Tesla Model 3 Highland against competitors

Tesla Model 3 Highland against competitors

The refresh that Tesla gave the Model 3 is more cosmetic than anything else, but is that still enough to stay ahead of its rivals?

When the Model 3 was launched in 2017, it didn’t have any direct electric sedan rivals, which is part of the explanation behind its remarkable market success, but now, in 2024, the situation is completely different. It now has to fend off rivals from established automakers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Hyundai, all of which now offer competent electric sedans in America.

Fortunately, Tesla gave the Model 3 a thorough exterior and interior makeover last year and added plenty of new features. And now that you can configure a Model 3 Highland in the U.S., we wanted to see how the revised model stacks up against some of the new rivals that have popped onto the scene over the last couple of years. The rivals we’re comparing it against are the BMW i4, Polestar 2, Hyundai Ioniq 6, and new Volkswagen ID.7.

Mind you, they are not exactly direct rivals since the Model 3 is quite a compact and affordable vehicle, and some of the vehicles mentioned here may be a bit bigger and more expensive. However, they are still all smaller than the Tesla Model S, and they will probably be cross-shopped with the Model 3 and not its bigger brother.

Let’s take a look and see where the updated Model 3 stacks up in a game it basically created.

Range

The revised 2024 Tesla Model 3 doesn’t just look sharper than the pre-refresh model; but it’s better at cutting through the air, with a lower drag coefficient of 0.219. This allows it to travel a bit further than before on one charge, even though the batteries and motors are largely untouched. The base Rear-Wheel Drive 2024 Model 3 still uses the LFP battery pack and has the same 272-mile EPA range, while the Dual-Motor Long Range gets a bump from 333 miles to 341 miles.

That’s less than what the Hyundai Ioniq 6 offers 361 miles of EPA range in SE RWD Long Range trim, which is its longest range configuration—Tesla no longer offers an equivalent long-range rear-wheel drive variant of the Model 3. If you opt for all-wheel drive in the Ioniq 6, the EPA range drops to 270 miles.

After it was updated in the summer of 2023, the Polestar 2’s EPA range ratings went up thanks to a revised powertrain and the use of a slightly larger-capacity battery pack. The range for the single-motor variant is 320 miles, or 307 miles if you opt for the larger optional 20-inch wheels.

The base single-motor version of the BMW i4, the eDrive35, has an estimated range of up to 276 miles, which goes up to 301 miles in the eDrive40 model and 307 miles in the xDrive40 dual-motor all-wheel drive variant. Opt for the top i4 M50 version, and the maximum range drops to 269 miles.

Volkswagen’s ID.7 sedan is the newest entrant, and it has not yet received its EPA range rating. In Europe, it gets a WLTP rating of nearly 400 miles, but Volkswagen has said that for the US, it is targeting a range of 300 miles, which seems reasonable given the car’s battery pack size and specifications.

The takeaway here is that even though the Model 3 hasn’t received a significant technical update with the facelift, it’s still one of the longest-range sedans available in the US. It’s only beaten by the single-motor Hyundai Ioniq 6, and chances are, if Tesla offered a similar Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive version of the Model 3, it would surpass the Hyundai.

Charging

The Hyundai Ioniq 6 is the only vehicle in this list with an 800-volt architecture, courtesy of its E-GMP platform. It’s the quickest to charge too, with a theoretical maximum charging speed of 350 kW that can bring its state of charge from 10 to 80 percent in 18 minutes.

The Ioniq 6 was the quickest-charging EV in America, according to testing from Edmunds. Hooked up to a sufficiently powerful charger, the Hyundai can replenish range at a rate of 868 miles per hour, notably quicker than even other E-GMP-based models.

The Model 3 Long Range can charge at up to 250 kW, while the Rear-Wheel Drive and Performance variants are capped at 170 kW and 210 kW, respectively. It still charges quickly, even by the latest standards, but it can only add 569 miles per hour.

BMW isn’t too far off with its i4, which can take up to 205 kW, enough to bring its battery from 10 to 80 percent in around 31 minutes. It gains range at a rate of 477 miles per hour, according to Edmunds’ tests.

Polestar limits the maximum charging speed for its 2 sedan to 205 kW, and that’s only for the long-range single-motor version, which can go from 10 to 80 percent state of charge in 28 minutes. Dual-motor versions are limited to 155 kW, so charging to 80 percent takes 34 minutes. Its peak rate of range replenishment is 355 miles per hour.

The Volkswagen ID.7 can charge at a maximum of 175 kW, which can add 127 miles of range in 10 minutes or bring the battery from 10 to 80 percent in 28 minutes.

The 400-volt Tesla Model 3 can’t hope to compete with the charging speeds of vehicles running on 800 volts, like Hyundai and Kia vehicles built on the E-GMP platform or the Porsche Taycan. However, its charging performance is still pretty impressive and let’s not forget that the Model 3 takes full advantage of the best charging network around, which still makes topping up a Tesla much more reliable and hassle-free than any other brand.

Performance

The Tesla Model 3 Performance is the top-of-the-range version in the Model 3 lineup, and its stats are pretty impressive. You can’t configure the refreshed Model 3 Performance yet, but the 2023 model had a combined output of 455 horsepower and 487 pound-feet from its two motors. Thanks to its all-wheel drive grip off the line, it could sling itself to sixty in 3.1 seconds and to 162 mph flat out.

The 2024 Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive can sprint to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, while the Dual Motor Long Range drops that to 4.2 seconds. Both of these versions are limited to 125 mph at the top end.



Even though the BMW i4 M50 has more power and torque than the Model 3 Performance, with 536 horsepower and 586 pound-feet, it is considerably heavier (it weighs over 5,000 pounds in this version), so it needs 3.7 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph from a standstill. Its top speed of 142 mph is also lower than the Tesla’s.

