Tesla Model 3 gets even more range and sleeker looks as Elon Musk updates his best-selling EV

William Scholes
Tesla has given the popular Model 3 an update
Tesla's Model 3 saloon, and its sister Model Y crossover, have been the dominant electric cars of recent years, arguably doing more than any other vehicle to change mindsets about EVs.

The Model 3 has been around since 2017 (although it took until 2019 until we started to get them), with Elon Musk's company building more than two million of them so far.

Tesla prefers to roll out incremental changes to its cars, including its 'over the air' software updates, but it has done very little to change the external appearance of the Model 3 - until now.

New headlamps and a cleaner front-end are the Model 3's biggest exterior changes

There's a new, less fussy front-end, complete with slimmer LED headlamps, while at the back the rear lights appear to be far more neatly integrated into the tailgate. The net effect is a sleeker appearance, losing some of the outgoing version's blobbiness.

This is borne out by better aerodynamics, and thus an improved range. Tesla says the Model 3 in Long Range guise can now travel up to 421 miles on a single charge – a remarkable jump from the already-impressive 374 miles of the outgoing car.

New Tesla badging adorns the Model 3's tailgate

The eagle-eyed will spot new Tesla badging, too, while inside, Tesla says the quality of the materials used in the interior has been improved.

This hasn't previously been a Tesla strong point, so the use of new fabrics, 'real' aluminium and the addition of a 17-speaker sound system sound promising. Up front, the jumbo 15.4-inch touchscreen remains - albeit with more of the screen apparently being usable - and the car's wifi and connectivity is said to be improved.

The front seats are now ventilated and their heating or cooling can be controlled from outside the vehicle through Tesla’s app.

Smarter materials and better tech feature inside the Model 3

Perhaps the boldest change is found at the steering wheel, with Tesla ditching stalks from the steering column. Instead, drivers get buttons for the indicators, placed on the left side of the steering wheel, as Tesla pursues giving them an "uncluttered driving experience". The gear selector is now on the touchscreen.

We'll have to wait to find out how practical all this is in real-world driving… though it sounds like a crazy approach to what is a mainstream car and in the category of answering a question no-one was asking. Ferrari, for example, places indicator 'buttons' on its wheels, but on a car that competes with far more 'regular' cars, Tesla may have taken a step too far.

Forget using a traditional indicator stalk - Elon Musk wants you to press a button to signal a change of direction

Back seat passengers get posher, comfier seats as well as a new eight-inch screen to operate the climate control, seat heating and entertainment.

The car is said to be quieter to travel in, while the rear boot has grown too, up to 594 litres from 561 litres.

Tesla isn't exactly famous for the breadth of its colour palette, but two new finishes - ultra red and stealth grey - are being offered.

The Model 3 will continue to be sold in its more affordable rear-wheel-drive form, though there’s no word currently on when the flagship Performance model will be introduced, nor when the changes will filter through to the Model Y.

The Model 3 is now available in 'ultra red' paintwork

The updated Tesla Model 3 is due to arrive here next year. Expect prices to start around the £43k of the current Model 3 - although it should also be noted that Elon Musk isn't afraid to suddenly alter the prices of his cars…