First drive: 2024 Tesla Model 3

11 tesla model 3 facelift review 2023 08 cornering front

Thorough refresh brings a fresh face, aero tweaks and a raft of refinement-boosting upgrades

The Tesla Model 3 is described as the firm’s bread and butter model, so seeing as the core design has been around since 2017, it makes sense that it’s getting a thorough update for 2024.

Tesla’s entry-level car has been a huge success and it’s easy to see why. Even after several years on sale, rivals still struggle to match its range, charging speed and performance. The Tesla Model 3 also has the most agile and natural-feeling handling of all the Teslas.

And if all that wasn’t enough, Tesla dropped the Model 3’s list price earlier this year, and as a result, the single-motor model costs barely more than electric hatchbacks like the Vauxhall Astra Electric.

Anyway, back to the facelift. Tesla claims that more than 50% of the Model 3’s components have been refreshed in response to customer feedback, with the aim of improving refinement and comfort.


And don’t worry, that price reduction hasn’t been a temporary end-of-season sale to shift old stock. Tesla promises that the equivalent facelifted version will only see an incremental increase of around £1000-2000 when it arrives in the UK in the early months of 2024.

Cosmetically, the most obvious change is at the front. The sleeker headlights are now powerful enough to make the fog lights redundant, so they’ve been removed. Doing so has freed up space for the bumper to be reshaped in order to reduce drag and boost efficiency.

At the back, the rear lights are now C-shaped and integrated into the bootlid while the badge has been replaced with ‘Tesla’ lettering. The reverse lights are now located low down on the bumper. The red and grey paint choices have been updated slightly, and the wheel designs have been tweaked to be even more aerodynamically efficient.

Those wheels also come with new tyres, chosen to enhance ride comfort and to reduce road noise. The Model 3’s ride has always been on the firmer end of the scale, and while the retuned bushings and a revised geometry up front haven’t changed that, the new Model 3 does take the sting out of bumps slightly better than before

It’s also a little more hushed on the move, thanks to a slightly reshaped bonnet (to help guide air over the front windscreen wipers) and double-glazed rear windows (in addition to the front ones).

The Model 3’s interior has been upgraded too, partly to feel more upmarket, but also to help dampen road noise with more soft materials. It’s worked, and the improvements are welcome, but as with the ride, the difference isn’t night and day.

A few other touches liven up the interior compared to the outgoing model. You can now personalise the top panel of the dashboard with inserts in a different colour or material, such as a grey textured fabric. The cupholders have gained a sliding lid, while a strip of ambient lighting runs along the upper section of the doors and continues along the top of the dashboard.


The brighter, more responsive, 15.4in touchscreen has a slimmer surround although you’d have to look carefully to tell the difference from the outgoing version. The sound system on the Long Range has also had an upgrade, with 17 speakers in total (rather than 14), new amps and software to help it sound punchier and more immersive.

Your voice should sound clearer on a phone call, too, with additional microphones to help isolate it better. The range for the on-board Wi-Fi has been doubled for the 5GHz setting, improving connectivity for those over-the-air updates when the car needs to connect to your home router.

For the driver, the rearranged controls will make the biggest difference. Like in the Tesla Model S, the stalks on the steering column have been removed. The car now guesses your intended direction of travel and asks you to confirm by tapping the brake pedal, with a slider on the touch screen acting as a back-up. The new three spoke steering wheel houses haptic buttons to control the lights, indicators, wipers and cruise control. It all works better than you might expect, but not quite as well as a standard stalk.

Those sitting in the back get a new 8.0in touchscreen with integrated air vents on the back of the centre console, allowing occupants to adjust the ventilation and heated seats and watch movies and videos.

From a safety aspect, the doors have now been reinforced to provide greater protection in a side impact. As a result, they also close with a more reassuring clunk.

The lack of refinement and perceived quality were always our main gripes with the Tesla Model 3, and while these tweaks don’t propel it past the BMW i4 in those respects, Tesla has certainly closed the gap.

Meanwhile, Tesla remains very strong on electric drivetrain technology. Battery capacity and charging speeds are unchanged at 170kW for the standard car and 250kW for the Long Range.

However, a lower drag coefficient of 0.219 helps boost efficiency, resulting in a claimed range increase of 5-8%. On the standard 18in wheels, the standard rear-wheel drive version has a WLTP claim of 344 miles (up from 305), while the Long Range, with its bigger battery and dual motors, claims 421 miles (up from 394). Opt for the larger 19in items and this drops to 318 miles and 390 miles respectively. Those numbers are no longer out of reach of a Polestar 2, but you can bet on the Tesla’s real-world efficiency being better, thus making it cheaper to run.

Performance from the electric powertrain on both versions remain the same, with the only difference being those 18in tyres have a reduced top speed of 125mph. That means a 0-62mph time of 6.1sec for the 245bhp entry-level car, and 4.4sec for the 351bhp Long Range. The Performance model hasn’t been officially confirmed, but expect it to arrive later.

If it is true that prices will only rise by £1000 to £2000, that means the line-up will open at around £44,000. That’s less than even a Hyundai Ioniq 6. Add in the improvements to the refinement and interior, and this facelift has certainly beefed up the Model 3’s already rock solid appeal. And you can bet these tweaks will also make their way on to the Tesla Model Y.

Tesla Model 3 Rear-wheel drive

Verdict 4.5 stars

Price £44,000 (est) Motor 1x PMSM Power 271bhp Torque 298lb ft Transmission 1-spd reduction gear Battery size 60kWh/57.5kWh (total/usable) 0-62mph 6.1sec Top speed 124mph Energy efficiency 4.7mpkWh Range 344 miles Maximum charge rate 170kW CO2 0g/km BIK tax band 2%

Rivals Hyundai Ioniq 6, Polestar 2


Source: Autocar

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