BUY, LEASE OR FINANCE A TESLA MODEL 3 FROM OSV:
Tesla’s all-electric Model 3 executive saloon takes the American brand into volume territory for the first time. Jonathan Crouch takes a look…
Ten Second Review
The Model 3 is the car that could make Tesla – or it might merely save the brand. It’ll be interesting to find out which. It’s all-electric of course – and much more accessible than the company’s previous models, with prices starting from under £40,000. Your next executive saloon? Middle managers who are early adopters of new technology should form an orderly queue.
The Model 3 is Tesla’s more significant car to date, mainly because it’s the company’s most affordable product and therefore the highest volume thing it makes. This is the company’s first saloon and it’s positioned somewhere between BMW’s 3 Series and 5 Series models if you’re looking for recognisable rivals.
It follows the brand’s pricier Model S and Model X cars and precedes a Model Y crossover. So, within a few years, the company’s product range will, in its own words, be completely about ‘S3XY’ models.
Previously, we’ve reviewed Tesla’s products as Evs; it’s a measure of the importance of this one that we have to judge it by more conventional standards – as you would if considering it as an alternative to the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 mid-sized executive saloons it wants to target. So what’ll you feel here? Superbly accurate steering, lacking only the final really feelsome element that’s integral to a good European rack. A very well-modulated set of brakes. Quite a lot of tyre and wind roar. And firm-ish damping that contributes to excellent body control through the turns, but doesn’t crash too much through potholes or over speed humps. You could actually enjoy yourself driving this car, a new experience for us in an EV and for anyone else familiar with this evolving market. The smooth linearity of the throttle helps -though it’s still prone to lurch the car forward like a startled rabbit if used without due care. If you were to mash it into the bulkhead of the top ‘Performance’-spec variant, you’d reach sixty mph in just 3.2s; Forget M3s and C63s – that’s Ferrari-fast.
Design and Build
The format here is similar to that Tesla has used before, so the batteries run along the floor and there’s a body made of a mixture of steel and aluminium. The suspension design uses double wishbones up-front and a multi-link set-up at the rear, with coil springs all-round. Breaking from the hatchback, 7-seat body configuration of other current Tesla cars, the Model 3 is a five-seat saloon that measures in a 4.7m long – fractionally more than a BMW 3 Series. It’s much more spacious inside than one of those; it would be of course. There aren’t as many mechanical bits to fit in, freeing up space for the passenger compartment and the boot.
Market and Model
There are three Model 3 options. Things kick off with the ‘Standard Range Plus’ version, which has a 258-mile range and costs around £39,000. Next, there’s the ‘Long Range AWD’ version, which offers a 348-mile range and costs around £48,000. And finally, there’s the ‘Model 3 Performance’ variant, which offers a 329-mile range and costs around £57,000. We won’t bother going through the full kit list because it includes all the main things you’d expect a decently specified executive saloon to be able to offer, including leather upholstery, powered steering adjustment, a rearview camera, etc, etc.
Cost of Ownership
Owning a Model 3 is of course very different from owning a conventionally powered executive saloon. There’s no fuel bill and service is minimal. The annual service fee covers an annual inspection, replacement parts like brake pads and windscreen wipers, 24-hour roadside assistance, system monitoring, remote diagnostics, software updates and new features sent through the touchscreen. It’s possible to charge the battery halfway in about 30 minutes using Tesla’s ‘supercharger’ but as with most elements of this car, it requires a change in your way of thinking.