IT TAKES 3 (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Tesla's all-electric Model 3 executive saloon took the American brand into volume territory for the first time. Jonathan Crouch drives it.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 52
The Model 3 is the car that's really put Tesla on the map. It's all-electric of course - and much more accessible than the company's previous models, wih prices starting from just over £45,000. Your next executive saloon? Middle managers who are early adopters of new technology should form an orderly queue.
Backgroundword count: 90
The Model 3 is Tesla's more significant car to date, mainly because it's the company's most affordable product and therefore the highest volume thing it makes. This is the company's first saloon and it's positioned somewhere between BMW's 3 Series and 5 Series models if you're looking for recognisable rivals. It follows the brand's pricier Model S and Model X cars and precedes a Model Y crossover. So, within a few years, the company's product range will, in its own words, be completely about 'S3XY' models. I know, I know....
Driving Experienceword count: 343
Previously, we've reviewed Tesla's products as EVs; it's a measure of the importance of this one that we have to judge it by more conventional standards - as you would if considering it as an alternative to the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 mid-sized executive saloons it wants to target. So what'll you feel here? Superbly accurate steering, lacking only the final really feelsome element that's integral to a good European rack. A very well modulated set of brakes. Quite a lot of tyre and wind roar. And firm-ish damping that contributes to excellent body control through the turns, but doesn't crash too much through pot holes or over speed humps. You could actually enjoy yourself driving this car, a new experience for us in an EV and for anyone else familiar with this evolving market. The smooth linearity of the throttle helps -though it's still prone to lurch the car forward like a startled rabbit if used without due care. If you were to mash it into the bulkhead of the top 'Performance'-spec variant, you'd reach sixty mph in just 3.2s; Forget M3s and C63s - that's Ferrari-fast. The 'Performance' derivative is one of two top Dual-Motor AWD Model 3 variants, the other being the 'Long Range' version, the name designating that car's industry-leading WLTP-rated 374 mile driving range. For the 'Performance' model, the figure is 340 miles. You'll manage a little less than that though, if you opt for the much more affordable standard rear-driven Model 3 that the majority of customers are expected to choose. Here, a single-motor rear-driven set-up gives you a 305-mile WLTP-rated driving capability between charges. If that mileage needs to be covered over long highway distances, you'll appreciate the extent of this car's autonomous driving capability, courtesy of its integrated 'Autopilot' system, which uses eight cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors and the forward-facing radar. The resulting set-up will position the car centrally within its lane, keep to a chosen speed, regulate the distance to the vehicle in front and even perform lane changes automatically.
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Category: Hybrid, Plug-in, Electric & Hydrogen
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