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Review: 2019 Tesla Model 3 SR+


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Tesla model 3 review


We've had our Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (SR+) for over 2 months now, and covered over 2500 miles, so here's some thoughts, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

The SR+ is the base version of the Model 3 (other than the very limited availability USA-only SR), with a 55kWh Battery pack and rear-wheel drive. It weighs in at 1611kg, almost exactly the same as an IS300h. The Model 3 is similar overall size to the IS (Model 3 is 30mm longer), but sits on a longer wheelbase (75mm longer - longer than a GS or ES)

Body and interior quality, fit and finish

Starting with what is widely considered to be an area of weakness for Tesla, for the most part it’s actually fine. Definitely better than my Leaf was. No, it’s not Lexus good, but even our GS isn’t perfect - if you’re looking for misalignments on any car you will find them. I find Merc C-class estates very noticeable when the taillights on the body don’t line up with the ones on the tailgate (and usually they don’t!). Certainly our 3 is way better than a Jag XE I put an eye over recently. There’s one door that could do with a slight tweak (about 1mm) to sit a bit more perfectly.

As for paint, it’s mostly good but for a few dust nibs. I’ve never bought any other new car before, so I’ve no idea what others are like in this regard - our GS has plenty of paint flaws now (stone chips and bird lime damage caused lacquer crazing), and even within the first 1000 miles the 3 picked up a stone chip. I’ve since been over the car with Carpro essence on an MF pad and the paintwork has come up very nicely, so I’m satisfied with it. 


Interior quality is very good - you interact with very little in the model 3, so there’s much less opportunity for things to creak and flex than in other cars. I recently had a VW hire car that I was shocked by the plastic creaking cacophony that accompanied pressing any of the buttons. The screen on the model 3 is very solidly mounted and extremely responsive so you are not left feeling like it is cost cut. The window switches feel very solid, very close to those in our GS and better than any other car I’ve had (2011 Volvo V70, 2003 Honda Accord, etc).

Material quality in the cabin is good with regard to the plastics. Carpets are a bit cheap. The “Vegan Leather” is what it is…. Similar to Lexus Tahara or Mercedes Artico. I prefer the real leather in the GS. Seats are very good (and suit me a bit better than the GS Premier seats do - I can’t get my back comfortable as the driver in that car. Key point: seats are a personal matter).

Overall I find the perceived interior quality to be better than our neighbour’s 2014 BMW 330d GT or our 2011 Volvo V70.

Specification and equipment

The SR+ comes with the “Partial Premium Interior”. Our car is absolutely base spec for the UK, with the only option we took being the blue paint.

So, what did we get? Front seats are fully electric (12-way, inc 2-axis lumbar) and heated, with driver memory for each profile (not sure how many profiles you can have, but lots!). Steering column reach/rake is electric. Full glass panoramic roof. 15” display with sat nav (free updates), reversing camera, good music system (very close to the Mark Levinson in the GS), 18” alloys, LED headlamps, foglamps. There’s very little missing, and the “full premium” option only adds heated rear seats and a subwoofer, and some data connectivity add ons.

Autopilot is included as standard - this consists of Traffic Aware adaptive cruise control (which will keep pace with traffic down to a stop), Lane centering autosteering  (ie not like LKA which will simply pinball from side to side, this will drive itself down a motorway lane), all of the expected emergency braking and rear collision mitigation (scoring by far the highest score on euro NCAP for such systems). We did not take the “Full Self Drive” option.

The base spec would require significant trips to the options list for a 330i or C300 to match the Tesla. Even a base IS300h with premium pack (to match the powered heated seats and power steering column of the Tesla) and metallic paint comes in at a higher price (£38670, compared to £38290 paid for the Tesla). 



Starting with the downsides - this is not the quietest car there is. The 4GS is one of the quietest cars there is (not as quiet as an LS600h, but in the top 10), so it’s a harsh comparison. The model 3 has significant body-borne road noise and you hear the suspension working (thumping on pot holes), and bits of wind flutter (frameless windows don’t isolate as well). It’s better than typical C-seg hatchbacks, but not up with the D-seg class leaders. Up to about 20mph you can hear a bit of drive unit noise, but it’s not annoying and quieter than the drivetrain in the Leaf. 

