The Tesla Model 3 is now on sale in select European markets, with first deliveries penned in for February 2019
Tesla has outlined European specifications and prices for the Model 3, and first European reservation holders will have been invited to begin placing their final orders.
In the United States, the Model 3 has been on sale for well over a year and deliveries are well underway, with production totalling over 50,000 units in the third quarter of 2018.
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With European sales finally beginning, two configurations of the Model 3 are available from market launch – the Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor All-Wheel-Drive, and the recently revealed, BMW M3 baiting Model 3 Performance.
Both have been homologated under the new WLTP testing procedure with an official range of up to 338 miles on a single charge recorded for both versions of the car, which both use a 75kWh battery pack. As for the Model 3 Performance, Tesla claims that the European specification model achieves 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds, with top speed clocked at 155mph. No European performance figures have been published for the regular Long Rane Dual Motor AWD model, but Tesla’s American configurator claims 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 145mph.
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European specification Model 3s are equipped with CCS charging ports, meaning they’ll be able to use third-party roadside fast chargers from the likes of Ionity and BP/Chargemaster alongside Tesla’s European Supercharger network.
Standard equipment on both versions includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning and side collision warning. A 15.4-inch touchscreen display is mounted centrally in the cabin, and Tesla’s ‘Premium Connectivity’ package is standard for one year from purchase, allowing satellite maps with live traffic, a subscription to the Spotify music streaming service, and over-the-air update capability.
Heated seats with 12-way power adjustable front seats are standard fit, plus a surround sound system making use of 14 speakers. Auto dimming, powerfolding, heated mirrors are also included.
The Model 3 Performance gets a mildly racier design to go with its 444bhp all-electric dual-motor powertrain. It gets a small carbon-fibre lip spoiler on the boot-lid, 20-inch alloy wheels, red brake calipers, aluminium pedals in the cabin and an exclusive ‘Track’ drive mode.
Tesla is aiming to deliver its first Model 3s in Europe in February 2019, and says that every current LHD market reservation holder in Europe will be invited to configure and order their car by the end of this year. Prices vary by local market, but by and large the Model 3 is priced from around €58,000 for the Long Range AWD model, and €70,000 for the Model 3 Performance.
In the UK, that translates to £51,600 and £62,300 respectively. However, as a right-hand-drive market, British reservation holders will have to wait around another 12 months to get their cars.
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Tesla Model 3: launch specifications and information
In 2006 Tesla CEO Elon Musk published a ’top secret masterplan’ on Tesla’s website. It was low on detail but the groundbreaking electric car company has stuck to it. Tesla, it said, was going to ‘create a low volume sports car, use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price and use that money to create an affordable, high volume car’.
The Tesla Model 3 is that ‘affordable, high volume car’. It joins the current Tesla range alongside the Model S executive saloon and the Model X SUV.
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Though now on sale in Europe, the Model 3 remains something UK buyers will have to wait for. Beyond the two launch models now confirmed Tesla will work towards introducing a low cost, lower range model, with a price tag previously touted at £35,000 before the £3,500 electric car grant from the government. However, the entry-level Model 3 many are waiting for remains elusive, and is not yet on sale in the company’s home market.
Dimensions and technical details
The Tesla Model 3 is a little bit wider and longer than a previous-generation BMW 3 Series with a 4,694mm length and 1,849mm width. It’s 1,443mm tall and has a long wheelbase of 2,875mm (the 3 Series’ is 2,810mm) to help maximise interior space. Most surprising though is the weight with Tesla claiming a kerb weight of 1,610kg that compares well with the 1,475kg of a BMW 3 Series considering the batteries the Tesla needs to haul about.
That weight is distributed with 47 per cent over the front axle and 53 per cent over the rear wheels that deploy the power. There’s a variable, speed sensitive power steering set-up and the suspension system uses double wishbones at the front with an independent multi-link arrangement at the rear end.
