From £42,0008
Entry-level Model 3 has reduced power and range - but is substantially cheaper. So, is it the best option for those seeking an affordable Tesla?

Our Verdict

Tesla Model 3 2018 road test review hero front

Lowest-price, largest-volume Tesla yet has wooed the buying public in the US. Should UK buyers join the queue for a Model 3?

James Attwood, digital editor
30 August 2019
Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus 2019 UK

What is it?

This is perhaps the most-anticipated Tesla of them all: the entry-level Model 3. Well, sort of. It’s not quite Elon Musk’s long-promised and much-anticipated $35,000 Model 3, but this Standard Range Plus version represents the cheapest model currently offered to UK buyers.

Once you take into account the vagaries of exchange rates, shipping costs, right-hand drive conversion and so on, this Model 3 will cost £36,340. That makes it the cheapest Tesla available in Britain by some margin, undercutting the twin-motor Model 3 Long Range by nearly £10,000.

The Standard Range Plus features a ‘partial premium’ interior and a reduced level of connectivity, but the main difference is that it swaps the twin motor 365bhp all-wheel-drive powertrain from the Long Range for a single 252bhp motor mounted on the rear axle, while a smaller battery cuts the WLTP-certified range from 348 to 254 miles.

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What's it like?

Such is the fame of the Model 3 that its design already feels familiar, despite it being relatively new to the UK. It’s not exactly the prettiest of designs, but it’s certainly distinctive.

In terms of view from the driver’s seat, there’s nothing else currently on the market quite like a Tesla – and the Model 3 distills its distinctive approach further. 

The dashboard is dominated by a massive touchscreen, used for virtually all of the car’s controls, with physical controls and other screens kept to an absolute minimum. It’s a design that Tesla’s many fans likely claim showcases the future, while the firm’s many critics would likely cite as an exercise in form over function. The truth, as is often the case with Tesla, is somewhere in between.

Certainly, even a Tesla fan might grudgingly admit having to plough through touchscreen menus to adjust the steering wheel rake and reach is needlessly complicated. Likewise, Tesla critics might, if pushed, accept that the stripped-back, spacious interior does feel a little bit special and, once you’ve adjusted, works quite well. That said, critics might also find it easy to spot the occasional use of cheaper materials in some areas.

The speed is displayed in the top corner of the screen and, once you override your instincts, is as easily within your eyeline as the traditional behind-the-wheel locations. The few physical controls – two behind-the-wheel stalks and two on-the-wheel controllers – are usefully multi-function and handle the controls you most need when driving.

And, after all, it’s driving where the Model 3 really scores. With its single motor, the Standard Range Plus has a top speed of 140mph and a 0-60mph time of 5.3sec. That compares to 145mph and 4.4sec for the twin-motor Long Range, but it hardly feels lacking in power. The instant torque provides effortless, smooth acceleration. It may not have the Ludicrous modes or absolute top speed of higher-spec Tesla models, but you’re never left wanting for more. 

Notably, unlike many electric cars, the Model 3 doesn’t offer the ability to adjust the regenerative braking effect, which actually reduces the ability to better control it and to maximise the range of the 50kWh battery.

The steering offers pleasingly rapid changes of direction, although it can be a little numb and lacking in feedback. Even if you aren’t exploring the full reaches of the Model 3’s torque, it drives well; it’s smooth and refined, conveying a quiet sense of luxury. The ride isn’t as refined as rivals' and there’s more road noise than you’d expect from a car pitched as a premium saloon to rival the BMW 3 Series

Should I buy one?

The Model 3 has set a new standard for Tesla, and the comparative affordability of this Standard Range Plus version makes it a truly compelling option. The downgrade in performance from more expensive options is limited in real-world usage, making the reduction in range from 348 to 254 miles the biggest pause for thought.

If that shorter range can work within your driving patterns, the Standard Range Plus Model 3 is well worth considering. There are a few rough edges, but those waiting for a more affordable Tesla won’t be disappointed – and it might just make believers out of a few Tesla cynics.  

Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus specification

Where Surrey, UK Price £36,340 (after £3500 government grant) On sale Now Engine Permanent magnet electric motor Battery 50kWh Power 252bhp Torque 277lb ft Gearbox single-speed reduction gear automatic Kerb weight 1611kg Top speed 140mph 0-62mph 5.8sec Range 252 miles (WLTP) CO2 0g/km Rivals BMW 330e M Sport

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Comments
37

30 August 2019
So what does a 250bhp electric motor with its instant throttle response powering the rear wheels do to driving experience? Is this actually the throttle adjustable drift machine it is in my head?

30 August 2019

Still just too pricey, still not got the quality premium finish inside, just too spartan inside, are the European brands better?

30 August 2019

That's indeed the issue that worries my concern when piloting my BMW 3-something flibble

31 August 2019

What better EV can you buy for £36.5k?

30 August 2019

Worst thing for me about the Model 3, like the Model S and Model X, is the interior and the virtual lack of buttons for simple functions. I'm all for simplicity and stylish cabins with a lack of clutter but that screen to me is far too large and distracting, from the glare to having to navigate to do even the simplest of things, especially when on the move. I'd probably just find the day to day use of such a cabin up totally infuriating. It seems like the days of intuitive and easy to use interiors are fast becoming a thing of the past with many manufacturers. Style and technology doesn't always mean progress.

30 August 2019
Lanehogger wrote:

Worst thing for me about the Model 3, like the Model S and Model X, is the interior and the virtual lack of buttons for simple functions. I'm all for simplicity and stylish cabins with a lack of clutter but that screen to me is far too large and distracting, from the glare to having to navigate to do even the simplest of things, especially when on the move. I'd probably just find the day to day use of such a cabin up totally infuriating. It seems like the days of intuitive and easy to use interiors are fast becoming a thing of the past with many manufacturers. Style and technology doesn't always mean progress.

Agreed.

IMO, the hype over this car seems to have blinded the devotees to the awful and mind-numbingly dull looking interior, which looks a bare window sill with a tablet stuck on it. Also,  sticking nearly all the car's functions on one single screen, makes that screen a single point of failure, should it break down or stop working for whatever reason.

And that's not to mention the utterly charactless jelly-mould exterior styling of the Telsa model3. Think I'll pass on the model 3, If and when I go for an electric car.

30 August 2019

I said the same thing until I actually drove one for a week. The simplicity really works. You dont need all those buttons...its actually silly. The driving and charging experience is where it excells  - beyond any other EV and...and where it stands head and shoulder above...

30 August 2019

Confused:

You follow this statement

"it’s smooth and refined, conveying a quiet sense of luxury" 

Immediately with this contradiction

"The ride isn’t as refined as rivals, and there’s more road noise than you’d expect"

30 August 2019

from the more powerful one with AWD?  The performance seems more than adequate and would negate any issues of range in comparison.  Seems like there is a slot for it within the range at a price point between the two.

I think the interior looks spartan but also futuristic, it's not my cup of tea but I can see why it appeals.

 

30 August 2019
They did it was the long-range RWD, the line up as of now is.

Configurations
Standard RWD Plus
£39,990
Long-Range Dual Motor AWD
£48,990
Performance Dual Motor AWD
£52,640

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