Tesla Model 3 UK – The First 3,500 Mile Mega Review

Tesla Model 3 Review UK

After more than three years of waiting I picked up my Model 3 from Tesla’s Edinburgh service centre at the end of June and drove it home to Northern Ireland via a 5-day route around the Scottish Highlands.

So, after 3 months and over 3,500 miles, here are some thoughts on the car.

Good, Better, Best

When I placed my order (May 2019) there were 3 different versions for sale in the UK. The range topping ‘Performance’, the ‘Long Range AWD’, and the starter priced ‘Standard Range Plus’, which is the one I went for.

Tech & Equipment

Even in this base Model 3 the standard equipment list is excellent…

  • Dual Zone Aircon
  • 12-way power adjustable heated front seats
  • 15″ Touchscreen
  • Satnav
  • Auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirrors
  • Music and media over Bluetooth
  • Custom driver profiles
  • Centre console with storage and 4 USB ports
  • Premium seat material and trim
  • Upgraded audio – immersive sound
  • LED Front Fog Lamps (no longer included)
  • App Control
  • Keyless Entry
  • Docking for 2 smartphones

There are also many other features that don’t fit into the usual car categories such as TeslaCam, a dashcam system that includes ‘Sentry Mode’ to monitor your car when it is parked.

There are 8 cameras, 12 sonar sensors and a radar all feeding the new v3 AI computer. The system is learning constantly as the neural net gets better and better – watch this video if you want to learn more (much more).

Passive keyless entry comes courtesy of Bluetooth and the smartphone app and this works really well. Just walk up to the car with your phone in your pocket and pull the door handle for it to unlock. Step in and put your foot on the brake pedal. The car is now on. Brilliant.

Tesla Model 3
Photo Credit – reinisbphotography

When you leave, it locks itself once your phone is a few metres away. You can set an option to give a quick beep of the horn to confirm this or you can look back and watch for the door mirrors folding in if you prefer a silent confirmation.

In addition, the car comes with 2 RFID ‘credit cards’ that can be used to lock / unlock and start it too. An optional £140 key fob is also available but neither it nor the cards support the passive walk-up lock / unlock the way the phone app does. [UPDATE] The new updated keyfob that’s just been released now does have passive lock / unlock.

Tesla Model 3 UK - Key Cards and Fob

If you are worried about the security of any of these devices then you can simply turn on ‘PIN to Drive’ to add the additional requirement to enter a personal identification number to start your car.

The 15.4-inch (39 cm) LCD landscape touchscreen is the single point of control for the car, even opening the glovebox is done from here.

Click to Enlarge

The interface takes a bit of learning, but it rewards. Its chock-full of little touches that you need to discover too. For example, a micro-flick of any of the seat controls is a shortcut to bring up the mirror and steering wheel adjustment options. Press and hold the volume or temperature icons on the screen and you can slide your finger left and right to set the level.

The screen can be distracting though and the wiper controls in particular are ripe for improvement. An update to add a double-click on the end of the stalk to bring the wipers on at speed 1 would help. The software-controlled auto setting is not up to the task currently, not detecting rain early enough or wiping often enough, and sometimes wiping for no reason. This is because Tesla are using their cameras and AI to detect rain, rather than a dedicated sensor like most (all?) other car manufacturers. It should get better over time hopefully.

Tesla Model 3 Screen in Dark Night Mode
The screen switches to a dark night mode based on time.

As for the lack of a binnacle behind the wheel, this is something you forget within about 20 minutes of your first drive. My better half said she was already used to the speedo being in the centre of the car just from being in the passenger seat. It’s a similar change to your iPhone losing its home button, something you soon never even think about. Some of the advantages are better visibility out the front of the car and fresh air for the driver straight through the steering wheel via the clever slotted fan system.

The HomeLink garage door opener is no longer included in any Model 3 but can be added for $300. That price includes the (bumper off) fitting at a Tesla service centre.

Even though it’s a saloon, the Model 3 has a hatch back shape and occasionally you do miss having a rear wiper to clear the screen. Most times the rear camera is able to compensate though. Even with the rear window clear, its high line doesn’t offer great visibility behind you. Dog owners and other hatchback fans might prefer the Model Y coming in 2021?


Basic Autopilot features are now standard on all Model 3’s and that’s as it should be as Tesla are probably known for this tech above all else. So now every car has adaptive cruise control (right down to a standstill), auto-steering and a lane departure warning system.

At the time of ordering the option was there to pay another £4,900 for the FSD (Full Self Driving) package which adds Summon, Auto Lane Change, Autopark and Navigate on Autopilot. Some of these features are not available yet in the UK due to legislative issues. The hardware for them is fitted to every car so they can be enabled for a fee at any time in the future, although you’ll pay more than if you paid for it along with the car. I think this is bad value, particularly with the current restrictions here.

