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Driving from London to St. Ives

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Hi - We are planning a trip to London the third week of May. We are staying near Soho in London for 2 nights, then hiring a car to drive to St. Ives. Here are my questions:
1) Should we hire a car on the outskirts of London then hop on M3? We thought it would be more economical to hire a car versus taking the train to Penzance then hiring a car there. If this is a good idea? If you think this is a good idea, please give suggestions on where to hire a car for easy access.
2) Does it really take 5 hours for the drive as Google maps suggest or will it take longer to drive?
3) Is the M3 a divided freeway like we have here in the U.S.?

Thank you in advance!

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