Tesla Model 3 Review
The Tesla Model 3 is an electric car that’s cheaper than the Model S and comes with just as many futuristic features. It’s still more expensive than many petrol and diesel-powered alternatives.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Very fast
- Stylish looks
- Loads of tech
What's not so good
- Quite expensive
- Lots of quirks to get used to
- Limited rear headroom
Tesla Model 3: what would you like to read next?
If you’re looking for a medium-sized saloon car but fancy something packed with futuristic kit and powered by electricity instead of petrol or diesel, the Tesla Model 3 is pretty much your only option.
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. As a result, it looks properly futuristic – like something Spock would use to pop to the shops.
Things are less dramatic when you look at it from the side or the back, but the Tesla Model 3 will still gather a few admiring glances from passers-by – especially if you pick a high-spec Performance model. These get 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.
In fact, the only things not controlled by this super-responsive high-definition screen are the electric seats, the position of the steering wheel and the angle of the door mirrors. 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 iPhone. 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 and makes the cabin feel especially airy.
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…
The Tesla Model 3’s boot isn’t quite as roomy as in alternatives, but there’s still space for a few suitcases and some soft bags. And, unlike in any other premium saloon, you get an extra storage area under the bonnet 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 300 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 3.5 seconds compared to the 4.5 seconds of the Long Range version. This means it’s faster than pretty much any other premium saloon on sale.
If you don’t fancy launching away from every set of traffic lights, 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 light steering and comfortable suspension make it a doddle to drive in town.
It’s even easier to drive on motorways, where the optional Auto Pilot 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.
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. Providing you can put up with waiting a very long time for your car to be delivered, that is…