The radar cruise control is a step backwards in some instances. I like to hit cruise when I come into a 30mph or 40mph zone and with dumb systems this works well. But with the Tesla ‘intelligent’ radar the car regularly shits itself and jumps on the brakes. Sometimes this is due to a parked car (that’s not in your path), sometimes a pedestrian or vehicle safely crossing a long way down the road from you, sometimes for no apparent reason at all. This makes you A) very annoyed, B) look like a tool to anyone following you and C) wish you could have good old vanilla cruise back round town. In fairness this was mostly the same in the last car I owned that had traffic aware cruise control too. Let’s hope it’s another one of those things that “gets better over time”.

On the motorway however, the system is mostly excellent. This is what it was made for and where it performs at its best. I drove the M6 from Manchester to Gretna totally on Autopilot and it was brilliant, bar the odd blip, mostly at off ramps where there’s a break in the white lines on the left-hand side. The car nags you too often (every 15 seconds on the motorway) to keep your hands on the wheel, even when they are already there, and you have to put some torque into the wheel for it to sense you.

The Model 3 currently does not read road signs like its older Mobileye equipped siblings, so it’s relying on GPS data for speed limits. I’ve found that on many roads these details are wrong and this is particularly annoying when the cruise control matches itself to the speed limit.

Apps, Software Data & Fun

The Mobile app is excellent, allowing you to control certain aspects of the vehicle, like its temperature, locks, headlights and horn, plus the ability to monitor its location and state of charge. It’s particularly pleasant to use after coming from the abomination that was the Nissan leaf app. Push notifications are useful too and come through on the Apple Watch as well.

Tesla Model 3 Notifications

Obviously the app requires connectivity to the car and several times now my 3 has lost its LTE connection for around a day meaning the app is only able to control things when in Bluetooth range.

Tesla App – Click to enlarge

I also signed up for the 3rd party TeslaFi service and I love the incredible array of stats it logs for the car. After each drive I get an email showing the information below and this is all available online too.

TeslaFi - UK Model 3 Trip
TeslaFi Trip Summary – Click to enlarge

I’ve had 5 software updates since I got the car and version 10 is due any day now. These OTA (over the air) updates are particularly impressive, improving the cars features as well as adding new ones. It’s just another area where Tesla are showing the way to the rest of the industry.

Tesla Model 3 Software Updates - TeslaFi

Tesla’s sense of humour is well documented (fart mode anyone?). Slightly more useful are the on-board games and version 10 will bring the ability to watch Netflix and YouTube while parked and on Wi-Fi.

Tesla Model 3 UK Review - Games

Performance, Handling & Ride

The Model 3 feels rapid and its 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds is just half a second shy of the E46 M3 I had a few years back. Not bad for the slowest car Tesla currently sells.

However, the car’s most impressive acceleration seems to be from around 40 mph on (Auto Express magazine reports 30-50mph in 1.9 seconds and 50-70mph in 2.6 seconds). While all electric cars are governed to some extent, the initial acceleration from zero feels like it’s being held back very artificially on the SR+. I guess this is probably so the 0-60 performance of this lightest Model 3 (the smallest battery and no front motor) aren’t too close to the times of the more expensive 3’s, S and X. It certainly feels like it could easily be ‘uncorked’ at a later date.

It’s worth mentioning that performance tails off as the battery level goes down. I’d like to see some of the car mags do 0-60’s for every 10% drop in SoC (state of charge) to quantify this.

In addition to that powerful instant torque, the Tesla’s ultra-low centre of gravity means it handles incredibly well too. I had read about the GoKart like flat cornering and it’s all true. An added benefit of placing the cars heaviest component, the battery, between the wheels means that the car has a low polar moment of inertia. Even the rear motor sits slightly ahead of the rear axle and this all combines to make it easier to change direction quickly, giving it more in common with a mid-engined sports car than a 5 seater family saloon.

Tesla Model 3 - Garage

While the steering feel is pretty numb, it is super quick (just 2 turns lock to lock) and that adds to the agility and provides the final element in this smile factory. There are three settings under the driving menu, Comfort, Standard and Sport which require progressively stronger effort from the driver to turn the wheel.

Chill Mode dulls the accelerator response, however you have no access to full power in an emergency in this setting. The Leaf had a button on the floor under the pedal which allowed you to override Eco mode, but alas not on the 3. So I just leave the car in Standard mode and implement my own chill mode with a light touch on the loud quiet pedal.

