Tesla Model 3 Long

Range

Tesla Model 3, 2021, side
Tesla Model 3, 2021, front, static
Tesla Model 3, 2021, rear
Tesla Model 3, 2021, interior
Tesla Model 3, 2021, rear seats
Tesla Model 3, 2021, boot

ELON Musk may be shooting for the stars with his rocket producing company SpaceX but most of his customers are happier to keep their feet on the ground with one of his hi-tech, rocket-speed Tesla cars.

The company used to offer a choice of three different all-electric models until recently but for this year at least only the Model 3 is available.

New versions of the super fast Model S as well as the popular family model X, an SUV, won't be in showrooms again until sometime next year.

For many, however, the Model 3 - the cheapest in the American company's line-up - offers all they want in an electric car; performance, space and most of all a range of well over 300 miles.

The Model X is around the size of a BMW 3 Series and prices start from £41,000 plus any extras you want to add.

Three formats are available, Standard, Performance and - the car driven here - Long Range, which means up to 360 miles on a single charge so no range anxiety problems.

Low, sleek and with a roof that's virtually all glass this Tesla is dramatic on both the inside and outside and is radically different to anything else on the road.

Forget key fobs. You unlock the Tesla by tapping on the central pillar with a credit card by which time you will already have been filmed by one of a number of cameras in case you are trying to break in.

Take the driver's seat and the first thing that strikes you is the complete absence of any buttons, dials or knobs. While most manufacturers now put more on central touch screens to achieve a less cluttered dashboard Tesla goes the whole hog with the full minimalist approach.

Everything - including the digital speedometer - is operated from the huge I-Pad style screen. You can't even alter your side mirrors without activating the process on screen.

It's effective but takes some getting used to and definitely has to be learned while stationary.

As you drive along the right hand side of the screen continually shows you the vehicles passing all around you and your proximity to them as well as traffic lights as you approach them so you are ready when they turn green.

After many days with the car, however, I still couldn't find the trip meter - and neither could four other Tesla drivers I met while charging the car so some things are over complicated..

Both Performance and Long range models come with electric motors on both axles to give the cars four-wheel-drive and rocket-like acceleration which will take it from rest to 60 miles per hour in just 4.2 seconds.

And while other high performance cars are all exhaust roar and gear changes the Tesla does it all in a silent whoosh in a single gear, often taking unsuspecting passengers by surprise.

Who said electric cars are dull?

And the braking effect as you lift off the accelerator is so positive I rarely had to touch the brake pedal at all.

On the practical side the car will accommodate some 425 litres of luggage thanks to a generous boot as well as space beneath the bonnet, as there's no engine.

The Model 3 has recently undergone a number of upgrades with additions like a power assisted tailgate, double glazing on the side windows, a better heating system, lower rolling resistance tyres and an improved centre console.

Charging is easy, quick and cheap - particularly if you use one of the Tesla superchargers which are strategically placed around the country.

At Hilton Park Services near junction 11 of the M6, for example I charged the Model 3 on one of the bank of 10 chargers adding some 200 miles for just £16.43 in around 30 minutes. Less than half what you would pay for petrol for an average car.

And I barely had time to buy and finish a cup of coffee before the Tesla app on my phone was telling me the car was charged.

Once the car is full, however, you only have a short time to move to a conventional parking bay if you are not driving on or you will incur a charge. It's Tesla's sensible way of keeping the chargers free for other users.

Certainly every Tesla owner I met was an ambassador for the brand.

FAST FACTS

Tesla Model 3 Long Range

Price: £47,500

Mechanical: 476 bhp, twin electric motors driving all wheels.

Max Speed: 145 mph

0-62mph: 4.2 secs

Combined MPG: 360 miles

Insurance Group: 50

C02 emissions: 0g/km

Bik rating: 1%

Warranty: 4yrs/50,000 miles

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