From Elon Musk’s late night tweets to seemingly endless speculation about share prices, there’s so much noise around Tesla that it’s sometimes easy to forget the company actually makes cars.
Granted, British buyers have been waiting rather a long time for this one. The Tesla Model 3 – the US brand’s much-vaunted entry-level model – was first unveiled nearly three years ago, and despite various production delays it has been on sale in America for quite a while now.
However, with first deliveries pencilled in for July and the order books now open, your wait is almost over. Even better, we’ve had the chance to test it on UK roads so you know exactly what to expect before you make any financial commitments.
Some of you Tesla fans will doubtless know plenty about this car already, but for those who aren’t that clued up, what exactly is the Model 3? – Tesla doesn’t do petrols, diesels or even hybrids – and it’s the brand’s smallest model to date, sitting below the Model X SUV and the Model S luxury saloon.
It’s roughly the same size as the BMW 3 Series and, initially at least, there will be two versions: a rear-wheel drive Standard Range Plus, and a four-wheel drive Performance model with a greater range and faster acceleration. There was a Long Range version which was briefly available in the UK when pricing was first announced, and customers that ordered it will still receive it, but this model is now currently unavailable and it’s unclear if it will be reintroduced.
Pricing isn’t a million miles away from the 3 Series, either. It might look more expensive on paper, but factor in a £3500 government grant and a Standard Range Plus costs just a couple of thousand pounds more than a BMW 320d M Sport. You’ll pay a lot more for the Performance, although both look good value given the performance offered – the two models comfortably undercut the Mercedes C43 AMG and C63 AMG respectively.
In the electric car world, the Model 3 sits between the Kia e-Niro and the Jaguar I-Pace, and, officially at least, can manage greater distances than either of those cars – up to 338 miles according to the latest European government tests – between charges.
Stay with us over the next few pages and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Tesla Model 3, including what it’s like to drive, how practical it is and how easy it is to charge. We’ll also run you through some of the car’s impressive tech.