We finally managed to get our hands on the media-hyped Tesla Model 3 press vehicle to test drive and review… Off the mark, the future of automobiles is here!
If the video above wasn’t enough to tantalise your taste buds and give you all the much needed information about this Tech packed all electric vehicle, then you’ve come to the right place… It’s time to unpack this beast!
Let me start by saying that this car comes with very high expectations, due to all the media-hype and stock market news about this new OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) on the rise over the past several years. People are watching this company very closely and it’s because they are dramatically changing the way we look at cars of today. Below is a little bit of history of the company.
Tesla was founded in July 2003, by engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, under the name Tesla Motors. The company’s name is a tribute to engineer Nikola Tesla. In early Series A funding, Tesla Motors was joined by Elon Musk, J. B. Straubel and Ian Wright, all of whom are retroactively allowed to call themselves co-founders of the company. Musk, who formerly served as chairman and is the current chief executive officer, said that he envisioned Tesla Motors as a technology company and independent automaker, aimed at eventually offering electric cars at prices affordable to the average consumer. Tesla Motors shortened its name to Tesla in February 2017.
After 10 years in the market, Tesla ranked as the world’s best selling plug-in passenger car manufacturer in 2018, both as a brand and by automotive group, with 245,240 units delivered and a market share of 12% of the plug-in segment sales. Tesla vehicle sales in the U.S. increased by 280% from 48,000 in 2017 to 182,400 in 2018, and globally were up by 138% from 2017.
Now that we know where the brand Tesla came from and why it’s such a new contender in the automaker market, let’s dive into the car…
Specifications – Because we all want numbers:
- 473 hp / 353 kW (Combined)
- Rear drive unit 283 hp / 211 kw
- Front drive unit 197 hp / 147 kw (equivalent to a 2003 Golf Mk5 4-cyl 2.0L Turbo GTI in power rating – front drive unit only)
- 0-60 mph (0 -97 km/h) 3.2s
- 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) 3.4s
- Top Speed:
- 162 mph / 261 km/h
- 530 km (WLTP)
- 329 mi (WLTP)
- Battery capacity:
- 75 kWh
- DC charging:
- 274 km (170 mi) range available after 30 min.
- AC charging:
- 71 km (44 mi) range per hour (240 V outlet 48 A)
- Rear 340 L and front 85 L
- Curb weight:
- 1,847 kg (4, 072 lb)
We all want to know what the future feels like, the car we’ve all imagined as a kid growing up in the new millennium… Well, it’s everything and more! It has Supercar comparable performance and Porsche 911 like handling, with instant power on-tap and limitless adrenaline rushes. The Tesla Model 3 Performance is not in the slightest bit boring to drive, cause at any moment you can blast that accelerator pedal for instantaneous sharp throttle response. The car will pin you back in your seat and keep the G’s flowing into your body all the way up as the speedometer struggles to keep up with the numbers fluctuating at a rate of knots. The performance model comes with stiffened and lowered suspension, giving it the stability it needs to lumber it’s weight around the corners in high speeds, it does so rather effortlessly and the steering is razor sharp and responsive. We unfortunately did not get the approval from Tesla to put the 3 through it’s pace’s on track with the Performance models’ track mode, which distributes torque to each wheel through computer algorithms and allows an inexperienced driver to gracefully drift the car around corners by mashing the throttle in the corners and controlling toque output for the amount of steering input and angle of attack, making easy work of challenging corners on closed circuits. The regenerative braking takes a bit of getting used to, as driving becomes a one-footed operation, making use of only the accelerator pedal. It has the likeness of an automatic car with only two pedals, however without a transmission, so there are no gear changes and power delivery is constant, due to the rotational forces of the electric drive units whizzing at the speed of light. When you want to slow down, you merely have to ease off the throttle, as the car starts to regenerate energy from the car’s momentum and starts to decelerate with more braking force than a regular car provides through traditional drum brakes. Stepping on the brake pedal is only in severe last minute braking cases or emergency stops, which are even taken care of by the car’s built-in safety systems, namely Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) or in the last 5 km/h before coming to a complete stop, as the car gradually coasts down. No wind noises found, as was the case in early production models, instead the cabin is filled with eerie silence, which can easily be drowned out by the immersive premium audio sound system which is of highest clarity.