Suspension is firm. It thumps, but it’s not jarring. It’s not as brittle as an M-Sport 3 series, but nothing like as fluid as the GS450h. Putting the GS into Sport+ brings them closer, but the 3 is still a bit firmer than that. However, it’s not just wilful firmness trying to hide a poor chassis (Volvo R-Design, I’m looking at you) - the suspension setup is extremely well designed (double-wishbone front, multi-link rear) and connected with an extraordinarily stiff body (the Battery construction under the floor makes it extremely rigid, and combined with bonded glass roof and rear screen adds stiffness above too). The ride definitely improved over the first 1500 miles, and while it’s never going to be considered a magic carpet, it’s very accomplished. One thing that it does highlight is that on an A-road the GS always feels like it's moving, up and down. The 3 does not.

EVs in general should handle well because the centre of gravity is very low and the mass is centred in the car, within the wheelbase. The Model 3 uses that and the suspension design to offer amazing levels of grip. The steering is 2 turns lock-to-lock, so this is go-kart like. Very incisive handling, but not at all nervous or twitchy. It is an absolute hoot to punt down a twisty A-road, and can be placed very precisely and confidently, and it doesn’t bite back (mostly! At the very beginning I got a couple of wags of the tail in the wet, but that was down to a combination of incorrect tyre pressure and brand new tyres not scrubbed in yet. Once settled in it’s been very secure). It’s not all perfection - the steering offers absolutely zero feedback or feel. It absolutely goes where you point it and doesn’t react to or get put off line by cambers and bumps, but the steering wheel won’t feed you any information about what’s going on underneath the tyres. 

Performance is typical EV - immediate, responsive and very very fast. The 0-60 time for the SR+ is 5.3 seconds, which is a bit faster than the GS450h. However, because of traction limitations, it doesn’t feel amazingly quick from a standing start. The real party piece is how it responds to throttle inputs to change speed from 30 to 50 mph for example - Autoexpress tested it at 1.9 seconds for 30-50. For reference, they recorded 2.0 seconds for 30-50 in 3rd gear for both the Porsche 911 992 Carrera 4s Cab and the Mercedes AMG GT Roadster. 

One thing that is more noticeable with the 3 than was with the Leaf is the performance variance with State of Charge (SoC). The Leaf was always slow, the 3 is noticeably less peppy at 30% than at 90%. 

Just last week it was announced that the next software update (which downloads over Wi-Fi, doesn’t require visits to dealer) will bring an additional 5% power increase. 


For the most part charging happens when you’re doing something else so it’s simply a non issue. However, one key thing about the Model 3 is that it’s a Tesla so road trips can actually be a thing. We just took a 1000 mile trip around scotland and spent a total of £6 on charging. The most significant day of driving was from Dumbarton to our home near Rochdale, a distance of 240 miles. Having come from the Leaf where this would have been annoying, involving hypermiling and numerous charge stops I was unconcerned - we started the day with about 85% charge, spent the morning in Glasgow then departed down the M74. I was tending to set cruise on 80 (unthinkable in the Leaf!) and just go for it. We stopped at Abington (just long enough to pee and get a takeaway cup of coffee) and Tebay (for 20 minutes, but we didn’t actually need that much - could have done less than 15). With Supercharging on a long journey from 100% charge you will need 20 minutes of charging for every 2 hours driving after the first 3 hours, which seems to line up with bladder endurance. The LR or P versions of the 3 would be 15 minutes charging for every 2 hours after the first 4 hours. If the thought of spending that long stopped on a long journey is too much for you, even in the face of thousands of pounds of fuel savings then this probably isn’t the car for you. 

Again, the software update announced last week will boost the Supercharging speed from 100kW to 150kW, reducing the times I quoted above. 


