The Tesla Model 3 is the long-awaited, cheaper Tesla, with a zen-like interior and a smaller form factor
Tesla Model 3 Review
The Tesla Model 3 first arrived in the UK in 2019. It’s the cheapest Tesla you can buy.
It’s a 100% battery electric vehicle (BEV). The combination of its price, styling, performance, and advanced technology has already made it a highly desirable electric 5 seat saloon car to drive.
For example, the Model 3 was the 3rd best-selling car in the UK in August 2019, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). That’s not the 3rd most popular electric car, but the 3rd best-selling car of any type sold in Britain in that month. It sold better that established cars like the Ford Focus and the Vauxhall Corsa.
It won both the Car of the Year 2019 award from Auto Express and also Car of the Year 2020 from What Car. The media love Elon Musk’s Tesla Model 3, as will you.
The Model 3 has now been refreshed for 2021. Updates include a powered boot, new centre console in the front, energy-efficient heat pump based heating system, a ‘chrome delete’ black external details upgrade, and better battery range. It’s time to read our review below and watch video analyses at the end.
- Sublime Tesla technology and quality at a much lower cost
- Class-leading performance – quick and amazing to drive
- Very fast charging via the Supercharger network
- An always up-to-date EV via over-the-air updates
- Smaller than the Model S and Model X, but space for 5
- Excellent value for money (price compared to range)
- Not a hatchback
The Tesla Model 3 comes in three configurations:
- Standard Range Plus (rear wheel drive)
- Long Range (four wheel drive)
- Performance (four wheel drive)
How far can they go on a single charge of the battery?
Standard Range Plus
The entry-level Model 3 Standard Range Plus has a 60 kWh battery and a real-world range of about 250 miles (official WLTP range is 278 miles).
Next, the Long Range version, with a larger 75 kWh battery, can travel a staggering 324 miles before needing a top up (official range is 360 miles).
Finally, the all-singing, all-dancing Model 3 Performance version has a 75 kWh battery, with a range of about 317 miles (official WLTP is 352 miles). Living up to its name, it has red-hot performance and acceleration capabilities, but still retains excellent range on a single charge.
Please note: As you can see above, the official WLTP ranges for the Tesla Model 3 are higher. Actual, real-world range depends on many factors, including ambient temperature, driving style, trip gradient, etc. Our page on Electric Car Range explains how range can fluctuate in different circumstances.
The Model 3’s main competitors above 300 miles of real world range are:
- Ford Mustang Mach-E, Extended Range, RWD: 333 miles
- Tesla Model 3, Long Range, AWD: 324 miles
- Tesla Model 3, Performance, AWD: 317 miles
- Ford Mustang Mach-E, Extended Range, AWD: 302 miles
- Polestar 2, Long Range: 302 miles
- Volkswagen ID.3, Tour: 302 miles
If you look at the lower range Model 3 Standard Range Plus, the line-up is:
- Skoda Enyaq iV 80: 284 miles
- Volkswagen ID.4, First Edition: 279 miles
- Polestar 2, AWD: 268 miles
- Ford Mustang Mach-E, Standard Range, AWD: 252 miles
- Tesla Model 3, Standard Range Plus, RWD: 250 miles
Tesla Model 3 UK Price
The Tesla Model 3 UK price is from £40,990. Here are the costs of the three models:
- Standard Range Plus: from £40,990
- Long Range: from £48,490
- Performance: from £59,990
That’s quite a variation in cost. Is it worth paying £7,500 more to secure the Long Range version? Or £19,000 more for the Performance Tesla Model 3 UK configuration? Let’s explore the basic differences between the models:
The Standard Range Plus is two wheel drive. It has one motor on the rear axle.
Both the Long Range and Performance models are ‘dual motor’ and come with four wheel drive. There is an electric motor on both the front and rear axles.
The Standard Range Plus does 0-62 mph in 5.3 seconds, and has a top speed of 140 mph.
Whereas the Long Range Tesla 3 manages 0-62 mph in 4.2 seconds, and has a slightly faster top speed of 145 mph.
The Performance model goes like a rocket covering 0-62 mph in 3.1 seconds. Top speed is 162 mph. In addition, the Performance has 20” wheels, upgraded breaks, a carbon fibre spoiler for better aerodynamics and stability at high speeds, aluminium alloy pedals, lowered suspension, and track mode.
All three cars have good build quality, and you definitely feel like you get value for money. What you read in the ‘Tesla fanboy’ news is true. The way Tesla has combined battery + electric motor / motors in such a harmonious whole is truly stunning. The Tesla Model 3 price UK represents a fair deal.
- Get the Standard Range Plus if you’re on a budget.
- Buy the Long Range Tesla if you need maximum range.
- Go for the Performance if you want to fly by the seat of your pants.
Although the Model 3 is not cheap, the leasing model has made it more affordable. The large brokers, like Select Car Leasing, negotiate based on volume with the funders and manage to secure some very low monthly payments for their customers.
