Tesla Model 3 review: Elon's electric saloon evolved
A recent facelift has cemented the Model 3’s position at the top of its class, with the baby Tesla offering everything you could possibly need from an electric family car
- Superb performance and range
- Brimming with tech
- Superb value-for-money
- Rivals more fun to drive
- Interior a case of form over function
- Model Y more practical
Wallbox charge time
9-12hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)
25-27mins (10-80%, 170-250kW)
Tesla Model 3 verdict
It’s hard to deny the Tesla Model 3’s place as one of the most accomplished and desirable electric cars you can buy. Whether you’re looking to cross the country on a single charge or scorch a supercar on the dragstrip, there’s a Model 3 to suit you. With this in mind, it’s impressive how much the new facelifted model improves on the already well-rounded Model 3; more tech, a longer range and an overall much more refined driving experience – both in terms of interior quality and ride comfort – makes choosing the Tesla over the competition a real no-brainer. The only real drawback is the existence of the much more practical Model Y, which is only a few grand more expensive – or even less on monthly finance payments.
Range details, specs and alternatives
Founded by eccentric billionaire and entrepreneur Elon Musk, Tesla has become synonymous with electric cars and this success can be attributed to the brand’s first-ever mass market model, the Tesla Model 3 saloon.
It may be a little more expensive than it once was – at launch, the Model 3 started from just $35,000 in the US – but futuristic technology and a comprehensive recent facelift has helped the baby Tesla keep pace with newer rivals such as the Hyundai Ioniq 6, BMW i4 and Polestar 2.
There are now only two versions of the Model 3 to choose from here in the UK; the ludicrously fast Tesla Model 3 Performance is nowhere to be seen since the facelift, putting that variant’s future into doubt. That being said, even base versions of the Model 3 go like the proverbial clappers; a 242bhp rear-mounted electric motor, mounted alongside a 58kWh battery pack gets the Model 3 RWD from 0-60mph in a hot hatch-rivalling 5.8 seconds and provides a range of up to 344 miles.
The Tesla Model 3 Long Range costs around £10k more than the base car, but adds an additional electric motor on the front axle to provide four-wheel-drive traction, an increased output of 346bhp and a 0-60mph time of just 4.2 seconds. Key to this version’s ‘Long Range’ designation is its larger 70kWh battery pack, which is sufficient for a range of up to 390 miles. Stick with the standard 18-inch wheels (19-inch alloys are available) and Tesla says the Model 3 Long Range is capable of up to 421 miles on a charge, almost 100 miles more than the aforementioned Hyundai Ioniq 6.
No matter which Model 3 you choose, all can charge from 10-80% in around 25 minutes at one of Tesla’s many Superchargers across the nation. While the smaller-battery Model 3 tops out at 170kW, dual-motor versions get a faster maximum DC rapid charging speed of 250kW, allowing them to charge in around the same time.
Beyond choosing a powertrain, there isn’t much scope for customising your Model 3; there’s two interior shades – black or white – plus changing the colour of your car from the basic white can cost anything from £1,300 to £2,000. Tesla has begun to offer a wrapping service for new Model 3s in the USA, but this is yet to be available in the UK.
Tesla does offer several tiers of its patented ‘Autopilot’ driver assistance tech. Do note that while the American maker bills the near-£7,000 top-of-the-range package as ‘Full Self-Driving’, this isn’t exactly true – you still need to keep your hands on the wheel and provide occasional inputs.
We don’t see much need to upgrade, though, as even the base car gets adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. Other standard kit includes a giant 15.4-inch centre touchscreen – more on that in the interior segment of our review – another eight-inch touchscreen for those sitting in the back, heated seats front and rear, wireless phone charging, a glass roof and a reversing camera.
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In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingA recent facelift has cemented the Model 3’s position at the top of its class, with the baby Tesla offering everything you could possibly need from an electric family car
- 2Range, battery & chargingNot only does the Tesla Model 3 offer superb range, but full access to the amazing Supercharger network
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe Model 3 is generally affordable to buy and run, but it’ll cost an arm and a leg to insure
- 4Performance, motor & driveAside from point and squirt performance, the Model 3 offers little in the way of driver engagement
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThe Model 3’s interior does feel pretty plush in places and boasts the latest tech, but ultimately feels a little ‘form over function’
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThough spacious for a small saloon, we wish the Model 3 had a hatchback bootlid – the Model Y is even roomier
- 7Reliability & safety ratingIt may be one of the safest EVs you can buy, but Tesla’s reliability record leaves a lot to be desired