Absolute brilliance. Extraordinarily simple to operate, brilliantly responsive and you rarely need to mess with it while driving. Voice commands are extremely accurate - during our jaunt around scotland I was stunned when it completely correctly understood the phrase “Navigate to Aberlour Distillery”. It will look for landmarks, businesses, postcodes, addresses, etc and doesn’t require speaking slower than you would in normal conversation. 

The functional voice commands mean that you don’t have to mess with the screen for sat nav input at all, and things like seat heaters and AC temp are in fixed locations on screen such that they might as well be buttons. Overall it is actually less distracting on the move than the setup in the GS. 

The screen is very clear, high resolution and responsive, with excellent contrast and a very low black level - at night it doesn’t cause annoyance through too much lighting (the car switches into night-mode where things are white-on-black rather than black-on-white)

The car has a 4G data connection that allows streaming through TuneIn and Spotify, USB playback, DAB and FM. No AM or CD player. 

Random Stuff

Your phone is your key, so you can add/remove keys as you choose. There are also passive RFID cards as a backup or Valet key - a replacement costs only £20.

The passive RFID, and encrypted nature of Bluetooth means that the model 3 is generally much better protected against relay theft than other keyless cars. It also has a second layer of protection with the option to enter a PIN number before you can drive the vehicle. 

The phone holder/charger is very neat and saves the installation of ugly “cradles” or having wires trailing around the place.

The autopilot cameras can also be used as a 4-channel dashcam (front, left side repeater rearward facing, right side repeater rearward facing, Rear) as well as CCTV when the vehicle is parked (Sentry Mode). 

The panoramic glass roof is quite a revelation for those sat in the back, as there’s no cross-beams behind the B-pillar - just glass from B-pillar to deck lid. 

App works very well (unlike the one from the Leaf), allowing control of charging, remote climate control, unlock, opening/closing things, as well as showing the car’s location (and speed…. I keep getting home and being told off by my husband for that one!).

Boot is huge and the seats fold down - far more practical than the GS450h! There’s also the Frunk under the bonnet. 


The Model 3 is the least flawed car that I’ve ever driven. The strengths of its design, drivetrain and interface are amazing. All cars have their flaws, but this has fewer. So many people are getting hung up on the window dressing of perfect paint quality and panel gaps while ignoring the meat and bones.








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Thanks for the review I-S enjoyed reading that.

There seems to be at least six driving about here in stratford upon avon at the moment so i have already seen most colours, and the white interior seems to be the most popular that i've seen so far.

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  • 3 weeks later...

interesting review and it seems to confirm the general perception that it is a very good car indeed. You might know already thet the Tesla 3 is the best selling car in the netherlands this year, it is literally everywhere. Charging infrastructure is more or less keeping up with demand with 12000 Echargers in the country. Every highway petrolstation also has E chargers and these are now all updated to high power charging. Most offices have chargers as well as parkings. And of course you can install your own at home. Fiscal stimulation of companycars of course is the explanation of the popularity. Beeing full EV get delivery of the car this year you pay 4% ( instaed of 22%). So, suppose the cost of the car is 55k then 4% = 2200 euro. this is added onto your income and taxed with 52% ( if in highest tax bracket) so 2200 x 52% = 1144 divided by 12 months is 95 euro per month. And for that you can drive where you want in a brandnew tesla.  

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for this interesting and objective review. Just what I had been looking for. I am seriously considering a M-3 as my next car and your comments have put to rest some of the concerns I had.

Are you able to comment on the interior space, let say in comparison with the IS or GS? would it be comfortable for 4 on a long trip (both my sons are over 6ft), or 5 on a shorter journey?

Also, are you able to comment on insurance costs?

thanks again.

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27 minutes ago, DanD said:

Thanks for this interesting and objective review. Just what I had been looking for. I am seriously considering a M-3 as my next car and your comments have put to rest some of the concerns I had.

Are you able to comment on the interior space, let say in comparison with the IS or GS? would it be comfortable for 4 on a long trip (both my sons are over 6ft), or 5 on a shorter journey?

Also, are you able to comment on insurance costs?

thanks again.

