Tesla Model 3 - Electric motor, drive and performance
The Tesla Model 3 is spectacularly fast and now even more refined. It’s just not particularly fun to drive
Tesla has built a reputation for making cars that accelerate quicker than just about anything else on the road, and the Model 3 does exactly that, with even the entry-level, rear-drive version taking less than six seconds to hit 60mph.
Ride and handling aren’t quite up to the same awe-inspiring standards as the straight-line acceleration, but are still very impressive. The Model 3’s steering feels quite meaty in all its modes and is accurate, though it provides barely any feedback. The suspension feels firm but not uncomfortable, with good damping that manages to deal well with lumps and bumps.
Tesla has worked to improve refinement in the Model 3 as part of its mid-life facelift, adding 360-degree acoustic glass, improved suspension bushes, seals and various other sound-dampening materials. The brand claims it’s achieved a 30 per cent improvement in ambient noise isolation, and we certainly noticed a difference when we drove the updated Model 3 in the UK on a wide variety of road surfaces.
Very little road noise makes its way into the cabin, even on the optional 19-inch wheels our test car had – 18-inch wheels are standard – and even at 70mph, there’s a minimal amount of wind noise. Stability is great, too. All this, paired with Tesla’s excellent Autopilot semi-autonomous drive capability make the Model 3 an excellent choice for long motorway journeys.
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 – it just doesn't match the BMW 3 Series or fully-electric BMW i4 for ride/handling balance or outright driving fun.
0-62mph acceleration and top speed
The entry-level Rear-Wheel Drive Model 3 manages 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds and will go on to a top speed of 140mph thanks to a single electric motor that produces 242bhp. The Model 3 Long Range adds a second electric motor on the front axle for all-wheel drive and a combined power output of 346bhp. 0-60mph in the Model 3 Long Range takes 4.2 seconds, while the top speed stands at 145mph.
The now-discontinued Model 3 Performance used the same dual-motor setup, but produced 450bhp; enough for a supercar-rivalling 0-60mph dash of 3.1 seconds and a 162mph top speed.
In this review
- 1Tesla Model 3 reviewDespite many talented EV rivals, the technology-packed Tesla Model 3 remains one of the very best electric cars around
- 2Electric motor, drive and performance - currently readingThe Tesla Model 3 is spectacularly fast and now even more refined. It’s just not particularly fun to drive
- 3Range, charging & running costsImpressive range, fast charging times and zero emissions all bode well, however insurance won’t be cheap
- 4Interior, design and technologyAn inoffensive exterior is contrasted by a show-stopping interior, packed with tech
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceWith lots of room for passengers and two luggage areas, the Model 3 a practical proposition
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Tesla Model 3 achieves full marks for safety, with strong customer feedback in our Driver Power survey