My Urban Car

What is a road trip from London to northern Scotland in an all electric Tesla Model 3 really like?

Some commentators still think electric cars will be impossible to take on a trip beyond a London postcode. We’ve just replaced Roland, our 2019 Model 3 Performance with a new model. Could Roland do longer trips? Oh yes. Like Italy for the summer, twice or day trips to Cornwall North Wales and even Scotland. Writeups of some of the road trips in Roland and our Peugeot e208 are here

Replacing Roland is Heidi, an updated 2024 Model 3 “Highland” Long Range named because, like a Swiss flag, she is red on the outside and her seats are white on the inside. It turns out that calling a car Heidi may have made her yearn for mountains and snow.. even on the way from Banchory near Aberdeen up to Inverness as you’ll see below!

Timings and distances were all taken from the “Tessie” app that logs the cars data.


Across the entire 1,632 mile trip the average efficiency was 243 Wh/mile or 4.11 miles per kWh. We took the slightly slower M1 then A1 route past Newcastle outbound and return partly because the Mansfield, Adderstone and Edinburgh Tesla Superchargers are all fast 250kW V3’s and partly because the A road stretches are efficient and more scenic.

Day 1

London to St Andrews – – 479 miles

This was a straight 473 mile dash from London using M1 and A1 up the East coast to St Andrew’s. I had thought about a stop at Holy Island but the tide was up meaning no access when I passed it. On this trip I then took the inland route from near Berwick upon Tweed via Coldstream on the A697. Quite nice scenery and timings are similar to on the A1 but the A1 definitely has a smoother road surface, fewer potholes and fewer bends.

Heidi Model 3 Review

  • Heidi was a perfect for a trip like this as Tesla Model 3’s are ideal long distance GT cars. They do most of the driving on Motorway and Dual Carriageway sections while having the power, handling and range to take on any challenge with ease. As a result the motorway section was a breeze.
  • auto Lane changes. These work much better and faster than on my 2019 car. Now asks for steering wheel jiggle before starting the manoeuvre so no more mid lane change timeouts unless you ask for a lane change before you are well past the vehicle you have just overtaken. If needing to tuck in quickly (BMW Audi Transit tailgating you etc) after an overtake it’s still best to do this manually.
  • Heidi must have been very happy as we crossed into Scotland as google maps predicted that winter is coming as we crossed the border!
  • Making light – It was dark for the final stretch from Edinburgh to St Andrews. This gave me a chance to try out the long awaited Tesla adaptive headlines. They work very well.. offering main beam vision while not blinding oncoming cars. No one flashed back so a tick for night driving. Should work well on European trips too. Big improvement on the 2019 headlights on unlit roads at night.
  • As the rear lights lift up when you open the tailgate Tesla has additional lights under the bumper while the number plate lights add to the effect. Definitely looks adequately lit.


  • Left London with 81% battery charge,
  • 32 mins total charging to get to Edinburgh split..
    28 mins while grabbing lunch at Mansfield
    4 mins while doing a toilet stop at Adderstone near Bamburgh in Northumberland – time spent on a quick toilet stop
  • 36 minutes charge at Edinburgh for the journey both to St Andrews that night and then on towards Banchory west of Aberdeen on day 2 – spent time watching youtube in the car. This was the only charge I spent sitting in the car over the whole trip.

Day 2

St Andrews to Banchory 83 miles

Had a nice breakfast in St Andrews (after being the Englishman who asked an American (student) for suggestions about where was good in Scotland! Then sadly needed to get to the funeral of a friend at Baldarroch, west of Aberdeen so was on a bit of a timetable. Still enough time to check out the view of the Tay railway bridge from Dundee in the beautiful sunshine that continued for almost all of this trip. After the funeral caught up with friends and relative at a hotel in Banchory.. no charging available or needed.

Road to Baldarroch turned out to be over the hills. More great views on the winding B road. As always the Tesla offered effortless performance uphill and one pedal braking so no need to touch the brake pedal downhill while recharging the battery.


  • 5 mins at Dundee. Not one of the faster Tesla chargers so just did a tiny 7% top up.- spent time – According to the data from Tessie this was a 5 min stop but felt like a bit longer as I was chatting to a guy waiting for his Tesla test drive to show up. Charge wasn’t actually needed, just had a moment while passsing.

