Tesla Model 3 performance, motor & drive

The Tesla Model 3 is anything but slow, even in entry-level form – although it's not the best handling electric saloon we've driven

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Performance, motor & drive rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£42,990 - £57,990
Fuel Type:
Electric
Model0-60mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
Standard Range5.8s140mphRear242bhp
Long Range4.2s145mphFour346bhp
Performance3.1s162mphFour450bhp

Even the entry-level rear-drive Model 3 is anything but slow, with a 0-60mph time of 5.8 seconds. It feels enthusiastic and willing on UK roads and will give almost any hot hatch or junior sports car a run for its money, despite its 'base model' status in the Model 3 range. That rear-drive layout doesn't hurt its potential, either. It feels grippy and confident in 'enthusiastic' use, and even with some faster running, we managed around 230 miles of range from a charge in real-world driving.

While the Model 3 Performance is intensely quick in a white-eyed, sweaty-palmed way that little else at the price can come close to, there's no doubt that the Long Range and even the entry-level Model 3 will be fast enough for most people. 

Tesla Model 3 0-60mph, top speed and acceleration

You can either have fast, faster, or flat-out ridiculous in the performance stakes with the Model 3. Even the entry-level version is quick off the line, and is capable of 0-60mph in under six seconds. The other models get four-wheel drive courtesy of dual motors – one on each axle – and even the Long Range is fast enough to thrill, with a 4.2-second 0-60mph time and that trademark linear electric power delivery through a single-speed automatic gearbox making it easy to judge throttle response.

The Performance is the 'halo model' of the range; its quoted 3.1-second 0-60mph time and 162mph top speed speak for themselves. This car is as much at home pottering around town as it is proving a point to Ferrari's latest supercar. Although this is the most expensive Model 3, it’s arguably great value when you consider the speed on offer.

Handling

The Model 3 is certainly fun to drive thanks to the unflappable way the all-wheel-drive models power through corners, feeling stoic and grippy, as well as the brutal acceleration this mid-size saloon is capable of. However, the Model 3 is let down slightly by a fidgety ride even across surfaces that rivals like the BMW i4 barely acknowledge. This is made by the Model 3 Performance's lowered suspension and bigger wheels, as this can make the ride a bit harsh on rough UK roads.

The Model 3 is also noisier than the i4, in terms of both tyre roar and the sound of bumps from the suspension permeating through the cabin. Things do improve at higher speeds, as the soft ride and combination of soft seats and low wind noise make the Model 3 great for covering miles on the motorway. It’s only once you come across a more exciting road that the Tesla’s limits start to show.

We found the brake regeneration can be quite harsh, too, which means you have to be very precise when backing the throttle off-mid corner if you don’t want the car to rock against its soft springs. Plus, not only does the steering lack feel, but it also has an unnatural quality to it. It feels most like you’re twirling the wheel of an arcade game than something connected to the tyres.

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