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Premium Electric Car of the Year 2020: Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 is the 2020 Auto Express Premium Electric Car of the Year, with the Jaguar I-Pace and Porsche Taycan commended

Zero emissions makes the Tesla Model 3 a great compact executive saloon, as we’ve already seen, but Tesla started life making EVs – and after an initial foray with a sports car, great EVs at that.

Now with three models on sale and a number of future cars that it’s continually teasing to titillate its share price and excite potential new customers alike, the US tech company and its celebrity owner, Elon Musk, might be divisive, but there is no denying the engineering in its products makes them great electric vehicles. Which is why, for the second year running, the Model 3 is our favourite premium EV.

Tesla stole a march on the big German three – Audi, BMW and Mercedes – and forced its premium rivals to play catch-up. Yet we still haven’t seen a product from any of these brands that betters Tesla’s efforts.

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Part of the reason for that is because electric cars rely massively on infrastructure. It’s a delicate topic that’s intertwined with politics, but Tesla has bypassed a lot of this by continuing to install more of its Supercharger points across the UK and the rest of the world.

With rapid recharge capability of up to 250kW, which can add range at as much as 500 miles per hour of charging at its peak rate, no other premium electric car can get close to our winner – unless it’s another Tesla.

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But of course the Model 3 is the most affordable model in the range, and it also offers CCS charging for more flexibility. We’ve already outlined all of the strong points that make the Model 3 a great executive car in all of its various guises, and the elements that make it a great EV include intuitive regenerative braking that allows for easy one-pedal driving, lots of configurability and superb refinement.

But EVs are now less on the fringe and more the mainstream, and that Tesla has listened and reacted to customer feedback to improve build quality means it can now compete on other fronts, too.

It still takes victory here thanks to the superb engineering solutions that Tesla has applied to both the car itself and its overall infrastructure. Rivals have pushed it closer than ever this year, but the Model 3 is still the best premium EV that you can buy.

Our choice

Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (£40,490)

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Again the Standard Range Plus is our pick, because the balance between driving range (all-important for an EV), cost, kit and performance is the obvious sweet spot. If you’re looking for an electrified performance car, though, the dual-motor Model 3 Performance will rival super saloons for speed.

Commended

Jaguar I-Pace

Our 2018 Car of the Year is still a brilliant premium EV. Software updates from the firm have improved the all-electric Jaguar’s range, but it continues to ride and handle with the same great balance that made it an award-winner two years ago. It remains the best premium electric SUV on sale.

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Porsche Taycan

Porsche has also muscled in on the premium electric car segment this year. Its Taycan rivals the Tesla Model S rather than the Model 3, but from the 4S to the superbly quick Turbo S, there’s premium quality and excellent driving dynamics on offer. Porsche’s trademark feel is present in this premium EV.

New Car Awards 2020: the winners

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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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