The Tesla name is synonymous with high-end electric vehicles, but the Model 3 is the company’s most accessible car yet. It comes in ether rear- or all-wheel-drive formats with acceleration and performance that are just as impressive as the official driving ranges between charges. Thanks to a uniquely minimalist interior design, the Model 3 isn’t lacking in appeal, so we got in to see what it’s like to drive.
Tesla Model 3 Design
Due to the slippery aerodynamic shape, the Tesla Model 3 is very distinctive in its appearance. It’s about the same size as other premium saloons like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class and, though it has the appearance of a hatchback, it actually has a hinged boot lid, which opens to reveal a 425-litre volume.
There is a choice of five exterior colours for the Model 3, with Pearl White Multi-Coat being the standard no-cost colour. Solid Black, Midnight Silver, Deep Blue and Red Multi-Coat will all cost you more. The Standard Range and Long Range models come with 18-inch wheels by default and the option of 19-inch rims. The Performance Model gets 20-inch wheels as standard.
Throughout the Model 3 there are unique design features, such as the door handles that sit flush with the bodywork. Unlike the Model S, which uses a similar design, these handles require you to push in at one end allowing you to pull the handle outwards to gain access. It’s slick looking, but actually a little annoying to use. Within the C-pillar is an RFID reader enabling owners to use a slim card (about the side of a credit card) rather than a traditional key to open the car.
Tesla Model 3 Interior
From the second you open the door of the Model 3 you get the wow factor of the interior. Tesla uses a highly minimalist design that leaves almost nothing on show, aside from the multifunction steering wheel, column stalks and a massive 15-inch touchscreen.
That display is how you control most of the car’s functionality, from lighting to infotainment, though you won’t find Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, as Tesla sticks to using its own operating system. There is a useful docking station for smartphones in the centre console, however, and four USB ports in total. The electrically adjustable and heated front seats are quite comfortable, while outward visibility from the driver’s seat is as good as most of the competition.
Where the Model 3 trumps the others is rear passenger space and, although headroom is on par, legroom is above average. The latter is helped by the lack of a bulky central transmission tunnel in the back.
Tesla Model 3 Performance & Drive
Buyers in Ireland can choose from three different versions of the Model 3, with power outputs that vary from 283- to 450hp, and driving ranges of between 409- and 560 kilometres. For most people, the Standard Range Plus version should provide adequate performance. This gets a rear-wheel-drive setup, similar to the BMW 3 Series, and with the instant delivery of electric power it feels every bit as brisk as the 5.6-second dash to 100km/h from rest would suggest.
If you’re chasing greater performance, then the Dual-Motor Long Range model offers the best balance as you get all-wheel drive, and the benefit that brings, along with a larger capacity battery to increase the range up to a potential maximum of 560 kilometres. It out-accelerates the Standard Range Plus model by a full second to 100km/h too. More enthusiastic drivers are likely to be drawn in by the range-topping Model 3 Performance. Its power output increases to 450hp, but it also gets a lower ride height, larger wheels and uprated brakes, making it a suitable rival for cars like the BMW M3.
Tesla Model 3 Pricing
You can specify and order your Tesla Model 3 entirely through the company’s website. The basic Model 3 costs €41,499 including the application of government grants for electric vehicles. The Long Range is more expensive at €53,231 while the Performance will set you back €60,789. On all models, most of the paint options will cost an additional €1,100 and a wheel upgrade will cost €1,600. Other options, such as a tow hitch (€1,100) must be ordered with the car as Tesla says it cannot fit it later.
Carzone Verdict 4.5/5
There’s far more to like than dislike about the Tesla Model 3, and it remains one of the best EVs currently on sale. Even in its basic form the driving range ranks among the best on the market and the added bonus of CCS charging connections allow it to rapid charge at far more places than Tesla’s Supercharger network. We think it looks smart on the outside and has a stellar interior design.
Pros: Great interior design, generous passenger space, battery range
Cons: Lacking in smartphone connectivity, questionable aftersales service, can quickly get expensive with options
Rivals: Audi e-tron, Kia e-Niro 64kWh, BMW 330e
Model: Tesla Model 3 Performance
Price From: €41,499 (including grants)
Price of Test Car: €60,789 (including grants)
Engine: Dual electric motors
CO2 Emission: 0g/km
Motor Tax: €120 per annum
Top Speed: 261km/h
0-100km.h: 3.4 seconds
Boot capacity: 425 litres