The Tesla Model 3 Long Range has an official all-electric driving range of 348 miles along with all-wheel drive and massive performance – so is it the best EV on sale?
We’ve already reviewed the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus, with its 254 mile range, which is a very impressive product, but the Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive has an official range of 348 miles. So, a dilemma: should you pay an extra £10,000 or so for almost 100 miles more range…?
The Model 3 looks good in our eyes (even with the standard 18-inch Aero wheels). It’s a slippery shape for a saloon, and, from the front, lots of people think it’s a Porsche. Although it may look like it’s a hatchback, it just has a boot – which is a body style that’s more in favour with American than British buyers. However because there’s no internal combustion engine, there’s lots of space in the five-seater Model 3, including for luggage in the boot and also under the bonnet; there’s 542 litres of space for luggage in total. However there’s not much headroom for adults in the rear seats.
Then there’s the interior – which has a steering wheel and a central 15-inch touchscreen and – well, that’s about it really. This minimalistic approach may work for some people – but not for others.
Like other Teslas, there’s a big (75 kWh) battery in the floor of the car, and this Long Range model has two motors, which provide all-wheel drive.
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If you’re fortunate enough to be in a Model 3 Long Range on a twisting country road with a smooth surface then you’ll enjoy a highly rewarding driving experience. With the instantly available 100% torque, 443 hp of power, and a 0-60mph time of 4.4 seconds, there’s huge performance, with rapid acceleration allowing you to zip past slow moving vehicles very effortlessly. The driving position is also good, and there are three steering settings, with Sport providing decent weight – although precise feel is lacking.
The Model 3 is a sports saloon, so this is no large, high-riding SUV; the car sits close to the ground, and the battery ensures there’s a very low centre of gravity. All this contributes to good handling and impressive ability through corners.
And then there’s the all-wheel drive system, which provides massive traction whether the road is wet or dry.
So the Model 3 sounds like the car to challenge the BMW 3 Series, and based on the areas above, it does a very good job. But there’s one area in particular where the latest 3 Series excels, and that’s the handling/ride balance: the BMW has Touring Car-like handling, yet it also has amazingly good ride quality. And this is one of the Model 3’s main weaknesses: on the UK’s potholed urban roads, the ride quality is very poor. There doesn’t seem to be much suppression of the impacts from potholes as they travel between the road surface and the car’s occupants. And it’s a similar story with the lack of suppression of road noise on certain motorway surfaces. Aside from this, the Model 3 is impressive on the motorway, thanks to its refinement and instant responses at virtually all speeds.
Although the Model 3 can travel at very high speeds on the right roads, the dashboard isn’t designed to support you doing this. All information and controls are on the central touchscreen. This touchscreen is actually very good compared to those in many other cars, with a large, clear map, but you have absolutely no information directly in front of you. That means you don’t have a read-out of your speed in a place where you can easily see it, which is very bad if you want to drive within speed limits.
If we use the latest 3 Series as an example again, the BMW has a central screen, as well as instruments in front of the driver, and also a head-up display is available – so satnav instructions – and your speed – are clearly visible without taking your eyes off the road – which is a much better system, especially when driving quickly.
And on the Model 3 you need to access the touchscreen for all controls. This even includes adjusting items such as the ventilation, the setting of the windscreen wipers and the adjustment of the steering wheel and the mirrors. In our view, this is a step too far. Perhaps the same can be said about the Model 3’s door handles: trying to open the door with one hand when eg. carrying a small child is very difficult. Flush door handles may be aerodynamic, but the ones on a Model S that automatically come out when you touch the handle are a much better solution.
One thing we do like – although again you have to take your eyes away from the road to see this – is the image of the car on the touchscreen, which shows the brake lights being activated when you lift off the accelerator and the brake regeneration automatically kicks in. In other words you can see if your brake lights are coming on and potentially annoying motorists behind when you’re not pressing the brake pedal.
The screen also shows other vehicles around you when you’re driving, and it even shows road cones that you’re driving past with incredible accuracy. This may not be much use for the driver, but it reassures you that the car can see other objects when it drives itself in Autopilot.
You can unlock the car via an app on your phone as well as view charging information.