Before I got the car, I used to think Tesla would benefit from a regen paddle. Other manufacturers have done this and the ability to increase regen as you come into a corner by pulling on a paddle a couple of times could enhance the driving experience. However, on the Model 3 you can do this, but all with your right foot. In the opposite to the way the Leaf worked, regen here is initially light, but as you lift off more and get towards the final part of the accelerator’s travel it increases substantially. You won’t need to touch the brake pedal unless you are driving quite hard – and then the fact that regen won’t slow you enough suddenly seems strange. Around 30 minutes of driving sees your muscle memory adjust to the regen. From that day forward the weirdest thing is getting into a piston car and trying to cope with its strange coasting behaviour and lack of a KERS.

Wheels, Tyres & Mods

I had ordered the Tesla Aero Wheel Cap Kit so I could get the less-than-pretty aero wheel covers off and reveal the handsome alloys beneath.

Tesla Model 3 Standard Alloy Wheels UK

The standard fit Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres (235/45 ZR18) are a really nice quality touch. I noticed that some Model 3’s with the upgraded Tesla 19″ sport alloys come with the more budget Hankook rubber instead.

Tesla Model 3 - Wheel Upgrade

Although I like the design I’ve always felt that the standard 18″ wheels look too small for the Model 3.

I ordered these satin black 20″ Turbine alloys from the US and they arrived several weeks before the car, but that gave me time to get them ceramic coated before the tyres went on.

They are a staggered set – Fronts 8.5″ wide (tyres 235/35-20) and Rears 10″ wide (tyres 275/30-20) and I got these black Tesla T Wheel centres on Amazon.

These are mostly a cosmetic change, although the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres are a grip upgrade. They do reduce the efficiency of the car though, with a drop of around 15% by my calculations.

But I love the look of the 20’s and still have the stock 18’s. If I ever go on a trans-European road trip then they will go back on for maximum range. Best of both worlds.

20" Wheels on UK Tesla Model 3

It will be interesting to see what a rear wheel drive Tesla is like in the snow too so the 18’s could turn into winter wheels.

Tesla Model 3 Ceramic Coating UK

The car has had a Gtechniq ceramic coating, been de-chromed and had the brake callipers painted red, all by PMG Autocare in Belfast. I have another couple of mods to do over the coming weeks to complete the look.


Tesla Model 3 Body

The Model 3’s steel and aluminium construction has been crash tested in the USA by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and they found it to have the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle they’ve ever tested (although referring to it as such seems to have caused a bit of a spat between the NHTSA and Tesla).

Closer to these parts the car recently gained 5 stars in the Euro NCAP test and they commented…

The Tesla Model 3 made a strong debut with a perfect score in the frontal offset deformable barrier crash test, a mainstay of Euro NCAP’s assessment since its inception in 1997. Its performance in the Safety Assist tests particularly impressed, thanks to its superb driver assistance systems like lane support, speed assist and autonomous emergency braking. The Tesla’s 94 percent score in 2019 Safety Assist tests is the best yet under Euro NCAP’s most recent protocol.


Here’s a video comparing the Model 3 with the Volvo S60 in the side-pole impact test. Here’s another showing the Euro NCAP tests (watch to the end for the impressive puppet tests too).

Range & Charging

I don’t think Tesla have ever officially confirmed the battery size for the SR+ but Auto Express magazine reports it as 55 kWh, with 50 kWh usable. A slippery shape (drag coefficient of Cd=0.23), great regen and other drive train efficiencies all come together to maximise the range of the relatively small battery. The Long Range and Performance Model 3’s get a 75 kWh pack.

The Standard Range plus is the lightest of the 3’s at 1,645 kgs. The Long range and Performance are around 200 kgs heavier (12%) at 1,847 kgs. While most people still think EVs are twice the weight of a piston car my 3 is actually quite similar to the other premium saloons it competes with, BWM 3 Series, Audi A4, Mercedes C Class, and actually a few kilos lighter than the equivalent Volvo V60.

The SR+ has a quoted range of 258 miles (415km) on the new European WLTP cycle. In the USA the car is quoted with a more realistic 240 miles (386km) on their EPA rating system.

Back in the real world I was able to average 4.6 miles per kWh on our 900 mile trip round the Highlands this summer giving a theoretical maximum range of around 230 miles. Remember that range would rely on you charging to 100% and running the car to 0%. Not something you would really be doing.

On our recent M6 drive from Manchester to Scotland the car averaged 3.6 miles per kWh giving more like a 180 mile max range at motorway speeds and on the new 20″ wheels.

The range will also be reduced during colder winter months (Read my update after being through a winter).

If around 200 miles still seems low then here’s another good way to consider it – with just a 20 minute Supercharger stop your range increases to over 340 miles..

