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.
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.