In-depth reviews

Tesla Model 3 electric motor, drive & performance

The Tesla Model 3 is anything but slow, even in entry-level form – although it doesn't really handle like a sports car in corners

Tesla Model 3
Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Electric motor, drive & performance rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£40,000 - £59,000
Fuel Type:
Electric
0-60mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
3.1-5.3s140-162mphRear or four245-456bhp

Even the rear-wheel-drive Model 3 Standard Range Plus is anything but slow, with a 0-60mph time of 5.3 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 'entry-level' status in the Model 3 range.

That rear-wheel-drive layout doesn't hurt its potential, either. It feels grippy and confident even in quite enthusiastic use, and even with some faster running we managed around 230 miles of range in real-world driving.

While the Performance model is intensely quick in a white-eyed, sweaty-palmed way that nothing else at the price can come close to, there's no doubt that the Long Range and even the Standard Range Plus are more than fast enough to satisfy enthusiastic drivers. While the ride is firm, it’s not uncomfortable, and the Model 3 is as quiet as you’d expect a luxury electric car to be on the move.

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 Standard Range Plus is quick off the line, with a 0-60mph figure of 5.3 seconds.

The other models both get four-wheel drive courtesy of dual electric 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 power delivery via a single-speed automatic gearbox making it easy to judge throttle response.

The Performance is the halo car of the range; its 3.1-second 0-60mph time and 162mph top speed speak for themselves. This is a car that’s as much at home pottering around town as it is proving a point to a Ferrari 488. Although this is the most expensive Model 3, it’s easy to argue that it’s actually great value for the turn of speed on offer.

Handling

This is one area where the Tesla Model 3 doesn’t really live up to the standards set by more precise, adjustable performance cars like the BMW M3. The Model 3 is fun in the brutal, unflappable way the all-wheel-drive models power through corners, feeling stoic and grippy if not poised like you would expect of a more single-minded performance car.

But this isn’t a single-minded performance car, it’s an executive hatchback with sports car performance, and in that respect it balances fun with unintimidating, accessible handling and potent acceleration perfectly.

The Tesla is no magic carpet, but it’s more than comfortable enough to make light work of scruffy town roads. Performance models get lowered suspension and bigger wheels, which can make the ride a bit harsh on rough UK roads. Mind you, that very steadfastness matched with the brutal acceleration is arguably just as fun as the more adjustable, light-footed character of the sports cars it competes with.

The Model 3 is predictably quiet, too. There's a bit of whine from those two electric motors – one on each axle to provide four-wheel drive – but other than that and a bit of wind and road noise, it's virtually silent.

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