Around 9:00 Friday 17 November (18:00 NL time) the Tesla Model 3 arrived at our motel. This Model 3 has the color “midnight silver”, which is a (dark)grey color. The seats are black, since all Model 3’s delivered so far have a black interior. The first thing I noticed is that it does not stand out between other cars. Some other electric cars on the market have a more distinct shape (BMW i3; Nissan Leaf; Toyota Mirai), but the Model 3 looks like any other sedan on the road. Just like the VW e-Golf looks like any other VW Golf.
First, we walked around the car and looked at the exterior. It’s not a small car, but definitely smaller than the Model S. The Model 3 has about the same length as the Audi A4, BMW 3-series, and Mercedes C-class, but it is a bit wider. We looked at the trunk and frunk (front trunk). The trunk is huge! The opening is also big and wide and will enable people to easily carry big items in and out of the trunk. There is even enough space to fit a bike in the trunk!
Last year, during the unveiling of the Tesla Model 3, some people questioned the size of the trunk opening and whether a bike would fit. Recently, the left picture (above) was taken to show that a bike does fit inside the Tesla Model 3.
The frunk is small, but big enough for a small to medium sized suitcase. It is also very useful for takeout food as to not get the smell in the car. Worked really well when we had a Model S for 10 days during the Tesla Drive to Believe challenge.
After looking at the trunk and frunk, we got into the car. The new door handles work well and are easy to use. You push on the wide part and the smaller side is pushed out to pull the door open. When you push the wider part of the handle, the door already unlocks and it gets pushed out slightly. This makes it easier to open the door.
Once inside the car, I immediately noticed how roomy it is. I’m 184 cm tall (just over 6’ for our American friends 😊) and I had plenty of headroom and legroom. The glass roof is also very nice, because it gives a light and airy feel to the interior.
The other thing I noticed right away is the 15’’ screen. Not so much because of its size (it’s smaller than the screen in the Model S and X), but because of the contrast, rich colors, and sharpness. It is definitely a step-up from the already excellent screen in the Model S and X. The Model 3 also has the new navigation system from Tesla. This navigation will soon find its way to the Model S and X. I made a short video of the exterior and interior.
For those who wonder if the screen is distracting while driving. No. The picture above (point of view of my eyes) shows you the position of the screen when I’m in my normal driving position behind the wheel. There is also little animation on the screen, so all in all I feel confident that it is not distracting at all. The left part of the screen is reserved for information for the driver, such as selected gear, speed, autopilot interface, and any messages from the car like open doors. The right part of the screen is used for navigation, but also for other apps, such as music, phone, and settings. The interface works intuitively and the screen reacts responsively on any given commands.
Time to take it for a spin! Unfortunately, due to limitations with the insurance, we were not allowed to drive the Tesla Model 3 ourselves. But, the owner of the car was more than happy to drive us around to show us how it performs.
My first impression is that the car is quiet and smooth with a firm suspension. This is the Tesla Model 3 long range, which has a 75 kWh battery pack to enable 334 miles (537 km) of range according to the EPA range test (the American equivalent to the NEDC range test in Europe). Based on the real range of the Tesla Model S, the range of this long range Model 3 will be around 400 km (250 miles) at 75 mph (120 km/h) at 0-5 degrees Celsius (32-41 degrees Fahrenheit). The normal range Model 3 will probably have a battery with a capacity of 50 kWh. Both models’ range are given in the table below.
This long range Model 3 does 0-60 mph in 4,8 seconds (0,3 seconds quicker than Tesla states). You get pushed back in your seat, but it is not a violent acceleration like the ludicrous Model S and X. The car is quiet and there are no noticeable noises from the wind, wheels or other sources. All buttons and moveable parts have a solid feel and I expect this interior to be durable. Most materials used in the interior are also soft-touch, which makes the interior feel even more comfortable.
Of course, we also used Tesla’s Autopilot and it worked as expected and on the same level as the Model S and X. You can my short video on Youtube. The activation however, is slightly different. In the Model S and X, the Autopilot function is activated by pulling a lever on the left side of the steering wheel towards you twice in quick succession. In the Model 3, the lever is the same as the gear selector, and you pull it all the way down twice in quick succession to activate Autopilot.
All in all, it was awesome to see the Model 3 in person for the first time. I’m confident that people who order it will be happy with the car. As we had limited time with the car, we couldn’t review everything, nor could we document everything with pictures and video’s. For those who would like to know more about the car, I suggest you take a look at an extensive review of the Tesla Model 3 by two members of the Model 3 Owners Club: First In-Depth look at the Tesla Model 3 – Model 3 Owners Club.