In a future where everything will be electric (at least by 2050 anyway), it is impossible to ignore the importance of Tesla as a leader in the EV space. Elon fandom aside, Tesla are very, very good at making electric vehicles; they have been doing so for well over a decade now. This experience has culminated in their most recent iteration of the Model 3 RWD, which I had the pleasure of test driving for a few days in both the city and the country; a real-world test that really put the car through its paces.
With two dogs and a six-month old baby, my first two pointers on any car test is space and safety. Fortunately we didn’t need to test the latter, but the Model 3 is one of the safest cars ever tested by Euro NCAP. There are plenty of safety nets which should, in theory, make the Model 3 extremely difficult to crash; my favourite feature being the blind-spot cameras that appear on the central console whenever you flick the indicator left or right. City-dwellers should take note; this is invaluable when navigating the numerous bikes and mopeds that weave in and out of London traffic. With the option of keyless entry, I was asked a couple of times if a Tesla would be easy to steal.. the inbuilt Sentry Mode is the perfect deterrent for any would-be thief; it automatically takes snapshots from one of the many external cameras should anyone step too close to the car.
As for space, it was more than capable of transporting a family of five along with a car seat, luggage and even a high chair. You really begin to appreciate the volume of space that an internal combustion engine can take up when you sit inside the Model 3. The front trunk (‘frunk’) is incredibly handy for something like the shopping or a weekend bag. What’s more, as the car doesn’t use a driveshaft like traditional cars do, the rear footwell is flat. Great for extra legroom in the middle, and also a great piece of real estate to slide an extra suitcase or two into. The interior of the Model 3 is a lovely place to be, and you really begin to appreciate the minimalist look and spacious feel on longer drives. The centre console controls absolutely everything, and I found it really easy to adapt to glancing at this rather than any dials on the dashboard. The dashboard itself sits fairly low, giving great visibility out towards the front of the car, and this coupled with the panoramic glass sunroof allows so much light into the car.
Range is always a consideration when it comes to electric vehicles, and there are plenty of cars that fall short of the 200-mile commute that I do between London and Devon. Tesla often top the charts when it comes to the duration you can drive, and the Model 3 comes packed with enough power to cover this on a good day. I would note that – and this is more about my education than the capacity of the battery – when the temperature is hovering around zero and you’re driving full speed on the motorway with the heating cranked up, you are looking more at 150-mile range rather than the claimed 259 miles. Pro-tip: use the heated seats instead to keep the car warm. That being said, this incident did give the Supercharger network it’s time to shine. Within half an hour- just enough time for a coffee and toilet break- the Model 3 went from 11% battery right up to 85%, charging at a rate of more than 600 miles per hour.
Finally, the Tesla Model 3 is an absolute blast to drive. Even the standard model comes with fairly punchy torque, and from a standing start this car gets going very quickly. That being said, the entire driving experience is incredibly smooth regenerative braking means you’ll rarely need to put your foot on the actual brake, instead just tapping the accelerator whenever you need that extra bit of speed. If you pushed me to find any fault, it could be that the ride is quite firm, but that’s not really a consideration for me and this is offset by the smoothness of the electric experience as a whole. I did also have the opportunity to use the self-driving capabilities of the Model 3 a few times on the M4 and M5, and this was an experience in itself. Relinquishing control as a driver is a strange sensation, but the visual display was eerily accurate in identifying everything from speed limits to traffic cones. When the UK laws finally allow this system to drive via traffic lights, it will be an absolute game changer.
The car I drove was the Model 3 RWD, which starts at £41,000. You can search everything Telsa through the link here.