All you need to know about the Tesla Model 3: price, specs, release date
Yes, it’s officially here – the all-electric Tesla Model 3 has finally been revealed, and the first US customers have received their cars.
Priced from $35,000 (which is around £26,673 as of 31 July 2017), it sits below the more upmarket Model S and Model X ranges, and is aimed at taking on the likes of BMW’s 3 Series, and Mercedes’ C-Class.
So can it shake up the petrol and diesel competition?
Well it certainly looks the part; its styling is based very much on the larger Model S, although there’s a more tapered rear end and a curvier roof line. In essence though, it is a down-sized version of the larger car.
However, its bulbous roof and general American-ness means it is a little larger than its main competitor, the BMW 3 Series. Its body also means it benefits from an excellent drag coefficient of just 0.23 – impressive considering its class.
Step inside and things are even less complicated and minimalist than the bodywork. No conventional dials here. Instead the dashboard is dominated by a huge 15.4in floating screen that controls just about all the car’s functions.
All Model 3s come with an impressive specification too, featuring a wifi hotspot, keyless entry, dual-zone climate, voice command controls and of course Tesla’s ever-advancing Autopilot system that’s capable of semi-autonomous driving.
For those wanting a little more luxury, a Premium Pack can be added which adds wood-veneer trim (like the car in the picture), a 12-speaker stereo, heated and electrically adjustable seats. All Model 3s are expected to come with a panoramic roof, too.
Thanks to its low-lying electric drivetrain, the Model 3 gets two boots which combined offer 425 litres of space and, while that’s not quite what some of its rivals offer, it’s not too far off the mark.
Performance-wise however, it should be every bit as capable as the most potent petrol 3 Series. In standard form, it gets a 0-60mph time of 5.6 seconds (quicker than your average hot hatch, then) and a top speed of 130mph.
It gets a range of up to 220 miles on a single charge, although a long-range battery option is also available for a hefty $9,000, and extends this range to 310 miles. The pricier battery pack also takes 0-60mph to 5.1 seconds and top speed to 140mph.
For now, all Model 3s are to be rear-wheel drive, and thanks to a near-perfect weight distribution courtesy of those low-lying batteries, it should be as impressive in corners as it is in a straight line. An all-wheel drive version is likely to become available next year too.
Other options include Enhanced Autopilot, which matches the speed to traffic conditions and is capable of automatically changing lanes. This does push up the price by another $5,000 (£3,800) though.
If a Tweet reply by Tesla founder Elon Musk is to be believed, the Model 3 will be available with the suitably named Ludicrous Mode too, which unleashes the full potential of that electric drivetrain – a Model S in Ludicrous Model gets to 60mph from rest in a startling 2.3 seconds, for example.
30 lucky American customers got their hands on the Model 3 last week, but with a waiting list of over 400,000 units, if you’ve not already put down the required £1,000 deposit you’re likely to be in with a long wait.
The first cars are likely to hit the UK market in early- to mid-2018. How much they will cost is still up for debate, but if they do come in at anywhere around £26,000, which is in-line with the traditional fuel-powered exec saloons it’s aiming to take on, it’s likely to be a big hit. However, we’ll have to wait and see whether residual values and lease rates will be as favourable as they are for a Mercedes C-Class.