The Tesla Model 3 Long Range can cover up to 348 miles on one charge based on the new, more realistic WLTP test. In comparison the Model 3 Standard Range Plus has a range of 254 miles. Ironically, when we tested the Standard Range Plus version we covered hundreds of miles, but when we tested the Long Range model it was during the period when the Coronavirus travel restrictions were starting to come into force so our ability to do lots of driving was somewhat constrained.
However we were still able to report a real-life driving range of 305 miles, which could have been improved upon if we’d have had more time. This is better than the 238 miles that we experienced in real-life driving with the Standard Range Plus.
It’s also worth noting that Teslas are better than most rivals at delivering the predicted driving range at motorway speeds.
The one big advantage of buying a Tesla is the access to its Supercharger network. We test electric cars most weeks and although the latest EVs are excellent to drive, the public charging infrastructure is still the weak point, with rapid charging at motorway service stations in particular having the potential to be unreliable. Not so with a Tesla: you turn up at a Supercharger site, which may have around 10-12 chargers, or more, you plug in, and the car charges very quickly, with no hassle. Tesla is the only brand of EV that guarantees this. And we know from our work in the industry that many businesses have bought Model 3s rather than cars from other manufacturers because of the Supercharger network.
Tesla has retrofitted its Supercharger network to provide an additional CCS connector (for Tesla only) to allow the Model 3 to use the network. It also means that for the first time you can recharge a Tesla at any public rapid charger with a CCS connector without needing an adapter.
One other thing to be aware of, the Long Range Model 3 is able to charge at a peak 250 kW to make use of the new V3 Superchargers that are being rolled out, although Tesla tends to taper charging power early so you won’t get the full power for very long, but charging will still be impressively quick. The Model 3’s AC charging is handled by an 11 kW onboard charger.
The Tesla Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive costs £50,500 plus a ‘destination & doc fee’ of £990. You can then deduct the UK government’s Plug-In Car Grant, which was reduced from £3,500 to £3,000 in the Spring 2020 Budget, resulting in a price of £48,490. Pearl White Paint, 18-inch Aero Wheels and ‘All Black Premium Interior’ were all included in the price of our test car.
The Model 3 has a number of advantages over petrol and diesel rivals; aside from zero emissions and a better driving experience, the big news is that the Model 3 – together with all pure EVs – attracts a Benefit in Kind (BIK) rating of zero percent from April 2020. This could save company car drivers thousands of pounds per year in tax. Electric vehicles also have cheaper running costs than petrol-powered vehicles; Tesla claims that the cost of electricity is up to seven times lower than that of petrol.
The entry-level Model 3 Standard Range Plus starts at £37,840 after the UK government’s £3,000 Plug-In Car Grant.
There’s also a Model 3 Performance Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive, which has a range of 329 miles, a 0-62mph time of 3.2 seconds, and a price tag of £49,990.
The Model 3 now comes with Autopilot included. Eight surround cameras allow for 360-degree vision, while twelve ultrasonic sensors provide detection of surrounding objects. Forward-facing radar sees through heavy rain, fog, dust, and beyond the vehicle ahead. The Model 3, like other Teslas, has over-the-air software updates.
The Model 3 achieved a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating in every category with the highest ever score in the latest Safety Assist tests.
The Tesla Model 3 Long Range is an excellent car. It has zero tailpipe emissions yet it also has amazing performance. It’s rewarding to drive but it’s also practical (if you can live with a boot rather than a hatchback). Compared to the entry-level Model 3 Standard Range Plus, it’s around £10,000 more expensive, but you get all-wheel drive and almost an extra 100 miles of range – giving it the 300 mile plus range in the real-world that most car buyers say they want from an EV before they make the switch. Combine this with Tesla’s fantastic Supercharger network, and you really shouldn’t experience any range anxiety with this car.
Along with the zero percent Benefit in Kind company car tax for pure EVs from April 2020, these are the reasons why thousands of people were taking deliveries of Model 3s until the coronavirus stopped all new car deliveries.
But the Model 3 isn’t perfect. Ride quality is poor on the UK’s terrible road surfaces, and we’re not fans of all information and controls being on a central touchscreen. And there’s a boot rather than a hatchback. However despite these issues, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range is a game-changer and therefore deserves a Green Car Guide rating of 10 out of 10. And perhaps most importantly, there’s still no real all-electric family saloon direct rival for the Model 3…