Used Tesla Model 3 long-term test: report 1

The used Tesla Model 3 won lots of What Car? accolades when it was new, but what's it like as a secondhand vehicle? We're living with one to find out...

Tesla Model 3 used blue 2021 Claire charging car

The car 2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range All-wheel drive | Run by Claire Evans, consumer editor

Why it's here To see if you can enjoy all the pleasures of Model 3 ownership without having to stump up the cost of a new model

Needs to Eat up motorway miles with ease, have enough range for longer excursions and be a comfortable and economical mobile office when needed  

Mileage on arrival 19,298 List price when new (2021) £49,590 Value on arrival £31,000 Test range 296 miles Official range 360 miles Options none

8 June 2024 – Flexibility and fun

One of the biggest ownership costs you’re likely to face when buying a car is depreciation, and these days that even extends to super-popular models such as the Tesla Model 3. While this might be a concern for new car buyers, though, it’s made Tesla’s electric executive saloon a hugely appealing used buy.

At three years old, a Model 3 Long Range AWD like mine costs about £31,000 – almost a third less than it did new – yet with less than 20,000 miles showing on its odometer, it still looks virtually as good as new. The steering and suspension feel taut, performance is strong and the controls are all swift to respond.

Tesla Model 3 used blue 2021 Claire driving car

I’ve got a Certified Pre-Owned Tesla, obtained directly from the American brand. Like other approved used cars, it’s undergone a thorough pre-sale inspection, including verification that it hasn’t had any structural damage and that the airbags haven’t been deployed.

Although my car is at the end of its three-year new car warranty, another year of cover is included with Certified Pre-Owned Teslas; this seems relatively generous, although the upper limit of 50,000 miles is on the low side. You also get two years’ roadside recovery.

With a pair of electric motors sending 434bhp to all four wheels, my Long Range model delivers startling acceleration, with a 0-62mph sprint time of 4.4sec. That can come in handy when joining fast-moving motorways or overtaking slower cars on country roads, but of more relevance is the fact that it promises a generous range of 360 miles (officially) from a battery with a 72kWh usable capacity. We know from our annual summer and winter range tests that the Model 3 – in any guise – is one of the most efficient electric cars you can buy, so I’m expecting my car to deliver a fine real-world range too.

Tesla Model 3 long termer Claire driving through village

The original owner specified Deep Blue metallic paint (a £1300 option), but otherwise my car is standard. Which means it’s very well stocked with equipment, including adaptive cruise control, faux-leather seats, an electric bootlid and keyless entry.

I’m glad to have a pre-facelift Model 3 (the car was revamped late last year), because that means the indicators are controlled via a stalk behind the steering wheel, as you’d find in most cars, rather than by switches on the steering wheel itself, as on the latest Model 3. That would take some getting used to.

My car does, however, have some more welcome features that I’ve not seen before on other cars, such as a distance display that tells you in centimetres or inches how far away you are from a wall or other obstruction when you’re reversing. This is much more useful than a bleep that really doesn’t tell you much and is frequently so overly sensitive that you leave too big a gap behind the car when parking.

The rear-view camera has a wide lens, too, so it can see farther around corners than the driver; this helps when I’m reversing out of my drive. And when I indicate, a wide-angle view of the road on that side of the car pops onto the infotainment touchscreen, helping me to see any objects in my blindspot.

Tesla Model 3 used blue 2021 infotainment screen

Another plus point to Tesla ownership is easy, unrestricted use of all of the brand’s dedicated public charging sites (only a few of which are open to non-Teslas too). My favourite is in a vineyard car park near Dorking, Surrey, which is on my way home from the office. It’s a beautiful setting in its own right, but it has the added benefit that there are public footpaths in the grounds if you fancy a stroll. There’s also a hotel on site with a fitness centre that runs weekly yoga classes, so I can recharge my own batteries while topping up my car.

Just a few weeks into Model 3 ownership, then, my used example is already becoming a bit of a ‘zen’ car for me. Living with it for the next few months will give me the chance to get more insights into the Model 3’s true nature.

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