Tesla Model 3: everything you need to know

Published: 24 September 2020

► Tesla Model 3 now on UK sale
► Prices from £40,490 on-the-road
► Full details, specs, news and advice 

The Tesla Model 3 is making steady inroads into the UK market, and was even the bestselling car in Britain in April 2020 as the company's online sales method survived the onslaught of coronavirus lockdown that closed most other dealerships.

You can watch our Tesla Model 3 video in the film below, where road tester James Dennison drives the cheaper, smaller Tesla in London and the countryside, and gives CAR magazine's verdict.

On this page, you'll find everything you need to know about the Tesla Model 3 EV. 

Tesla Model 3 UK: one of the bestselling cars some months of 2020

Price

The Model 3 is the highly anticipated smaller, cheaper electric car from Tesla and the one that chief exec Elon Musk hopes will take the company into the mainstream. The car arrived in British showrooms in June 2019 and has become a common sight on our roads since.

The standard, rear-wheel drive Model 3 can be ordered in Standard Range Plus trim for £40,490, while the Long Range version will cost £46,990. If you’re after a Performance version, expect to pay £56,490. The latter two come with so-called premium interiors, while the cheapest model comes with a 'partial premium interior.' 

  Standard Range Plus Long Range AWD Model 3 Performance
0-60mph 5.3 seconds 4.4 seconds 3.2 seconds
Top speed 140 mph 145 mph 162 mph
Range WLTP 254 miles 348 miles 329 miles
Starting price £40,490 £46,990 £56,490
Wheel options 18in Aero or 19in Sport 18in Aero or 19in Sport 20in Performance
Drive Rear-wheel drive Dual motor all-wheel drive Dual motor all-wheel drive
Vehicle warranty 4 year / 50,000 miles 4 year/ 50,000 miles 4 year / 50,000 miles
Battery and warranty  8 year / 100,000 miles 8 year / 120,000 miles 8 year / 120,000 miles
Kerbweight 1645kg 1847kg 1847kg

The first American Model 3s went on sale all the way back in 2017, so there's been a long wait for right-hand drive production to start. It still looks fresh and vogueishly on-trend, however.

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Customers queued in droves to place deposits to secure an order slot for a Model 3 when it was first announced in the US. Before the car had been revealed, in 24 hours alone, a total of 115,000 pre-orders were placed. The deposit amount varied depending on your country; for example, it was $1000 in the US, but £1000 in the UK.

A total of half a million pre-orders were placed at launch, according to Tesla - arguably making it one of the most successful product launches of all time. For now, there is only one bodystyle - the four-door saloon you see on this page - but there will be a lightly crossoverised version, badged Model Y coming to the UK in 2021.

Tesla Supercharging and V3 explained

Tesla Model 3: specs and range

Tesla says that the Model 3 has a range of more than 254 miles in entry-level Standard Range Plus guise, despite its less costly price and correspondingly lower battery capacity than big brother the Model S. ‘The Model 3 fits five adults comfortably,' said Musk. 'The first and second row have plenty of legroom and the rear roof is one continuous pane of glass, which gives you lots of headroom and a feeling of openness.’

Tesla Model 3 front boot, or 'front' (aka 'frunk' for front trunk!)

Musk also claims that the new baby Tesla, which has a front luggage compartment (sometimes dubbed a 'froot' or 'frunk', above) and a conventional boot, offers ‘more cargo capacity than any gasoline car of the same external dimensions.’ Those Tesla Model 3 dimensions are:

  • Length  4694mm 
  • Width  1849mm 
  • Bootspace  423 litres 
  • Kerbweight  1610kg 
  • Drag coefficient  0.23

Like the Model S and Model X, the smallest Tesla will have a flexible time or mileage warranty, giving support until four years pass, or a certain mileage is exceeded. That distance is 100,000 miles for the standard-range battery Model 3, and 120,000 miles for the long-range battery versions.

Performance and acceleration: from rapid to Porsche-bothering...

The Tesla Model 3 is the most affordable of Musk’s electric cars to date, and that means it makes some compromises in terms of features, specs and general luxury. However, it looks like Tesla hasn’t cut corners when it comes to speed.

Indeed American title DragTimes ran some tests on a new long-range variant of the Model 3, and found it to be faster than Tesla advertises. On its DragTimes video, the Model 3 hits 60mph in just 4.67 seconds. That’s impressive on its own, but also rather surprising as Tesla itself advertises a time of 5.1 seconds.

2020 Tesla Model 3 UK prices start at £40,490

The speed discrepancy could be interesting for two reasons. Firstly, it shows that Tesla would rather under-promise and over-deliver, but it might also reveal Tesla’s marketing and sales strategy. Going conservative on the Model 3’s 0-60mph time would help reinforce the appeal of the Tesla’s more-premium Model S. The slowest Model S can hit 60mph in just 4.2 seconds, and the slower the significantly cheaper Model 3 is from that time, the better – for Tesla, anyway.

The interior and cabin

Like the larger Model S, the Model 3’s interior features a large touchscreen display in the middle of the car. Unlike its bigger brother, however, the Model 3 doesn’t feature an instrument cluster in front of the driver. Instead, the required read-outs are seemingly condensed onto the 15-inch central screen. For example, you can see the speed read-out in the very top left of the display.

Tesla Model 3 interior: a simple, unadorned cabin - it's very pared-back

The new Model 3 will also come with Tesla’s self-driving Autopilot hardware, as an option, as well as a whole host of safety systems. It's all very streamlined and minimalist in the cockpit, with few distractions and the build quality is noticeably better than on the larger Teslas, which are now feeling their age.

Note also how there is no key: instead you use your phone, or a Tesla credit-card-sized fob, to unlock and start the car.

Tesla Model 3 rear seats: cleverly scalloped out front pews liberate more space for feet

Tesla Model 3: charging

Long Range models with the bigger battery have been given a firmware update which brought faster, 200kW charging capability. It means cars with the top battery can now add a theoretical 850 miles of range in just one hour - if you can find a fast enough charger, that is. The new European ultra-fast network such as Ionity, Fastned and Allego chargers should do the job, according to Tesla.

Tesla Model 3: is it a good electric car?

'As we work towards the introduction of V3 Supercharging in Europe, we’re releasing an early software update to European Model 3 Long Range customers that will allow them to charge at hundreds of third party fast-charging stations – up to 200kW,' said a spokeswoman. 'When our own V3 Supercharger technology is introduced, these cars will be able to charge even faster at 250kW peak charge rates.'

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By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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