Tesla Model 3 - Range, charging and running costs
Impressive range, fast charging times and zero emissions all bode well, however insurance won’t be cheap
The Tesla Model 3 has always boasted hugely impressive range figures, especially for the price, but the facelifted version goes a step beyond, officially offering more than 400 miles of range for less than £50,000. Props to Elon Musk for pulling that off.
Tesla hasn’t told us about any upgrades to the Model 3’s battery or drivetrain, but the new, slipperier front end has reduced the drag coefficient to 0.219 – the lowest of any Tesla to date. As a result, the base Model 3’s range has increased from 305 to 344 miles, while the aptly named Model 3 Long Range can now cover up to 421 miles on a single charge – up from 374 miles previously.
However that’s only if you stick with the smaller 18-inch wheels with their aerodynamic covers. The larger 19-inch rims look more stylish but knock roughly 30 miles off the Model 3’s claimed range. It’s worth bearing this in mind when you’re playing with the online configurator.
Just as important as the official range is how efficient an EV is on the road, and we’re pleased to say the Model 3 has proven itself to be extremely efficient in our evaluations. When we tested a pre-facelift Model 3 Long Range against the Polestar 2 and BMW i4, the Tesla returned 4.4 miles per kilowatt-hour. That works out to a real-world range of around 330 miles, which was about 10 per cent off the claimed figure. That’s a strong performance compared to rival models and the facelifted car should be better still.
Car group tests
- Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3 twin test review: EV titans go head-to-head
- BMW i4 vs Polestar 2 vs Tesla Model 3: 2022 group test review
- Ford Mustang Mach-E vs Tesla Model 3
- Tesla Model 3 vs BMW 3 Series: electric vs diesel showdown
- Tesla Model 3 2023 facelift review: so much more than just a new face
- New Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus 2020 review
- New Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor Performance review
Used car tests
Of course, the Model 3 isn’t the only electric car to boast a range of around 400 miles – others include the Fisker Ocean SUV and recently facelifted Polestar 2, both of which cost similar money to the Model 3. But another advantage the Model 3 has over rivals is access to Tesla Superchargers in the UK. Yes, the rapid-charging network has slowly been opening up to all electric car owners, but most of the locations are still exclusive to Teslas, for the moment.
You don’t have to use Tesla’s rapid chargers though, as the Model 3 features Type 2 and CCS charging ports so you can use other public charging points, too. The charging port is located just next to the left-hand rear light and opens with the push of a button in the car or via the Tesla smartphone app. Alternatively, you can tell the car to “open butthole”, though it’s probably best not to when your in-laws are in the car with you.
The base Model 3 has a maximum charging speed of 170kW, while the Model 3 Long Range can reach 250kW. You can replenish the battery in both versions from 10 to 80 per cent capacity in under half an hour, or add up to 175 miles of range in just 15 minutes if you use the right rapid charger. When it comes to charging at home or overnight, it’ll take a regular 7.4kW home wallbox just over nine hours to fully recharge the base Model 3, or you’re looking at about 12 hours if you get a Long Range model.
Electric cars continue to offer lower running costs than their internal combustion counterparts, and not just in terms of fuel. Like all EVs, the Model 3 is zero-rated for road tax (VED) and exempt from the London Congestion Charge, while company-car users also currently benefit from a 2 per cent Benefit-in-Kind rate.
Insurance group ratings for the facelifted Model 3 have yet to be announced, but we expect they will be the same as for the original which landed in groups 48 to 50 (out of 50).
The extremely high ratings were largely due to the U rating it received for its poor standard of security. The Model 3 was judged by industry testers Thatcham Research to only offer ‘Basic’ levels of protection for vehicle security at the time, with the car’s low scores related to a number of systems, including the fitment and effectiveness of immobilisers, alarms, double-locking systems and wheel security, making the Model 3 potentially more open to theft.
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Our latest expert data projects that the Tesla Model 3 line-up will hold on to between 46-48 per cent of its original value after a typical three-year/36,000-mile ownership period, with the entry-level rear-wheel drive version expected to retain the most.
In comparison, the BMW i4 and Polestar 2 are expected to retain 47-54 and 48-53 per cent of their value respectively.
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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 performanceThe Tesla Model 3 is spectacularly fast and now even more refined. It’s just not particularly fun to drive
- 3Range, charging & running costs - currently readingImpressive 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