My first test drive for this column was not really a test drive at all. Instead I was driven by car and bike share consultant Beate Kubitz in her new Tesla Model 3, with her dog, Jess, also on board.
Overall I was impressed by the Tesla. It is as comfortable as I would expect for a car in the executive class and it felt that a real effort had been made to make the driving experience easy and straightforward. In particular the (huge!) screen was very clear and easy to manage even for a technophobe like me.
If you have never driven in an EV (electric vehicle) then the quietness will take you by surprise. It does make a big difference: you are more relaxed, especially on a long journey. It is wonderful to hold a conversation with your passenger without raising your voice and to hear every nuance of music.
There was one aspect of being driven in the Tesla that I did find thoroughly unpleasant. On a quiet patch of road Beate showed me just what it could do by way of acceleration. It was like that feeling when a roller coaster tips over the edge – only worse and longer lasting. My eyes were pressed back in my head and my stomach went missing. “Stop it!” I called out, grabbing the dashboard.
OK, so I am a wimp. I never liked rollercoasters anyway.
There are some who will be very excited by this kind of performance: the Tesla model 3 can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.3 seconds, which is surely as fast as any but the most demented petrol-head could possibly want. Meanwhile, happily, it is easy to drive the Tesla in a normal and relaxed way without resorting to its drag racing capabilities.
I have one more small reservation about the Tesla.
Like many American cars it seems a little smaller on the inside than it does on the outside. While, inside, there is no real lack of room and you could certainly fit in five adults, outside it is just a little cumbersome for tight manoeuvres. A rear view camera shown on the vast screen, together with all around warning devices, will certainly ensure that you don’t run into anything, but it does take a few seconds longer to get parked in a tightish space.
The best thing about the Tesla though, apart from being one of the greenest cars you can buy, oh, and really cheap to run, is how easy it is to use.
The range is officially 254 miles but in real life that will be nearer 200: plenty enough for most days. However, on a longer trip, the satnav will automatically show you where to find a Tesla “Supercharger” where recharging is incredibly easy and will take you to 80% charge in less than 30 mins.
Or you can use any other charging system, though not all are quite as straight-forward to use.
At £38,500 the Tesla is far from cheap but you do get a lot of car for that money.
Add the fact that you will likely save a couple of thousand pounds a year on fuel and it will tempt many.