Used Tesla Model 3 long-term test

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 long termer 2021 with Claire doing yoga pose

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

Just a few weeks into Tesla Model 3 ownership and my used example is becoming a bit of a zen car for me. It was far more affordable to buy than a new model, yet it has all the latest tech, and I can recharge my batteries in some lovely locations while I charge it up. 

Tesla Model 3 used blue 2021 Claire charging car

First, let’s talk about value. The old adage goes that the biggest hit you’ll take when buying a new car is depreciation, and these days that also extends to Tesla models. While that may be a concern for new car buyers, it’s made this executive saloon a hugely appealing used option for used car buyers. At two years old, my used Tesla Model 3 costs £31,000 – almost a third less than it did new – yet with only 20,000 miles on its odometer it still feels just run-in.

The steering and suspension feel taut, the motor peppy and the controls all swift to respond. It helps that Teslas benefit from over-the-air updates, including an enhanced version of the AutoPilot driver assistance system that has an automatic lane changing function and the ability to drive the car on and off motorway junctions. I’ll update on these when I’ve had a chance to try them out.  

My car also comes with a host of luxury features, including climate control, adaptive cruise control, faux-leather seats front and rear, an electric tailgate and keyless entry via an app on my smartphone. 

Tesla Model 3 used blue 2021 Claire driving car

My car is a Certified Pre-Owned Tesla, obtained directly from the American brand. Like other approved used cars, it’s undergone a thorough pre-sale inspection. There’s also verification that the car hasn’t had any structural damage, and a guarantee that the airbags haven’t been deployed, which is reassuring.  

Plus, as well as the third year of its new car warranty, Tesla adds a second year /10,000-mile cover too, which seems more generous than competitor brands, although the upper mileage limit of 50,000 miles is on the low side. Two years’ Tesla roadside recovery is also thrown in, which is twice as long as I’d have expected. 

I’m glad to have a pre-facelift Model 3 though, because it has its indicators on a stalk behind the steering wheel, like you'd find in most cars, rather than on the steering wheel itself, which the new models have. That would take some getting used to. My car also has some smart features that I’ve not seen 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 so much more sensible than a bleep that really doesn’t tell you much, and is frequently so sensitive that you leave too big a gap behind the car when parking. 

Tesla Model 3 used blue 2021 Claire driving car

The rear-view camera has a wide lens too, so it can see farther round the corner than the driver, which helps if I’m reversing out of my drive. And when I press an indicator, a wide-angle view of the relevant road on that side of the road pops onto the touchscreen, making it easier to spot vehicles that could be in my blindspot. 

Less sensible features include having the glove box release button and windscreen washer adjustment controls on the car’s touchscreen. And, although the wipers can be left in auto mode, it’s not as good at altering the frequency of wipes as other premium models I’ve driven, and I often go into the screen menu and turn it off. 

Talking of the touchscreen, I’m finding the infotainment system pretty simple and intuitive to use in general, and I appreciate the drop and drag function that lets me put any frequently used functions at the bottom of the screen so I can access them with a single touch. 

Tesla Model 3 used blue 2021 infotainment screen

The other plus point to Tesla ownership is the exclusive use of some rather lovely EV charging sites. My favourite is a Tesla Supercharger location that’s in a vineyard car park. It’s a beautiful setting on its own, but it has the added benefits that there are public footpaths in the grounds so I can go for a walk while the car charges. There’s also a hotel on site with a fitness centre that has weekly yoga classes, so I can improve my fitness and flexibility while topping up the car. 

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