Viva La Tesla Model 3
- Model spec: Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus
- Price: £38000
- Engine: permanent-magnet motor
- Max Speed: 140
- 0-60: 5.3 seconds
- BHP/Torque: 252 / 375
- Economy: 35mpg combined
- C02: g/km
- Tax: 0.00/year
You know when Elon Musk first ventured into Canada aged 17 to attend University he had a couple of hundred dollars to his name. He was a millionaire by 1999, during the early dot com boom he set up an online bank which later became known as PayPal. Boom… many more millions in the bank. By 2002 he set up SpaceX, and by 2004 he kind-of co-founded Tesla. Today he has a net worth of billions. By comparison, this contributor (me) truly has wasted a lifetime. So… Tesla. Electric car company. Maker of the Model S, Model X and now the affordable Model 3, relatively speaking.
The Tesla Model 3 is available in Standard Range Plus, Long Range, and Performance trim levels. We tested the entry-level Standard Range Plus model which starts at £38,000. That’s the price you pay to be part of the future today folks but you can claw back £3,500 thanks to a government EV grant. Powering the Tesla Model 3 is an electric motor and batteries. And that’s it. No complex engine, no gearbox just pure electric propulsion. And a lot of technology. The car key isn’t a key, it’s a credit card sized “key”. The credit card style key is used to unlock and lock the vehicle. And there is no start button to press or key to turn, again the credit card is used to inform the car that you are ready to drive. Flick it into drive and away you go.
The Standard range has an equivalent power rating of 252bhp which is fed to the rear wheels. The Model 3 Long Range also has the same power rating but the Performance models can range between 412bhp and 473bhp and you also get AWD as standard. But you are going to have to pay for it, the Model 3 Performance starts at £52,000.
That said, there is plenty of power to be had in Standard Model 3. Because you don’t have any ghastly gearbox or engine you get instant torque when you floor the throttle. Acceleration feels more akin to a performance sports car, the 0-62mph time takes 5.6 seconds. The Performance version does it in a supercar rivaling time of 3.2 seconds.
Honestly, the Standard Model 3 has more than enough performance, more than you will ever need. So what about the range? In my short test drive, I covered 55 miles with 146 miles worth of charge. After the test, I had 98 miles remaining. That’s with a lot of acceleration and a motorway cruise. A quick calculation reveals… that’s pretty damn good considering the car has a kerb weight of 1611kg.
Busting The Range Anxiety Myth
I didn’t have any issues with range, specifically with Tesla and because they have the best Supercharger network out there. For example, the Model 3 can charge from 10 percent to 80 percent in 30 minutes. I am sure the re-charging times will reduce as the technology progresses. But more importantly, Tesla’s supercharging network will allow you to get from Southampton to Scotland without having to worry about range anxiety, which is an oxymoron for sure. However, charging from home with a £460 Tesla wall charger will take 5 hours.
Tesla says the Standard Model 3 has a range of 254 miles. That may well be true but it also depends on how kind you are to the throttle. In terms of ride quality, bumps and surface irregularities are soaked up really well, it’s a nice compliant comfortable, soothing ride. And it handles quite nicely, it’s stiffly sprung and bodyroll is fairly minimal, it isn’t sportscar minimal, but it can get around corners confidently. The only side issue from within is tyre noise, I would like a bit more sound deadening, but it’s a slight issue.
The Model 3 has a number of driving modes. The two I used most often were Standard and Chill. Standard mode is full-on electric power. The Chill driving mode has a fractional delay in throttle response before power is applied smoothly in a linear progressive rate. It mimics a mechanical automatic, indeed it reminds me of a Mercedes S Class in terms of how the power is delivered.
The steering I really liked, it gives good feedback, it’s nicely weighted and it makes you feel connected to the car when you hustle it around. I would say the steering feel and response is better than a 3 Series. Overall I like the way how the Model 3 drives, rides and handles. If you believe the Model 3 is nothing more than a glorified milk float, then you are totally wrong and living in the last century. It drives like a premium car and feels like a premium car. Let me put it this way, if I had the choice between the BMW 3 Series and the Tesla Model 3 I wouldn’t choose the dog I would choose the Model 3.
The Tesla Model 3 Is No Milk Float For Sure
So, the model 3 drives nice and the performance in the Standard model trim is already slapping entry-level mechanical-fossil-fuel rivals in the face. On the outside, purely the aesthetics, the Tesla Model 3 looks appealing enough. The interior is minimal, simply designed. Up front the philosophy is a steering wheel and massive touchscreen which has desktop PC levels of performance with a supersharp screen that is easily visible in bright conditions. Except for the steering wheel, there are no physical switches, ancillary controls are operated via the touchscreen.
You want to adjust the wing mirrors? Touchscreen. You want to move the steering column forward or back, up or down? Touchscreen. You want the climate control on, the heating, heated seats? You got it, Touchscreen etc, etc. I have no issues with that whatsoever.
Cabin space is fine up front, it’s spacious, the seats are really comfortable and the driving position is good. Access to the rear passenger seats is generally good. When seated, rear passengers of 6ft plus might have to assume the slouch position because the rear sloping roof does recline somewhat.
And what of the Tesla build quality? It’s fine, I would say the interior build quality of the Model 3 is as good as the premium German brands. As an example, I can attest to the interior build quality of Mercedes which is pretty shoddy these days. Looks nice but doesn’t feel nice and on closer inspection, most Mercedes have fallen back on quality control.
Bootspace? It’s big enough, what more do you want me to say? I should add you also get front boot space, remember there is no engine up-front.
All Tesla Model 3s get Tesla’s Autopilot technology as standard. Autopilot is way ahead of any other similar technology offered by auto manufacturers. Remember when Skoda used to market themselves as being “simply clever”? Well, compared to Tesla they look simply dumb. In the Tesla Model 3, during a cross country route, I got too close to the grass verge, the steering assist corrected my line. I don’t know of any other car that has the sensor technology and sheer computational power to match this. It’s impressive technology.
So overall would I buy a Tesla Model 3? I would buy one tomorrow if I had the chance. But we here at DCB HQ have to contend to running down the VW Tiguan long term loan. And we loathe the Tiguan as much as Rebecca Vardy loathes Coleen Rooney. And after the Model 3 drive had ended driving back to DCB HQ in the Tiguan felt like I had devolved into an ape. The Model 3 is so much better in every way. God damn the VW Tiguan viva Tesla Model 3.