The Tesla Model 3 is the long-awaited, cheaper Tesla, with a zen-like interior and a smaller form factor
Introduction to the Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 has finally come to the UK. It’s the cheapest Tesla you can buy.
The combination of its price, styling, performance, and advanced technology has already made it a highly desirable electric car.
Sales statistics are remarkable. 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 has also recently won the Car of the Year 2019 award from Auto Express. The Tesla Model 3 is selling like hot cakes – very hot cakes.
- Sublime Tesla technology at a much lower price
- Class-leading performance
- 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
- Excellent value for money (price compared to range)
- Not a hatchback
Tesla Model 3 Range
The Model 3 comes in three configurations, as follows:
- 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?
The Model 3 Standard Range Plus has a 60 kWh battery and has a real-world range of about 229 miles.
Next, the Long Range version, with a larger 75 kWh battery, can travel a staggering 313 miles before needing a top up.
Finally, the all-singing, all-dancing Model 3 Performance version has a 75 kWh battery, with a range of 296 miles. Living up to its name, the Performance model has red-hot performance capabilities, but still retains excellent range on a single charge.
Please note: the official WLTP ranges for the Model 3 above 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.
Tesla Model 3 UK Price
The Tesla Model 3 price is from £39,490, including the PiCG grant. Here are the costs of the three models:
- Standard Range Plus: from £39,490
- Long Range: from £47,990
- Performance: from £52,990
That’s quite a variation in price. The Performance model costs £13,500 more than the entry Standard Range Plus.
Is it worth paying £13,500 more to secure the Performance version?
The highest specification model has greater range, but it also comes with four-wheel-drive. There is an electric motor on each of the axles.
In addition, the Tesla Model 3 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.
The Standard Range Plus is just two-wheel-drive. It has one motor on the rear axle.
With the Performance model, acceleration is adrenalin-inducing. It can do 0-62 mph in 3.2 seconds, compared to the Standard Range Plus’ 5.3 seconds.
However, the Long Range model is a very attractive option if you want maximum range, but are not so fussed about mind-boggling performance. The Long Range Model 3 will go about 313 miles on a single charge, is also four-wheel-drive, and still does 0-62 mph in an impressive 4.4 seconds.
Value for Money
Interestingly, the Tesla Model 3 UK price is now about half the cost of either a Model S or a Model X. However, the distance the Model 3 can go on a single charge is comparable to the Model S and Model X.
That means – in terms of value for money – the Model 3 is very good. In fact, in our best value comparison of all the EVs currently available in the UK, all three versions of the Model 3 are in the Top 10 best value cars. That’s extraordinary for Teslas. Not so long ago, all their models were bottom of the value charts.
It’s worth mentioning Tesla have a habit of changing the specification of the Model 3 – and the pricing – often quite dramatically from one day to the next. Don’t be surprised if a particular price and configuration suddenly disappears.
Tesla Model 3 Key Specifications
Tesla Model 3
Standard Range Plus
Tesla Model 3 Autopilot
Tesla has developed a well-implemented ‘self-driving’ feature for its cars called Autopilot.
It allows you to sit in your Tesla, in the driving seat, and have the car drive you. For example, you can be on the motorway and the car will automatically steer, brake if the vehicle in front is slowing down, and accelerate back to a pre-determined speed if enough space opens up in front. This version of the self-driving software is called Autopilot and is included in the prices above.
A more comprehensive version of the software is called Full Self Driving Capability. This version can even change lane for you, overtake, and deposit you back in the lane you were in – all with no input from the ‘driver’. Tesla has spent many hours developing the software and it’s more advanced than anything else on the market. Full Self Driving Capability costs £5,800 extra.
Autopilot with Full Self Driving Capability also provides you with:
- Autopark: the car will park itself
- Summon: your parked car will come and find you in the car park – we kid you not
Now, it’s worth pointing out that you must – by law – have your hands on the wheel at all times while driving. Autopilot reminds you of this if it senses your hands are off the wheel.
Is Full Self Driving Capability worth it?
Is it worth paying extra for Full Self Driving Capability? That’s tricky to answer. The Model 3, with its multiple cameras / sensors and advanced computer brain, is already capable – according to CEO Elon Musk – of Level 5 autonomy. That means the Model 3 could drive itself with no-one sitting in the driver’s seat.
Now, Level 5 autonomy cars are currently forbidden to operate anywhere in the world. Musk thinks that could change in 2020, at least in one or two states in the USA.
In summary, a Model 3 with Full Self Driving Capability makes the car totally future-proof, but with today’s legal framework, you cannot use many of its features.
Tesla Model 3 Optional 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 £800, Midnight Silver Metallic (£1,000 extra), Deep Blue Metallic (also £1,000 extra), or Red Multi-Coat (£2,000 extra).
Both the Standard Range Plus and Long Range versions come with 18’’ Aero Wheels. There are no further wheel options.
The Performance model has 20” Performance Wheels as standard. Again, 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 910 kg. Extra cost: £1,000.
This option is not available on the Performance model.
Tesla Model 3 Interior Colour
For a time, the only interior colour available for both versions of the Model 3 was ‘All Black’.
Fortunately, Tesla has now reinstated ‘Black and White’ as an option, in addition to ‘All Black’. If you go for ‘Black and White’, it costs £1,000 more.
We are wondering whether the all black interior – it doesn’t show up marks and dirt as much – is part of Elon Musk’s Robotaxi project. If you hire your Model 3 out as an autonomous taxi, then you don’t want the general public making it look messy and dirty.
