The Tesla Model 3 is the 2019 Auto Express Premium Electric Car of the Year, with the Audi e-tron and Jaguar I-Pace commended
There’s no denying that Tesla makes headlines across the globe – some due to its boss’s divisive social media content, but mostly due to the speed at which this disruptive tech company has succeeded in the electric-car sector.
It beat the big makes to be first to market with a premium EV, the Model S, and following the Model X SUV, the US brand’s third car to make production after the original Roadster is the Model 3. It has refined the Tesla concept and improved it in many areas where the previous models were arguably a little deficient.
The electrical architecture and hardware were never among them, but the Model 3 still improves on them. The car’s line-up has been rationalised since initial specs were released, with the Standard Range Plus model featuring a 55kWh battery that gives the car the ability to drive a claimed 254 miles – around the same as a Jaguar I-Pace. With 235bhp from its sole rear-mounted electric motor, there’s plenty of performance on offer, despite the Model 3’s still fairly significant kerbweight; 0-60mph takes 5.3 seconds.
Then there’s the Model 3 Performance, which features a 75kWh battery for a claimed range of 329 miles, plus a motor on each axle to give four-wheel drive and a 0-60mph time of 3.2 seconds, which makes it as fast off the line as a McLaren F1.
That’s the pace of progress, and there are still more factors that prove just how advanced the Model 3 is. There’s Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assistance system, for example, and the advanced centrally mounted 15-inch infotainment that controls all of the car’s functions. It all goes to show how Tesla is doing away with convention and embracing the future of electric motoring in a package that has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
The cabin is very minimalist, and while some areas might still raise an eyebrow when it comes to quality, the Model 3 is a massive improvement on past Teslas.
No matter which model you go for, there’s combined luggage space of 425 litres on board, while Tesla claims that its 120kW Supercharger network allows you to add 170 miles of range in only 30 minutes. Ally this to the Model 3’s already impressive range and it’s the most usable premium electric car on sale.
Our choiceTesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (£38,050)
A recent price cut for right-hand-drive models means that the Standard Range Plus model costs from just over £38,000 – which is around the same price as a BMW 320d M Sport. With exploitable real-world range, strong performance and practicality, and lots of advanced technology, this is the one we’d go for. It’s premium, yes, but it looks well priced, too.
The e-tron couldn’t match the Jaguar I-Pace’s ability when the two went head to head in Auto Express recently, but Audi’s electric SUV isn’t without merit. It’s practical, refined and features a high-quality cabin with brilliant infotainment. We’d like more range, but Audi’s first EV is fundamentally sound.
Last year’s winner gets a deserved commendation here. Many premium manufacturers have released EVs this year, with the likes of the Audi e-tron only serving to highlight how well executed a package the I-Pace is. Jag got it right first time round, and after one year on sale it’s still one of the best premium EVs.
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