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Electric

Updated Tesla Model 3 gets fresh look, more range and nicer materials

The Model 3’s up to 391 miles of range… but has Tesla made a howler with the indicators?

Published: 01 Sep 2023

Surprise! After many internet leaks and much speculation, a significantly updated Tesla Model 3 has now been revealed, with ‘more refinement, comfort and premiumness’ (Tesla’s words, not ours) in the offing.

Let’s start on the outside: the styling has been overhauled with sharper lines making for a less frog-like appearance, with sleeker headlights and brake lights woven into the design.

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That’s all in the name of improved aero of course, and together with optimised wheels and tyres, Tesla claims improved wind noise and range. The Long Range AWD will now do 391 miles on a single charge, up from 374 previously.

Two new colours to note: Ultra Red and Stealth Grey. See the gallery above.

The work done inside the Model 3 is arguably more extensive: Elon Musk’s company reckons its use of aluminium and textiles will bring ‘elevated levels of execution’, an admission that build quality (a common Tesla bugbear) has needed attention.

And so we get a reconfigured centre console built from nicer stuff, delivering more storage and incorporating a double wireless charging bed a la the Model S. The touchscreen measures 15.4 inches as before, but a thinner bezel means there’s more space to play with. Literally: quick arcade game, anyone? The UI is customisable; OTA updates will arrive from the ether.

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Meanwhile it’s heated seats all round in here, and the fronts are ventilated. Ambient lighting makes its way into the Model 3’s cabin for the first time. And with 360-degree acoustic glass, improved suspension bushings and seals, plus sound-dampening material, Tesla believes it’s quieter than before, too. Shh…

What else? Oh yes, three USB-C ports (one front, two rear); 65W should be enough for a laptop, never mind a phone. Rear passengers get an eight-inch display for climate control and entertainment (yup, you’ll get Netflix back there). Also, Tesla has wheeled out it’s own sound system: Long Range models get 17 speakers with dual subwoofers and amps, entry-level RWD cars make do with a single sub and amp, and nine speakers. Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal are all included.

Just like the Model S and Model X (reminder: those two aren’t available in RHD any more), the Model 3 will auto-select forward or reverse at the start of your journey thanks to Tesla’s Smart Shift system. A bunch of other ‘Tesla-first’ safety systems have been thrown in too.

Now, the elephant in the room: Tesla has decided that the indicator stalk belongs in the history books (for an ‘uncluttered driving experience’, it says), and so the indicators are now a pair of haptic buttons on the steering wheel. Yup, that thing that moves around. Sounds like a terrible idea in theory, and having sampled the system on the Model S Plaid, TopGear.com found it to be a terrible idea in practice too. You have been warned.

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The first new Model 3s will arrive in the UK and Ireland in 2024, and while Tesla says the upgraded car is ‘available now’, it’s still the old car on the configurator at the time of writing. So expect the entry price of £42,990 (the Long Range costs £8k more, and the Performance another £7k again) to shift sooner or later.

Six years on from launch, two million units have been built across the globe and the Model 3 often pops up among the UK’s top 10 best-sellers.

What do we make of the updates, folks?

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