla Model 3 is the first Tesla to come with a CCS port (the standard European socket type for public rapid chargers) and its 200kWh maximum charging speed is fastest of any Tesla – or indeed any car until the Porsche Taycan arrives.
You have to buy a converter at the cost of £400 to be able to plug the S into those same chargers (and you can also get a converter for CHAdeMO sockets, although of course both cars have access to the Tesla Supercharger network, too). Some Model S cars feature free unlimited Supercharging, but Model 3s don’t benefit from this – you have to pay per use.
Real-world range is remarkably close. The Model S was achieving 243 miles maximum range when it was brand new, and with 25,000 miles on the clock it’s now managing 230 miles – the same distance as we achieved in varied everyday use of the Model 3 Standard Range Plus.
Let’s address the Model S first, since uncertainty around battery performance of used electric cars remains a concern for many. Let’s put that to bed straight away: Our two-year-old Model S has 25,000 miles on it, and will cover 230 miles with ease today as opposed to the 243 miles it managed when new. That suggests you can expect the Model S to lose around 50 miles in 100,000 miles of normal use, with occasional rapid charging and mostly home charging, and good battery maintenance.
Interestingly, the Model 3 Standard Range Plus manages much the same 230-mile distance in our test over the same roads, although that range comes from a smaller 50kWh battery as opposed to the 75kWh pack in the Model S. Basically, you’re using less electricity (and money) to cover the same distance in the Model 3, although nobody in their right mind will quibble with the Model S’ running costs (more of that further down the page) given the performance and size advantage it offers.
Put simply, working a range of 230 miles in warmer months is realistic for both of these cars. Cold weather and/or long motorway journeys will see them dip to more like 200 miles in between charges, but they're remarkably close in terms of the range on offer.
The Tesla Model 3 comes with a CCS port, which is the standard European socket type for public rapid chargers and means that you can use third-party stations. You have to buy a converter at a cost of £400 to be able to plug the S into those same chargers. Of course, both cars have access to the Tesla Supercharger network, which is transformative when it comes to ease of charging if you do lots of motorway miles on main artery roads in the UK.
However, with providers such as Ionity now rolling out ultra-rapid chargers across the UK, the Model 3 has the edge, since it can charge at speeds of up to 200kW at these (still-rare) chargers, while the Model S tops up at a maximum rate of 120kW.
Find a rapid charger that can support the 200kWh charging speed and you’ll add 100 miles of range to the Model 3 in under 10 minutes, while the Model S will gain the same range in more like 20 minutes. One of the 50kW chargers that are the most common type at UK motorway services will do the same 100-mile top-up in around 30 minutes minutes for both cars.
Most owners will charge them up at home and a standard 7kW wallbox will deliver a full battery for the Model 3 in 8.5 hours, or 11 hours for the Model S. Plug into a normal three-pin domestic socket at home and you’re looking at 24 hours or more for a full charge. You're eligible for the government grant on a home wallbox whether you’re buying a used or new electric car.
What are the standard cables, and are they easy to store?
Both Teslas come with a cable that has switchable plugs to allow charging from a standard three-pin domestic socket, a Type 2 charger (which includes most fast chargers and home wallboxes), and an industrial three-pin socket typically found on campsites.
The front storage space in the nose of each car is great for cable storage, or there’s underfloor storage in the main boot area that’s also ideal. Don’t worry about cables for rapid CCS charging or the Tesla Superchargers. All rapid-charging stations come with the cables fixed to the charging unit itself, so you simply park up, grab the plug hanging off the charging point and plug it into your car.
Both cars have the ports hidden neatly with the passenger-side rear light cluster, and conveniently the official Tesla cable has a remote release function, or you can just press it to open the flap. Which is good, as it saves faffing about with the mobile app or on the touchscreens, although you can use both of those means to open the charging port on either the S or the 3.
How much will the Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model S cost to charge?
Based on an average domestic electric utility cost of 14p/kWh, the Model 3 will cost £7 to fully charge at home, while the Model S will cost £10.50. Both cars are easy to set up with timed charging, making it simple to take advantage of an off-peak or dedicated electric-car tariff, which could see these costs halved.
