Tesla’s intent to democratise electric motoring charged up a notch with the executive-sized Tesla Model 3, launched in 2019. WIth Tesla having sparked public interest with the large Tesla Model S and even larger Tesla Model X, it’s been a runaway worldwide sales success, offering all the high-tech, drama, range and modernism of the larger cars in a smaller and more affordable package.
Three flavours of Model 3 are available: Standard Range Plus, Long Range and the flagship Performance version. On the road, it’s very good, with even the entry-level, rear-wheel-drive Standard Range Plus managing 0-60mph in 6.1sec. However, the Long Range and Performance models have four-wheel drive and not one but two electric motors.
At low speeds, the two lower-spec models jostle you around quite a bit. Oddly, the Performance version on its sports suspension and massive 20in wheels is the most comfortable Model 3 on motorways.
It certainly handles well in Performance guise. The Long Range version is tidy, 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.
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 around its frameless doors, despite double-glazed side windows.
You get essentially the same touchscreen infotainment system that features in Tesla’s larger models, although the Model 3’s screen is slightly smaller (15.0in) and a landscape rather than portrait format. 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.