Day 3

Day trips around Banchory to Dunnotar Castle and Aberdeen 60 miles

A local sightseeing day. This castle has a fab coastal location and is steeped in history going back thousands of years. While there I discovered that although Charles II was crowned king of England in the restoration of 1660 he was crowned King of Scotland before fleeing to France. The warts and all Lord Protector laid siege to the castle hoping to capture and melt down the Scottish Crown Jewels to bolster his dictatorship. I also had the time to explore Aberdeen before returning to Banchory.


  • 46 minute charge up to 92% for the long drive the next day – spent time chatting to a Tesla sales team member.. first 2 ships were sold out and there were lots of new and older Tesla’s around Aberdeen

Day 4

Banchory to Isle of Skye via the Loch Ewe 301 Miles

This was quite a driving day. Leaving around 9am. I left Heidi and google maps to plan the route towards Inverness expecting a coastal or valley route away from the snowy Cairngorm peaks. Heidi chose snow, not just a snowy road but a ski area! Scenery was spectacular.

After Inverness had a quick stop at the Rogie Falls – impressive, free and a good time to stretch your legs. After that the sun carried on shining and some of the scenery looked how I would imagine somewhere in the US like Monatana.

The road continues past Loch Maree and then eventually onto Loch Ewe. While the scenery is eye catching the pot holes and variety of road surfaces and widths (wide and straight down to single track with sheep and passing places) also demand full attention.

After spending some time exploring the remains of the defences for the secret Russian convoys that assembled here in WW2 the rest of the trip as back south to my Hotel on the Isle of Skye, a bigger Isle than you might imagine if you haven’t visited before.

Heidi Model 3 Review

  • Luckily Heidi’s tyres (Michelin Primacy) were very capable on hilly snowy roads (no issues at all) but I was cautious doing around 20 mph on the up and downhill road section. There is no way my Model 3 performance would have made it up or down these hills on it’s original Pilot Sport high speed tyres so capping top speed may have paid dividends for the Model 3 on snow. The road was largely covered but this was not a full snow test so don’t assume this means these tyres will get you up an alpine chalet driveway in Austria.
  • Ride Quality and Noise. The updated Model “Highland” Model 3 is definitely much quieter and has a better ride but the roads towards Loch Ewe are so noisy, so bumpy and have such a rough surface that you won’t imagine you’re ever in an S class. So bad in fact that even people in an S class Merc may not believe they are in an S class! These poor roads are not down to swarms of heavy EV’s. Petrol and diesel SUVs are usually at least as heavy and still far more common but frankly it’s years of cuts to maintenance budgets that are responsible. I’ve seen potholes you’d want to navigate around even in the middle of motorway service areas.
  • Cruise control. Tesla have 2 levels of autopilot.. one is the fat full version which steers as well as keeping your chosen speed but braking if traffic ahead of you slows or stops. If you choose the upgrades it will also change lanes on motorways. This system on the software in Europe doesn’t however work on very twisty A roads or in town. For example in one village as a test I left it on and it came to a halt behind a parked car!
    Standard cruise without the car steering is available too though oddly only if you switch the full fat version to be 2 clicks on the right scroll wheel (in the menu). It works fine when you single press but disengaging autopilot is a little slow… probably 3-4 seconds. I can usually anticipate earlier (and you can always use the brake pedal if needed) but it’s clumsier than it should be when you see sharp corners or traffic lights going red. Other than that it’s working better than ever.
  • Speed sign recognition – still tricky. Some Scottish villages seem to have 30mph and or 20 mph signs when you enter but no national limit signs when you leave. This was also the case with every roadworks I went where they (sensibly) mark the approach before the light with a 30mph sign but never cancel it. Lack of any regular repeated national limit or 60 mph signs once out means the car can think it’s still in a 20 zone half an hour down the road.


  • 25 mins in Inverness. Spent the time having a quick look round Inverness.. and the nearest toilet is in the bus station.. tap to pay! While the Superchargers are in a public parking they let Tesla’s out free if you have just been there long enough for a charge.. at the time of writing. There is signage between Superchargers.
  • Even better my Tesla Loyalty points came through, which means Heidi gets free Tesla charging for the next 9,000 miles. Nice surprise.

