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In-depth reviews

Tesla Model 3 - Interior, design and technology

An inoffensive exterior is contrasted by a show-stopping interior, packed with tech

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Interior, design and technology Rating

4.4 out of 5

Price
£39,990 to £49,990
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The Tesla Model 3 is probably not the most attractive car on the road, but we think it still manages to look upmarket without appearing overly flashy. The facelifted Model 3, with its slightly sharper front end, may well draw a few more admiring glances than the original. The new Model 3 also gets a thinner set of headlights, while at the rear there’s new C-shaped tail-lights, ‘Tesla’ badging across the bootlid and a new bumper.

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The Model 3 sits on what’s known as a ‘skateboard’ chassis, with the drivetrain and batteries all mounted as low in the car as possible, creating more interior space than similarly-sized combustion-engine cars, plus decent storage areas at both the front and rear. 

Take a seat inside and the Model 3’s relatively conservative exterior is contrasted by a fastidiously minimalist interior. Tesla says the cabin of the all-electric saloon was ‘fully redesigned’ as part of its facelift, although it doesn’t look all that different from the original version to us. It’s still almost entirely dominated by a central 15.4-inch infotainment screen that controls all major (and minor) functions, and displays your speed and other vital driving information, while the air vents are tucked away neatly behind an otherwise plain dashboard. 

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That giant display now has more usable space due to a thinner bezel, the front and rear seats are now ventilated and heated as standard, plus there’s new ambient lighting along the top of the dash and doors. 

One very obvious change is the new steering wheel, which features buttons for the indicators in place of the traditional steering column stalks. For what reason? We’re not sure, and when we tested the setup ourselves, we found it was frustrating in certain situations, like when exiting roundabouts, when you have activate the indicators while turning the wheel. The updated Model 3 also ditches the gear selector stalk, using the central screen for gear selection instead.

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We wish there were some physical buttons for the climate controls too, rather than Tesla forcing you to use the touchscreen to adjust everything from the heated and cooled seats to the direction of the air flow. At least those in the back no longer have to ask someone up front to adjust the temperature, as Tesla has added a small screen that gives them access to the rear climate controls. It can also be used to watch YouTube and stream music on the move, if passengers connect some Bluetooth headphones. 

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Tesla has worked on the Model 3’s interior quality as part of the facelift, and we’re pleased to say there’s been a marked improvement inside. The interior doesn’t feel quite as solid as the flawless cabin of the BMW i4, but it’s more on par with the other premium EVs it counts as rivals.

Ordering a Tesla Model 3 is an incredibly simple task: just pick which version you want, then the paint and interior colour, and which set of wheels you want. You can also add a tow hitch, or one of two upgraded versions of Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assistance system if you want, but that’s your lot. Where the alternatives tend to have complex options lists, Tesla gives you most of it as standard.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

Tesla often has the feel of a tech firm first and a car company second, and the Model 3’s super-slick infotainment setup is at the cutting edge of what you’ll find in modern cars today. 

The 15.4-inch touchscreen has the processing power to match its hi-res graphics. Loading times when plotting a route are rapid, and there’s minimal latency when responding to touches, pinches and swipes. Its precision with those inputs is impressive, too.

Roughly a third of the screen is reserved for driving information. Some will prefer to have a read-out in front of them on a separate screen, but the numbers are large, so they’re not that hard to spot out of the corner of your eye.

There's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support, with Tesla preferring to use its own method of smartphone integration. We had no problems with Tesla's on-board system, however, and the sat-nav system is particularly impressive.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    RWD 4dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £39,000

Most Economical

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    Performance AWD 4dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £52,090

Fastest

  • Name
    Performance AWD 4dr [Performance Upgrade] Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £57,000
News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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