Tesla Model 3 Review

The Tesla Model 3 is Tesla’s cheapest electric car, but in many ways the best. That said, it’s still more expensive than many petrol and diesel alternatives

9/10
Wowscore

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Very fast
  • Massive range
  • Loads of tech

What's not so good

  • Quite expensive
  • German saloons still higher quality
  • Limited rear headroom
Tesla Model 3
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Tesla Model 3: what would you like to read next?

Overall verdict

Watch our Tesla Model 3 video review

Do you remember the first time you played an MP3 file? The first time you used a smartphone? Seemed like some sort of black magic, didn’t it? Well, the Tesla Model 3 is the smartphone of cars, here to help you ditch that combustion engine out on the drive in favour of pure-electric power with its sleek looks, massive performance and anxiety-busting range.

And, if you needed any more convincing, the Model 3 won the carwow Game Changer Award for 2019.

Not having to cool a conventional engine like the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 means the Tesla Model 3 electric car can do away with anything so vulgar as a grille on its bumper. Instead, it comes with little more than a slim intake, a pair of fog lights and a number plate. Things are less dramatic when you look at it from the side or the back, but the Performance model gets lowered suspension, a subtle carbon fibre rear spoiler and huge 20-inch alloy wheels to make them look lower, meaner and much more sporty.

If anything, the Tesla Model 3 looks even more striking on the inside. You can forget the minimalist cabins in an Audi A4 or Jaguar XE, the Tesla Model 3’s interior is almost completely devoid of buttons, knobs or dials of any kind. Instead, you control pretty much everything through a whopping 15-inch touchscreen. It’s a good thing, then, that the screen is easy to read, sensibly laid out and responds to your inputs just as quickly as a range-topping iPad. The satellite navigation is easy to program and the colourful Google Maps imagery makes directions a doddle to follow.

The rest of the Tesla Model 3’s cabin looks a bit plain by comparison, but at least it feels pretty solid – not something you can say of its bigger brother, the Model S. It’s not quite as roomy as the likes of the new BMW 3 Series – especially in the back – but you can get the Tesla Model 3 with a vast panoramic glass roof which stretches all the way from the driver’s headrests to the bootlid that floods the cabin with light.

The Tesla Model 3 isn’t just one of the most high-tech electric cars on sale, it’s also one of the best saloons you can buy – if only it wasn’t so expensive…

Mat Watson
carwow expert

It doesn’t do anything to boost the Tesla Model 3’s boot space, though. There’s room for few suitcases and some soft bags, but plenty of petrol- and diesel-powered alternatives are roomier still. Unlike in any other premium saloon, however, you get an extra storage area under the bonnet – where you’d normally find an engine – with some shopping hooks to hold your groceries nice and securely.

If you’ll be using your Tesla Model 3 for nipping to the shops you won’t be too worried about range, but it’s nice to know that the Long Range model can manage around 350 miles between charges if you’re being extra careful. Charging from empty takes around 12 hours using a dedicated wall-charger at home or you can boost the Model 3’s batteries from 10% to 80% full in as little as 35 minutes using Tesla’s 120kw public charging points.

Performance models lose out on a few miles of range, but they’re much faster. Accelerating from 0-60mph takes as little as 3.5 seconds compared with the 4.5 seconds of the Long Range version. This means it’s faster than pretty much any other premium saloon on sale – and many much pricier sports cars for that matter.

It’s even easier to drive on motorways, where the optional Autopilot system lets the car pretty much drive itself – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel. It’ll accelerate, brake and steer for you to maintain a safe distance to other cars and will even change lane when you indicate.

In fact, the sheer number of passenger-impressing gizmos you get in the Model 3 makes the more expensive Model S seem like a bit of a waste of money. It might be the baby of the Tesla range, but the Model 3’s stylish looks, futuristic-yet-practical cabin and sports-car-baiting performance make it one of the best electric cars on sale and a genuine alternative to the posh saloon mainstream.

Common Tesla Model 3 questions

Can I buy the Tesla Model 3 in the UK?
The Tesla Model 3 is now available to buy in the UK. Due to high demand, the delivery time for a new Tesla Model 3 is significantly longer than that of other petrol- and diesel-powered alternatives, however.

Tesla Model 3
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What's it like inside?