Up front it is not as "snug" as the GS - there's more width between the console and the door, and the console is lower. The glass roof adds headroom and a feeling of airiness, and the continuous curve of the roof peaks over front headrests. 

In the back I find it spacious, as did our neighbours when we took them out for a jaunt (4 adults total) through the Lakes. Sadly my brother, who is 6ft1, did not fare so well - his head was touching the roof in the back. However, he has a long back (very similar inside leg to me, and I'm 5'7). Ultimately it's going to depend on what shape of 6ft your boys are. Rear legroom is good for the size class - its a long wheelbase car (longer than GS, but overall length closer to IS), and the middle seat has no transmission tunnel to contend with - the floor is flat across the rear of the car. However, because of the Battery pack beneath the floor, the floor is a little higher than you might expect and that can mean knees are higher than people are used to. It's something that you'd have to try, and see if it works for you. Coming from an NX, you might more comfortably move to a model Y, which should be arriving on UK shores in about a year's time. This would definitely have plenty of space for 6fters in the back. 

Some people have fared badly on insurance - we did pretty well. The SR+ is group 48 and the dual-motor LR and the Performance variants are group 50, so they aren't going to be the cheapest or easiest cars to insure. I paid £612 fully comp, 12k miles, 37yo male in category F (bad) postcode, 15 years NCB, husband as named driver. My renewal notice for the Leaf was £548 for 8000 miles, our GS450h is £760 for 5000 miles (husband as policy holder, 2 years license, 15 years NCB (long story), 58yo). Basically, I was happy with the cost, but have heard of people being quoted much higher subsequently, so will see what happens next year. Only Direct line group (DL, Churchill, Privilege), LV and Novo seem to have any concept of what Teslas are, many others won't insure them or quote crazy prices. 

I posted on another thread, but will give a bit of an update here:

5000 miles after 4 months. 

The car is now 5% more powerful than it was, now charges quicker (peak is 170kW, depending on many factors. Highest I've seen so far is 132kW) and has new features (1 pedal driving mode, new voice commands and text integration, new mapping features, YouTube Netflix Twitch and new games (to entertain while charging or camping), improved autopilot capabilities and visualisation, etc.). So far when things have bugged me I've generally found that after a few weeks they are fixed. All updates come OTA (wifi) so no dealer visits required. 

Trip to London over Christmas was fine. Google maps gives Ilford to Todmorden at 4hrs26, we took 5hr15 including charge stops (in rain in winter, which reduces range - in summer it could be done faster), which wasn't significantly different to the time that we took on the same journey in the GS in November, and if I'd planned it a little better we could have cut it to 5 hours or so. 

Still very pleased and happy with it, no buyer's remorse. In fact, it's probably the most pleasing thing I've bought in my life, out of everything. 

Our GS450h is a car that feels special, in a very similar way to how my dad's 1996 740iL felt special. The Tesla feels different - it makes the 2015 GS seem much closer in time and tech to that 1996 BMW than to the 2019 Tesla. As a car to be driven in the GS is lovely, as a car to drive the Tesla is truly epic.

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Thanks for the updates. And the quick response.

I like the sound of the M-3 more and more. Saw one this morning and it looks great.

I did get an insurance quote from one of the comparison websites, and they ranged from £640 with LV= (for the LR model) to well over £1,300.

What do you think of the one-pedal driving mode? - I tested this in the latest Leaf and I thought it worked well and was very intuitive.

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I love one pedal driving. 

My background on driving and EV driving is that I've loved a good automatic for a long time, and I did my IAM when I was 21 (acceleration sense, etc). I've always in ICE cars tried to maximise use of momentum and minimise unnecessary braking. When I got the Leaf I quickly grew to enjoy using the stronger regen mode (B, rather than D). When we got the Tesla I set it right away to "Standard" (rather than "Low") regen, the stronger mode and it is significantly stronger than the Leaf's B mode. I'm totally used to balancing the throttle pedal to get a zero point if I want it, it's just a very intuitive way to drive, as you say. The Tesla didn't have one-pedal when we got it, but it came with one of the software updates, and as soon as it did I enabled it for my driver profile (my husband prefers traditional "creep" mode) - it was a bit tricky for maneuvering at first, but a combination of getting used to it and Tesla making a couple of tweaks over the next couple of updates (making it less aggressive in reverse for example) and I'm happy with it now. 

