It is fair to say that we have some history with Tesla Model 3. Five years ago, Elon Musk revealed exclusively to the Auto Express name of the company's new, small model, so we were the first to tell the world of the model 3's forthcoming arrival .
Now, after a long time than we had hoped, we drove it in the UK for the first time in front of the cars that reached eager customers in a few months.
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Our station coincides with the British model 3 configurator that runs live on the Tesla website, along with the price announcement. The three-strong range starts at £ 39,800 for the Standard Range Plus with rear-wheel drive and a range of 258 miles tested under WLTP standards, and goes up to £ 56,900 for the Performance model with its 0-60mph time of 3.2 seconds and an area around 329 miles.
Sitting in the middle is the car we are driving, the snap name Long Range AWD ̵
It costs £ 47,900 and stretches the alleged area to 348 miles and is still pretty fast with its 362bhp from its two engines giving a 0-60mph time of 4.5 seconds.
Last year, we drove the Model 3 in the United States and was hugely impressed, but it is another challenge on the British roads, and in a short time the EV market has gone with new models to challenge Tesla.
Model 3 can only be a Tesla – the smooth figure is like a Model S that shrunk in the sink, but cuts. You will be surprised at how compact it looks in the metal, even though it is 57 mm longer than a BMW 3 series of 4,690 mm long. The large side glass area helps to hide the size of the car, and the short over and back overhangs that are positively blunt.
There is no traditional front grille – as is the case with the latest model S and model X – with air intake under the license plate and some fine detailing in the headlights that are narrower than the 3 largest siblings. It is certainly a head-turner.
But it's the inside with the real wow factor – not least because of the brave bright white leather seats in the test trolley, with matching insert over the width of the dashboard and on the door panels.
If it's striking, it's not as close as eye opening as it stares back at you from the dash – just two things: a slim, crystal clear 15-inch touchscreen in the center of the dashboard and a knob with only two buttons on it and a few stems behind. That's it. No other buttons, switches, vents, screens – nothing.
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It takes minimalism at a new level; hot or cool air comes through what looks like a thin track, and also runs the full width of the dashboard over the white panel and behind the screen, while even outlets for smartphones (four in total) and storage space behind glossy glossy black panels on the center console.
Almost everything is controlled by the touch screen with a number of main menu items along the bottom. The two buttons on the steering wheel help with sound and standard autopilot functions, and also enable voice control.
As we expected from Tesla, this is not where innovation stops. Your smartphone is the key (at last!), Although it is also a credit card size option. And no start button – the car knows when the phone or card is in and will just let you click on the right stem down to select the drive and away you go.
That's where the fun continues – you just can't help yourself when there is such instant power available every time you touch the accelerator. It can do reversing, especially a little jerk, until you learn to modulate things (or you can choose Chill mode for acceleration), but whether it is from standstill or at highway speeds, acceleration is a heady and enjoyable experience that puts much more expensive performance machinery shame
. Of course, all that performance follows with closeness. A little shine from the Long Range model's two electric motors (one over the front and a rear axle to provide four-wheel drive) is more noticeable than in a model S – this model is cheaper after all – and our car had some wind noise around the exterior mirrors. Other than a little road noise, it is impressively quiet. It is even better to enjoy the robust standard 14-speaker surround sound system in then.
If we had a concern about Model 3's transition from the US to the UK, it was with the trip. Don't worry. Yes, it's fixed – more for rear seat passengers than those in front – but while in constant contact with the road surface, it's easily forgettable. It is best to describe it as sporty.
The 3 kg of 1.847kg – over 300kg more than a BMW 320d, is mostly due to the 75kWh battery – it will also feel different on the road. It won't completely change directions with a 3-series, but it stays flat (a weight advantage), and there's a lot of grip.
The control has Comfort, Standard and Sport settings, but we want to add it Standard where it feels nice biscuits, even though it is not the most reactive system we have experienced.
In short, the funniest of Model 3 comes from the acceleration – and it's addictive. Passengers will also enjoy it, and there is a decent knee joint in the back, excellent ceiling height despite the glass, but the foot room is a bit dense.
The startup opening is a bit tight as well, but the space is ok and it's surprisingly deep. Combine it with the room in the "frunk" (Califonian luggage compartment – we should call it a frost) and you get a total of 425 liters for luggage.
Back to the front seat and screen – how is it easy to use on the go? Surprisingly simple, actually. The key information is next to the driver at the speed at the top – not too far from the natural eye line when driving.
Regardless of your constant pussy with most settings on the go anyway – even if you adjust mirrors with a combination of the display and steering wheel buttons is not the best application – but it is quick and easy to get to know the system and voice control works well.
For such a technologically knowledgeable company, it's a little strange that you can't get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto Smartphone controls, though – Tesla obviously seems the proprietary system is good enough.
However, this leads to other areas. Each model 3 comes with Autopilot as standard; click the right hand down twice, and it starts with adaptive cruise and track control, while the myriad sensors monitor what's going on around the car and provide information to the screen, and even show the size of the vehicles around you. That means you can indicate when you use Autopilot and the car decides when it is safe to switch lanes and complete the maneuver for you.
It's the most intuitive, autonomous technology you can now get in a car, and it will be updated when and when Tesla has a software update. Over-the-air updates for all of the car's control and infotainment systems are free (and common), even if you have to pay for on-line access after year 1.
Model 3 customers pay for access to Tesla's comprehensive Supercharger network, Although the new car comes with CCS charging compatibility, other DC fast charging networks open to owners.
Tesla is a company that is never out of the news, and build quality issues are often raised, especially given the pace at which the company builds Model 3s. But our test car was impressive – the materials seem to be cozy, there were no squats or rattles, and frankly the cabin is so minimalist that there is not much to go wrong or loose.