The incredible Tesla Model 3 is one of Britain’s most popular new electric cars. We find just what makes Elon Musk’s mainstream EV so special…
The Tesla Model 3 is the firm’s best-selling, most affordable new EV. And this has quickly helped it establish a foothold in major markets across the world – including here in the UK. Indeed, several times during 2020, it was actually the country’s best-selling new car of all – a staggering achievement.
A sporty, rakeish four-door saloon, the family-focused Tesla Model 3 is a car famed for its performance. Tesla drag races are commonplace on YouTube, with the Model 3 often easily seeing off supercars costing many times its on-road price from less than £44,000. But there’s much more to this spacious five-seater than simply drag races, as JGEV found out.
There are three grades of Tesla Model 3 sold in the UK: rear-wheel drive Standard Range Plus, and dual-motor all-wheel drive Long Range and Performance. Even the base version has a range of 278 miles, which shoots up to 360 miles in Long Range guise. Our test Performance can officially do 352 miles on a full charge – not bad for a car that also does 0-62mph in 3.1 seconds…
Tesla’s Supercharger network is famously brilliant. It’s the most fuss-free EV charging experience currently available in the UK. Owners simply park up at one of the (many) high-speed superchargers, plug in and recharge – at up to 150kW. They’re no longer free to use, but it’s still a fantastic experience that shows what all EVs will hopefully be like in the future.
The Tesla showroom experience is a little different to most makers. At its stores, the firm doesn’t have salespeople, but advisers, who work on a non-commission basis. They are employed to explain all the car’s many technological features in great detail – and so numerous are all these gadgets, showroom appeal is undeniably high.
It’s helped by the Model 3’s neat styling. More compact than the older Tesla Model S, it’s becoming a familiar and well-liked sight on UK roads. We at JGEV particularly like the short front end, cheeky headlights and flowing, almost sportback-style roofline. We also like the carbon fibre spoiler, big 20-inch wheels and black doorhandles you get with Performance grade…
The Tesla Model 3 interior is both minimalist and packed with features – all thanks to that central touchscreen which replaces virtually every button. It takes a bit of getting used to – that’s where time in the showroom will be well spent – but because the functions and AI are so advanced, it soon doesn’t become a hindrance. Who needs a wiper stalk, when the auto-wipers work so well?
The display is brilliantly high-resolution and it shows the location and status of Tesla Superchargers. Then there’s all the extra features packed into it, from YouTube, to games. The fact everyone has plenty of space, with lots of room for their luggage, is almost immaterial: your passengers won’t even think to complain because they’ll be so wowed and entertained by the Model 3’s endlessly intriguing interior.
Acceleration is genuinely stunning – less of a car, more a force of nature. At any speed, vigorous power is on tap at the mere flex of your right foot, with all-wheel drive helping send it to the ground cleanly and incisively. On the road, the Model 3 is a thrilling and very distinctive car to drive, one that proves why the EVs of the future are set to be so exciting.
Such deep reserves of power and acceleration also help make it a very relaxing car to drive over long distances. It's totally effortless, more than a match for almost any other car you'll encounter – and knowing how extensive the Supercharger network is means you don't worry about using performance to the full, either.
A sporty, up and at ‘em nature defines the Tesla Model 3. It has a taut ride, fast steering and agile, duck-and-dive handling. It will feel super-sharp to some at first, and the ride of the sporty Performance model can get a bit bumpy on rough roads, but it should soon dawn on you that the setup is ideally matched to the car’s incredible electric drivetrain.
The Tesla Model 3 is a very popular EV in the UK and it’s easy to see why. Genuinely futuristic in its approach, this is matched with an exciting drive and exceptional acceleration that you’ll never tire of. Factor in its roominess, its practicality, plus the class-leading appeal of the Tesla Supercharging network, for a car that we’re certain will continue to remain popular for many years to come.
Prices from: £43,490
Battery size: 55-82kWh
Driving range: 278-360 miles
Motor power: 320-506hp
0-62mph: 3.1-5.3 seconds
Boot size: 425 litres