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Tesla Model 3

Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:Tesla Model 3



Running costs and reliability

Owning a Tesla Model 3, at least for the first year or so, isn’t for the shy. It’s an odd sensation being papped and pointed at with such regularity in a normal looking saloon car, but the public are fascinated by the 3, and clued up on it too. Prepare for conversations at every set of traffic lights, waves from grown men and women and traffic behaving erratically around you.

Your key is a credit card you wave at the base of the B-pillar, or an app on your phone that you connect with the car. A word of warning: don’t leave the key card inside the car and step outside only for it to auto lock itself moments before you realise you have no data signal on your phone. This may involve an embarrassing phone call to a Tesla representitive who will unlock the car remotely from the comfort of the dealership.

A word on range. Tesla clams 310 miles per charge for long-range models, and our test car was displaying 90 per cent charge and circa 280-miles remaining range when we picked it up. We spent the day crawling around Manhattan, cruising on the freeway to somewhere called Bear Mountain 45 miles away, having ‘some fun’ once there, then heading back into the city.

A total of 140 miles of very mixed driving once we handed back the car – as much driving as we would typically choose to do in a day – and there was still 100 miles in the tank. At no point did the range sweats kick in and at any given point we knew where the nearest supercharger was. Without getting too carried away… it works.

A few more superchargers (there are now 10,000 in 1,100 locations globally) and it could realistically be your only car. Though whereas superchargers used to be free with the Model S and Model X, you have to pay as you go with the 3, although there’s an allowance of around five to six free supercharges per year.

Plug the car into your three-pin wall socket at home and the juice crawls along, adding about five miles of range for every hour. Get a home wall box and you could charge at up to 16.5kW depending on your home connection – that’s 51 miles for every hour plugged in. More realistic for most UK homes is around 7kW, or 22 miles per hour of charging.

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