In-depth reviews

Tesla Model 3 review - Engines, performance and drive

The Model 3 is one of the best EVs around to drive – it’s fast, fun and refined

Tesla has built a reputation for making cars that accelerate quicker than just about anything else on the road; the Model 3 follows suit, regardless of the specific powertrain.

The entry-level, rear-drive Model 3 is lighter than its more powerful counterpart thanks to a lack of a second electric motor, so it should feel a little more agile. Performance stats are decent, with the cheapest Model 3 easily able to keep up with similar-sized EVs.

Those looking for the ultimate driving experience will be best served by the Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive Performance version. Acceleration is breathtaking, with incredible off-the-line performance and effortless overtaking. There’s enough power on tap to make short work of some of the fastest performance saloons around in most everyday situations.

Ride and handling aren’t quite up to the same awe-inspiring standards, but are still very impressive. The Model 3’s steering feels quite meaty in all its modes and is accurate if not terribly communicative. The suspension feels firm but not uncomfortable, with good damping that manages to deal well with lumps and bumps.

The Model 3 can’t quite match the BMW 3 Series for ride/handling balance or outright driving fun, and, while its ride comfort is better resolved, the Tesla can’t quite rival the Polestar 2 for handling feel. The Mustang Mach-E is more rewarding to drive altogether, even though it lags behind the Tesla on outright performance.

Elsewhere, the Model 3’s brakes are powerful, smooth and progressive – not overly grabby as in some other EVs – and the car’s considerable weight is kept under control thanks to low-slung batteries and well judged chassis tuning. Overall, the Model 3 is a great steer – just don’t expect the last word in sporty dynamics.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The entry-level Rear-Wheel Drive model manages 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds and go on to a top speed of 140mph thanks to a single 180kW motor, while the Model 3 Performance uses two electric motors to produce 335kW of power - the equivalent of 449bhp. That’s enough for a supercar-rivalling 0-60mph dash of 3.1 seconds and a 162mph top speed.

The Long Range AWD model still uses two motors but sacrifices a little performance in the name of an increased range: 0-60mph takes 4.2 seconds, but there's a claimed range of 374 miles. 

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