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The Top Gear car review:Tesla Model 3
For:Bleeding edge tech, interior space, acceleration and handling
Against:Enormous waiting list, constant attention, superchargers no longer free
What is it?
Oh, just some sensibly priced electric BMW 3 Series rival from a little-known American start-up. Except this is the sensibly priced electric 3 Series rival that has the world’s knickers in a twist.
You’ve probably heard the headlines: the Model 3 is a smaller, half-price (or thereabouts) compliment to the Model S and Model X; there are well over 500,000 paid reservations; it’s the lynchpin of Elon Musk’s mission to rid our roads of fossil fuels (before we all move to Mars), and it’s also the thing giving Musk a significant pain in the arse as his company tries to ramp up production towards churning out 500,000 Model 3s a year. It’s no secret that he’s had a bit of trouble getting there.
Model 3s are now being delivered to US customers, and are a surprisingly frequent sight on Californian roads. Order a right-hand drive 3 in the UK now, and we don’t know when it’ll land, though you’ll be waiting at least a year.
Demand is clearly feverish, and there’s more - reports of sub-standard build quality as Tesla tries to push the cars out, are rife. It must be said, though, that the handful of Model 3s we’ve now spent some time around have felt perfectly well put together, but you’d expect no less from press demonstrators.
The Model 3 range is a little hard to keep up with, your options changing frequently. As it stands there are two options: the entry-level single-motor car, which is rear-wheel drive and offers 260 miles of range and a 5.6sec 0-60mph time. This starts at around $35,000 including government incentives.
Then there’s the dual-motor car, which is all-wheel drive and comes with a longer-range battery, allowing it to go 310 miles between plug ins. This starts at $41,200, but if you spend an extra $11,000 it comes as a Performance version, which brings a 3.3sec 0-60mph time, 155mph top speed and uprated brakes.
How the range will look when the Model 3 arrives in the UK, we don’t know. The single-motor car used to come with the longer-range battery, but has recently been scrapped. If you nipped in and bought one of those it could become a collector’s item…