In-depth reviews

Tesla Model 3 saloon review

"The Tesla Model 3 brings world-beating performance, range and tech to the mainstream executive class"

Carbuyer Rating

4.4 out of 5

Price
£42,500 - £59,000

Pros

  • Excellent range
  • Huge performance
  • Impressive features

Cons

  • Build quality concerns
  • Can get expensive
  • Supply issues

The Tesla Model 3 is the first affordable, mass-produced model in the American manufacturer's all-electric range, offering customers something very different from conventional rivals such as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia.

The Model 3 didn’t have any direct electric rivals when it launched; it was more expensive than the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Kona Electric but smaller and cheaper than the Jaguar I-Pace, but now the Polestar 2 has arrived. Both have a minimalist but luxurious high-tech interior, desirability and incredible performance.

The newest Tesla is a clear evolution from the design of the Model S but with extra emphasis on the amount of interior space that can be gained owing to the absence of a conventional combustion engine. This has resulted in a bonnet that is much shorter and a rear window that stretches almost to the tail, maximising room for passengers and their luggage. There are myriad clever features, from the key that's actually your smartphone to a single-slot air-vent that can somehow adjust airflow and its direction as if by magic.

An update for 2021 saw some of the car's exterior trim switched from chrome to a black finish, while the centre console has also been given a makeover inside. The fiddly lid beneath the dashboard has been replaced with a smartphone charging tray and piano black has been swapped for a more robust grey finish. The boot lid is now powered too for added convenience.

Three versions are available, starting with the rear-wheel drive Standard Range Plus that's capable of 267 miles from a full charge and 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds. Long Range AWD and Performance versions gain an extra motor and four-wheel drive, giving the Performance almost supernatural acceleration - 0-60mph takes 3.1 seconds. These more expensive versions have 360 and 352 miles of range respectively.

The Model 3 Long Range AWD feels addictively fast and relaxing, thanks to near-silence from its electric motors. The car’s handling belies its weight, with excellent grip and minimal body roll in the corners, and on British roads the suspension is comfortable enough to allay our fears that the Model 3 would feel too stiff.

On long trips, the Model 3 can be topped up using Tesla's well established Supercharger network (although you will have to pay) or - for the first time in a Tesla - via any other charging network that's compatible with its CCS charging port. Fast-charging to 80% can take as little as 30 minutes, while a full home charge takes just under 12 hours.

While there have been some build quality issues, there are no such worries when it comes to safety. Having crash-tested the Model 3, Euro NCAP awarded it the maximum five-star score, with the highest score so far in the safety assist category.

The Tesla Model 3 has garnered more attention than any other car in recent history, and it seems the hype was worth it. With an excellent driving range, stunning performance and lots of clever features, the Model 3 is in a prime position to steal customers, and not just from direct rivals like the BMW 330e plug-in hybrid. Even the Polestar 2 is slightly slower and can't match its range, although some may prefer its styling and build quality.

Most Popular

Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Car ownership
25 Feb 2021

Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light

Should I buy an insurance write-off? Cat C, Cat D, Cat S and Cat N car explained
Cat D cars, Cat C & insurance write-offs: complete guide
Tips and advice
24 Feb 2021

Should I buy an insurance write-off? Cat C, Cat D, Cat S and Cat N car explained

Engine size explained
Aston Martin engine
Tips and advice
16 Feb 2021

Engine size explained

More on Model 3

Best motorway cars
BMW 5 Series driving
Best cars
4 Mar 2021

Best motorway cars

Need a car that can tackle serious motorway miles with ease? Look no further than our list of the best cars for the job.
New Volkswagen ID.3 vs Tesla Model 3: rivals comparison
Electric cars
2 Jan 2021

New Volkswagen ID.3 vs Tesla Model 3: rivals comparison

How does Volkswagen’s electric ID.3 hatchback compare to the Tesla Model 3?
Best electric cars
Best cars
24 Dec 2020

Best electric cars

Electric cars just keep improving, with longer ranges and shorter charging times. Here are the best electric cars on sale now.
Best company cars
Best cars
22 Dec 2020

Best company cars

There are so many attractive choices these days that picking the best company car can be quite a challenge. We look at the best of today's most popula…
Tesla Model 3 Long Range saloon review
Tesla Model 3 Long Range saloon front 3/4 tracking
Tesla Model 3 saloon
6 May 2020

Tesla Model 3 Long Range saloon review

We've driven the Tesla Model 3 Long Range model to see if it's worthy of the hype
Tesla app explained
Tesla Model 3 saloon
18 Mar 2020

Tesla app explained

We explain everything you need to know about the Tesla smartphone app
Tesla Model 3 pricing increased
2019 Tesla Model 3 - dynamic front 3/4 view
Tesla Model 3 saloon
18 Oct 2019

Tesla Model 3 pricing increased

Tesla has announced price increases across the Model 3 range of up to £2,000

Tips & advice

View All
What car should I buy? How to decide
Ford Fiesta colours
Car buying
5 Mar 2021

What car should I buy? How to decide

Top 3 used 4x4 estate cars for £12,000
Top 3 used 4x4 estate cars for £12,000 - hero
Tips and advice
5 Mar 2021

Top 3 used 4x4 estate cars for £12,000

Plug-in car grant: a complete guide
Mazda MX-30 charging
Tips and advice
3 Mar 2021

Plug-in car grant: a complete guide

Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Car ownership
25 Feb 2021

Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light

Best cars

View All
Best motorway cars
BMW 5 Series driving
Best cars
4 Mar 2021

Best motorway cars

The UK's top 10 best-selling cars
Ford Fiesta driving
Best cars
4 Mar 2021

The UK's top 10 best-selling cars

Most economical family cars
Skoda Octavia hatchback
Best cars
1 Mar 2021

Most economical family cars

Best convertibles
MINI Convertible
Best cars
1 Mar 2021

Best convertibles