The Tesla stands above the competition when it comes to safety, which is often over-looked by most automotive reviews and is often the most important aspect when considering buying a new family vehicle, despite how fast you can pull away from the traffic lights.
The car boasts the following safety features as standard on all models:
- Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)
- Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance (ELK)
- Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
- Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Traction & Stability Control (TSC)
- Obstacle Aware Acceleration
“The Model 3 earned a 96% score for how it protects adults and 86% for crash test performance in keeping children safe. It scored a 74% for how the vehicle handles vulnerable road users. The Tesla Model 3 earned the highest safety assist score ever awarded by Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) under its newer 2018-2019 testing protocols.” – Quoted:
With the Performance model comes the premium interior, which includes:
- 12-way electrically adjustable front seats
- Seat heating in the front and back
- Premium audio system – 14 speakers, 1 subwoofer, 2 amplifiers, and Immersive Sound
- Premium connectivity (1 year):
- Satellite maps with live traffic display
- Streaming music and media via the internet in the car
- More wireless updates via mobile connection
- Web browser
- LED fog lights
- Center console with storage space, 4 USB connections and docking stations for 2 smartphones
All interiors include:
- Tinted glass roof with sun and anti-UV protection
- Automatically dimming and folding heated side mirrors
- Music and media via Bluetooth®
- Personal driver profiles
The interior has a minimalist approach and feel, but does not lack the premium quality that is expected from a car of this price tag, however improvements could be made as the interior of a German competitor is still superior. The cabin is free from clutter and unnecessary distractions and provides a focused, engaging driver oriented feeling. Everything you need is there and well thought out, ergonomically speaking. I would however, personally recommend the white interior, which has a more premium feeling and also creates a lighter, open feeling, as opposed to the darker black interior, which feels cramped. The piano black gloss centre console also needs a different finish like carbon fibre, as it smudges and leaves finger prints and can be prone to scratches. It is also highly reflective and catches the sunlight on occasion. You can’t be too hasty when closing the centre console lids either, as they’re kept closed by magnets, which aren’t very strong and can be a bit of a nuisance, if you have a tendency to slam things. What they don’t tell you, is that you don’t get protective floor mats as standard anymore in the partial premium Standard Range budget models, but this still comes included with the Premium interior variants found on the Long Range models. The standard floor mats are not yet available for purchase from Tesla’s online store in Europe either, however they do have more expensive €150 all-weather rubberised (Thermoplastic Elastomer) mats available for purchase.
At a first glance the front of the Model 3 looks a bit VW Millenium bug-like, but then starts to look more like the Porsche Panamera and then it suddenly dawns on you that the design is completely unique as your head tries to wrap around the fact that it looks so unconventionally modest, that the styling is going to never get old in a decade’s time. It’s a really unobtrusive, aesthetically pleasing design which is easy on the eyes and blends from the front to the rear gracefully, with no sharp edges or weird square-like shapes that other OEM EV’s (Electric Vehicle’s) tend to adopt, ahem Prius – puke. With stunning LED headlights and taillights, carbon fibre spoiler, a full glass roof, grill-less nose and streamlined flush handles and frame-less glass windows, it all makes for an exciting innovative design. Apart from the massive design flaw in the rear tail gate (boot lid, if you’re not American), which deposits any standing water or snow collected on-top into the boot (trunk, if you are American) when opening the lid quickly, you may want to purchase a rubber blade to wipe off any water/ snow before opening the lid.
Remember your old Nokia 3210 or even your Blackberry Bold with full 101 key Qwerty keyboard that you used to type on so effortlessly with the tiny buttons? No, you don’t, do you? Because nowadays you’re used to swiping across your fancy iPhone touch screen with retina display or the Samsung Galaxy with QHD touch display, you don’t miss playing snake or space impact or even that addictive Candy Crush Saga or perhaps you still send your friends daily Facebook requests to promote you to a new access level?!
