Tesla Model 3 review

Significant new rivals are circling, but the technology-packed Tesla Model 3 is one of the best electric cars around

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Price
£41,000 to £49,000
  • Great real-world range
  • Impressive performance
  • Minimalist interior
  • Relatively pricey
  • Ride is slightly firm
  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the best EVs around: practical, high-tech and boasting great performance and range. Understated styling hides a sophisticated electric drivetrain and an ultra-modern interior that’s dominated by a huge touchscreen.

The Model 3 is the cheapest car in the Tesla range but doesn’t feel too far off the larger Model S in terms of quality or practicality. It’s big enough for four adults to travel in comfort; combined with fantastic refinement, the Model 3 is a relaxed car in which to spend time. It's fast too – the Performance model can give most supercars a run for their money. If you aren’t intimidated by the amount of cutting-edge technology, the Tesla Model 3 is one of the best electric cars on sale today.

About the Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 is the smallest, most affordable car in the American manufacturer’s range of EVs and was an Auto Express 2020 Car of The Year award winner. It’s built to take on the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, but Tesla also has one eye on the arrival of the BMW i4, as well as upstart executive EVs from the likes of Polestar.

While the US automaker has undoubtedly set the early pace in electric car development, even mainstream manufacturers such as Ford, Hyundai and Kia are wheeling out products with the potential to upset the Tesla applecart - the Hyundai Ioniq 5 was our 2021 Car of the Year, while the Kia EV6 offers a sportier edge to accompany its family practicality.

Our Model 3 versus Polestar 2 head-to-head was settled in favour of the Tesla, but when the Model 3 came up against the Mustang Mach-E in a twin test, the overall verdict went to the Ford. 

Following on from the success of the Model S saloon and Model X SUV, the Model 3 shares those cars’ combination of clever battery technology, powerful electric motors and high-tech onboard systems. Outside, the Model 3 also shares its siblings subdued styling, which easily flies under the radar – a stark contrast to the remarkably minimalist interior that’s all but bare save for a very large infotainment screen used to control virtually everything.

Following on from the success of the Model S saloon and Model X SUV, the Model 3 shares those cars’ combination of clever battery technology, powerful electric motors and high-tech onboard systems. Outside, the Model 3 also shares its siblings subdued styling, which easily flies under the radar – a stark contrast to the remarkably minimalist interior that’s all but bare save for a very large infotainment screen used to control virtually everything.

The Model 3 range is very easy to get to grips with as there are just three versions to choose from. The entry-level car is the Rear-Wheel Drive, which uses a single electric motor to power the rear wheels and returns a claimed 305-mile range. Performance is good - 0-60mph takes 5.8 seconds and its top speed is 140mph.

The second is the Long Range AWD, which uses a larger battery for a claimed WLTP range of 374 miles; performance is still impressive, with 0-60mph taken care of in 4.2 seconds.

The most expensive option is the Performance model. It also has a second electric motor to provide four-wheel drive and improved performance, along with a range of 340 miles. The Performance version will get from 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds and go on to a top speed of 162mph.

Equipment is generous for all three models, although Tesla’s name for the ‘Partial Premium Interior’ of the entry-level Standard Range Plus model sounds a bit like a third class railway ticket. 

The Partial Premium interior includes 12-way power adjustable heated front seats, tinted glass roof, power folding mirrors, and the standard 15-inch touchscreen that’s used to control most of the Model 3’s functions - although you only get a 30 day subscription to Tesla’s connected services thrown in. 

The Premium interior, fitted to the Long Range AWD and Performance versions, adds heating for the rear seats, an upgraded 14-speaker audio system plus interior floor mats, exterior fog lamps and a year-long connectivity subscription.

You can spot the Performance model on the road thanks to its 20-inch Überturbine wheels. The flagship version also comes with upgraded brakes, lowered suspension and a carbon fibre spoiler which are all designed to help tame the phenomenal acceleration of the top-spec Model 3.

For an alternative review of the Tesla Model 3, visit our sister site drivingelectric.com...

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