EPA Range with 20 Minute Optimal Charge
Source: CleanTechnica

But of course that relies on having a dependable charging network. Using Northern Ireland’s public rapids has been a hit or miss affair and I identified a problem that our operator ESB confirmed to me and have since said will require the charger manufacturers to update their firmware to improve compatibility with the Model 3.

Tesla Model 3 Charging at Sunset
Charging in Northern Ireland

The Supercharger network on the other hand is a fantastic benefit for Tesla owners, one that cannot be under-estimated. Check out the Destination Charger Network too.

Tesla Destination Charger

That recent drive from Manchester to Northern Ireland only required one supercharger stop for 30 minutes to complete the journey. That’s a stop I’d be doing in any car on a 4 hour drive.

Tesla Model 3 - Supercharger Castlebellingham, Ireland
Tesla Superchargers Across Europe 2019

I can really see myself heading on some epic driving holidays because of Tesla’s Supercharger Network. For example, if I suddenly decided I wanted to drive to the south of France or Oslo I’d be pretty confident in the car’s ability to route me there and provide me with fast, reliable Superchargers all the way.

Supercharging is not free, but currently at £0.20 per kWh in the UK it’s not expensive. A charge from completely flat to 100% would cost around £10.00.

At home costs are more like £0.15 so a full charge would be around £7.50 and this can go down to around half that if you have an Economy 7 night time tariff – how does 200 miles for under 4 quid sound?

Shell Recharge – Manchester

The battery pops and bangs occasionally when charging which is a bit disconcerting, but normal apparently. You can actually feel it under your feet. The app can stop and start charging remotely and you can schedule charging to start at a later time from the car’s screen.

The included UMC (Universal Mobile Charger) allows you to charge from any regular 13 amp (or commando) socket at around 7 miles per hour (7 miles of additional range will be added to the car for each hour it’s on charge).

Tesla Model 3 Universal Mobile Charger UMC UK

European Model 3’s have a CCS socket (Combined Charging System) and Type 2 connectors. The onboard 11 kW charger will add nearly 50 mph to the battery if you can max it out, while the 7 kW supply of most domestic EV chargers will add around 27 miles per hour. That’s still enough to add over 200 miles with an 8 hour overnight charge.

Check out this Tesla Home Charging information and there’s some more great range information here that uses real world data.

As for the speed of the Superchargers, it looks like the SR+ will top out at 100kW. This is down to something called the C Rate (Power over capacity) which is usually around a 2. So the limit for a 50kWh battery is around 100kW charging, while the 75kWh cars might get to 150kW. Check out this video for a look at the reasons behind these figures.

The Company

The Model 3 is the most expensive car I have ever bought. I waited over three years for it to come to the UK. Then 17 days after I collected it they dropped the price and, in a double whammy, also made the paint I had paid £1,450 extra for, free too. Welcome to the Tesla Family.

Want a white interior? The Tesla staff have to consult Twitter to see what the latest policies are. It all feels a bit amateur hour.

Tesla Model 3 UK

People say Tesla are different; they’re an IT company, not a car company, you have to think differently. Well their IT systems have probably been the worst part of the entire experience. SMS messages informing me of 2 different registration numbers assigned, multiple messages changing the delivery centre location etc etc. I really feel for the staff who are trying to do their best here against the odds.

I’m a strong believer in the man and the mission, but this side of the operation is pretty poor. Tesla have been lucky to be selling to a niche enthusiast audience over the last 8 years or so, but the ordinary punter that’s buying the Model 3 now won’t be quite so patient with them.

Sure, they are having to deal with extraordinary demand right now, but they are not covering themselves in customer service glory and they need to get it sorted before their reputation is badly damaged.

Build Quality

In order to bring the Model 3 to market as quickly as possible, Tesla skipped some of the testing steps of conventional manufacturers. This gave the car an early reputation for poor build quality.

While a lot of these issues are fixed now, this still isn’t a car that’s built to the level of its German counterparts. If you go looking for uneven panel gaps they are there and my car was also delivered with some grubby marks on the head-cloth, a missing clip from the boot trim, an electric window issue and this intermittent message about the charge port.

Tesla Model 3 UK - Charge Port Issue

All in all though not a disaster by any means and these issues are being attended to by a Tesla mobile ranger calling with me this week.

The Model 3 has a 4 year 50,000 mile warranty and cover for the battery and drive unit are extended to 8 years or 100,000 miles.


I have to admit that when the car was first revealed I was certain that the interior would never make it to production. The prototype dashboard just looked way too much of a leap into the future.

Tesla Model 3 UK Interior

But here it is, practically unchanged from that first look back in 2016. Is this minimalist interior becoming the new definition of luxury? It remains to be seen, but the (admittedly top quality) interiors from the likes of Audi are certainly starting to look more dated in comparison.

