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View all Tesla Model 3 reviews
Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Lowered prices raise Model 3's appeal

Tesla Model 3 (16 on) - rated 4.5 out of 5
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PROS

  • Interior airiness and performance are very impressive
  • Entry-level price isn't much higher than a Nissan Leaf
  • Real-world electric range is very impressive

CONS

  • Model range now limited to two models in the UK
  • Minimalist interior design won't appeal to all
  • Podgy styling not as appealing as Model S

PROS

  • Interior airiness and performance are very impressive
  • Entry-level price isn't much higher than a Nissan Leaf
  • Real-world electric range is very impressive

CONS

  • Model range now limited to two models in the UK
  • Minimalist interior design won't appeal to all
  • Podgy styling not as appealing as Model S

Tesla Model 3 rivals

The Tesla Model 3 is now on sale in the UK, and it's the car that's moving this most famous of Californian start-ups into the automotive big time. It brings Tesla's amazing Electric Vehicle (EV) technology to a more affordable end of the market – and it's selling extremely strongly with more than 70,000 Model 3s sold in the first half of 2019. 

The Model 3's UK pricing certainly looks exciting. The entry-level point is £37,340, rising to £49,140 for the Performance model. It's clearly widening your options if it's a Tesla you're after – the Model S starts at £77,200 and that isn't small change by anyone’s standards. But Tesla is keen to emphasise that when taking fuelling costs into account, and the ease of the use of its Supercharger network of car chargers, the overall cost of ownership is actually very competitive.

Tesla isn't really looking at other electric cars as opposition for the Model 3, but more established medium-sized premium saloons such as the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4. The question is – can this ambitious electric car, built by this most charismatic of start-up companies tempt you out of your conventional executive car? Or are you still undecided about the benefits and drawbacks that come part and parcel with electric car ownership?

Tesla Model 3: how much range does it have?

The Model 3 is part of Tesla's ‘secret master plan’ to bring sustainable energy-powered transport to the masses. A smaller price puts new customers in the manufacturer’s cars, not just those who could afford to justify the premium cost of the Model S.

Like that car though Tesla says the Model 3 will combine range, performance, safety and utility to make it the ideal family car. Depending on which model you choose, it will get up to 259-335 miles on a charge – which places it firmly at the top end of this crowded market sector.

Tesla Model 3 charging – as good as it gets

As well as costing less than rival petrol and diesel cars to fuel, the Tesla is as painless as it comes for a BEV to charge up. Like all of its rivals, charging using a three-point domestic plug is okay for emergencies, but it's slow and inefficient. Most owners will install their own fast charger at home and that will be sufficient for most needs.

There's also Tesla's Supercharger network, which takes about 40 minutes to replenish (from 20 to 80%), and is expanding all the time. Compared with other public chargers, the Supercharger offers a premium ownership experience – as long as you're not going out of your way to top up – although the free charging offered to Tesla customers following its launch has long since been dropped.

In use, a Tesla Model 3 shouldn't offer up too many anxieties around its range. When the battery runs low, the sat-nav automatically diverts the car to the nearest available charger. Travel information and advice are relayed exclusively by the big touchscreen, which is still a USP of a Tesla.

What's the Tesla Model 3 like to drive?

Like the larger Model S, the Model 3 is quick in all of its forms. Tesla claims a 0-60mph for all models between 3.5 and 5.6 seconds, which like the Model S dominates your initial impressions of the car. Maximum speed is quoted as 141mph, but high-speed motorway cruising kills this car's range, as well as battery life.

As for handling, when pushed hard, the Model 3 has impressive directional stability, and is blessed with flat cornering and tenacious grip. The good news is that if you don't make use of all of that performance, you can expect a maximum of 335 miles between charges too.

The pay off is that the ride quality isn't exactly impressive. The Model 3 displays a jittery ride on some road surfaces that is felt through the wheel as well as the seats, no doubt a side-effect of not offering adjustable dampers or air suspension.

What else do you need to know about the Tesla Model 3?

Tesla Model 3 interior

The rear-seat accommodation isn't exactly generous, which is a disappointment, given the Model S's huge interior, and shared benefits of that compact electric drivetrain. Head- and legroom are acceptable, but the rear bench is also too narrow for three adults.

The steering has three modes: Comfort, Standard and Sport. Since the sole parameter affected is the weight of the system, Standard strikes the best compromise between input and feedback. Another driver option is the brake energy regeneration mode.

In the high setting you rarely need to touch the brake pedal. That’s acceptable for steep hills, but excessive resistance is actually counter-productive in normal driving as you keep reinvesting the energy saved to maintain a steady forward motion. Still, the braking system is powerful, even if the pedal feels a little numb.

Buying a Tesla Model 3 in the UK

You can now configure your car and place an order, and the first cars are now in the UK. Tesla is offering the car via Personal Contract Purchase and Hire Purchase deals. A Standard Range Plus version will cost £395 per month on a PCP deal, or £513 per month on Hire Purchase. Long Range models will set you back £602 per month via PCP, or £682 per month on a Hire Purchase deal. Performance models start from £590 per month with PCP, or £751 per month with Hire Purchase.

Our leasing partner, ZenAuto has announced that the Model 3 will be available from September/October for personal lease for the following terms. The Standard Range RWD Plus will cost from £394 per month for 8,000 miles per year over a 24-month period, with a £3,000 initial payment, plus £199 processing fee.

Tesla Model 3 rear view

*Deals are correct at time of publication. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available – Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available this week. Bauer Consumer Media Limited is an appointed representative of ZenAuto Limited for the broking of regulated hire agreements. ZenAuto Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. ZenAuto Limited's registered office is Number One, Great Exhibition Way, Kirkstall Forge, Leeds LS5 3BF. ZenAuto Limited's company registration number is 10967345. ZenAuto is the trading name of ZenAuto Limited. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply.

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Tesla Model 3 rivals