As alluded to above, settings like that are saved against driver profiles, along with seat and mirror settings. It's nice because we have the car set up quite differently - husband has acceleration in Chill, steering in Standard and drive in Creep. I have Standard, Sport and Hold respectively. Profiles are associated with keys, but also only the work of a second to switch  (press on the driver name at top of screen - select profile from drop-down). I don't know how many profiles you can have, but I believe that it is lots. You can have lots of keys too (mobile phones or £20 RFID card - no £500 key fob to lose!), and new keys do not require a dealer visit to associate with the car. 

The looks of the car, like any, are subjective. My first impression of the model 3 wasn't great - to be honest, it was a case of "meh, ok, but I still want a model S". It doesn't come across well in pictures. When I first saw one for real.... it didn't get a lot better. The discontinuity from the very low fender/hood into the base of the windscreen which is then a continuous curve over the somewhat high roof to the back, the unusual proportions of long wheelbase and short overhangs. But then as I got used to those things, I started to appreciate the look - the flare of the front wings over the wheels, the sculpted haunches, the almost bangle-esque "flame surfacing" on the sides... but overall the simplicity of it. It will age well because it's not designed to trend (for example, why are people copying weird partially blacked-out C/D pillars these days? Vauxhall Astra, Lexus RX450h, new Kia Soul, 40kWh Leaf, etc... this look will date these cars quickly) and there's nothing done stylistically "for the sake of it" - it's designed for function (If you're interested and want an bit of insight, listen to episode 220 of "Ride the Lightning" podcast - it is an interview with Franz Von Holzhausen, Tesla's design chief (and infamous thrower of steel balls during the cybertruck event) where he discusses how they approach designing the cars).

The thing that changed things for me with the model 3 was in October 2018 when I was on business in the Bay Area. I'd finished my customer meeting about 2 pm in Palo Alto and had nothing else on for the day other than getting back to my hotel in Milpitas, so I went down to the Tesla Gallery in Palo Alto and for the first time sat in and played with the car. My impressions from that visit were captured at the time here: As you can probably tell, 14 months and a lot more exposure to the car hasn't dulled the positives from then - bear in mind that when I wrote that very few people in the UK had seen a model 3. 

I will also relate one experience that I had with the GS that made me realise why Tesla have got something very right... We ordered our model 3 on May 4th 2019, sold my Leaf in July and the 3 wasn't delivered until the end of august, so for about 6 weeks the GS was our only car (I know, hard life, right?). One day when I locked the car the mirrors didn't fold in... so next time I stopped I went into the car setup menus to see why not. I spent 5 minutes looking through all of the car setup menus yet failed to find the setting (Our previous Volvo V70 had it in one of the menus). I gave up, started driving and then noticed the button next to the mirror controls on the driver's door solely marked "Auto". I pressed it, and the little green LED telltale came on on the button - no other indication. And that was it... the button had been knocked. But it's part of a bigger problem - literally hundreds of buttons, sprayed liberally around the cabin - no less than 12 of them marked only "Auto" (mirror, door mirrors, Parking brake, front and rear seat heaters/vents, ventilation system, ventilation recirculation, etc). Some things in menus, some things on buttons, some things on both. Some things you can only tell from one display over here, some things are repeated, some things are only indicated by tiny LED telltales (the auto wipers being the worst of those, as it's obscured by the steering wheel). The point being that for all that people complain about the consolidation of everything into one display in the Tesla, there is a lot to be said for there being one place to find things, one place to look. I also find the speedo location totally fine - the Leaf was very good (numeric display on top of the dash) and the GS is very good (HUD - never use the speedo) and I have absolutely no issue with it on the 3 - all three of those vehicles it is better than a regular speedo. 

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