This guide talks you through the choices when buying a new Tesla. Like this whole site, it tries to give an unbiased view rather than just repeat what Tesla’s own web site publishes. We also have a short guide buying a used Tesla which may be preferable if that is what you are planning to do.
It's important to know that Tesla rarely build to order. They build batches of cars and match customer orders to what they build rather than build what customers order. As a result you can be waiting for a particular specification car for some time while other buyers can order and take delivery fairly quickly. Tesla also appear to match production to orders manually, and as cars are listed for public sale almost as soon as they arrive in country, its even possible that new buyers get inventory before custom orders. As a result we would pretty much always advocate buying an inventory car, just check the options and how long the car has been available for to ensure you are buying the latest stock. We provide all these details in our extensive inventory listings, including some Tesla stock not yet on their main listings page. Access to the listings are available from the top of this page, and for most countries we also offer a free email notification service for when new cars appear.
Buying new no longer comes with unlimited free supercharging unless buying an inventory MS or MX, another reason why we'd suggest buying an inventory car.
Tesla currently have 4 models available to order in the UK, the MS, a large executive hatch, the MX, a large SUV, the Model 3, the entry level compact saloon and the MY, the compact SUV. For detailed side by side comparison of features check differences between the S3XY models. Which is right for you will of course depend on your requirements and budget, but set out the main factors below.
This was the much anticipated low cost Tesla. Delivery lead times are often less than 6 weeks with pre built inventory becoming increasingly available.
The M3 is the smallest although still a 5 seater, is a saloon/sedan and while the boot/trunk is fairly large, it misses out on the practicality of a hatch. It is also the first Tesla to be made with the CCS power connector for Europe as Standard, this is backward compatible with the Type 2 AC charging sockets, plus the CCS rapid chargers. It is also the fastest charging Tesla as the supercharger infrastructure improves and moves to V3 with rates reported as high as 250kw for short period on the Long Range and above models.
The Performance model is the best enthusiastic drivers car across the entire range especially with the introduction of the track pack 2. With the launch of the Model Y, may buyers looking for a more practical car are switching to that in the markets where it is available.
The MY is slightly larger than the M3 while still narrower than the MS and MX. Its extra height and hatch give it more practicality and its said to be available in 7 seat configuration eventually. For owners not interest in the performance M3 we suspect this will be the value for money model. It is also the first Tesla to have a heat pump which should improve efficiency.
The MS is the car that started it all in terms of volume production. It was face-lifted in 2016 and has incremental changes each year, the most noticeable being uprated suspension making it extremely capable, changes to the motors enabling 1 foot driving, and greater efficiency. While many M3 owners dismiss it due to its apparent age, the technology is as good if not better than the M3 with the exception of the battery design resulting in a slightly slower maximum supercharger speed.
The car is large, seats 5 easily, has good storage and unless you need the space of the Model X satisfies most needs. It has a couple of potential downsides like the inability to tow, but these only matter to a small number of potential owners.
This is the beast. The MX is the largest, and while more recent than the MS much of the underpinnings are identical.
5, 6 or 7 seat configuration, folder seats, high driving position. Its the least efficient of the 3 as you would expect from the size which makes the smallest battery size a stretch for some, especially in winter.
The exterior looks have remained pretty much unchanged since 2016 when the MS was face-lifted and the MX launched. The Model 3 adopts many of the brand design features and its fairly clear they all come from the same family.
Colour and wheels are the only options now and its certainly an area where the look of a car can change considerably depending on the chosen options. Dark large wheels can make it look menacing, smaller silver wheels can almost make the cars look like a toy. The previous options of sunroof on the Model S have gone, so there's now little in the way of options to select when buying new after you've picked the colour. We'd advise against coloured wheel options as you can buy the standard wheels and get them repainted for much less money.
While the basic interior has changed little, cars since mid 2017 come with a version of seats which are a little like the next generation seats but with a few tweaks. The material choice is pretty varied too, there have been various leather, fake leather, 'vegan' and cloth seats over the years. When buying however there is really just a choice of one of the interior packs, a combination of material colour, trim and headlining.
The various cabin components have all been tweaked over time to give a better finish, there is now a centre console (introduced during 2016) and rear cup holders, and while it's no premium German car some like its more minimalist styling. The rear is great and 3 can sit comfortably in the back of an MS. The MX has a range of rear seating options but some report the individual seats on the 6 seat option to be a little tight, as is the 3rd row, but still its still a large car. The M3 is the smallest and as you'd expect, rear seats have less room than in the larger cars.
The fabled high tech cars are actually a mixture of quite old technology and fantastic innovation.
Autopilot boils down to 3 choices for new owners; Not to buy it (although it can be enabled later), Autopilot (AP) or Full Self Driving (FSD). In 2019 they changed the feature fix between AP and FSD in part because nothing was really available on FSD and in part to lower the entry price or allow AP to be bundled into the car price. AP now offers adaptive cruise and lane keeping, but you need to go to FSD for the summon, lane change under AP and navigate on autopilot. FSD is very much personal choice although we feel the enhanced features above the basic AP are still not implemented very well and it will be a long time before they are truly beneficial features at which point they can be purchased. FSD is therefore best left to those enjoying the beta test days.
The other good stuff includes over the air software updates which as mentioned above can be variable, but it does benefit the car in terms of feature improvements over time.
It's worth pointing out what the car doesn't have. It currently doesn't have surround car view, head up display, Apple Car play or android auto. Some new owners have been surprised at some of these omissions. Even some safety features are missing like flashing rear brake lights in the event of an emergency stop, although Tesla is planning to release this in the future.
There are Performance options on all the cars. The M3 Performance is the best drivers car and the MS is the best rapid executive car. We could debate whether the performance models of the MY and MX are worth having especially as the M3 LR now has a performance upgrade option closing the gap.
We'd also be slightly wary about the M3 Performance. This doesn't have a ludicrous option, and is currently slower to accelerate than both the MX and MS P100D cars with ludicrous. We suspect that at some point Tesla will boost the performance of the M3 performance making the current model depreciate significantly.
The battery choice is now largely a question of range. The shortest range is the M3 SR+ and we'd advise buying the Long Range if possible as we believe a comfortable 200 mile range in winter will be the minimum future drivers will look for and residual values may fall most as a result. As mentioned above, performance models are a consideration for the M3 and MS, but otherwise the Long Range cars are in our opinion the smart choice.
Our brief thoughts on the cars to buy and why: