Preview: Tesla Model 3

Preview: Tesla Model 3
Preview: Tesla Model 3

Due in the UK at the end of next year, Tesla’s all-electric Model 3 is set to shake up the 3 series class

Many Teslas are beyond the financial reach of the average car buyer – but the new Tesla Model 3 aims to change all that when it arrives in the UK at the end of 2018.

Expected to be priced from around £35,000, the five-seater all-electric Model 3 has a small electric motor. This has a lot to do with the Model 3’s interior being more spacious than the physically larger Model S’s, and allows Tesla to give it not one but two boots for potentially class-leading luggage space.

There’ll be two Model 3 specs to start with. The default model has a claimed range of 220 miles (more than a Nissan Leaf but less than a Renault Zoe), a 0-60mph time of 5.6 seconds, and a top speed of 130mph. The second model increases the claimed range to 310 miles officially, drops the 0-60mph time to 5.1 seconds and lifts the top speed to 140mph. It’s expected that higher-performance 3s will come later, all using the same electrical system.

The cabin features Tesla’s iconic large 15-inch touchscreen which controls just about everything on the car and dispenses with the need for actual buttons on the dash. If our experiences in the Model S and Model X are any guide, it should be easy to use. Standard Model 3 equipment will include wi-fi connectivity, Bluetooth, internet audio streaming, a reversing camera, two USB ports and keyless entry. An optional premium upgrade package adds electrically-adjustable heated seats, an upscale stereo and a tweaked centre console with dual smartphone docks.

All Model 3s will have Tesla’s Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system, enhanceable through option packages that will let the car match its speed to traffic conditions and change lanes on its own. ‘Full self-driving capability’ will also be offered as another optional package.

The first cars in the UK will be left-hand-drive special imports as the right-hand-drive production line won’t be starting until 2019. Tesla is determined to make Model 3 ownership as practical and easy as possible and to that end will be investing heavily in charging tech in all major markets, including the UK. Owners will be able to make use of any of the brand’s Superchargers or plug into a slower end-of-destination charger at home or work – but they won’t be given free access to the network in the same way that Model S owners are.

There’s no hard info yet on Tesla’s charging price structure. If the £35,000 starting price for the car becomes reality, that will put the Model 3 in with the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE – and it will qualify for the Government’s full electric vehicle grant, which is presently £4,500.

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