Tesla’s goal has been to ensure the Model 3 is “smaller, simpler and more affordable” than the Model S that preceded it, so the new car doesn’t use air springs or adaptive dampers. Instead, you’ll find a passively damped coil spring at each corner, although the suspension itself is of a double-wishbone design at the front axle and five-link rear – the expensive, favoured set-up of traditional sporting saloons.
Meanwhile, in contrast to the almost entirely aluminium Model S, the Model 3’s body-in-white consists of mainly high-strength steel. Several exterior panels – notably the bonnet, boot, doors and roof – are made of aluminium, though, and this contributes to a reasonably low kerb weight of 1645kg.
‘Reasonably’ low because, as a purely electric car, the Model 3 needs to carry a substantial battery pack. In the case of our entry-level Standard Range Plus test car, Tesla mounts its own 2976-cell pack, with a 50kWh usable capacity, in the skateboard style we’ve seen before – that is, spread over the floorpan but within the car’s unusually long wheelbase. It feeds a rear-mounted transaxle electric motor that drives the wheels through a single-speed gearbox.
Long Range and Performance versions of the Model 3 both use a 75kWh battery, which pushes the car’s WLTP driving range to 348 and 329 miles respectively. Each of those models also gets four-wheel drive courtesy of a second electric motor that sits within the front subframe. Attached via two mounts, it’s designed to pivot backwards into a vacant space during a collision.