New Tesla Model 3 goes further on a charge, gets higher-quality cabin and new technology

Will it remain a bargain when prices are announced?

Tesla has released details on its much-anticipated ‘Project Highland’ update to the popular Model 3 saloon. Though hyped up for months before today’s official announcement, the update is subtle, but it does include some key improvements and, crucially, it means that the Model 3 now goes further on one charge.

That is largely down to improved aerodynamics. The new smoother styling at the front of the Model 3 not only freshens up the appearance of a car first revealed six years ago in 2017, but it also helps — along with aero-optimised wheels and tyres — to drop the coefficient of drag from 0.23 to 0.21.

Further on a charge than before

Tesla Model 3 updated for 2024

This means the range for the single-motor, rear-drive Model 3 will now stretch to an official 344 miles (the current version manages 305 miles) while the two-motor, four-wheel-drive Long Range Model 3 should now be able to do 421 miles between charges. Tesla has not yet released any figures for the powerful Performance version.

New front lights are complemented by lightly restyled brake lights at the back, and new colour options — Stealth Grey and Ultra Red.

Inside, Tesla has excised the car’s column stalks, which used to look after drive selection, lights and wipers. Most of those controls have now been moved to the steering wheel itself, which uses a combination of physical buttons and haptic touchpads.

No column stalks

However, forward and reverse are now selected via the large central touchscreen. Tesla claims that the Model 3’s “Smart Shift automatically selects the correct driving direction to start your trip” but this has proven a fiddly system in the larger Model S and Model X, so it remains to be seen if the version in the Model 3 is an improvement.

Tesla Model 3 updated for 2024

The 15.4-inch touchscreen remains largely unchanged otherwise, aside from the fact that it sits within a slimmer bezel. Lower down, there are updated wireless phone charging pads, backed up by three powerful 65-watt USB-C sockets. There’s also a new 17-speaker audio system, which should benefit from Tesla’s claim of improved cabin refinement. This has come about thanks to new doors, which have been strengthened to improve side-impact resistance, and which have also been fitted with double-glazed glass and new rubber door seals.

The front seats are now ventilated as well as heated, while the back seats get heating as well. Those in the rear can also now access an 8-inch infotainment and climate-control touchscreen.  The Model 3’s built-in wifi is also faster than before, and has an improved mobile internet connection.

Improved quality claims

Tesla Model 3 updated for 2024

Tesla further claims that overall cabin quality has been improved, partially through the use of high-end materials, including a new aluminium construction for the centre console, but also through better quality control in the Model 3’s various factories around the world — what Tesla refers to as “elevated levels of execution.”

Prices have not yet been set for the updated Model 3, but they are likely to increase from the current low base. Given Tesla’s price cuts earlier in 2023, those prices should still be at the more affordable end of the EV cost scale. The first UK deliveries of the Project Highland Model 3 updates are expected in the new year.

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