The Tesla Model 3 re-writes the rule book on saloon-car interiors. It’s uber-minimalist, with nearly every function controlled through its large central screen. It’s all good quality, too, although Audi and BMW still do it better.

Read full interior review

How practical is it?

The Tesla Model 3 will seat four adults and carry a decent amount of luggage across its front and rear boots, but if space is a priority there are roomier posh saloons – although they have combustion engines.

Boot (seats up)
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Boot (seats down)
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If you need to carry four adults fairly often then a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 will transport them in more comfort. However, that’s not to say the Tesla Model 3 is awful. A couple of adults will be more than comfortable sitting in the front seat, while the driver gets a generous amount of seat and wheel adjustment to ensure finding the best driving position is simple stuff.

In the back, the news isn’t quite as good. There’s unlikely to be any moaning about the legroom on offer, but tall adults will find their heads brushing on the ceiling, which isn’t a problem in the Audi or BMW. There is a third seat in the back, which is fine for transporting three adults on short journeys, but you wouldn’t want to be there for long.

If you need to carry child seats, though, you’re in luck – the Model 3 has easy-to-find Isofix points on its outside rear seats.

The Tesla Model 3’s front door bins are a decent size, easily taking a 1.5-litre bottle, but you also get a big cubby with a tray and 12v socket under the central armrest, and a couple of generous cupholders just ahead of that. Then, just ahead of those is a deep, flip-lid cubby and just ahead again is another flip-lid cubby with a couple of charging ports. The way the angled cubby props up your phone while its charging is particularly cool.

The glovebox is also a good size, but if you’re fumbling around trying to find the button to open it, it’s on the screen like everything else – no physical buttons here!

In the back, the Model 3’s door bins are smaller but still good, its central armrest flips down to reveal another couple of cupholders and there are pockets on the back of both front seats.

 

The Tesla Model three comes with a total of 425 litres of boot space. There’s room for few suitcases and some soft bags, but plenty of petrol- and diesel-powered alternatives are roomier still in the back.

However, unlike in any other premium saloon, you get an extra storage area under the bonnet – where you’d normally find an engine – with some shopping hooks to hold your groceries nice and securely.

What's it like to drive?

The Tesla Model 3 offers massive performance coupled with silent running and grin-inducing cornering ability. It’s quicker than the performance variants of most alternative saloons, but electric motoring will have to fit in with your life

There's no Ludicrous mode on the Model 3 like with other Teslas, but you don't need it. This thing is rapid, especially in Performance guise.

Mat Watson
carwow expert

If you’ll be using your Tesla Model 3 for nipping to the shops you won’t be too worried about range, but it’s nice to know that the Long Range model can manage around 350 miles between charges if you’re being extra careful. Charging from empty takes around 12 hours using a dedicated wall-charger at home or you can boost the Model 3’s batteries from 10% to 80% full in as little as 35 minutes using Tesla’s 120kw public charging points.

 

Performance models lose out on a few miles of range, but they’re much faster. Accelerating from 0-60mph in one of these sportier Model 3s takes as little as 3.2 seconds compared with the 4.5 seconds of the Long Range version. This means it’s faster than pretty much any other premium saloon on sale – and many sports cars for that matter.

There’s also the entry-level Standard Plus model, which will still crack 60mph in just 5.3 seconds – quick but any saloon standards. This has a much-reduced range, but again, at 254 miles it isn’t exactly stingy. It’s also the cheapest model to buy.

So, the Tesla Model 3 is either fast, faster or downright silly depending on which version you go for. But, if you don’t fancy launching away from every set of traffic lights like you’ve been possessed by Lewis Hamilton, you’ll be pleased to hear the Tesla Model 3 is very easy to drive.

Sure, the pillars beside the windscreen produce some quite large blind spots at junctions, but the Model 3’s light steering and comfortable suspension make it a doddle to drive in town.

It’s even easier to drive on motorways, where the optional Autopilot system lets the car pretty much drive itself – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel. It’ll accelerate, brake and steer for you to maintain a safe distance to other cars and will even change lane when you indicate.

Tesla’s driver assistance systems don’t just work at high speed – the Model 3 will automatically brake if it senses an obstacle ahead and can find its way into and out of a parking space while you stand outside – just the thing if you have a particularly narrow garage.

Read about prices & specifications
Tesla Model 3
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