The single-motor 282-horsepower i4 eDrive35 needs 5.8 seconds to reach 60 mph, with the 335-horsepower eDrive40 variant dropping that to 5.4 seconds and the dual-motor xDrive40 model taking it to 4.9 seconds. None of these non-M variants can exceed 124 mph.

Polestar is the only manufacturer in this company to offer a special hardcore performance version of its model, the limited-series 2022 Polestar 2 BST 270. Its dual-motor setup made a combined 469 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque, enough to send it to sixty in a little over 4 seconds (although MotorTrend found that it was capable of completing the benchmark sprint in 3.9 seconds in its independent testing).

Now you get those numbers in the 2024 Polestar 2 Dual Motor with the performance pack. that boosts power from 421 horsepower to 455 horsepower. Torque remains the same at 536 pound-feet, but the sprint time drops from 4.3 seconds to 4.1 seconds.



The base single-motor Polestar 2 (now rear- instead of front-wheel drive) produces 299 horsepower and 361 pound-feet of torque, and it can accelerate from naught to sixty in 5.9 seconds. All Polestar 2 variants are limited to 127 mph.

The Hyundai Ioniq 6 seems to be the least performance-oriented out of this selection of cars, but it’s by no means a slow car. The base rear-wheel-drive, 225-horsepower version also makes a healthy 258 pound-feet of torque, enough to push the vehicle to sixty in just over 6 seconds and give it decent punch while on the move. Add a second motor and all-wheel drive, and the combined output goes up to 320 horsepower, which cuts the sprint time to 5.1 seconds.

Hyundai is rumored to be working on a dedicated Ioniq 6 N performance model that will surpass the Ioniq 5 N for power and performance, but it is believed that it won’t arrive until 2025. With a predicted output of over 641 horsepower, it will give all the vehicles on this list a run for their money.

Volkswagen has so far only said that the single-motor, rear-wheel drive ID.7 will feature a 282-horsepower drive unit that will push it to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 112 mph. Dual-motor variant specs have not been released but it should be quite a bit more powerful and quicker than the dual-motor VW vehicles built on the MEB platform so far.



Tech

Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Beta are arguably Tesla’s biggest tech features that set it apart from its competitors (besides access to the excellent Supercharger network.) All other vehicles in this company can offer some semi-autonomous driving features, yet the Tesla is the closest to being able to drive itself. FSD is still not perfect, but it’s improving.

Being based on the E-GMP dedicated electric vehicle platform, it offers vehicle-to-load (V2L) capability, which allows you to use the vehicle’s massive battery pack to power tools, appliances, and even an entire campsite. None of the other vehicles in this article offer bi-directional charging.



The BMW i4 is built on a variation of the company’s CLAR architecture, which is also used to underpin its internal combustion engine models. However, while it doesn’t have a standout tech feature, being a BMW, you can spec it with a plethora of systems and gadgets that make it feel far more posh and upmarket than any of the other cars here.

The Polestar 2 was the first car ever to feature an Android-based infotainment system with Google features built-in. It’s one of the best and easiest to use on the market, and it’s a lot less daunting for newcomers compared to Tesla’s iPhone-like interface, which may overwhelm with its multitude of menus, submenus, and options.

The big tech feature that Volkswagen seems to be pushing with the ID.7 is its augmented reality head-up display, which we’ve also seen on other VW ID models. It will also offer striking 3D LED tail lights with animations that transform the look of the rear end, so this is probably going to be a popular option for design-conscious buyers.

Price



Regardless of whether a vehicle is powered by gasoline or electrons, price is still a major deciding factor behind the purchase. You can buy a Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive in 2024 starting at $38,990, while the Long Range All-Wheel Drive model pushes that to $45,990.

It considerably undercuts the similar-size Polestar 2, which in Long Range Single-Motor trim starts at $49,900, with the all-wheel drive model pushing it to $55,300. If you want the full level of performance that it can offer, you will need to spend an additional $5,500 on the performance pack.

With a starting MSRP of $42,450, the Hyundai Ioniq 6 SE comes closest to the Tesla. Opting for an all-wheel drive SEL dual-motor bumps the price to $45,250, while the top Limited trim starts at $50,150 with its additional premium features.



Pricing for the Volkswagen ID.7 has yet to be announced, but it is expected to start at around $50,000 and exceed $60,000 in top dual-motor configuration.

It probably doesn’t come as a shock that the BMW is the most expensive of the cars mentioned here. The base i4 eDrive35 is the most affordable, starting at $52,200, which is considerably cheaper than the eDrive40 variant, which kicks off at $57,300. The i4 xDrive40 all-wheel drive model starts at $61,600, and the i4 M50 starts at $69,700.

Conclusion

Tesla has left the mechanical side of the Model 3 Highland effectively untouched, so pretty much every major component is carried over from the pre-refresh variant. But even so, the Model 3 is still the gold standard in this world, blending range, tech, performance, and affordability in a way that rivals still can’t match. The revised Model 3 also looks better on the outside, and its revamped interior has nicer materials and improved attention to detail. It was the interior of the Model 3 that needed the biggest revamp, and even though it’s not completely new, it is a more pleasant place to sit than before.



Its biggest rival is still arguably Polestar 2, which is the most similar vehicle available for purchase in the U.S. But now that the Hyundai Ioniq 6 has also been released, compact and midsize electric sedan buyers have another very competent and reasonably affordable model to choose from.

Depending on how keenly it is priced, the Volkswagen ID.7 also has a good chance of stealing buyers away from the Model 3 and maybe even the larger Model S, since its size puts it in between the two Tesla sedans.

The point is this: if you want a high-range electric sedan, your choices are now better than ever.

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