What's the used Tesla Model 3 hatchback like?
We might be in the midst of a 21st-century electric car revolution right now, but we can be sure that when the history books are written, Tesla will certainly go down as one of the most important pioneers – and the Tesla Model 3 is its best car yet.
The American firm initially served up the very large Tesla Model S and the even larger Tesla Model X but the true statement of Tesla’s intent to democratise electric motoring was eventually realised in this executive car-sized Model 3, launched in 2019. It’s perhaps not surprisingly been a runaway worldwide sales success, offering all the high-tech and drama and range and modernism of the larger cars in a smaller and more affordable package.
Versions and specs: Three versions are available in the UK: Standard Range Plus; the Long Range and the slightly more insane, flagship Performance version. The Standard Range Plus is WLTP-certified for 254 miles of claimed range and the Long Range steps that up to 348 miles. The Performance, meanwhile, has a claimed range of 329 miles. Indeed such is the alacrity with which Tesla works, the model has already been the beneficiary of a mild 2020 facelift and a more complete revision in 2023.
All versions come with plenty of luxuries, including climate control, adaptive cruise control, faux-leather seats (heated in the front), an electric tailgate and keyless entry via an app on your smartphone. Go for the Long Range or Performance version and you’ll get heated seats in the back.
Indeed, apart from metallic paint and different alloy wheel designs, the only option you could have added from new was the Full Self Driving Capability. This is potentially misleading, because it doesn't allow you to sit in the back and read a paper while the car takes you to your destination by itself. However, it does allow the car to make lane changes on its own (just hit the indicator), steer itself into a parking space and even be 'summoned' via a smartphone app at very low speeds; for example, if someone parks too close to you in a car park for you to open the doors and get in, you can simply drive the car out of the space using your phone. Note, though, that full self-driving capabilities are still illegal on UK roads.
Ride and handling: On the road, even the entry-level, rear-wheel-drive Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus managed 0-60mph in 6.1sec. That's much faster than the Kia e-Niro or, indeed, a similarly priced petrol or diesel rival, such as the BMW 3 Series. However, the Long Range and Performance models have four-wheel drive, and not one but two electric motors, so they're even quicker. Indeed, we've timed the Performance, which is our pick of the range, pinging from 0-60mph in just 3.3sec.
As for how far you'll really get between charges, the pre-facelift Standard Range Plus model we tested managed a respectable 181 miles in our Real Range tests. The Long Range and Performance models both have bigger batteries, and the latter (also a pre-facelift model) achieved 239 miles – one of the longest ranges of any electric car we've ever tested, beaten only by rivals that include the e-Niro and the Jaguar I-Pace.
Tesla claims the facelifted cars should go quite a bit further on a charge: the Standard Range Plus has an official range of 267 miles; the Long Range 360 miles and the Performance 352 miles.
At low speeds, the entry-level Standard Range Plus and the Long Range jostle you around quite a bit. The range-topping Performance version has sports suspension and massive 20in wheels as standard. Despite this, it’s a more comfortable alternative to the Polestar 2 and, perhaps surprisingly, the most comfortable Model 3 on motorways.
The Model 3 handles really well in its Performance guise. The Long Range version handles tidily, too, just with a bit more body lean and a little less grip. However, the Standard Range Plus feels altogether less balanced and less confidence-inspiring than the pricier versions – despite being lighter.
Being a pure electric car, the Model 3 is, unsurprisingly, whisper-quiet at town speeds. However, there’s quite a lot of tyre noise on faster roads when you can also hear the wind whistling around its frameless doors – despite the double-glazed side windows.
Interior and practicality: To keep the dashboard looking as minimalist as possible, everything from the wipers to the headlights is controlled via the central touchscreen. The downside of this is that even adjusting the door mirrors requires you to delve into the touchscreen and then fiddle around with buttons on the steering wheel.
You get essentially the same touchscreen infotainment system that features in larger Tesla models, although it's slightly smaller (15in) and is in landscape rather than the portrait orientation usual in those cars. The layout of the screen is intuitive, and while some of the smaller icons can be distracting to hit accurately while you’re driving, at least the system is quick and responsive once you’ve made your selection.
Front-seat passengers are unlikely to have any complaints about space, no matter how tall they are. There’s similar leg and head room in the back of the Model 3 to the BMW 3 Series – comfortably enough for a six-footer to sit behind a driver of a similar height, in other words.
The Tesla Model 3 is a saloon, so its boot aperture isn’t huge. However, there’s actually more space for luggage than you’ll find in conventional executive rivals, That’s thanks partly to a huge well under its main boot floor, but also the extra storage under the bonnet ('frunk' is Tesla speak). In total, we managed to squeeze in an impressive total of 10 carry-on suitcases into the Model 3's two boots.
What used Tesla Model 3 hatchback will I get for my budget?
Prices for the Model 3 Standard Range start at around £20,000 to £22,000 for a 2019 car. Expect to pay more for the two higher models, £22,000, and around the same for a 2020 version of the standard car. You’ll need upwards of £23,000 for a Long Range or Performance car from 2020, and around £23,000 to £28,000 for a 2021 or 2022 model Expect to spend upwards of £30,000 on a 2023 model.
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How much does it cost to run a Tesla Model 3 hatchback?
There are no fuel costs, of course. Buying a Model 3 gives you access to Tesla’s own network of Superchargers, which allow you to charge the battery (from 10-80%) in as little as 30 minutes. You have to pay each time, but the price is reasonable, and the Supercharger network is more prolific and more reliable to use than any other. Of course, you can still charge up at any public CCS charging point if you need to, but this method takes longer (around 1hr 15min) for the same 10-80% top-up, whereas a full 0-100% charge at home using a 7kW charger takes around 11hr 45min.
All Model 3s have zero emissions and will pay zero tax under the current VED scheme. Being a fully electric car it’s also exempt from the supplementary luxury car tax that conventionally powered cars costing over £40,000 new have to pay.
Insurance costs will be on the high side, while servicing is required annually or every 12,500 miles and servicing plans are available. A three-year maintenance plan includes three inspections in total – one every 12 months or 12,500 miles, whichever occurs first – and can be paid for up front or in instalments at a cost of £1575.
Servicing and warranty costs
The Tesla Model 3 comes with a four-year/50,000 mile warranty, with the battery and drive unit covered separately for eight years or 100,000 miles. Not only does this warranty cover the electrical bits against faults, it also guarantees a minimum 70% retention of battery capacity.
Which used Tesla Model 3 hatchback should I buy?
If you can afford the extra, we’d pick the Performance version. It’s ridiculously fast and has a great range. It’s well equipped, too, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, LED headlights, power-folding mirrors, electrically operated front seats and steering column, heated front and rear seats, a 15in infotainment screen with Google Maps, Netflix and web browsing, among a host of other refinements.
Our favourite Tesla Model 3: Model 3 Performance
What alternatives should I consider to a used Tesla Model 3 hatchback?
The Jaguar I-Pace styles itself as an SUV and it is a brilliant electric car with a sumptuous interior and a longer real-world range than some versions of the Model S. That plush interior also has an excellent driving position, while the ride is comfy.
The Audi e-tron is a large SUV that combines those much-loved traditional Audi qualities – such as a top-notch interior – with hitherto unimagined levels of comfort and refinement. The spacious interior is bursting with plush materials and high-tech goodies, too.
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