The biggest name in electric cars has its sights set on becoming a real global heavyweight with the Model 3, and spreading its wings to lower price points and greater annual production volumes than it has ever reached before.
This car has transformed its maker into a company turning out nearing a million cars a year – and when it arrived in the UK market in 2019, it brought Tesla ownership to a whole new audience. The car was originally promised to become available at as little as £35,000 in entry-level ‘standard range’ trim, but right-hand drive versions of that derivative have yet to make it to Europe. In Britain, Model 3 prices still open just above £40,000 – and so, while the car offers little greater practicality than an electric hatchback, it’s being made to look expensive compared to most of them.
The range-topping Model 3 Performance has two electric motors combining to the tune of 444bhp and a 0-62mph dash of just 3.4sec, and it responds to throttle inputs in a way that really challenges your fine motor control as well as your neck muscles.
Electric range should be better in other 75kWh versions of the Model 3, though: the Performance version delivers a real-world range closer to 200 miles than 300 in our testing experience. Opt for a Standard Range Plus, meanwhile, and some of the range-topping model’s pace is sacrificed, but plenty is left over. Real-world motorway range for that car is around 200 miles, although an entry-level Model 3 with a larger drive battery is coming in early 2022. In the Long Range version of the car, the WLTP range rises to 360 miles. And if your focus is on buying an EV with good public charging support, there is also Tesla’s supercharger network to consider: a huge benefit, and great enabler of longer-distance EV use.
The Model 3’s cabin is certainly of higher perceived quality than in Tesla’s earlier models, but the back row is a slightly tight squeeze for adult passengers and the boot isn’t as roomy or as accessible as a Model S’s. On-board refinement, meanwhile, is hamstrung by a particularly firm and slightly noisy ride.
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