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The curving roofline helps the Model 3 achieve an impressive 0.23 drag coefficient but not at the expense of passenger space. The 5-seat interior has decent leg and headroom but not on the level of the larger Model S and X. In the two luggage compartments, one front and one rear, there’s a total of 425 litres of space. It’s quite a bit less than the 480-litre a 3 Series can get in its boot but there are 60/40 split rear seats to help fit larger loads inside.
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All Tesla Model 3 cars come with a basic specification that includes 18-inch alloy wheels, the spectacular 15.4-inch infotainment screen, dual-zone climate control, wi-fi internet connectivity, keyless entry via your smartphone or a credit card-style key, voice activated controls and the full array of sensors needed to enable autonomous driving. In America, the specification can then be upgraded with a $5,000 (£3,800) Premium pack. This delivers upgraded materials in the cabin with a wood-veneered dash, 12-way electrically adjustable front seats, a 12-speaker stereo upgrade, heated rear seats, and two inductive phone chargers. That panoramic glass ceiling that is such a hallmark of the Model 3’s design is also included in the deal.
Previously, the Model 3 was available in the United States with a ‘Full Self Driving’ optional pack, equipping the car with the hardware necessary to enable autonomy, but not the software – that’s still being developed. The optional pack meant that buyers could prepare their Model 3s for when or if autonomous driving becomes both legal and a technological reality. Tesla has since removed the option though, citing customer confusion.
The Model 3 can be equipped with Tesla’s latest Advanced Autopilot system, providing semi-autonomous assistance on motorway and dual-carriageway style roads.
Interior and exterior design details
In terms of exterior design, the Model 3 adopts a more conventional hatchback body, but retains the sleek sloping roofline Teslas has become known for. A larger glasshouse than that seen on the bigger Model S creates a higher roofline, while the sunken bonnet gives it a very distinct profile.
Appearance-wise, it’s no surprise that the Tesla Model 3 looks like a downsized Model S. With electrical gear taking up so little space, downsizing the Model 3 was mostly a matter of shrinking the ends of the car and shifting the front seats forward to provide more rear-seat room.
Like other Teslas, the Model 3 offers two boots, front and rear. The Model 3 has no grille, save for a small scoop at the bottom edge of the bumper. While this is no doubt good for aerodynamics, it gives the car a rather unfinished look when seen from the front, although the facelifted Model S and Model X both now have a similar look.
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The Model 3’s interior is incredibly simple in its design. Musk explained that the design team “aim for a very simple clean design because in the future the cars will be increasingly autonomous. You won’t really need to look at an instrument panel all that often, you’ll be able to do what you want.”
A new three-spoke steering wheel is found on the production car and the dashboard is still sparse, with just a 15.4-inch landscape infotainment screen mounted centrally. Speed and gear selection are displayed in the upper corner of the screen, with a strip of climate controls at the bottom. The rest of the screen real estate is split between the map display and stereo controls.
Unlike other Tesla models, that’s it for instrumentation—in fact, that’s it for anything. Aside from a small squared-off steering wheel, the dash is nothing more than an unadorned strip of black and white, with a centre console bisecting the front bucket seats. It’s the kind of interior we expect to see in a concept car, but Elon Musk has confirmed this is very close to the production version – it’ll remain bare and operated through the central display.
The Model 3’s rear window extends right up over the roof to the car’s B-pillars, while a large sunroof over the front seats completes the illusion of a nearly-all-glass roof. The glass roof also improves rear-seat headroom, and the front seats have been pushed forward for more legroom. The six-footers riding in the back get legroom that’s acceptable and headroom surprisingly generous.
Tesla Model 3 supercharger access
Tesla’s smallest does not come with free Tesla Supercharger access – the company has ending the practice of allowing new customers to top up for nothing at the stations. Model S and X owners will get Supercharger credits, but any freebies for Model 3 buyers have been ruled out. Customers can access the Supercharger network on a pay-per-use basis.
What do you think of Tesla’s plan to attack the compact executive car market with the Model 3? Can it succeed where so many have failed? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below or join the debate on Twitter and Facebook.