It’s not just as simple as adding a big touch screen either, the Jaguar I-Pace has plenty of those but its user interface is often derided by reviewers. No, you need more than just the hardware, you need the software, UI / UX to go with it. And Tesla’s vertical integration brings that in spades.

The SR+ has a ‘partial-premium interior’ which loses some of the features of the more expensive models. The only physical difference is that the sub-woofer is not in the boot, other changes are all in software. For example, the 2 lights in the front footwells are still there, just disabled, as are some of the speakers in the cabin and the rear heated seats.

The Tesla data connection or ‘Premium Connectivity’ will have a yearly fee for Long Range and Performance owners, so hopefully this might be opened up to SR+ owners too in the future. This would enable the satellite maps view and music streaming too. [UPDATE] Just before I published this review, Tesla released the following information about version 10 and the SR Plus…

Streaming Media & Browser Support Coming to all Model 3 Vehicles
To take advantage of the advanced media features in Software Version 10.0, we are also enabling browser access on all Model 3 Standard Range Plus and Standard Range vehicles. The update will also enable streaming media access to Spotify, TuneIn, and Slacker while connected to WiFi for these cars.


By the sounds of it that should give me access to everything if I use my phone as a hotspot. Let’s see (here are more v10 notes).

Tesla Model 3 UK - Nomad Wireless Charging Pad
Interior Upgrade – Nomad Wireless Charging Pad

The full length tinted glass roof (with hidden mounts for a roof rack) is beautiful and gives the car an airy feel whilst providing more headroom.

On our Scottish Road Trip, the temps topped out at just 15 or 16 degrees but it was regularly 22 degrees when we returned to the car. Do these 3’s even have the proper UV protection like the ones with the orange roof effect? Who knows. With the app you can turn on the aircon as you are heading back to it and I’ve seen it cool remotely from 22 degrees to 16 degrees within 5 minutes. Sadly, there’s currently no heated steering wheel available in any Model 3.

Tesla Model 3 Review - Remote Cooling from app

The seats are comfortable for day to day driving and the adjustable lumbar support is excellent. I feel they could benefit from some more bolstering though, especially in the thigh area, as they don’t support that well if you are on a more spirited drive through the twisty bits.

Custom driver profiles are linked to your key so for example when my wife drives the car the seat, mirrors, steering wheel position and weight etc will all adjust to her saved preferences.

I’ve always felt the steering wheel looks a bit ugly in photos and it’s not much better in the flesh. However, as a thing to hold it’s actually really nice. The 2 multi-function scrolling buttons on the wheel are used for many things including media control, cruise control and initiating voice control. Voice control works well but is limited, despite Musk saying it would be expanded.

These buttons are probably the most important physical controls on the car after the stalks. The right hand stalk is used to put the car into drive (down), reverse (up) and apply the handbrake (push in on the end). You can also switch to neutral with a small downward motion. Going back to the handbrake, a quick push on the tip shows the car in P (park). But if you push and hold it you will also see the red P handbrake symbol appear too. This seems to reapply the electric park brake at an even stronger setting from what I’ve read. You can flick the car between Drive and Reverse while it’s still rolling (provided you are below 5 mph I believe) which is nice.

Another great feature is the hold brake. When you are at a junction or traffic lights etc, applying the footbrake will bring up a little grey H icon on the screen and the car will hold the foot brake on for you (you need to have the ‘creep’ mode that mimics an automatic turned off for this to work). Your brake lights remain lit and you just need to touch the accelerator to knock hold off and proceed on your way.

Unlike the Leaf, the brake lights also come on if your regen deceleration goes past a certain G level. Regeneration is limited in colder weather and when you battery is full.

Tesla Model 3 - Energy Screen
Energy Consumption – Click to enlarge

I can just get away with sitting in the back (6 foot 3) despite the sloping rear roof line. The relatively high floor means there’s an unsupported gap between my leg and the seat and my knees are quite high. In general though, rear accommodation is excellent and back seat passengers get a flat rear floor. The middle passenger can get their feet under the rear centre console too, which features 2 USB charging ports.

The external door handles confuse many people. It’s simple, press your thumb on the fat part and then wrap your fingers around the thin end as it emerges. You’ll need to swap hands to do this, using your right hand on the right side of the car and your left for the left side. Although it’s no biggie, in my book any design that has to be explained like this to so many people is a bit of a fail.

The inside has a similar problem and these stickers are available to help prompt noobs to hit the right button. Especially important in the front where the emergency release can damage the window trims.

Tesla Model 3 - Boot (UK)

The boot is large and practical and has an additional deep well under a shelf which is ideal for your included Type 2 charger cable and UMC. There’s no spare wheel or air pump so I bought one of these to store in there. The frunk (front trunk) adds more useful space too {enough to hold a double duvet as we found out on our trip to leave offspring to uni).

