Fixed Laminated Glass 1st & 2nd Row Sunroof, Premium Heated Front Bucket Seats w/12-Way Power Adjustable Front Seats and Custom Driver Profiles, Navigation, Two Wireless Smartphone Charging Pads, Front & Rear Parking Sensors, Blind Spot, Forward Collision Mitigation & Rear Collision Warning, Autopilot Lane Keeping Assist, Autopilot Lane Departure Warning, Back-Up Camera, Front Camera, Left Side Camera, Right Side Camera, Power Open & Close Trunk Rear Cargo Access, Power w/Tilt Down Heated Side Mirrors w/Power Folding, 18” Wheels, and ONLY 8,500 KM
THE MOST IMPRESSIVE ELECTRIC CAR this side of a Porsche Taycan. Fresh design, a sense of humour, and backed up by Superchargers. The Model 3 is now the best-selling electric vehicle on the planet. The Standard Range Plus model with rear-wheel drive offers 423 kilometres of zero-emission driving.
The Tesla Model 3 is an American four-door sedan with rear-wheel drive, seating for five people, and a touchscreen inside. Sure, it’s all-electric, but it hardly sounds A Verified Big Deal, does it? But the Tesla Model 3 is one of the most important big deals of the 21st Century so far. And thanks to Tesla’s viral, household name status and the ambition of the car’s features, the Model 3 has become a phenomenon.
As per all Teslas – and most electric cars – the Model 3 is powered by a slab of lithium-ion batteries mounted in the car’s floor, where they’re best protected from a crash and helpfully low to keep the centre of gravity in check. That means you get a second trunk/boot (frunk or froot, choose your front-biased cargo bay term) in the nose, which is handy for stowing mucky charging cables.
Chances are you’ll have heard fragments of what makes Teslas so interesting floating around the internet. Giant touchscreens, funny Easter egg content like games and built-in Netflix. There’s even a crackling fireplace video if you decide you want to relax or nap while waiting on that full battery. Supercharging the Model 3 from a nearly dead battery takes a little more than an hour, which is plenty of time to kick back and disconnect for a little bit. Plus, it’s great to know that real-life Tesla owners are embracing the entertainment options as ways to pass the time.
Let’s get on with saluting Tesla for the truth in that, and dispelling the myths the Californian brand’s cult-like following would have you believe:
Yes, you do have to drive this a bit yourself. All Model 3s come with ‘Autopilot’ built in, declares Tesla’s website. Autopilot is merely an umbrella term for adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-following assistant and pedestrian-avoidance steering.
The Standard Range Plus will go from 0-60 in 5.3 seconds, silkily speeding away in silence from the Porsche Cayman who’s still changing gear and building up his revs. It’s effortlessly, instantly rapid.
Staying true to the Tesla’s maxi-minimalist interior design, the dash is nothing but a slab of wood, a full-width air vent and a 15.4-inch touchscreen, landscape orientated. From where you sit, on a comfortable seat, the screen appears to hover in mid-air.
Scour the cabin and the only physical buttons you’ll find are two scroll wheels on the steering wheel, regular buttons for the electric windows, a button for the hazard lights above your head and a button on the grab handle to open each door.
Space in the back seats is fine for anyone up to six-foot tall, a bit cramped beyond that, but it’s worth it for the endless view out through the full-length sunroof that wraps right around and behind your head. It’s because of that infinity roof that the 3 isn’t a hatchback, although split folding rear seats mean you can fit longer objects in, too. Fallen on hard times? Drop the back seats and a double blow up mattress slots in perfectly!
As it is, everything is dominated by that central screen.
The general idea is that the quarter closest to the driver is dedicated to information and controls you might need while driving, including a visual representation of your autopilot situation and shortcuts to the trip computer, charge status etc. Oh, and your current speed.
The rest is dominated by a map or whatever you want to overlay, such as your radio or music streaming, climate control settings and phone status. Alternatively, you can dive into the settings menu (best to do this when stationary) and have fun tweaking your steering weight, how much re-gen braking you want, and if you’d like the turn signal to make a fart sound. Really!
Although the basic driving controls couldn’t be simpler, this isn’t a car you fully understand in the first five minutes. Like a new smart phone, you need to commit some time to learning the shortcuts, locating the settings you might need and engraining them in your brain. That said, the touchscreen operation itself is fabulous. The graphics are industry-leading for sharpness, the reaction times are iPad-like and the menus aren’t complicated stacks of multi-layered mayhem.
Got everything set just so? Good. Now you can have fun exploring some of Tesla’s ‘Easter eggs’ – modes that are there for no reason other than to make you and your passengers laugh. Modes like the Mars button that turns the map into the surface of the Red Planet, or the Santa setting (only available with Autopilot engaged) which turns your car into a sleigh, the road into a rainbow and other road users into reindeer, or the vast array of old arcade games you can play with the steering wheel scroll buttons in gridlock.
There’s a plethora of features, from heated seats to built-in karaoke internet browsing with Netflix and YouTube apps, a tinted glass roof, electric folding and adjustable door mirrors and for 2021, wireless phone charging. Welcome to a new way to do interiors, where how you have fun when you’re waiting for a charge is just as important as the boring old business of regular transport.
Built for Safety – Safety is the most important part of the overall Model 3 design. The metal structure is a combination of aluminum and steel, for maximum strength in every area. In a roof-crush test, Model 3 resisted four times its own mass, even with an all-glass roof: that’s the same weight as two full-grown African elephants.
Can a car be “insanely amazing”? Well, that’s how an owner described the Model 3 on an Edmunds consumer review. Is there some hyperbole here? Most definitely. But even from our more measured standpoint, the Model 3 is an impressive sedan. And it’s even better for 2021.
The Model 3 was Top Gear’s 2019 car of the year, and maintaining its lead of the new EV pretenders. It’s been in production since mid-2017, nothing on the market has yet managed to beat the Model 3 on all fronts. It is quite simply one of the most interesting, compelling cars in the world right now.