Rival electric cars
Between £40,000 and £50,000, this is how the cars stack up:
- Skoda Enyaq iV 80: from £40,330
- Audi Q4 e-tron: from £40,750
- Kia EV6: from £40,895
- Tesla Model 3, Standard Range Plus, RWD: from £40,990
- Ford Mustang Mach-E, Standard Range, RWD: from £41,330
- Hyundai Ioniq 5: from £41,945
- Volkswagen ID.4: from £42,020
- Polestar 2 Long Range: from £42,900
- Lexus UX 300e: from £43,900
- Mercedes EQA: from £44,495
- Tesla Model 3, Long Range, AWD: from £48,490
And between £50,000 and £60,000:
- Audi Q4 e-tron, Sport 50 quattro: £51,370
- Mercedes EQA, AWD: from £51,495
- Kia EV6, AWD: from £51,895
- BMW i4, RWD: from £51,905
- Polestar 2 Long Range, AWD: from £52,900
- Volvo XC40, AWD: from £52,950
- Volkswagen ID.4, AWD: from £55,555
- Ford Mustang Mach-E, Extended Range, AWD: from £57,030
- Volvo C40: from £57,400
- BMW iX3: from £58,850
- Tesla Model 3, Performance, AWD: from £59,990
To compare and contrast the Model 3’s competition in greater detail, try our Electric Car Selector tool.
Tesla Model 3
Standard Range Plus
Tesla has developed a well-implemented ‘self-driving’ feature for its cars called Autopilot.
There are two main components of Autopilot:
- Traffic-Aware Cruise Control
When you turn traffic-aware cruise control on, the car’s speed will be limited automatically to the speed you set.
By default, the speed is the speed limit of the road you are on when you engage the setting. You can then change the speed if the speed limit changes. The Model 3 will slow down or speed up – never going over the set speed limit – as cars in front change their speed.
For example, if traffic-aware cruise control is on in a 50 mph zone, and the car in front is doing 43 mph, the Model 3 will automatically change its speed to 43 mph. If the car in front then accelerates to 55 mph, the Tesla will speed up to 50 mph (the set limit).
If you wish, you can turn on the Autosteer function alongside traffic-aware cruise control. Autosteer will actually move the steering wheel for you, keeping you in lane.
The Model 3 has a myriad of cameras and sensors all around the car which allow it to ‘see’ what’s happening on the road, where the lanes are, etc.
Autosteer works best on a motorway, with clearly defined lane markings and either straight lanes or very gradual bends. In these conditions, traffic-aware cruise control combined with Autosteer is very powerful. Your car will basically drive it self. Of course, you must keep your hands on the wheel.
Tesla states Autosteer is ‘beta software’. In other words, it’s not perfect. On windy, country roads, putting Autosteer on is risky; the car may not turn the wheel fast enough on a tight bend. Be careful.
Traffic-aware cruise control and Autosteer come as standard on all versions of the Model 3.
For an extra £3,400, you can upgrade to Enhanced Autopilot. This enables:
- Navigate on Autopilot: completely automated driving from the moment you join a motorway to the moment you leave it, including over-taking
- Auto Lane Change: the car will automatically change lanes on the motorway
- Autopark: the car will park itself
- Summon: your parked car will come and find you in the car park – we kid you not
Full Self Driving Capability
A more comprehensive version of the software is called Full Self Driving Capability. If you want it, you need to fork out £6,800.
It gives you both Basic and Enhanced Autopilot, but in addition the car will recognise and respond to traffic lights and stop signs.
In the future, when the law permits it, the Model 3 will drive itself on town and city streets. That’s the kind of thing you get in science fiction films.
Tesla Model 3 Extras
The Model 3 is a high-tech car and comes with lots of amazing equipment as standard.
However, as with all manufacturers, you can configure your EV, choosing optional extras (at a cost), tailoring it as you would like. Here are the options you can select:
The standard (no cost) option is Pearl White Multi-Coat. You can also have Solid Black for an extra £1,000, Midnight Silver Metallic (£1,000 extra), Deep Blue Metallic (£1,000 extra), or Red Multi-Coat (£2,000 extra).
Both the Standard Range Plus and Long Range versions come with 18’’ Aero Wheels as standard
If you pay £1,450 more, you can have 19’’ Sport Wheels instead.
The Performance model has 20” Uberturbine Wheels as standard. No further wheel options available.
If you need to tow something with your Tesla, choose either the Standard Range Plus or Long Range models. You can order a high strength, steel tow bar with a removable adapter. It’s capable of towing up to 1,000 kg. Extra cost: £1,300.
This option is not available on the Performance model.
The Standard Range Plus is only available with an ‘All Black’ interior.
With the Long Range and Performance models the base interior colour is also ‘All Black’.
However, you can opt for ‘Black and White’ at an additional cost of £1,000.
The interior specification differs across the models.
The Standard Range Plus comes with a Partial Premium interior, whereas the Long Range and Performance versions have a Premium Interior. What’s the difference?
