Subtle updates don’t address any of the 3’s fundamental shortcomings, but this remains arguably the most compelling EV on sale
Cast your mind back to summer 2019, when the Model 3 arrived in Britain and sightings of its globular form had us pressing our noses up against the glass of our own, suddenly quite archaic-feeling combustion cars. Tesla’s most affordable offering has, in the short time since then, gone from being almost non-existent on our roads to feeling commonplace, especially in London. And this despite it being considerably more expensive than EV hatchback stalwarts such as the Nissan Leaf. In fact, so strong is the brand and capable the product that Tesla’s junior saloon regularly tops monthly EV sales charts in Europe, with only Renault’s Zoe able to keep up. True, at this precise moment, Volkswagen’s box-fresh ID3 – the car ‘seeking forgiveness for Dieselgate’, as Jim Holder accurately put it – is the EV that European buyers want most, but with vital statistics inferior to the American car in almost every way, don’t bank on the novelty factor lasting.To help its cause, Tesla has given the Model 3 an early facelift, though one less comprehensive than those traditionally applied to cars four or five years into the model-cycle. Call it a refresh. The range still consists of three variants, our test car being the entry-level, rear-driven Standard Range model, while both the Long Range and Performance use two electric motors to give them four-wheel drive and larger battery packs that push range from 254 to more than 350 miles.Performance is brisk whichever powertrain you have, and the 283bhp motor in the Standard Range not only propels the car to 60mph in 5.3sec but does so in a manner that feels considerably quicker those numbers suggest.