The Tesla Model 3 has long been recognized as the EV kingpin. But does it still reign supreme against its growing list of rivals?
For many years, the Nissan Leaf was the first model that popped into your head when someone mentioned an electric vehicle. The Leaf was one of the very first ‘consumer-ready’ electric vehicles and even today, it is the most sold EV of all time.
However, if you were to ask someone to name an electric vehicle brand or model in 2021, chances are the majority of people would say Tesla.
The California-based EV firm, led by eccentric mogul Elon Musk, has become one of the most recognized brands in the world, and not just in the automotive sector. And whilst many will drool over Tesla’s party pieces like the Model S and the much-tweeted about ‘ludicrous’ mode, it is Tesla’s most affordable model that earns the most plaudits in the real world.
The Tesla Model 3 has long been recognized as one of the best electric vehicles around and, with its ‘Long Range’ version, it has got everything an EV owner could wish for.
It’s quick, it’s decent looking, and it has a range that would make even the most avid-critics of electric vehicles accept as “alright, I suppose.”
But is it all that it’s cracked up to be? For years, Tesla and specifically the Model 3 was out on its own as the king of everyday electric vehicles. Now, however, as the market continues to grow, the American EV is having to compete with a whole host of well-respected electric rivals. So, is it still top dog?
Even though this car has won several awards in its time, there has never been a ‘wow factor’ about how it looks. It’s round, sleek shape may be appreciated by some, but for many, including myself, it is particularly bland and a bit ‘vanilla’.
Still, this updated 2021 version of the Model 3 has seen some improvements, most notably with the black trim replacing the strips of chrome making it look a lot cooler and a lot more sporty.
The 19” sport alloy wheels fit nicely and the long, panoramic sunroof that stretches all the way across the roof of the car is another classy touch.
It is an ‘OK’ looking car at best. It’s not the best looking EV on the market and certainly nowhere near as good looking as it rival Polestar 2, but the true beauty of this car is on the inside…
Again, some may say the interior of this car is boring, but those people are wrong. Sure, It may feel as though Tesla put all its effort and attention into the giant-iPad on the dash but the Tesla Model 3 has made sure it sits firmly in the ‘beautiful minimalism’ camp instead of the ‘lazy boring’ one.
The adjustable synthetic leather seats are tremendously comfy and there is a great deal of space in the cockpit and in the back as well, with enough room for even those over 6-foot to be comfortable on long journeys. In the boot, the Tesla Model 3 has a storage capacity of 425L which is more than both the Polestar 2 and the Jaguar I-Pace.
However, the inside of this car is dedicated to the tech and the 15” infotainment screen is where the interior really comes into its own.
Every single thing is controlled through this one screen, whether that be climate control, navigation which has real-time updates and smart routing that automatically keeps up to date with real-time traffic conditions.
There’s also fast-charging available for two smartphones in the front, and although the Model 3 doesn’t support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, its own system is that good that you don’t even miss it. And, of course, there is also all the different games and gimmicks that come with it, too.
Although the Telsa Model 3 does a good job at keeping you and the kids entertained, it also keeps you safe. Its built-in autopilot which consists of rear, side and forward-facing cameras give you a 360-degree view of the road when driving. Through the use of 12 ultrasonic sensors which scan up to 160m in front of you, you are also provided with a detailed, augmented reality picture of what is waiting for you up ahead.
With the perfect blend of safety, silliness and comfort, the interior of the Tesla Model 3 is an absolute triumph, but this car truly comes into its own once its out on the road.
First things first, the Tesla Model 3 is pretty quick, even on this more moderate ‘Long Range’ version. This car has two independent motors which digitally control the torque to the front and rear wheels. It also has a 75kWh battery pack too, which means this car delivers 493Nm of torque and 434bhp.
With all that power and torque, this car absolutely bangs off from a standing start and, although its 0-60mph speed is only 4.2 seconds which is similar to the Polestar 2, the low driving position of this car makes it feel like you’re driving a roadster instead of an everyday saloon. It may only be as fast as a Polestar 2, but it feels as though it would absolutely leave it for dust.
Whilst the Tesla does have a top speed of 145mph, keeping your foot pressed against the floor is going to drain that battery pretty quickly, which defeats the point of this Long-Range version. On a full charge, you’ll be have a WLTP combined range of 360 miles, which really does set the bench-mark for range of electric cars in this class.
With that being said, this is a Tesla and one of the biggest perks of owning one of these is being able to use the Supercharger network. By plugging in at one of Tesla’s fast chargers, you’ll be able to recoup around 170 miles of range in just 15 minutes.
Asides from its speed, range and charging, the Tesla Model 3 is also incredibly smoot and comfy to drive. It is helped by the fact that the seats are as comfortable as your living room sofa, but it also handles impeccably and perfectly copes with being chucked into corners and slaloming down country lanes when you do want to have fun with it. Alternatively, on a motorway, you can set the adaptive cruise control and enable the lane assist and completely relax into a seamless driving experience.
There is the best of both worlds with this car. If you want to push your right foot to the floor, it feels as though it will keep up with any sports car and will truly put a smile on your face. However, if you want to prioritise comfort, it is incredibly smooth to drive.
The purpose of this review was to see if the Tesla Model 3 was all that it was cracked up to be and, to be completely honest, it was even better than I thought it would be.
It’s quick, it’s practical and thanks to its range and charging capabilities, it is perfectly suited to a world that is still in the process of switching over to electric. It might not be cheap, with this Long Range version starting at £46,990, but if you can afford it, I would say it is well worth the money.