Tesla Mode 3 UK - Double Duvet in Frunk

The SR+ comes without mats for the interior or the frunk, a bit mean Tesla. I bought the OEM mats for inside the car (£85) and I’m on the lookout for a decent after-market solution for the frunk.

Running Costs

So far it looks like that super-efficient permanent magnet synchronous reluctance motor means this heavier faster Tesla is at least as frugal as the Leaf, so an 8,000 mile year should cost around £300 in electricity.

And there’s another huge benefit of owning this EV. There are no maintenance intervals for the Model 3, you just contact a service centre if and when you have an issue. Currently my nearest one (Dublin) is 2 hours away although mobile rangers are now operating in Northern Ireland. There’s also a Belfast Service Centre on the Tesla Map now showing as coming soon. Brake wear should be extremely low due to the superb regen and you can change the cabin air filter yourself too.

Tesla Service Centre Belfast

The Model 3 qualifies for the Plug-in Car grant of £3,500. However as they all have a list price of over £40K they fall foul of the ‘luxury’ car tax. That means instead of the free road tax that EVs usual enjoy, you have to pay £320 VED (Vehicle Excise Duty) for 5 years (years 2 to 6). That effectively reduces that £3,500 gov grant to £1,900. It also means a 2nd hand Model 3 costs £320 a year, whilst something like a V8 Mustang costs £145. #ClimateEmergency ? Bonkers.

The Model 3 has been cheap to insure and has cost me 12% less than the Leaf, work that out? It seems the Direct Line hook up with Tesla is indeed a good deal.

Final Thoughts

Was there any point in the reservation? For me, I guess yes as I got my car in the first batch. It turned out to be an expensive privilege though due to the prices falling (although they have since gone back up a bit too). For a lot of other people though the reservation was probably no advantage. A friend has cancelled his reservation as he watched people order and get delivery within a 3 or 4 week period while he still had no firm date for his over 3 years after reserving.

Right now, price is the main barrier to entry for all EVs and we need to see new car prices come down along with more stock of older more affordable vehicles for used buyers too. This will all happen in time, but it may be a frustrating wait.

Next April’s change to 0% BIK (Benefit in Kind) will certainly concentrate the minds of company car drivers and anyway, at some point in the future electric cars won’t be optional, it’s coming to everyone.

But car enthusiasts no longer have to dread that. The driving experience is superior full stop. Here’s an email I received from a friend a week or so after he took my Model 3 for a drive. He’s a petrolhead with an engineering background…

You threw me a bit when you let me drive it – I was very impressed; relaxed driving experience with as much performance as you could realistically ever need. I’ve found auto / semi-auto cars a bit frustrating at times – gear hunting, that sort of thing – but the electric does away with all that. Didn’t expect to consider an all-electric so soon.

A. Friend

Petrolheads like us can understandably be nervous of an EV future, but you don’t have to be. It’s fantastic! The lack of engine noise is the one missing component for our generation, but there are so many other positives that you’ll soon forget that as you ride the wave of torque with a huge grin on your face.

The Tesla Model 3 isn’t perfect. But damn it’s close.
[UpdateRead my 1 year update and 2 year update]

Use my referral code (mark40609) to buy a Tesla and we both receive 1,000 free Supercharger miles.

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Last update on 2024-04-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

58 Comments on "Tesla Model 3 UK – The First 3,500 Mile Mega Review"

  1. Great article – very interesting:)

  2. @Paul – thanks 🙂

  3. Nice article, thanks for the detail

  4. Great review! Just a quick note, you don’t need to turn creep off for brake hold to work! I use both all the time. (Brake hold takes priority)

  5. @Stu – Thanks! I’ll give that a try.

  6. Good read, thanks. Now just wait for an all electric from a real German car manufacturer.

  7. @michal – Thanks. Have you seen the Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC? Both a bit of a yawn fest I feel.

  8. Nice write up (again).

    After waiting so long for the car, that big price drop just 2 weeks after you collected it and the white paint becoming the free option must have really sucked.

  9. @Alf – Thanks. Less than ideal!

  10. I picked up my Model 3 SR+ at around the same time as you, mid June. My experience at just under 3k miles is almost exactly the same as yours but my car has perfect panel gaps. It’s my first EV and is a great car, also the most expensive I have ever had, by a long way.

    I am surprised you didn’t mention the radio. The controls are very basic and so far as I can see there is no way to switch between DAB and FM apart from tuning the FM frequency and saving it as a favourite. In the UK the DAB bit-rate is very low on the majority of stations, which gives poor audio quality – often mono, sometimes partial stereo, very rarely full stereo – and FM is far superior, but the radio defaults to DAB even when a favourite station is selected. I wish Tesla would fix that. It would also be nice to be able to select some RDS options like all other car radios.