All models get:
- Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection
- Auto-dimming, power folding, heated side mirrors
- Music and media over Bluetooth
- Custom driver profiles
- Centre console with storage, 4 x USB ports and wireless charging for 2 smartphones
- 12-way power adjustable front seats
- Heated front seats
- Premium Connectivity (30 days included):
- Satellite maps with live traffic visualisation
- In-car internet streaming music and media
- Video streaming
- Internet browser
In addition, the Premium Interior gives you:
- Heated rear seats
- Premium audio – 14 speakers, 1 subwoofer, 2 amps, and immersive sound
- Premium Connectivity (1 year included)
- LED fog lamps
- Interior floor mats
How can you get one?
The 2021 Tesla Model 3 is red hot at the moment, both in terms of consumer interest and sales. In December 2020, it was the top selling car in the UK in any segment, including petrol and diesel cars!
Fortunately, supply is very good. Tesla has been churning them out of their Freemont factory in California as fast as they can for a while, and now supply is being increased further by shipments from Tesla’s new factories in China.
To get a Model 3, most people will:
- Go to theModel 3 page on the Tesla.com website
- Click the Order Now button
- Next you can configure the car as you would like
In terms of how you actually pay for the car, there are lots of options, including:
- Personal Contract Purchase
- Hire Purchase
- Personal Contract Hire / Lease
See our dedicated page Buy or Lease an Electric Car for a comprehensive overview of buying, leasing, or subscribing to an EV.
Who is it for?
The Tesla Model 3 is a well-proportioned, stylish, high quality, 5 seat saloon car, with either 2- or 4-wheel drive.
Previous to the Model 3, if you wanted to drive a Tesla as a company car, you probably needed to be a top executive. The Model S and Model X were just too expensive for mere mortals, lower down in the company hierarchy. Now, with the Model 3, far more company employees are potentially within reach of the Tesla experience.
More good news: the Benefit in Kind (BiK) rates are also excellent for electric cars. For example, drive a Model 3 in the 2020/21 tax year in the UK and enjoy 0% BiK – no tax at all! The year after BiK tax will be 1% and the year after that only 2%. Both the motor press and financial media are taking note. Review after review extols the environmental and tax benefits of EVs.
Range on a single charge – as with all Teslas – is not a concern. However long your daily commute, the Model 3 will get you there and back. If you have work-place charging, you may even be able to charge up to 100% for free while you are at your desk. Better plug in quickly or the charging space will be gone…
The interior looks and feels different to a high-end car from Audi or Mercedes – due to its lack of clutter – but is striking, especially in the front seat. It will impress colleagues and customers alike, and the sound from the audio system is top-notch (the Long Range and Performance models get even better audio).
And let’s not forget the Model 3 is also a very sensible car for the family. It’s a 5-seater and has excellent safety credentials. The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, is safety mad. It recently received one of the highest scores ever on the rigorous Euro NCAP safety test. Its instant acceleration comes in handy when over-taking or pulling onto a motorway.
It’s also future-proof. Tesla can update the car’s software remotely, over the air, and Tesla-owners are used to waking up to a car with improved functionality. The all-glass, panoramic roof makes the cabin really light and airy.
In the front, both driver and passenger will enjoy a Steve Jobs / Jony Ive inspired minimalist interior. There is almost nothing there: a dash, 15″ touchscreen, and steering wheel. That’s it.
There are 4 x USB ports: two in the front and two in the rear. The Model 3 has recently been refreshed and there are now two wireless charging pads for your smartphones.
The touchscreen controls practically every feature of the car. This set-up may not be for everyone, however once you get used to it, it feels completely normal. In fact, after a few weeks driving a Model 3, going back to a traditional front cabin layout feels bewildering. There are also a couple of buttons / mini wheels on the steering wheel itself for quick, essential changes.
The only factor working against it as a family car is that the Model 3 is a 4-door saloon, rather than a 5-door hatchback. You can still fold the back seats down, but you are limited in terms of height when you are putting things in the boot.
Space in the rear, middle seat is fine, though on a long drive, an adult might get a bit uncomfortable.
There are starting to appear now just a few Tesla Model 3s for sale in the UK second hand on Autotrader. Give it a year or two and they will hit the second hand market in larger numbers, as rental / lease agreements come to an end.
- If you would like more information about EVs in general, please see our main Electric Cars page.
- For specific details about the Tesla Model 3 itself, see the main Tesla UK Tesla Model 3 website.
- Otherwise, please scroll down to the Review section below for independent video and text analysis.
Tesla Model 3 Reviews
We have trudged round the web and brought all the best video and text reviews to you here.
Click on the links below for independent reviews of the Tesla Model 3 from well-known car reviewers:
Tesla Model 3 Performance
> What Car?
- Reviewer: Will Nightingale
- Organisation: What Car?
- Date published: 5 March 2019
- Length: 17 minutes 02 seconds
Tesla Model 3 Performance
> Fully Charged Live
- Reviewer: Robert Llewellyn
- Organisation: Fully Charged Live
- Date published: 26 April 2019
- Length: 21 minutes 24 seconds