Tesla becomes more

affordable

Tesla Model 3, 2019, front
Tesla Model 3, 2019, side
Tesla Model 3, 2019, front, static
Tesla Model 3, 2019, rear
Tesla Model 3, 2019, rear, static
Tesla Model 3, 2019, boot, front
Tesla Model 3, 2019, boot
Tesla Model 3, 2019, rear seats
Tesla Model 3, 2019, doors
Tesla Model 3, 2019, interior
Tesla Model 3, 2019, display screen

LOVE them or loathe them fully electric powered cars are definitely here to stay.

In the future everyone will wonder what all the fuss was about when they first arrived.

American electric car specialists Tesla is leading the way in the sector and now has launched a medium sized executive saloon model that is more affordable and goes head-to-head with the BMW 3 Series.

The entry-level Tesla 3 Standard Range Plus with its 50kWh of power and 254 miles of battery charge comes in at £39,490 (which includes the government's £3,500 grant) making it a realistic and sensibly priced all-electric executive four-door saloon.

With a 5 star Euro NCAP safety ticket under its bonnet the rear-wheel-drive Tesla 3 is cheaper to run day-to-day than a conventional internal combustion engined car and the driver has no service intervals or congestion charges to worry about.

In terms of a benefit-in-kind at 0% it beats the taxman too.

For those drivers wanting more miles from their battery there is the 3 Long Range model (348 miles) costing £47,990 and for those needing to go faster there's a Performance model (0 to 60mph in 3.2 seconds) costing £52,990 with a driving range of 329 miles.

Both have 75kWh output all-wheel-drive courtesy of a second electric motor in the front subframe.

The entry-level Standard Range Plus is the key to Tesla's growing prominence in the UK - as long as the Californian factory can produce enough right-hand-drive models and waiting times for delivery can be drastically improved over the average time of several months at present.

With the battery tucked away under the floorpan that feeds a rear-mounted transaxle electric motor which in turn drives the wheels through a single-speed gearbox, the Tesla Modal 3 looks different from the rest of the pack.

With aluminium panels for the bonnet, boot, doors and roof and a main body of high strength steel the 3 model, which is slightly longer than the BMW 3 Series, is well built and has a comparative low kerb weight of 1,645kg.

At the front it's grille-free while overall the sleek body lines of the car are extremely stylish and quite a head-turner out on the road.

When it comes to driving its performance is highly impressive and with a 0 60mph in 5.3 seconds is faster than any other electric car of this size. Top speed is 140mph.

The acceleration is as smooth and fast and extremely quiet, even when the accelerator is pushed hard down while the brakes are firm and responsive. The car has plenty of regeneration braking too.

It's a reasonably agile car with good body control, a well damped ride that's composed and it comes into its own when driving through heavy stop/start city traffic.

Inside the cabin there's quite a revolution going on. There are just two driver stalks mounted on the steering wheel - the right pushes up and down for drive, reverse and park while the left sided one is for the indicators.

Up above the driver is the roof mounted hazard warning light button and on the steering wheel two small rotary buttons for adjusting the electric wing mirrors.

Straight ahead of the driver's vision there's nothing on the dashboard - it all happens slightly to the left on a centrally position huge 15-inch television-style screen which controls every other aspect of the car.

At a touch of the screen the driver has everything needed from sat nav, cruise control, headlight setting, windscreen wipers, heating and ventilation to all conceivable aids needed for this most unique car.

First impressions can be daunting and it needs some time to become familiarised with all the graphics and controls.

Admittedly, it's a bit mind blowing at first but once familiar with what does what and how it works becomes second nature - but rushing such introductions is certainly not advised.

Despite all this latest Silicon Valley input there's still one vital ingredient missing - a head-up display to reveal the car's speed which is an aid becoming increasingly common on higher spec cars.

Elsewhere, the seats give excellent lumbar support - it will sit two adults in comfort in the rear - and the ambience of the interior is top quality all nicely finished with premium vegan leather.

Boot space is a large 542 litres and there's even more storage space under the bonnet where normally an engine would exist.

Safety features are in abundance with eight cameras giving 360 degree vision while it also has 12 ultrasonic sensors for detecting objects around the car such as other vehicles and pedestrians.

There's also a host of other standard features such as lane assist, automated parking, intelligent cruise control and more.

It is certainly a game changer and moving up to the two all-wheel-drive 3 models there's even more technology on board.

With the Tesla 3 the Americans have a car which can make even the most reluctant electric car driver make the change from normal petrol or diesel powered cars - and the are protected by a four year, 100,000 mile warranty.

Tesla already has more than 430 of what it calls supercharging points up and down the country and the car can also be charged at home of the office using the normal domestic electricity system with a special adaptor.

Other Tesla models are in the pipeline, including possibly an even smaller and cheaper version than the highly impressive 3 model, but as a starter it will certainly dispel any doubts many may have over all electric cars.

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