    I was also annoyed by the price drop within 2 weeks. I think Tesla should software-enable some things on our cars to give some added benefit to us and yet cost them nothing.

  11. @Ian – there are many things I didn’t get mentioning, but it was getting so long I had to stop at some point and post 🙂 Another thing I didn’t mention was how good Autopilot is in stop start traffic. Oh, and those headlights! Enjoy your car!

  12. I’ve had my M3LR in black for 18 days and have over 2,000 miles on the clock. The car is fantastic, smooth acceleration and braking, quick, responsive and a joy to drive.
    On the down side, the lack of person to talk to about issues is a pain. Still waiting to see what they’ll do about a minor dent over the OSR wheel arch and my blind spot cameras and lane departure systems keep reporting issues.
    Would I go back to my BMW 3 Series? Nooo. Not a chance.

  13. @Clive – Long Range AWD – must be even more amazing! Enjoy 🙂

  14. @Mark McCall I love it. Just need to get a charger installed at home to make it even better.

  15. @Clive – ‘Filling up’ at home is the final piece of the jigsaw 😉

  16. @mark Yeah, I’m in a flat which makes it harder.

  17. Hi. Great review – honestly the best one I’ve found so far – and I’ve been looking! Thanks. I am a prospective Tesla Model 3 buyer – just hesitating between the SR+ and the LR. I have a couple of questions, if you don’t mind.

    1. Regarding the connectivity: You mention about version 10: “By the sounds of it that should give me access to everything if I use my phone as a hotspot. Let’s see ” Does this work?

    2. I understand that not all Tesla Superchargers work with the model 3 yet. How do you know which ones do and has this been a problem for you?

  18. @Mark S – thanks

    1. Yes should work ok with phone as hotspot. Not tried as Tesla have opened up the data for us all for a trial period with V10 currently.

    2. The ones the Model 3 can use have two leads so easy to spot, no probs.

  19. @Mark thanks – I look forward to an update on the Wi-fi hotspot situation when you finally get to try it – I asked my local Tesla salesman and he didn’t know if hotspotting would work. Also, regarding the model 3 chargers – does the nav know if a supercharger is model 3 enabled? I’d hTe to turn up at a supercharger and find it hasn’t been upgraded yet.
    Finally, any regrets about getting the SR + rather than the LR? I used to have a leaf and found most days range was enough – about 90 miles – with a bit of nursing But occasionally I’d need to do an unplanned trip and was stuck running with no heating or aircon and fingers crossed. I’m hoping to avoid this range anxiety situation.

  20. I use my phone as a hotspot. If the hotspot is active before the car is put in Park it connects automatically.
    I can also turn on wifi if on the move and it finds the hotspot and connects. Great for getting an update downloaded whilst driving the car home.

    When at the supercharger, some of the chargers have two cables. Those are Model 3 compatible. You only make the mistake of pulling up to the wrong charger once.

  21. Hi Mark,
    Yes, the supercharger status on the map is aware of the Model 3 charger availability.
    I visited Oxford Supercharger the other week and it told me there were 4 chargers there and when I arrived there were more than a dozen, but only four had the CCS cable on them.

  22. @cliveflint – thanks for answering those questions for MarkS

  23. Thanks both for your thorough and useful answers. Very much appreciated. Any regrets/thoughts on SR+ v LR AWD?

  24. @MarkS – I’m coming from an 85 mile Leaf so the SR+ is a huge upgrade. My daily commute is less than 4 miles each way, but I’ve also driven from Manchester to Belfast in the SR+ with a single 30 min charging stop. So zero regrets from me, it’s perfect.

    £9K is a LOT more for the bigger battery, but it along with AWD are a nice upgrade so if you’re in the market for that price of a car I’m sure you wouldn’t regret it 🙂

  25. thanks again Mark McCall

  26. I decided to go for the LR partly because of the dual motor and partly for the longer range. Coming from a BMW 320D ED that got 800 miles to a tank I much prefer the longer range of the LR. 🙂

  27. Hello,

    I am looking to go down the EV route and Tesla 3 SR+ is a favourite, but I was anxious about the lack of local NI Tesla facilities. Have you found this problematic?

    Also you mentioned about issues using the ESB public charging network in NI, is this ongoing for Tesla 3s?

    Thanks for such a detailed and reassuring article, encouraging me down the Tesla 3 SR+ path for sure!

  28. Thanks @Clive

  29. @Andy – Belfast service centre is on the map as ‘coming soon’ and in the meantime I’ve had a visit from the mobile ranger out of Dublin so no real issues. The slow charging at rapids in NI is on-going.