Day 5

Portree, Isle of Skye to Stirling – 250 miles

One of the big plusses with electric cars is you can choose from any hotel with a charger on site. So no need even to look at local charging options.. just plug in, check-in, have drinks and dinner and wake up the next morning all set for another adventure.

First stop after breakfast was the Old Man of Storr. I had thought I’d just be looking at it from a viewing area near the car park but the weather and views were better as you climbed so I couldn’t help doing the full hike. It was well worth it and good exercise. Funny thing is there were a few Scots, lots of Americans and French but almost no English enjoying the glorious Skye sunshine at the start of March.

Next stop was the Faery pools. Again the scenery was breath taking. I had expected pools and waterfalls to be the highlight but the drama of the snow capped peaks behind were my highlight.

To be honest I enjoyed the views as much as the Rockies in Canada which is a big compliment to both. Even on Skye there is impressive scale.

In fact the scenery was so good that it was well after 2pm before I was crossing over the arched Sky bridge to start my journey to Stirling.

Stopped at Fort William (partly for a charge) then continued through Glencoe where it was too cold to spend long taking pictures. Stayed with friends in Stirling for the night which was lovely. Absolutely stunning amazing day.


  • 22 minute stop at Fort William for a 40%-79% charge.. during which I grabbed a “late lunch” burger and chocolate milkshake (first one in about 30 years and rather gross with an odd banana aftertaste!) at McDonalds opposite then a quick toilet stop and a dash into the Supermarket to get a decent bottle of Malbec for my hosts that night.

Day 6

Stirling to London – 465 miles

The charge stop at Fort William didn’t just get me to Stirling but over the English border to Holy Island. This place is only accessible when the tide isn’t high and includes the famous monastery that was one of if not the first place in England pillaged by the Vikings before they captured and settled large parts of the northeast.

Heidi Review – stalkgate and controls

  • Completely forgot to mention how it was living with indicator or any other stocks and doing everything via the steering wheel.
  • To be clear it is not an improvement but on most roundabouts you can indicate. What has so far eluded me is a way to handle offset junctions.. eg crossing a main road with a right then left indication one after the other. Not only is the steering wheel then upside down much of the time it is always moving. So you can indicate the first manoeuvre but not the second!
  • shifting between forward and reverse is fine on screen helped by Tesla’s auto guess function which almost always works.
  • Biggest issue is muscle memory and remapped existing controls – ie they have moved around! In rush situations esp at night when it’s easy to flash or indicate in the wrong direction. Also the remapping of some other steering controls eg right scroll wheels which used to be voice prompt but is now engage or disengage autopilot. Result is it’s easy to disengage autopilot every time you want to change tracks on spotify. For an owner of a “highland” and non highland this will be a real pain.


  • 34 minute stop at Adderston near Bamburgh after time on Holy Island was a little longer than the car needed because my chicken and leak pie lunch was way too hot to eat when it came out of the microwave!
  • Next stop at Mansfield was just 17 minutes for 16-59% which was enough to get home easily
  • I did stop in London at Hanger lane as well.. not because I needed to to get home but because since Inverness my Tesla charging for the next 9,000 miles is completely free on loyalty credits, so why not use it!


The trip to northern Scotland was fabulous and super easy in an electric car. So much so that my family is keen to go the extra mile and do the full North Coast 500 in the summer possibly combined with trip to Ireland in at Dublin out at Belfast on the way, Seems like a long way? Well we usually go to Italy!

If naysayers still say long trips are still tricky in a modern EV they really should clarify that they mean Istanbul or Dakar might still be awkward. It certainly doesn’t apply in the UK, however remote.

David Nicholson

David Nicholson Is the founder of Rivergecko Ltd & MyUrbanCar which provide consultancy and advice for drivers and fleets to speed the transition from dirty fossil fuel transport to clean vehicles powered by renewable energy on land water and air.

The @MyUrbanCar twitter feed is a source of news & reviews of electric & plugin cars and vans in the UK.
The @rivergecko twitter feed & websites bring news and opinion on cleantech transport including cars, vans, buses, trucks, shipping, rail & aviation as well as autonomous vehicles & renewable energy, air pollution & motor industry news.

David Nicholson has worked as an underwriter at Lloyd's of London since the 1980's. His interest in technology goes back many years including interactive mapping, apps, green tech, boats, solar and cars.