Tesla is the leading manufacturer of electric vehicles (EV) in the world and the Model 3 is one of four current on-sale models available.
Model 3 is Tesla’s smaller, simpler, more affordable car that entered production in 2017. It is now the best-selling electrical car in history with more than 800,000 sales globally.
Designed and built as the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle, it is a critical step in Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Model 3 combines industry-leading powertrain efficiency, aerodynamics and chassis technology to deliver the longest range of any comparable electric saloon.
Recently, Model 3 has received a range of improvements, including an updated matte black trim, more efficient tyres and the 18/19” Sports Wheels have been refreshed. The Model 3 Performance can now be ordered with new 20” Uberturbine wheels.
Interior updates include a heat pump as seen on Model Y which improves cold weather efficiency and updated matte black finish which replaces the gloss ‘piano’ black finish.
Infotainment and cockpit
Don’t let the simplistic interior fool you, it’s jampacked full of the latest technology that makes this a dream to drive. The cockpit provides you with an uncluttered view of the road and almost everything in the car is controlled by the 15” touchscreen or smartphone app.
The display seamlessly integrates media, navigation, communications, cabin control and vehicle data into one intuitive interface. Tesla cars regularly receive over-the-air software updates that add new features, increase performance and enhance existing functionality via Wi-Fi. Since its arrival in 2019, Model 3 has received over 20 software releases and more than 70 new features or improvements. Updates have raised the bar for what people have come to expect from their cars with new entertainment, games and music.
The centre console has been redesigned, featuring fixed inductive charging mats for two smartphones wrapped in luxurious microsuede. Two additional high-powered USB-C ports have been added for high-speed device charging. Plus, an additional USB-A port in the glove compartment to use for storage devices for Sentry Mode and Dash Cam footage.
There is plenty of storage space in Model 3’s oddments storage compartments with a pop open glove box, easy slide storage in the centre console and arm rest.
The new Powerlift Trunk opens at the touch of a button on the trunk itself or from the touchscreen or the Tesla app. The large capacity boot is complimented with additional storage at the front of the car, in an area called the frunk, a kind of front trunk if you will.
Driving with Tesla autopilot
Tesla is often in the news regarding its autopilot features. As it stands, UK laws prevent these vehicles from being completely autonomous. We tested the Model 3’s advanced autopilot system on the M4 motorway and were blown away by how intuitive and intelligent the system is. In addition to the car keeping, you in the lines by adjusting your steering, the advanced autopilot system allows you to change lanes, it even recommends when to do so.
How lane changes works – All you need to do is set the indicator (left or right), the car analyses the space available and moves you over if it is safe to do so. In one instance when there were a few cars around us, it slowed us down and glided the car into a space between two other vehicles.
Battery, charging and drive range
The Tesla Model 3 is available in three versions. The 60kWh battery in the Standard Range car has a range of 267 miles, while the 88kWh battery in the Performance version manages a claimed 352 miles on a single charge. The Long Range model as tested boasts a claimed 360-mile range, although we didn’t see this.
It does a good job with its motorway driving, but like most EVs of today, it’s more efficient when driving at lower speeds around town. When driving at 70mph without the heater or a/c turned on, we found we’d lose up to 50% more than the advertised range. For example, a 20-mile journey was taking up to 30 miles off. Driving locally between 20-40mph delivered the best results.
Although the best charge speeds can only be achieved by using Tesla’s supercharger network, the Model 3 has extra flexibility thanks to the inclusion of Type 2 and CCS ports. This means you can charge the vehicle at even more public charge locations, including through a standard 3-pin wall connector. The charger itself is hidden away under one of the rear lights and opens with a touch (or via the app). A 30-minute charge will see you gain 80% of the battery restored. A quick toilet break and a drink and we were back behind the wheel at the services.
Running cost and maintenance
Electric vehicles are less expensive to fuel than petrol powered vehicles, with the cost of electricity up to seven times lower than petrol.
The Tesla Model 3 attracts the higher insurance group ranges 48-50. The Long Range that we test drove is in group 50, which matches the likes of the Jaguar I-Pace.
Unlike conventional petrol and diesel vehicles, the maintenance of these Tesla EVs is very low indeed. In fact, over the course of a year, you won’t even need to service it. There is of course the topping of window washer liquid and the suggested rotation of tyres, but that’s it. Brake fluid is recommended changing after every 2-3 years for the Model 3 and 6 years for air conditioning.
There is also nil road tax on this vehicle and 1% BIK for company car drivers (this year), going up to 2% next year. The car is also exempt from London Congestion Charge and London Ultra Low Emission Zone.
Tesla Model 3 – Long Range Dual Motor All-Wheel
- Price: £54,490 as tested
- Max speed: 145 mph
- 0-60 mph: 4.2 seconds
- Range: 360 miles
- Insurance group: 50
- Road tax: nil
- Warranty: Basic Vehicle – 4 years or 50,000 mi, whichever comes first
Battery & Drive Unit – 8 years
- Size: 69m, W1.84m, H1.45m
- Bootspace: 542 litres
- Kerbweight: 1,844kg
Reasons to buy:
Refined and sophisticated modern electric vehicle (EV) with superb range. Access to more than 600 Tesla superchargers in the UK and Ireland, making your journey limitless. Packed full of driver assistance features and wireless software updating. Plenty of leg room and storage space.
Expensive to insure, slow at home charging. complicated infotainment and menu system.