This is the road test that nearly did not happen, because of a silly camera fault! Yet, having experienced the full, six-figure might of both Models S and X last summer, nothing was going to dissuade me from getting to grips with Model 3. As the affordable Tesla, it has a lot to prove and its route to market, while problematic, has led to it becoming the biggest selling EV worldwide so far this year.
For a start, expect nothing to be normal. Possessing much the same swoopy styling as its Model S big brother, the 3 is perter but no less attractive. If, as I have stated before, the Model S is the way that the Jaguar XJ-series should have looked, the 3 makes an XE look ugly. Viewed from any angle, this Tesla is a very pretty car indeed.
The interior is well made, spacious and comfortable, very plain but dominated by a large laptop-size touchscreen angled towards the driver. Every ounce of driver information is provided via this screen and, having no conventional instrumentation, rather than frustration, the driver soon feels clutched warmly to the bosom of the car. Mind you, working it proficiently on the move can be difficult at times, especially as the car’s firm suspension can make accurate touches very inaccurate.
Very few modern cars telegraph road responses with any real zeal to a driver’s fingers and the Model 3 follows that order but it is not lacking in dynamism and, on the roads of North Yorkshire, I discovered that it can conceal the car’s hefty 1.6-tonnes kerbweight with competence. Levels of mechanical grip are unerringly excellent and familiarity makes the car easy to point and press on.
Featuring only a single electric motor, hooked up to a 55kWh battery pack, the unit delivers 235bhp and 276lbs ft of instant torque. It is enough to whisk it from 0-60mph in a mere 5.3s, before topping out at 140mph, which highlights that Tesla 3 ain’t slow. It also provides a WLTP range of 254 miles, which is more than enough for most EV owners. Needless to say, it drives gearlessly, although its braking system is augmented by ‘dead-pedal’ regenerative braking, which is actually one of the least pleasant aspects of the car.
Thanks to its flat-floor construction, there are boots at both ends of the Model 3, offering a total of 425-litres of space. The rear seats fold for extra room. In terms of practicality, Tesla has all of its rivals licked. However, the biggest advantage lies in its list price, which (pre-discount) is pitched at £37,360. Okay. I realise that it is still costlier than some EVs (which are also sorely overpriced) but, with some interesting lease options and Tesla’s nous in the EV scene, it looks like conspicuously good value for money to me.