  30. Just be aware that if you are considering a SR+ that it’s not just a smaller battery and one less motor you lose.

  31. @Mark that is really encouraging to hear, thank you. Shame to hear that the charging at the ESB stations isn’t as quick as one expects. Is it a substantial drop in speed of charging at the Rapid Chargers on that network?

    Really appreciate your assistance!

  32. @Andy – At Sprucefield for example I get max 34kW charge instead of 50. For me the main time I would really need a rapid on this island though would be trips to Dublin / Cork and the Supercharger network covers that well. Will you be able to charge at home?

  33. @Mark – Yes I will have the option to charge at home in garage so hopefully mitigate need for public charging. Good to hear that Supercharger network sufficient enough for journeys around Ireland. Fingers crossed ESB get their devices up to max effect on Tesla 3 soon too.

    @CliveFlint yes I see it is one engine versus dual with the SR+, a sacrifice one will have to cope with.

  34. There’s a lot of other differences as well, such as better maps on the LR, heated rear seats, better stereo, different seat material, streaming services, live traffic data, web browser,

  35. @Clive – The battery and AWD are great, but I’d say the other differences are minor and decreasing. For example I have the browser and streaming on my car since v10. This is a limited time trial that will almost certainly be opened up to SR+ drivers for an annual fee. All model 3 owners will have to pay this after the first year too. Oh and the seat material is identical, I think you are getting confused with the mythical SR (not SR+).

  36. Mark, It turns out that when rapid charging that about 7kw is used to warm the stators so that the battery pack can be heated up. If you add 7kw to your 34kw that the battery is getting you are at about 41kw of power going to the car.

  37. @Clive – Can’t agree with that. I’ve seen at least 47kW’s at some of the Scottish 50kW chargers we used.

  38. If the battery is warm enough then all the power goes into the battery. Watch TeslaBjorn’s videos where he gets into the car’s data. The motors warm up to allow heat to circulate to the batteries to warm them up.
    I complained to a charging company because the charger said it was giving me 24kw and my car said 17kw. The heating of the battery explains the missing 7kw

  39. Thanks for all your advice. I just ordered the Long Range.

  40. White with black interior – standard car

  41. Really great article thanks! I have a Standard plus on order, due at the end of Nov – I have a question regarding the charging. I can’t figure out what additional charger and / or adapter I need to buy to ensure I am able to charge at 20-30 miles per hour? I have a standard UK socket my driveway. The Tesla ‘Shop’ website drops me into the US site and doesn’t really explain what I need to buy for the UK? I’m left wondering if its a charger or just an adapter I need…or both? Can anyone help?

    Thank you!

  42. @Andy C – Thanks. You’ll need to install a 32amp, 7kW charger at home to get the 27mph speed. Here’s a good site with comparisons – https://www.rightcharge.co.uk

  43. Not sure if that link includes the Tesla Wall Charger, but it’s available from Tesla and will happily charge your Tesla.

  44. @Mark – thanks very useful site!

  45. @Andy C – thanks

  46. David Warren | December 6, 2019 at 6:10 pm |

    A very good article. I had a test drive in a Model 3 Performance yesterday. Definitely considering one as my next vehicle.

  47. @David – Thanks. Good luck with your choice.

  48. I fully endorse this review, as an SR+ (with FSD) owner since Nov 2019.
    Excellent review (felt myself nodding as I read it) with great links (now a TeslaFi subscriber).

  49. @Ian – thanks, appreciated 🙂

  50. Excellent read Mark, thanks. Moving from a Lexus IS300H to Tesla hopefully. Thanks also for the phone chat.

  51. @Ian Moran – Thanks Ian, good luck with your decision 🙂

  52. EDDIE ONEILL | June 28, 2020 at 5:21 pm |

    Thanks for the comprehensive review. Thinking about buying a Tesla, probably second hand. Good to have some info from a Northern Ireland owner. Please feel free to contact me if you have any updates or more info to share

  53. Shayne Tyler | August 25, 2020 at 1:38 pm |

    Great review and following a test drive I was convinced me to take the plunge. I have my VIN and notification of UK delivery later in September. Now I am super excited. Thanks for taking the time to give a detailed review.

  54. @Shayne – Thanks and congrats! Enjoy it when it comes. M.

  55. Hi Mark. This is by far the best review on the Internet. I’ve been looking for a review like this for what seems eternity. Brilliant thank you. I’ve test drove SR+ on two occasions and loved it but the problem I’m having is the overall styling which in my opinion is a tad uninspiring. I was thinking that i would need to change the standard aero wheels and you have done that on yours. May I ask where you purchased yours from and what the cost was please. Many thanks.

  56. @Lance – thanks! They are EVT (Turbine Style) from EV Wheels Direct. Here you go…


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