2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range review: price, specs and release date
The Tesla Model 3 Long Range can now cover even more miles between charges, plus it's had some visual tweaks inside and out. We get our hands on the facelifted model for the first time...
Priced from £49,990 (before £3000 government grant) | On sale Now
It’s the final piece of the puzzle. We’ve already driven the facelifted Tesla Model 3 in entry-level Standard Range Plus and range-topping Performance guises; now we’ve got our hands on the revised Long Range, the version that’s always been most popular with UK buyers.
Why has the Long Range been the bestseller thus far? Well, as its name suggests, it’s the version that can cover the most miles on a battery charge – and that range is now better than ever, as we’ll come onto explain. But it also comes down to price. You see, despite having the best range of any Model 3, the Long Range has always been much cheaper than the Performance and, unlike its pricier sibling, qualifies for a £3000 grant from the government.
After factoring in that grant, which the revised Long Range is still eligible for (as is any other other pure electric car priced below £50,000 for that matter), the cost to you is £46,990. Compare that with the £56,490 you’ll pay for the Performance version and its appeal is obvious. Yes, you could have the Standard Range Plus for £40,490, but its smaller battery and much shorter range make it rather less compelling.
Of course, many will choose to lease or sign up to a finance agreement, but these methods will also see you pay significantly less for a Long Range than a Performance.
What's it like to drive?
Despite the popularity of the Long Range, we’ve previously gone on record to say the Performance model is worth the extra cash. The latter goes very nearly as far on a full battery charge, accelerates faster, goes around corners better and, surprisingly, was the more comfortable option, too.
Note the words ‘surprisingly’ and ‘was’. That’s because the Performance model had (and still has) sports suspension and huge 20in alloy wheels as standard – things that don’t normally go hand-in-hand with a comfortable ride. But while the Performance has always been fairly firm around town, that was preferable to the continuous bobbing about that we found the Long Range prone to, especially on the motorway.
But here’s the thing: we only managed to test one version of the previous Long Range and that was a relatively high-mileage example sourced from a rental firm before the first Covid lockdown. We suspected at the time that its poorly controlled ride might have been an issue with our particular car rather than an inherent issue with the Long Range but, for understandable reasons, weren't able to get hold of another example to confirm.
Whether our suspicions were correct or Tesla has quietly reworked the suspension we can’t be sure, but we can say that the facelifted Long Range we've driven – a brand new car loaned directly from Tesla – is much better. We’d go so far as to say it’s the most comfortable version of the updated Model 3, even though lighter petrol and diesel executive car alternatives – particularly the Audi A4 but also the best versions of the BMW 3 Series – smother bumps with a bit more polish and sophistication.
Thanks mainly to its adoption of a different set of tyres and a heat pump that enables more efficient warming of the interior, its official range on a full charge jumps from 348 miles to 360 miles, bettering every other electric car on sale apart from the larger Model S (up to 405 miles) and new Ford Mustang Mach-E which, in the right spec, promises up to 373 miles.
If you buy the Ford, though, you’ll have to use the UK's public charging network for long journeys. With the Teslas you get access to the US brand’s proprietary Supercharger network. This offers really fast, reliable charging and there are usually lots of stations at every location; we’ve never had to queue, and this certainly isn’t the case when using other public charging stations on the motorway.
Admittedly, you won’t actually get 360 miles from your Long Range Model 3. You might get close to 300 if it’s nice and warm outside and you’re driving gently, but in the sort of weather most of Britain has seen over the past week, we wouldn’t risk a journey of much more than 200 miles. Still, no electric car we’ve ever tested has managed to match its official (WLTP) range, and all suffer in cold weather.
And how does 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds suit you? No, the Long Range isn’t as savagely fast as the Performance model, but we’re still talking about almost Mercedes C63 AMG levels of acceleration. And while it rolls a bit more roll through corners and has a bit less grip than the Performance, the Long Range feels far more balanced and composed than the entry-level Standard Range Plus – and the rival Polestar 2 for that matter.
It’s just worth remembering that if you’re looking for a saloon that’s genuinely playful and entertaining, a 3 Series (there’s a plug-in hybrid but no pure electric version) would suit you better. Likewise, despite the updated Model 3 gaining laminated side windows, there’s more road and wind noise than in the best German saloons.
What’s it like inside?
There have been some changes in here, too – but not huge ones and they aren’t specific to the Long Range.
The centre console that runs between the driver and front passenger is the most noticeable update; where previously it was gloss black, it’s now finished in satin grey. The storage bin in front of the cupholders gains a sliding lid (it used to flip up) and a second hinged lid below the touchscreen has gone completely, replaced by a wireless charging pad finished in faux suede.
If you’re the owner of the previous Model 3 owner you might also notice the redesigned scroll wheels on the steering wheel, that the USB sockets are now of the newer, smaller ‘C’ variety. There’s also the option to protect the glovebox with a PIN code.
To make loading the boot easier there’s now an electric tailgate. And while we’re on the subject of luggage space, the new heat pump has borrowed a bit of the Model 3's ‘frunk’ (front boot) space, although it's still bigger than most other electric cars'.
The changes on the outside are even more minor and are limited to gloss black door handles and window surrounds (both were previously chrome). Meanwhile, the LED headlights have been made a bit more powerful for better night-time visibility.
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