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Watch: our Tesla Model 3 UK video review

Published: 22 June 2019

► Tesla Model 3 now on UK sale
► Prices from £38,900
► Update brings 200kW charging 

The long-awaited Tesla Model 3 is now on full UK sale - and you can watch our video review in the film above. Our tester James Dennison drives the cheaper, smaller Tesla in London and the countryside, and gives our verdict on the new electric car.

Is it the breakthrough Elon Musk promises? With prices from £38,900 for a Standard Range model, it's certainly bringing the Tesla experience within reach for more buyers.

We've driven it: read our Tesla Model 3 review

Tesla Model 3: a longer range for less money

Long Range models with the bigger battery were this month 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.

'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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Tesla Model 3 UK prices and specs

The Model 3 is the highly anticipated cheaper electric car from Tesla and the one that chief exec Elon Musk hopes will take the company into the mainstream. UK prices and details have now been confirmed, with first customer deliveries starting in June 2019.

The standard, rear-wheel drive Model 3 can be ordered in Standard Range Plus trim for £38,900, while the long range version will cost £47,900. If you’re after a Performance version, expect to pay £56,900. The latter two come with premium interiors, while the cheapest model comes with a 'partial premium interior.' 

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  Standard Range Plus Long Range AWD Model 3 Performance
0-60mph 5.3 seconds 4.5 seconds 3.2 seconds
Top speed 140 mph 145 mph 162 mph
Range WLTP 258 miles 348 miles 329 miles
Starting price £38,900 £47,900 £56,900
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 in 2017, so there's been a long wait for right-hand drive production to start. 

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.

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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.

Tesla Model 3: specs

Tesla says that the new, smaller Model 3 has a range of more than 220 miles, 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.’

Musk also claims that the new Tesla, which has front luggage compartment and a conventional boot, offers ‘more cargo capacity than any gasoline car of the same external dimensions.’ Tesla Model 3 dimensions stand at:

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

Like the Model S and Model X, the new electric car 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 version.

Tesla Model 3: performance

The Tesla Model 3 is the most affordable of Elon 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. Last week, DragTimes ran some tests on a new long-range variant of the Model 3, and found it to be faster than Tesla advertises.

According to a DragTimes’ video, the Tesla Model 3 hits 60mph in just 4.667 seconds. That’s impressive on its own, but also rather surprising as Tesla itself advertises a time of 5.1 seconds. DragTimes beat the 5.1 figure more than once, too, so the Model 3 is clearly faster than stated.

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 readouts 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.

The new Model 3 will also come with Tesla’s self-driving Autopilot hardware, as well as a whole host of safety systems.

Dual-motor version

The Tesla Model 3 is finally getting a dual-motor, all-wheel drive version, as predicted by CAR magazine. According to a string of tweets posted by Elon Musk, the EV pioneer is getting ready to release both a standard and performance version of a twin-motored Model 3 - and the latter is aimed directly at the BMW M3.

As you’d expect from Tesla, Elon Musk has revealed all the specs and performance figures for both models ahead of time on Twitter, and they make for interesting reading. According to Musk, the two motors in each all-wheel drive Tesla aren’t identical; one will be optimised for power, and the other for range. What’s more, one motor will also act as a back-up for the other, so if one fails, you’ll still be able to get to your destination.

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Interestingly, the dual motor will come in two flavours, starting off with the standard all-wheel drive Tesla Model 3. Musk says that the standard AWD Model 3 will cost $5000 more than the single-motored car, and will get to 60mph from a standstill in just 4.5 seconds. Top speed will be 140mph and range will be 310 miles.

However, it’s the performance version of the all-wheel drive Model 3 we’re most interested in, and it’s probably the one Tesla’s competitors are most interested in, too. According to Musk's tweets, the charged-up performance Model 3 AWD will have a 0-60mph time of just 3.5 seconds, a presumably limited 155mph top speed, and the same 310 mile range as the normal AWD model.

M3 rival?

What’s more, Musk says it will beat anything else in its class on track, including a BMW M3. At $78,000, Musk claims it’ll cost about the same as the Munich rocket, ‘but 15% quicker and with better handling.’ That's fighting talk.

A $78,000 M3 rival looks very promising, and will certainly be in demand - but that leads us to the elephant in the room: supply. Tesla may be onto a winner with the AWD Model 3, but as issues with the original car continue, whether or not it can build this electric car in sufficient volumes to sat demand is another matter.

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By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast