The cheapest Tesla is here, are you buying a Model 3?

This afternoon, the Australian Model 3 order page went live and that’s important. This is the cheapest Tesla vehicle available in Australia, by some margin. Despite a significant price drop on the Model S and Model X, the starting price for a Model 3 comes in at almost half the cost with the starting price landing at $71,285 driveaway (VIC).

Australia gets just two variants of Model 3 including Standard Range Plus and Performance.

The Standard Range Plus has decent performance at 0-100km/h: 5.6 seconds and a range of 460km (est NEDC rating) and deliveries will begin in August this year (prioritised based on reservation date, delivery location and configuration options).

The Model 3 Performance is more expensive, starting at A$94,533 and has some insane performance numbers, capable of achieving 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds. That performance is equaled by a mega range of 560km (NEDC rated) and has Dual-Motor All-Wheel Drive for enhanced performance and traction in any weather. 

Model 3 Performance Upgrade includes a top speed of 261km/h, a carbon fibre spoiler, 20” performance wheels, and aluminium alloy pedals for maximum handling, improved stability, red brake calipers and the exclusive feature, Track Mode.

Supercharging of the Model 3 in Australia will be done with a CCS Combo 2 charge port, dual charging cables supporting both CCS Combo 2 and Type 2 charging standards will be installed at Supercharger sites across Australia.

When we look at the electric vehicle landscape right now, this car is easily the most logical choice (budget allowing). The serious (with practical range) EV options are as follows:

Company Name Type Body Available Price Range Notes
BMW i3 BEV 5 Door Hatchback 2014 130 km for 60 Ah battery pack HEV (Range extender) option was available until 2018[42]
Hyundai IONIQ Electric BEV 5 Door Hatchback Dec-18 $49,253 230km range
Jaguar I-PACE BEV 5 Door SUV 2019 $119,000 470km range
Mitsubishi iMiEV BEV 5 Door Hatchback Jul-10 160 km range[47] Available for fleets only
Nissan Leaf BEV 5 Door Hatchback 2011 $51,500 170 km range
Tesla Model S BEV 5 Door Sedan (Saloon) 2014 $115,000 408km range Various Models
Tesla Model X BEV 5 Door SUV 2016 $165,000 417km range As of 2017 there are 4 models ranging from about $165,000 to about $265,000 with battery range from 417km to 565km
Company Name Type Body Available Price Range Notes
Blade Electron BEV 5 Door Hatchback (Hyundai Getz) 2008 $48,000 100 km range Ceased production in 2011[41]
Mitsubishi iMiEV BEV 5 Door Hatchback Jul-10 160 km range[47] Available for fleets only

By way of comparison, Tesla’s Model 3 offering is incredibly compelling, offering the longest range, the best acceleration and top speed.

If you go for the cheapest EV, that’s the Hyundai IONIQ Electric starting at A$49,253 but has just a 230km range. As someone who lives in Albury Wodonga, the way I look at a practical range is 400km+ which would server as a range that’d get you to Melbourne and a bit of driving before looking for a charger.

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The recently review Jaguar I-Pace is the closest competitor specs wise, however the price is now a major issue for that vehicle. It costs significantly more (starting at A$119,000) than the Model 3 is slower and also requires a BYO sim for much of the functionality.

Even Tesla’s previous Models are hard to justify for most. The Model X has more seats (available in 5, 6 or 7 seats), while the Model S is larger with more storage and when money is no object, you’ll get the absolute best performance from a P100D and ludicrous mode.

The Model 3 has some new tricks that others don’t. This is the first EV for sale in Australia with a drift mode (available on the Performance model). First introduced on Ford’s Focus RS, drift modes enable very average drivers to experience the thrill of sliding sideways and kissing your rubber goodbye. It’s a feature for the track, so not for everyone, but is a unique attribute of buying a Model 3.

When it comes to Full Self Driving, the Model 3 interior has been designed for both front-seat passengers, rather than prioritising the driver. Musk said he expects FSD to be feature complete by the end of 2019, and to achieve regulatory approval in some states of the US by the middle of next year. Its likely Australia will be waiting a while longer given how slowly our politicians move in this country. You can either choose to buy FSD when ordering the car, or software unlock it later. Depending on the options you select, doing it later may be the smarter option to avoid Luxury Car Tax.

So this brings us to the final question, are you going to buy one? Leave a comment below and let us know which model and options you’re selecting.

Personally, I was ready to buy today, it would have been the second car I’ve ever purchased, replacing my 16-year-old Lancer. The problem is the options I wanted are not available in Australia. Everyone’s preferences are different, so you may find the right solution for your needs with the Model 3.

5 years ago I expected that EV to come from a well-established manufacturer like Ford, GM or even Mitsubishi (RIP EV Evo). What I wasn’t expecting was to buy a vehicle from a technology company, rather than a traditional automaker. That distinction is part of my motivation as the rapid rate of updates from Tesla is something I look forward to over time.

Part of the way I justified the extra cost is the amazing performance. Tesla do things differently, in that there’s no test driving before buying the vehicle, customise your car, then they ship you that car. By the time you first drive it, you will have already paid for it.

Thankfully I’ve had the amazing opportunity to review the Model S and the Model X which gives me great confidence going into the Model 3. I’ve also recently reviewed the I-PACE which has a very healthy performance, not too far behind the Model 3 AWD dual-motor variant (the one I’m going for). The Performance model takes that to the next level with a 3.4s time from 0-100km/h and a top speed of 261 km/hr.

I also took the time to visit the LHD version of the Model 3 in the Chadstone shopping center. This allowed me to sit in the vehicle, ensure the size was right (I’m 6’3) and after seeing it in person, it confirmed for me, I wanted one.

In terms of design, I usually maintain a fairly clean desk. That minimal approach lends itself very nicely to the efficient interior design inside the Model 3. While some see it as stark and empty, I don’t, I see beauty in the simplicity on offer here.

If you haven’t already, make sure you check out our Tesla hub and if you want to get 1,500km of free supercharging for us both, then please use the techAU referral link when you order.

Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021


  1. I had a reservation from April 2017. I had planned to get the base model to avoid “leather” seats and the glass roof.
    Looks like that car won’t e available in Australia anytime soon and anyway will come with a glass roof. I have cancelled my reservation. The exchange rate also impacted my decision.

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