Public fast charging is more expensive. The Tesla Supercharger network costs 24p/kWh, so a charge from 20-80% will cost £12 for the Model 3 and £18 for the Model S. Confusingly, Model S’ registered before January 2017 get free use of supercharging, and those registered in the months after that get around 1,000 miles of free use, while recent cars don’t get any free use of the supercharger network.
Every Tesla has an online account registered to it that the previous owner or dealer should give you access to so that you can confirm what level of Supercharger access the car has. Some other public rapid chargers will cost up to 30p/kWh, and also often have a registration fee or monthly fee on top.
Range & charging scores
In This Review
- 1IntroductionThe Tesla Model 3 has few if any direct rivals, but what about a used Model S? We put a Model 3 Standard Range up against a secondhand Model S 75D
- 2Range & charging - currently readingThe Model 3 is one of the fastest charging cars on sale, and delivers a similar real-world range to a used Model S
- 3Running costs & warrantyYou get a longer warranty on a new Model 3, but its mileage is limited where the Model S’ isn’t. Both are well equipped, but aren’t cheapWith the exception of pre-2015 Model S’ with 60kWh packs, all Model S variants come with an eight-year battery warranty that has no mileage limit. The Model 3’s battery pack is also covered for eight years and 100,000 miles, but it comes with a guarantee that it’ll be refurbished or replaced if it drops below 70% of the as-new performance within the warranty period. Both cars are well equipped. Our Model 3 test car came with no optional equipment at all, yet had all the comforts and conveniences you could want of an executive car, while finding a used Model S with an appealing spec isn’t hard at all. Adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, LED headlights, full sat nav, over-the-air software updates, heated seats and leather upholstery are included on both. The full 'Autopilot' semi-autonomous driving system is one expensive option that adds a lot to the value of a used Model S, or will cost £5,800 to spec on a new Model 3. For the price of a high-spec Model S 75D, you can also easily be looking at the Long Range or Performance versions of the Model 3, which get satellite-view navigation, different (and better-looking) wheel design and an upgraded sound system. Not to mention hysterical pace and four-wheel drive. Notably, the Model S falls down next to the Model 3 on monthly costs, which could really be the deciding factor for many. A fairly modest deposit of £6,000 will see monthly costs for a Model 3 Standard Range drop to around £400, while even a used Model S (if you go through the Tesla approved used finance channel, at least) is likely to be closer to £800 per month. Our sister site BuyaCar also has a small selection of used Tesla cars for sale. Warranty and battery cover The Tesla gets a standard manufacturer warranty of four years or 50,000 miles, which is pretty low on the mileage side, but does cover a longer time period than most rivals. The batteries are covered for eight years; the Model S has no mileage limit while the Model 3 gets cover for 100,000 miles but also has a performance promise of at least 70%. Depreciation The Model 3 is predicted to hold 69% of its value after three years and 36,000 miles, which equates to £25,645 and is a fairly remarkable rate of retention. For context, a new BMW 320d M Sport is predicted to hold 45% and be worth £17,173. It’s worth bearing in mind that comparatively small loss in value if you’re considering paying on finance; those with the means to buy the Model 3 outright could well find it’s cheaper to do so and then sell on. Buying a used Model S means that you’ve already dodged the worst of the loss in value, of course. Looking at how other Model S’ – even those with rear-wheel drive or smaller batteries than the 75D we’d go for – are still holding their value, so depreciation is likely to be impressively slow. Especially in comparison with the generally very poor resale values of big executive cars. Company-car costs Going electric is a guaranteed way to cut your company-car tax bills, and the Model 3 is one of the best going. In 2020/21 business users didn’t have to pay anything in Benefit-in-Kind, while in 2021/22 it costs just £169 a year. If your company will fork out the lease or purchase costs to get you into a Model 3, then it’s an absolute no-brainer. Running costs & warranty scores
- 4Driving & performanceThe 75D is hilariously fast despite being one of the ‘lesser’ Model S variants, while the Model 3 feels perfectly judged for UK roads
- 5Interior, comfort & practicalityThe Model 3 has nothing on the Model S for space and practicality, and many will prefer the more conventional dials of the S as well
- 6VerdictThere's no bad car here, so you can pick which one suits your lifestyle and budget best, but the Model 3’s lower costs sway it for us