Why buy the Tesla Model 3?
The Tesla Model 3 is a premium electric car that’s a great option if you do lots of long journeys. That’s because it has an impressively long range and gives you access to Tesla’s network of Supercharger stations, where you can top up the batteries to add a couple of hundred miles of range in about 30 minutes. That hassle-free convenience makes the transition from a petrol or diesel car very easy, so the Model 3 could be ideal for your first electric car. It’s also spacious enough for family use, comfortable, and full of useful tech.
Tesla Model 3 range and updates
The Model 3 has been sold new since 2019. The car’s exterior and interior haven’t changed significantly but Tesla regularly sends smartphone-style over-the-air updates to improve how the tech works and to add new features.
There are three models to choose from – Standard Range Plus (renamed Model 3 Rear Wheel Drive at the end of 2021), Long Range and Performance. There’s a clue in the names to tell you how much range you get on a full battery charge, which we’ll cover in detail below. The names also hint at how fast the car is – every Model 3 gives very rapid acceleration if you need to get going in a hurry, and the Performance model is faster than many sports cars.
All models have an automatic gearbox. Long Range and Performance also have four-wheel drive.
Tesla Model 3 tech and features
The Model 3’s interior is dominated by the large dashboard touchscreen. It can take some getting used to because a lot of things you’d normally expect to find behind the steering wheel, like the speedo and wiper controls, are displayed on or accessed via the screen. But the screen is responsive to the touch and easy to navigate to find the features you’re looking for, and has many extras that you probably wouldn’t expect, such as games and YouTube access. You can use the excellent voice command system to enable various features.
Among the many features included as standard are sat nav and smartphone connectivity, as well as electrically adjustable heated leather seats, a parking camera system and a panoramic roof. Many models come with an advanced driver assistance system called AutoPilot, which can brake, accelerate and even steer for you on certain roads. Despite the name, though, you still have to be in charge of the vehicle. It’s more like an advanced cruise control system.
Tesla Model 3 running costs and value
According to official figures, the Model 3 Standard Range Plus can go as far as 305 miles on a fully charged battery, the Performance can go up to 340 miles and the Long Range can manage as much as 374 miles. You should get pretty close to those numbers, but range can fall dramatically on motorway journeys. However, the built-in sat nav will plot a route between the best charging stops, so you shouldn’t get caught out with a low battery.
Recharging at home with a domestic rapid charger should take no more than eight hours. On the road, a top up from 20% battery capacity to 80% using a Supercharger takes around 30 minutes. Note that cars sold new since May 2020 don’t get free access to the Supercharger network. Prices to charge vary depending on location but expect to pay between £15 and £20 for a full charge.
Tesla Model 3 vs rivals
Rivals to the Model 3 include petrol and diesel cars like the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series, and electric cars like the Polestar 2 and Hyundai Ioniq 5. Compared to the Tesla, the Audi feels better-made, the BMW is more engaging to drive and the Polestar and Hyundai, both hatchbacks, are more practical. But the Tesla’s clever tech, long range and access to the hassle-free Supercharger network make it one of the best electric cars.