We get behind the wheel of the new Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 is about to hit Australian roads and Tech Guide got behind the wheel of the highly anticipated new electric vehicle with some drivers have been waiting more than three years to drive.
Customer in the first wave of Model 3 deliveries put down a deposit as early as March 2016 sight unseen.
Now their vehicles are finally arriving.
We drove the Tesla Model 3 in Los Angeles so, of course, it was a left hand drive but it is otherwise identical to what we’ll see in Australia.
It was the Performance dual-motor configuration that was blue and with a white interior.
The Tesla Model 3 is a smaller and more affordable version of the Model S with prices starting at $68,000 for the entry-level Standard Range Plus rear-wheel drive model.
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The dual motor all-wheel drive models include the Long Range version starting at $85,000 and the Performance model starting at $91,200.
Tesla’s Model 3 doesn’t have any keys.
It comes with what looks like a hotel room card key which you tap on the pillar to lock and unlock the car.
Alternatively you can also use the Tesla app on your smartphone to gain entry to the vehicle and then lock it again.
Inside the car the layout is plain and simple and spartan.
All you’ll see on the dashboard is the 15-inch screen which controls everything in the car.
There are no other buttons or dials or switches.
There’s also nothing in front of the driver which gives you a better view of the road.
To view your speed and everything else is a just simple glance to the left at the display.
Despite being smaller than the Model S, the Model 3 is still fairly spacious inside.
There is plenty of room upfront for the driver and passenger in the rear seats also have generous amounts of leg and headroom.
Upfront there is also plenty of clearance thanks to the windscreen that transforms into the glass roof which gave me plenty of room to fit my 184cm frame in the car.
The front dashboard, if it can actually be called that because there is nothing there, has an air vent that runs the width of the car.
The driver and passenger can control the airflow and where the air will actually come from using the temperature control and air settings on the screen.
You can even slide your fingers apart on the display and create two points where the air will flow.
Inside the car, there were no door handles. To open the door you have to press a button that will release the latch and let you out.
The central console offers plenty of space for your phone and also includes two cup holders along with plenty of room for storage.
There are even four USB ports within reach to charge your devices as well as space to dock two smartphones.
The Tesla Model 3 is a fully electric car the motor is located on the axles. The charging port is located on back left corner of the car under the side light.
This gives you even more room under the bonnet – also referred to as the front trunk or frunk for short – for storage as well as generous space in the back with a second smaller compartment underneath where the fuel tank would usually reside on a regular vehicle.
The boot space is quite generous and was big enough to hold all of our luggage and carry-on bags and there was still plenty of room for more.
The battery makes up the base of the car and gives it a very low centre of gravity which assists when driving for a more stable ride especially when cornering.
The drive in the Model 3 is smooth and silent and from the driver’s seat you get a great view of the road because there is no speedometer or display blocking any of your view.
One of the first things you noticed is the car’s remarkable acceleration thanks to the instant response from the electric motors.
Off the mark the Tesla Model 3 Performance can go from 0 to 100km/h in just 3.4 seconds.
In the standard base model configuration is a rear wheel drive and you will get 460km range 225 km/h top speed and can hit 100km/h from a standing start in 5.6.
The Long Range and Performance variants of the Model 3 are both dual motor all-wheel drive.
The Long Range Model 3 can run for up to 620km on a single charge and can get you from 0 to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds with a top speed of 233km/h.
Performance has a range of 560km and a top speed of 261km/h.
The Model 3 comes with 18-inch wheels and this moves up to 20-inch with the Performance model.
With the Performance configuration, drivers also receive performance brakes, a carbon fibre spoiler, lowered suspension and aluminium alloy pedals.
Standard for all vehicles are 12-way power adjustable front seats, heated front and rear seats, tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection and the ability to create customisable driver profiles.
Every Model 3 also comes fitted out with cameras and sensors which can monitor the traffic around you.
Autopilot comes standard with the vehicle and allows the car to steer itself on well-marked roads and expressways as well as brake for other vehicles and accelerate back up to the speed limit.
In our Model 3 which we drove in Los Angeles, we were able to use a feature only available in the US and hopefully coming soon to Australia – Navigate on Autopilot.
As its name suggests, the car can basically drive itself to your destination and navigate the lane changes and freeway changes all by itself.
The car warns you about an upcoming lane change before indicating and changing into the next lane when the traffic allows.
This feature was nothing short of remarkable.
We picked up the Tesla Model 3 from its delivery centre in Marina Del Ray and drove it to our hotel in Anaheim and the only time we had to control the car was when we entered the freeway and got off the exit near our destination.
For the 90 minute drive, all we had to do was hold the wheel and enjoy the ride. It was like we were our own Uber driver
Tesla says Navigate on Autopilot will be introduced in markets outside the US in the future pending validation and regulatory approval.
The Model 3 will receive constant software updates to improve existing features and also introduce new ones.
Tesla says the day you pick up the car is the worst the car will be because it will improve over time thanks to the regular software updates.
The Tesla Model 3 is available to order now in Australia.
Customers can configure their vehicle, choose the exterior colour, interior colour and pay their deposit at the Tesla website.
Delivery can be expected within three months.