It’s hard to know which hits the headlines more often – Tesla’s high-profile owner Elon Musk or the cars themselves. When it comes to the latter, there’s certainly plenty to write about. Combining cutting-edge technology with electric car performance that others just can’t match, the Tesla Model 3 is the one that’s been designed to be its most affordable option.
Considering that we’re starting to see more and more Model 3s on our roads, the styling remains a little anonymous – some might say bland. In some ways, it looks more like a concept car where the finer details are yet to be decided. And plenty of people love that.
Having said that, its aerodynamic lines do suggest that it will give you a fast and silent driving experience and the panoramic glass roof is another very distinctive feature.
The overall impression is of a car that is undoubtedly up-market without being too flashy – it is styling that will mean many people may not even realise it’s a Tesla until they notice the distinctive, but discreet, T logo on the bonnet.
It looks more like a concept car where the finer details are yet to be decided - and plenty of people love that.
What’s it like to drive?
All reports are that the Model 3 is as good to drive as most of its main competitors, maybe with the exception of the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Handling and road-holding is good – what really stands out is its incredible acceleration. The top-of-the-range Performance model can go from 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds, which would leave most supercars in its wake.
This is something to be used sparingly as the harder the car is driven, the lower its potential range will be. One feature that many find useful is the auto-pilot setting. Although it takes a little getting used to, it can take a great deal of the strain out of motorway and dual carriageway driving while leaving you in ultimate control of the car.
The top-of-the-range Performance model can go from 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds, which would leave most supercars in its wake.
You may think you’ve seen minimalist car interiors before. The Model 3 takes this up to a whole new level. The only controls you’ll find are some buttons on the steering wheel and the indicator stalk.
Pretty much everything is controlled by the large screen in the middle of the dashboard. This works with the Tesla app to provide an easy and intuitive way to do everything from adjusting the driving mode to turning on the heater. If you’re still feeling cold, there’s even a fun feature on the screen that shows a roaring log fire.
The lack of dials and other controls means that the whole dashboard is very shallow, maximising the depth of the windscreen. This means there’s great forward visibility, even though the view out of the back window is limited. Fortunately, all-round parking cameras with images displayed on the central screen means that this isn’t an issue.
Achieving a comfortable driving position is also easy, thanks to the 12-way electrical adjustment of the seat – and it’s also heated for those chilly winter mornings.
In the back, there’s room for two passengers or three at a push - you’ll have to be on pretty close terms with the person who gets the middle seat. At least they will have a flat floor in front of them with no transmission tunnel to worry about.
The light colours of the interior and the panoramic glass roof also add to the sense of spaciousness, even if it is a little tight in the back.
One of the lesser considered advantages of electric cars is that they don’t have great big engines taking up space. It means the Model 3 has a so-called “frunk” as well as a conventional boot which, in turn, means storage space shouldn’t be an issue.
The split-folding rear seats also create flexible extra space, with the only limiting factor being the relatively small boot opening. There’s also a handy extra storage area under the rear boot floor.
Interior storage space is good with all the cup holders and door pockets that you could want. The minimalist design also means that there is plenty of space in the centre console that also includes two wireless charging points for phones as well as USB-C slots for wired charging or powering.
Reliability and running costs
Running costs shouldn’t be an issue with a Tesla Model 3, either in terms of charging or servicing. Naturally, there won’t be any road tax to pay either.
Depending on the spec, the claimed range on a full charge is 267 miles for the Standard, 352 miles for the Performance and 360 miles for the Long Range model.
The fact it’s a Tesla also means you can pay for access to the ever-expanding Supercharger network. Incidentally, a great feature of this is that the sat nav will automatically cut in to direct you to the nearest charger location when power is running low.
What we love
A used Tesla Model 3 might not be cheap to buy, but it is still the most affordable car produced to date by the undisputed leaders in electric-powered vehicles. With the finance options that are available, getting behind the wheel and joining the green motoring revolution might be more affordable than you think.
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Several motor industry awards schemes have made the Model 3 their “Car of the Year” since it was first launched in 2019. Get into the driving seat of one and you’ll soon see why.
This review was