Times have moved on, haven’t they? People are used to keeping up with the times and the latest trends and tech, so why then are automakers so tuck in the 90’s? Their cars have not developed much in almost 20 years, they still have the same dull styling features and interior, perhaps with a new track pad, touch display or motion control nonsense which is such a gimmick it doesn’t even work.
The point is, they’ve been holding back on you, waiting for the right moment, getting as much money out of you for as long as possible using all their old tech until consumers stop buying into their ploy and realise they’ve been conned all this time. Why do you need Android Auto or Apple Car Play to pair with your smartphone to make your car’s infotainment system useful? Why do cars not have a built-in Android or Apple system interface that people are so used to, with live up to date information and regular software updates that we get on all our other mobile devices, improving our user experience over time?
Oh, wait Tesla does… It’s kind of a no-brainer, why has it taken a new rival in the automaker market to make this so evident? Connected cars, is it so strange to think of in this day and age, where everything is online and in the cloud? A car which receives live traffic information from Google maps, streams live music and internet radio, has browser capability, over the air software updates from the manufacturer with constant improvements and new, exciting features and in-car games to play while sitting at a charging stop. Or that ingenious fart mode to entertain your kids or husband endlessly? And yes, ladies fart too. Was it really so hard to make this a reality? I find it hard to understand why no other OEM has caught onto this yet…
You never leave the house without your mobile phone anymore, so why not make it your car key? The Tesla Model 3 uses your phone’s Bluetooth to unlock the car when you approach, you can precondition your car’s climate or heat the seats through the mobile app, control the music, send Google map locations to the car’s navigation, check and adjust the charging limit, unlock or remote start the car for a friend or family member from anywhere in the world with the touch of a button on your Smartphone, see the car’s location, speed and even limit the car’s speed for valet parking, set a pin to drive and even summon the car out of a tight parking spot. You can even schedule a service appointment from your phone, no more waiting on the phone or trying to book online. Simple. We live in an age of making things easy for ourselves, why shouldn’t your car be the same? Your favourite band’s new album was just released today, no problem, stream it live from your Spotify account in the car.
Planning a road trip, not sure where to stop or where you can charge? No problem, the Tesla Trip Planner automatically uses the Tesla Supercharger network to plan your drive around stops every few hours for a short break to recharge while taking a restroom break and having a cup of coffee or a bite to eat, ensuring your travelling is stress free.
Tesla has spent huge capital building their own DC (Direct Current) Supercharging network across supported markets in Europe and the Model 3 is fitted with the new DC (Direct Current) Universal Standard CCS (Combined Charging System) charge-port connector, which also allows you to charge at 3rd party public charging stations around the EU, found along the motorways. It also still fits the official EU standard single or three-phase AC (Alternating Current) Type 2 connector for public charging stations by making use of the Blue Mennekes cable that comes with your car. You also get a UMC (Universal Mobile Connector) charging kit with interchangeable adaptors like a standard household Schuko plug or a red 3-phase connector, you can also buy the blue single phase adaptor. A €530 Tesla wall connector installation (Installed by certified Electricians) at home would be useful to start your day with a fully charged battery every day, but not really necessary thanks to the many available charging options available publicly everywhere (You can also buy cheaper, compatible 3rd party wall units). The car does not need to be charged daily, even with long commutes, as the range is so long (approx 530 km), think of it like filling your tank every few days and topping it off for a few minutes from time to time, rather than filling up once a week. The charging is quickest between 30% – 75% capacity and slows down towards the top end of the battery as it treacle charges the remaining balance, only required when making long journeys.
You don’t still wear Corduroy pants and Denim jackets anymore like back in the 90’s do you? Or perhaps it’s back in style again?? If your car feels out-dated, it’s probably because it is. It’s time for a change, get with the times and get in touch with the present, cause the future of automobiles is here and it’s found in the new Tesla Model 3. Perhaps you can’t afford the €68,200 Performance model price tag, I know I can’t, but you can definitely consider the more affordable entry-level model starting from €47,800 in the Netherlands. (Prices as quoted from the Tesla configurator July 9th 2019)