As Tesla start to ship the first batch of their Model 3 range, we decided to take a closer look at the much anticipated smaller version of the Model S. The latest innovation from Tesla Motors aims to compete with other luxury-end electric car models such as the BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and with a £24,000 starting price, it’s not a budget vehicle!
The Model 3 is undeniably beautiful. Boasting a long curved roof that tails right to the back of the car, the lines are modern, smooth and inoffensive. The Tesla’s bonnet is just as good with headlights reminiscent of a Porsche, albeit, the bonnet itself is relatively short. However, where the car completely breaks all the rules in regards to aesthetics is the interior. The Model 3 has no primary traditional dashboard – that means no speedometer, no fuel gauge, no rev counter. Instead, everything is housed in a central touchscreen tablet-like console.
Like the Model S, the Model 3 comes fully packed with all the innovative features you’d expect from Tesla – including the much-coveted autopilot hardware. Unlike the Model S (which boasts over 1,000 configurations), the Model 3 only has less than 100 different configurations to set up the features of the car. The Model 3 can go 215 miles before requiring a charge and can do an impressive zero to 60mph in under 6 seconds. To combat scepticism around self-driving cars, it’s noticeable that Tesla is keen to boast “designer to achieve 5-star safety rating” absolutely everywhere they can across manuals, marketing material and dealerships.
Is it worth it?
Honestly, it’s hard to say. Tesla has been so secretive regarding the car that it’s really difficult to provide an in-depth review until we see plenty of them on our roads. Even the Tesla website for Model 3 is vague and uninformative. At £24,000, it’s an expensive car for its size and you have to question whether you really need 0-60 in 5.9 seconds whilst you’re trundling down to the shop. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at some affordable alternatives:
Starting at £19,856, the IONIQ is clearly never going to be as fast as the Tesla at 9.9 seconds to do 0-62mph. At 83.1mpg the battery-powered vehicle provides a quiet and cost efficient ride. The IONIQ comes with plenty of toys including LED lights, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, cruise control parking camera, climate control, lane assist and 16” alloys.
Perhaps the only criticism of the IONIQ is that the interior feels a bit overloaded with plastic. It’s a good runner and a sensible choice for someone looking for a more practical car, but it lacks the aesthetics and final touches to really compete with the Tesla Model 3.
Just in case you can’t tell – this is not a car, it’s a van. Yes, the Tepee isn’t conventional and yes it looks a bit boxy, but if you’re wanting a decent vehicle that is likely to be used for commercial purposes and wants to drastically cut fuel costs then the Tepee makes sense.
The Partner Tepee Electric does 106 miles on one charge according to PEUGEOT and can be charged used domestic plugs as well as super fast charging points. Where the PEUGEOT does beat the competition in its affordability. Starting at just £16,605, the vehicle comes with the typical 60,000-mile warranty but also a warranty on the battery up to 8 years. It comes with a surprising amount of equipment for a van including touchscreen console, satellite navigation, voice recognition, WiFi, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio, park assist, reversing camera and speed limiter.
The Partner Tepee Electric is never going to compete with the Tesla Model 3 on looks or performance, but it may be a more practical and useful option for those who need more space for large families or business.
Ok, the SEAT LEON SC isn’t an electric or hybrid car, but it is a credible affordable alternative. Like the Tesla Model 3, the SEAT LEON SC is easy on the eyes and boasts contemporary and vivid lines. Unlike the other two competitors mentioned, the LEON is far sportier in looks and feel. The panoramic sunroof brings not only a distinctly Tesla-esque feel to the car, but adds more space when required.
At a starting price of £17,455 for the 1.2 TSI SE version, it’s really affordable for what is included. MPG achieves around 65.7miles to the gallon and it can do a decent 0-62mph in under 10 seconds which isn’t bad for such a fuel efficient engine. It’s ram packed with all the equipment you’d ever need like USB ports, SD card slots, Bluetooth, DAB Radio, Voice recognition, touch screen console etc.
Most importantly, it’s fun to drive. The LEON’s suspension stays tidy on winding roads and it remains comfortable to drive when pushed. Yes, it doesn’t have self-driving functionality, and maybe it’s not as slick as the Model 3, but it provides affordability for things like fuel economy, equipment, sporty looks and a decent drive.