Australia’s favourite Tesla will become even more compelling for the 2021 model year with the Californian EV maker boosting the Model 3’s battery range, cramming in more technology, and slashing up to $11,000 from the asking price.
With its first update, the small sedan gains a number of efficiency boosting updates to make better use of each volt in its lithium ion battery pack, including lower-drag tyres, a power management software update, and the same more efficient heating and cooling system as the new Model Y.
With the modifications, the entry level Standard Plus can travel up to 490km on a single charge, the mid-range Long Range can go up to 657km, while the range-topping Performance has a new maximum range of 628km – that's 68km further.
It’s important to note that Tesla still rates its ranges using the NEDC method of testing, while almost all other EV makers have switched to the WLTP system, which often results in a shorter but more realistic projected range.
Despite the extended range for all variants, Tesla has dropped the price across the board. A discount of $7000 takes the base version down to $66,900 before on-road costs, at $81,900 the Long Range is cheaper to the tune of $7900, while the Performance drops below the $100k mark at $90,900 – that’s a significant $11,100 off the previous price.
2021 versions of the Model 3 are identifiable by redesigned 18 and 19-inch wheels as well as the 20-inch versions bolted to the Performance, while the switch from chrome-effect exterior brightwork to satin black is a subtle but effective transformation.
Its boot can now be opened with a button on the lid itself or through the Tesla smartphone application, and there are functional developments inside too.
Sun visors are pinned closed when not in use by magnetic retainers, while the glitchy garage door-style central storage pocket cover now slides.
Wireless charging is upgraded to accommodate two devices, there are two additional USB-C sockets for more high-speed charging options, and a new USB-A socket located in the glove compartment allows the connection of a hard drive for storing dash-cam and Sentry Mode video.
There’s a light revamp of the cabin design as well, with matte black replacing the previous gloss finishes, the same treatment for the side sills, seat controls are a new Graphite finish, while the steering wheel scroll control has been metalised for a higher-quality feel.
The efficiency improvements have not impacted other performance figures including acceleration, with the flagship Performance still capable of hitting the milestone 100km/h from standstill in 3.3 seconds, says Tesla.
It also retains its maximum speed of 261km/h if you can find a road long enough.