From £40,9908
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?
James Attwood, digital editor
30 August 2019

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.

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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.

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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
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Einarbb 31 August 2019

I reckon choice is mostly about personal preference

I've now read lot's of different tests of Teslas and unless most of those are mistaken, these cars are somewhat stiffly sprung - with jiggly low speed ride, but firm and well controlled medium to high speed ride in the exchange. It I expect depends on where or how you do most of your driving. If most of it is outside town, or alternatively you are mostly in flowing traffic only rarely in very slow or stop start traffic -- the stiff suspension may work for the person, not become an irritant. Many testers have noted somewhat high road noice, which is a problem if person is looking for maximum refinement. Stories about high frequency of brake-downs also are, if those aren't exaggerated. I admit, I find the cabin too radical -- that all or nothing combination. I suspect my choice would be for a car with more conventional cabin set up, more comfortable meaning softer suspension hence less sporty, and greater focus on sound deadening. The Tesla feels like the owners wanted to create -- the BMW of electric cars. which seems to have more or less succeeded. For people who prefer sporty ride, and overall focus with sporty bend -- that appears well enough. The range of this particular model appears sufficient for people who have good access to charging facilities. The price not to steep considering alternative. Not cheap, but well within bounds.

Tappers 31 August 2019

Laugh

Well they're are a lot of mixed opinions here. I've laughed a lot too... conspiracy stories all sorts to keep us amused.
The thing is, if you are in the market for an electric car the model 3 SR+ has got go be a serious contender. What nobody has mentioned at all is the Tesla Supercharging network. Also the model3 is compatible with all the new high power CCS chargers that are being built in the UK. That for many, including me will more than likely seal the deal.
Cenuijmu 31 August 2019

Tappers wrote:

Tappers wrote:

Well they're are a lot of mixed opinions here. I've laughed a lot too... conspiracy stories all sorts to keep us amused. The thing is, if you are in the market for an electric car the model 3 SR+ has got go be a serious contender. What nobody has mentioned at all is the Tesla Supercharging network. Also the model3 is compatible with all the new high power CCS chargers that are being built in the UK. That for many, including me will more than likely seal the deal.

Lots of positives and negatives ... well it is battery powered!  

tonynibbles 30 August 2019

I got mine two weeks ago.

I got mine two weeks ago.

I spent three years saving for what ended up as 7k cash, plus some money from my old car, making an 11k deposit which the PCP works out at £260 a month on. I’ve never saved up for anything in my life as much as this car, and I love it. 

Cheap as chips to run, I laugh at the days I used to spend £40 a fortnight at the fuel pump, I was an idiot. That same money will last me months now and do 4x the mileage.

If you are at all curious then head down to Bluewater or wherever your local showroom is, and get yourself a test drive. Your preconceptions can then be either confirmed or rewritten.

 

 

 

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