30.6.2021Tesla Model 3 Long Range review
Tesla’s best-selling model has been on UK roads for a few years now, but a recent raft of updates look to keep the Model 3 as popular as ever - if not more so. Some are available to all Model 3 owners, as Tesla is no stranger to over-the-air updates, but hardware changes have been included as well so we see how they stack up.
Review by Chris Lilly
TESLA MODEL 3 LONG RANGE: PERFORMANCE
Previous reviews of the Model 3 on Next Green Car have ‘only’ been two-wheel drive, whereas this Long Range model has a motor on each axle. Figures are vague, but reliable sources state that power output is north of 400 hp, with almost 500 Nm of torque available to the driver, so although this isn’t the Performance model, performance will be plenty for most.
A 0-60mph time is possible in just 4.2 seconds, and that pace is instantly accessible at any speed. The trademark Tesla performance can pin passengers into their chair with the stamp of a right foot, and the Long Range doesn’t let the side down in this regard. It’s easy to drive slowly or quickly, and the power is delivered smoothly throughout the speed range. It’s a doddle to drive, and a very digital experience.
Handling is somewhere that Tesla struggles to compete compared to ‘traditional’ manufacturers. The springs are set up stiffly, and there isn’t the refinement you would get from a Polestar 2 or Jaguar I-Pace, or even the Ford Mustang Mach-E. It’s not a bad system however, and the suspension ensures there’s plenty of control over the body, aided by a low centre of gravity thanks to the battery in the car’s floor.
Steering is similar in concept, with good weight both at low and high speed, and there’s precision when you turn the wheel so you know where the front wheels are easily. However, there isn’t much feedback, so I couldn’t describe the Model 3 Long Range as a true “driver’s car”; its abilities shine through in other areas however.
There is no facelift or similar from Tesla with the Model 3, it would be uneconomical to change the styling every time the company rolled-out some updates such is their frequency. However, changes to trim details have been rolled-out, with matte black details outside replacing chrome elements such as door handles. The effect is to create a sportier, classier impression when glancing at the car.
The interior largely remains the same, which is no issue as there is a lot of occupant and load space available. The boot is sizeable for its class, and there’s a compact load space under the bonnet too, whilst leg room is up there with the class in the rear. The driver and passenger have lots of space to relax into, and it is only the sloping roofline in the rear that will restrict comfort for some passengers, though even here they will have to be tall to feel cramped inside.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The cabin benefits from the same subtle changes as the exterior. Gloss plastic has been replaced by matte black trim in places, and there’s now a felt-lined wireless mobile phone charging pad in the centre console, capable of holding and charging two devices. There are also a number of USB-C sockets dotted about the cabin.
Seats are comfortable, but again can’t compete with the best in the class in terms of fit and support. They are capable of coping with a long, day’s long drive however. General fit and finish seems to have been improved all round as well, but again, compromises have to be made by Tesla, and with such a good powertrain, economies are made in the cabin quality. It remains a premium car, but not up to the same level as other premium saloons.
TESLA MODEL 3 LONG RANGE: RANGE & RUNNING COSTS
Range is simply superb, with up to 360 miles on a charge possible on this Model 3 Long Range. I’d say that’s optimistic for anyone heading onto motorways often, but I could see scenarios where 350+ miles is achievable - even if only rarely. During my time with the Model 3 LR, I averaged around 310 miles on a charge, but that includes a 330 mile round-trip that was carried out on motorways, dual-carriageways, fast A-roads, and included plenty of hilly terrain.
That pulled the average down thanks to the faster pace and EV unfriendly terrain, with a calculated range of 255 miles on a charge, so many drivers will see 310 miles on a charge as an easy achievement. Regardless, to confidently cover more than 250 miles in just about any conditions and over all sorts of terrain is superb, especially as a worst-case scenario. A ‘bankable’ 300+ mile range is reassuring and a real argument for EVs in general.
Charging remains one of Tesla’s real strengths. The Supercharger and Destination networks are great support for Tesla drivers, on top of the general public infrastructure. Charging is possible at up to 250 kW on DC points, though the fastest I saw was 135 kW on a n ultra-rapid unit. AC charging is possible at 11 kW, with the CCS inlet found on the rear near-side flank.
There’s a very strong brake energy recuperation system that can boost range, as well as Tesla’s native navigation system in the vehicle, which calculates best and most economical routes, including charge points where required. The car will prepare the battery for ultra-rapid charging to improve charge times, reducing a quick recharge to around half an hour.
Tesla doesn’t really do trim levels, instead it does powertrain levels. With the Model 3 available in Standard Range Plus, Long Range, and Performance variants, the equipment doesn’t really change. As such, all models get the 15-inch widescreen infotainment system that dominates the clean and minimalist cabin, as well as 18-inch alloys, Partial Premium Interior, over-the-air updates, app connectivity, heated & electric front seats, and synthetic leather upholstery.
The Long Range model tested includes the Premium interior with improved audio system, and heated seats front & rear. Added options included 19-inch sport alloys, black & white premium interior, as well as enhanced Autopilot.
TESLA MODEL 3 LONG RANGE: MODEL SUMMARY
Tesla’s Model 3 was already an excellent car. Good value, a long driving range, excellent performance, and a spacious interior combined to see sales of the EV shoot up. The updates to the Model 3 range have been nothing radical, but each area has further improved what was already a strong package. It still lacks some of the refinement or quality found in rival executive saloons, but then there is nothing at the Model 3’s price that can match it for performance and driving range.
Model tested: Tesla Model 3 Long Range
Body-style: Executive saloon
Engine / CO2: Dual electric motors / 0 g/km
Trim grades: Standard Range Plus, Long Range, Performance
On-road price: Model 3 from £40,490. LR from: £48,490
Warranty: Four years / 50,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.5 Stars