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Family Cars

Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel drive

Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel drive

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size: Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel drive
  • Fuel: Electric
  • Range (WLTP): 318 miles (19 inch wheel); estimated 344 miles (18 inch wheel)
Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel drive

Summary

Tesla. Hero? Villain? It’s complicated and we only have ten paragraphs, so as ever the best way to deal with any Tesla product is to put the baggage to one side and take an objective look. So is the Model 3 actually any good at being a car, and how does it stack up against the mainstream competition?

The best place to start is the price. Recent price cuts have resulted in an eye catching list price, undercutting its closest competitors is a good start, and that has been delivered at the same time as a mid life refresh too. If you are buying purely based on price beware of the options list as despite there being few to choose from they are all carrying a premium price tag.

Want a colour, you get 4 choices and the cheapest will set you back at £1,300, red or grey is £2,000. Ouch. Fancy 19 inch alloys? That will be £1,500. How about an interior that isn’t black, well get ready to find £1,100. Things get even worse if you want to step up the model range. There is a £10,000 gap between the base model and the Long Range model. So the Model 3 can offer strong value, but significant restraint is required on the configurator, you have been warned! If you are leasing (which you probably are) it is worth shopping around as Tesla’s price cutting strategy has hit residual values leading to some inflated lease quotes.

The revised Model 3 takes some positive steps, with improved material quality, a claimed 30% reduction in wind noise and a 20% improvement in road noise all good news. That moves the Tesla closer to class standards and was much needed. On the negative list, top speed has been cropped (fine by us given it is still 55 mph over the legal limit) 0-60 is unchanged and weight has crept up. Range is only marginally improved whilst the peak charging rate is improved to 170 kW again keeping it in the ball park of competitors but not class leading.

However the bit we were really hoping would be changed is the lack of any instruments in front of the driver. We have always criticised dashboard layouts that take key driving information away from the driver for the sake of ‘style’, it isn’t big, and it isn’t clever and no amount of PR will convince us otherwise. The other issue is that to maintain the minimalist design ethos everything is controlled through a very large central touchscreen (which also displays the speedometer) which whilst slick to operate simply isn’t as convenient as bigger physical short cut buttons or iDrive style controllers particularly on bumpy or fast roads.

It is disappointing that Tesla hasn’t fixed these issues (a head up display feels like a good compromise) but this time around Tesla has also deleted the stalks behind the wheel, replacing the indicator function with buttons on the steering wheel, something that might cut it in the American desert but clearly hasn’t been developed for UK roads where roundabouts prove particularly tricky. And with no stalk for the wipers either you are now even more reliant on the automatic settings, although there is a button to activate a quick swish with a burst of washer jets.

Also on our wish list is a better compromise between ride and handling as the 3 has traditionally struggled to deliver on the comfort front thanks to fidgety suspension. Unfortunately this isn’t an area that was on Tesla’s hit list. The good news is that it retains an alert chassis so it is easy to carry speed and with plenty of grip it can cover ground quickly. The super quick steering divides opinion as some think it is out of character with the body shape but more feel would be welcome by all.

Of course one thing Tesla has always excelled at is the excellent Supercharger network. However there is a curve ball with the Model 3 adopting the CCS charging standard. Tesla is retrofitting Superchargers 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 at any public Rapid charger with a CCS connector without needing an adapter. On a less positive note Model 3 drivers have to pay to use the Supercharger network.

The adoption of CCS opens up access to next generation public networks that are currently faster than Tesla’s network with charging powers of up to 350 kW whilst still having the convenience of using Superchargers. 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. However the base variant is capped at around 170 kW again with average charging rates somewhat below this peak figure due to heavy tapering. AC charging is handled by an 11 kW onboard charger.

So the Model 3 isn’t perfect. The refresh hasn’t moved the game on in with its smallest battery at least it fails to pack much more range than cheaper mainstream EVs. It has a questionable interior and the rear seats are for children only. However it is remains a quick point to point car has access to the both the Supercharger network and to the much bigger CCS network and crucially has sold in serious numbers. The Model 3 isn’t perfect but it remains a contender.

Read our full Tesla Model 3 Review

Estimated real world range: 220 – 344 miles
Official range: 318 miles (19 inch wheels); 344 miles (18 inch wheels)
Official electricity consumption:
Battery pack: 62 kWh (gross) lithium ion; 8 year / 100,000 mile warranty >70% SoC
Recharge time: 7 kW charge approx 8 hours+; 11 kW approx 5 hours+; Supercharger 170 kW approx 1 hour (0-100%)

 

Please note that CO2 emissions quoted for electric cars are not directly comparable to diesel and petrol cars. This is because CO2 emissions quoted are calculated by Green Car Guide and include the emissions created at the power station turning fuel (e.g. gas etc) into electricity and in transmitting and distributing the electricity to an end user. They do not include the actual production of the fuel (e.g. gas extraction and refinery emissions). Petrol and diesel emissions are supplied by car manufacturers and are based solely on the fuel burnt in the engine (tailpipe emissions) and do not include the production of the fuel or distribution to a fuel station. In practice this means that electric car emissions are over-estimated relative to petrol and diesel. For instance if an electric car, a petrol car, and a diesel car are all reported to emit 100 g/km CO2, the electric car actually has lower emissions.

Specifications Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel drive

  • Fuel economy, extra urban: N/A
  • Fuel economy, urban: N/A
  • CO2 emissions: Officially 0 g/km. Estimated (318 mile range) approx 28 g/km average UK electricity, (220 mile range) 40 g/km
  • VED: First year £0, then £0 a year
  • Weight: 1765 Kg
  • BIK Company Car Tax (2023/24): 2%
  • Price: £39,990
  • Insurance group: TBC
  • Power: 271 bhp
  • Max speed: 125 mph
  • 0-62mph: 6 seconds
  • Torque: 299 lb ft