Feature article

Best Tesla Car Models in NZ: Buying Guide

Tesla is the best selling electric car brand in New Zealand.

26 March 2024

Tesla is the best selling electric car brand in New Zealand. Which is quite something considering it has just two models for Kiwi buyers to choose from. And within that small range, there are only a few variants of each model.

The Model 3 is Tesla’s four door sedan, which was recently updated. It was first introduced in 2017, so a refresh was well overdue.

The Model Y is the most popular Tesla, being an SUV. It’s likely to gain a similar upgrade at some point soon too. So, which is the best Tesla for you?

What’s the most affordable Tesla in NZ?

That would be the Model 3. The standard rear wheel drive Model 3 is $65,900 (or $68,042 drive away if you live in Auckland) and according to Tesla, that gives you a 513km range and you'll zoom to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds.

As we said the Model 3 has been upgraded with a more premium interior. Although in the cabin, they've taken away a few things like the indicator stalks. That makes it harder to signal your intentions and intersections. There's no gear selector either; you can let the car do that for you.

Tesla's big 15-in touch screen controls everything and is one of the best operating systems you can come across.

Once you have set up your Tesla, which means your phone becomes the key, it will unlock as you approach and have everything set to pre-determined liking, all ready for you to go.

You only get white paint as standard, the other colours are all cost extras. 18-inch wheels are included, while an upgrade to 19s costs $2100. You could also opt for a white interior, but it’s not advisable; it's just not practical.

The contentious add-ons include the Enhanced Autopilot which is $5700. This includes a summon feature for when you're in a car park, your Tesla will come to you. Or there's the Full Self-driving Capability for $11,400 which includes traffic light and stop sign control. Although there is a disclaimer stating the system requires active driver supervision, and it does not make the vehicle autonomous. We would save our money.

You also need to buy a charging cable for your Tesla, which is $600 or you could buy the wall box for $850.

Read the Tesla Model 3 review

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Tesla Model 3

Which Tesla has the longest range?

That would be the Model 3 Long Range, with its bigger battery delivering up to 629km of travel on a charge. It also adds another motor to the front wheels, so it's faster too heading to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds. It’s more expensive, at $75,900 (or $81,842 drive away). It has the same features as the Model 3 RWD, the difference being the battery and additional motor.

Does Tesla still make an SUV?

Yes it does, that would be the Model Y. This starts at $67,900 for the rear wheel drive model that delivers a 455km range. Like the Model 3, white is the only paint colour you get free, while it rolls on 19-inch wheels. It's only available with the five seater layout in New Zealand.

Read the Tesla Model Y review

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Tesla Model Y

While there's not yet a Model 3 Performance version, you can get a Model Y Performance which is $89,900. This is pretty rapid, hitting 100km/h in 3.7 seconds whereas the long-range model only manages this in five seconds.

The Performance model has a higher top speed, rolls on 21-inch wheels, gets performance brakes, lowered suspension and carbon fibre spoilers.

Read the Model Y Performance review


Kyle Cassidy
Kyle Cassidy
Editor NZ Autocar magazine - autocar.co.nz

Kyle has been reviewing cars since starting at NZ Autocar magazine in 2003 and has been editor since 2009. In that time he’s become an expert on what makes for a good vehicle while also gaining insights into the local automotive industry.