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 USB ports and docking for 2 smartphones
- 12-way power adjustable front seats
- Heated front seats
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):
- Satellite maps with live traffic visualisation
- In-car internet streaming music and media
- More frequent over-the-air updates via cellular
- Internet browser
- LED fog lamps
Autopilot & Full Self-Driving Capability
As mentioned above, the Model 3 comes with Autopilot self-driving capabilities as standard. To get Full Self-Driving Capability – potentially really advanced autonomous driving – you need to pay £5,800 more.
How do you get your hands on one?
The 2019 Tesla Model 3 is red hot at the moment, both in terms of consumer interest and sales.
Fortunately, supply is very good. Tesla is churning them out of their Freemont factory in California as fast as they can.
There are two traditional ways of acquiring a Model 3, and one surprising new one…
Model 3 PCP
Although the Model 3 is the cheapest Tesla, it is still a lot of money to rustle up in one go.
In the UK, the Personal Contract Purchase, or PCP, has long been the preferred method of getting a car. You spread the payments out over 2-4 years and then, at the end of the term, you can either buy the car with a final payment or hand it back and start a new PCP on another car.
There are many, many PCP deals popping up for the Tesla 3, and market forces will gradually get that monthly payment down.
Alternatives to a PCP include (i) a Hire Purchase, or HP, contract where you have to buy the car at the end of the term, and (ii) simply taking out a bank loan which gives you immediate ownership of the car and total control.
Model 3 Lease
If you are clear you don’t want to own the Model 3, then a lease makes sense.
The usual lease format in the UK is the Personal Contract Hire, or PCH. Pay an agreed amount every month for the term (2-4 years typically) and then give it back. There is no option to buy it at the end.
Model 3 Subscription
Yes, you read that right. You can now subscribe to a Model 3, or any other EV for that matter.
It’s just like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Try it out for a month or two; then keep going if you like it, or cancel your subscription if you don’t.
Buying an electric car on a subscription basis is very low risk. It can also be very low cost. Insurance, road tax, breakdown cover, and even charging costs, can all be included in the monthly instalment.
See our dedicated page “Buy or Lease an Electric Car” for a comprehensive overview of buying, leasing, or subscribing to an EV.
Who is the Tesla Model 3 for?
The Tesla Model 3 is a well-proportioned, stylish, desirable, 5-seat saloon car, with either 2- or 4-wheel drive.
Previous to the Model 3, if you wanted to have 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, a far wider range of company employees are potentially within reach of the Tesla experience. We predict the Model 3 will be very popular as a company car. Colleagues will gaze at you enviously as you arrive, silently, in your zero emissions, high-tech, automotive marvel.
They will look on in awe as your car unlocks automatically via the smartphone in your pocket, and wonder how the Model 3 can just go without even pressing a button or inserting a key.
The benefit in kind (BIK) rates are also excellent for electric cars. For example, a Model 3 in the 2020/21 tax year in the UK enjoys 0% BIK – no tax at all!
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.
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. 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).
For the family
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. It recently received one of the highest scores ever on the rigorous Euro NCAP safety test.
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. It’s particularly noticeable in the back where there’s no hint of claustrophobia.
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 USB ports: two in the front and two in the back. Charging phones and tablets is therefore straightforward. There is no wireless charging, though.
The touchscreen controls practically every feature of the car. Rather than the usual myriad buttons, dials and knobs, you dive into the central touchscreen to alter car settings. This set-up may not be for everyone, however once you get used to it, it feels normal. There are also a couple of buttons / mini wheels on the steering wheel itself for quick, essential changes.
For navigation, the Model 3 now uses Google Maps. This looks fantastic and works brilliantly on the pin-sharp, 15-inch touchscreen.
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.
Then there’s the question of performance. Oh yes. Top Gear recently stunned its viewers by admitting the Tesla Model 3 Performance was faster than the legendary BMW M3 around a race track.
Petrolheads are now realising that the new crop of electric cars are not just environmentally friendly run-arounds for tree-huggers. They can now outperform the very best that ICE cars have to offer.
If you’re a petrolhead – or soon to become ex-Petrolhead – take an electric car out for a test drive and see for yourself.
Tesla has installed a fantastic network of really quick charging points around the world. These ‘Version 2’, or V2, superchargers have up until recently been rated at 120 kW – much faster than the standard 50 kW from most other manufacturers. They allow you to recharge very quickly on longer trips, to get you back on the road with plenty of range in the battery tank.
These V2 superchargers are now beginning to offer even faster charging rates of up to 150 kW in Europe. This faster rate is achieved by a software upgrade to the car.
Soon, Tesla will start rolling out ultra fast V3 superchargers rated at 250 kW. These will allow incredibly fast charging. For example, you could add 100 miles of range in about 6 minutes. Only the Long Range and Performance models are capable of 250 kW charging.
In Europe, the Model 3 comes with a CCS charging socket. This is unusual for Tesla, as all their previous models had a modified Type 2 socket (if you don’t know your CCS from your Type 2, please read our EV connectors page).
Having a CCS socket, makes the Model 3 highly versatile for rapid charging. You can either use the ever-growing Tesla supercharger network, or get a charge from any CCS rapid charging station available. CHAdeMO rapid chargers are also an option via a Tesla-approved CHAdeMO to CCS adapter.
You can’t yet find the Tesla Model 3 for sale in the UK second hand. The car is only just arriving on our shores. Give it a year or two and they will start hitting the market, as rental / lease agreements come to and 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 Reviews section below for independent video and text analyses.
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
> James and Kate
- Reviewers: James and Kate
- Organisation: James and Kate
- Date published: 5 May 2019
- Length: 18 minutes 41 seconds
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