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In-depth reviews

Tesla Model 3: performance, motor & drive

Aside from point and squirt performance, the Model 3 offers little in the way of driver engagement

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

Performance, motor & drive rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£39,990 - £59,990
Fuel Type:
Electric

Model

0-60mph

Top speed

Driven wheels

Power

Standard Range

5.8s

125mph

Rear

242bhp

Long Range

4.2s

125mph

Four

346bhp

Even if you don’t know much about Teslas, you’ve probably seen videos of them embarrassing supercars with their frankly bonkers acceleration. This is also the case for the Model 3, with even the base version giving some hot hatches a reason to sweat.

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Unfortunately, while the initial burst of acceleration is savage, things tend to tail off once you surpass 60mph. The Model 3 isn’t exactly much fun to drive other than in a straight line, either — those looking for an engaging family EV should check out the Cupra Born or BMW i4.

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

Tesla Model 3 buyers are faced with a simple choice: do they want something fast, or something even faster? Even the entry-level version is quick off the line, and is capable of 0-60mph in under six seconds. Upgrade to the Long Range model and you benefit from an extra electric motor on the front axle. This brings four-wheel-drive traction and a pretty thrilling 4.2-second 0-62mph time. Acceleration is as instant as you’d expect, nevertheless it’s easy to judge the throttle response and drive smoothly.

The Tesla Model 3 Performance was once the 'halo model' of the range; its quoted 3.1-second 0-60mph time and 162mph top speed speak for themselves. While this represented superb value-for-money when it was on sale, it’s not yet offered in facelifted form, begging the question whether it will return at all.

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Buried deep in the infotainment system are two drive modes: Chill and Normal. While the latter offers the instant ‘kick-in-the-back’ you expect from an EV, Chill is designed to offer more gradual acceleration, much like a petrol or diesel car. Of course, while you aren’t quite catapulted up the road as violently as before, it’s not really much slower.

Handling

While much of the same vocabulary can be used to describe a supercar and the Model 3 in terms of acceleration, the best word to outline the Tesla’s driving experience is ‘adequate’. Sure, there’s very little body roll thanks to the car’s low centre of gravity, and there’s plenty of grip on dual-motor models, but the steering can feel a little disconnected from the road. Delve once again into the infotainment system and ‘Sport’ steering mode can weighten things up a bit, but a BMW i4 still offers more feedback.

What we will say, however, is that Tesla certainly delivered on its promise of extra sophistication with the facelifted Model 3; the updated car soaks up bumps much better than the old car thanks to a recalibrated suspension setup. All-round acoustic glass also means the cabin is quieter than before when on the move; a BMW i4 is, once again, the king in this regard, but we’d rather travel long distances in the Tesla than a Polestar 2.

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Hello there, I’m Tom Jervis and I have the pleasure of being the Content Editor here at DrivingElectric. Before joining the team in 2023, I spent my time reviewing cars and offering car buying tips and advice on DrivingElectric’s sister site, Carbuyer. I also continue to occasionally contribute to the AutoExpress magazine – another of DrivingElectric’s partner brands. In a past life, I worked for the BBC as a journalist and broadcast assistant for regional services in the east of England – constantly trying to find stories that related to cars!

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