Bowen's Report Card
Tesla Model 3
- Very, Very quick
- Still very unique
- Safe as a bank
- Sparse interior
- A little awkward looking from some angles
- Hidden technology that can’t be used yet
- Lack of dealerships
THE BOWEN SCORE
Reinventing the wheel is one thing, but to change automobiles forever is an entirely different proposition. There’d be few people on the planet who don’t recognise the brand Tesla. The commanding brand is only matched by the likes of Apple. I’ve just spent almost a week in the Tesla Model 3 Performance, I can confirm it lives up to its reputation, in fact it would blow the milk out of your tea.
To explain in simple terms how an electric vehicle works, is not simple at all. However, there are two electric motors on each axle. This dual-motor arrangement gives the car all-wheel drive, which is a good thing indeed.
The platform the Model 3 uses is nicknamed the “skateboard.” So, two wheels each end and an enormous battery that runs the length of wheelbase. Sitting on top of the lithium-ion battery is the actual car. There’s no gear box, it’s a one speed, I guess you could say.
Planting a Tesla from a set of lights is a great party trick, but the digital speedo reminds you that you’re about to break the sound barrier and your licence. EV cars due to their lack of engine noise can be deceptively quick, that next corner can easily arrive quicker than you expected.
The model I drove can hit 100km/h in 3.4 seconds. Keep in mind this is the baby Tesla, sitting in the medium sedan category. To put things in perspective a McLaren 720S can knock over the tonne in 2.9 seconds!
The figures speak for themselves with 335kW / 640Nm available. There are many performance cars that better those figures, but none can match the 640Nm that arrives instantly. Think about using a drill, you pull the trigger and the drill piece instantly spins at its top RPM.
Every time I have an electric car someone will usually ask me two things. How far can it go and how much is it? First up range is not a problem, Tesla claims it can cruise for 560km. I’d get nervous around the 400km mark. But given Tesla has invested in an extensive Supercharger network, long trips are easy. I’ve driven from Brisbane to Adelaide in a Model X, admittedly there were some nervous times. But the site of a Supercharger at the Dog on the Tuckerbox near Gundagai or Horsham in Victoria, proves the brand is removing the stigma.
Plus, there are hundreds of “Destination Charges” such as at a motel that paying customers can use.
Value for money
The Model 3 was designed to be a smaller but more affordable Model S. You can order a base Model 3 from $73,900, but the variant I tested starts at $102,613 before on-roads. However, prices have risen rather suddenly post launch in 2019, to the tune of $7900 more for the Standard Range Plus. This is where my neighbours walk away, happily returning to their Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) tractors.
The red example shown here scores 20” rims, performance brakes, carbon fibre spoiler and a more squat and firmer suspension tune.
Aside from taking off like a SpaceX launch there are few things I need to zero in on. Firstly, the car is heavy, around two-tonne when fully loaded. That battery is not light, but at least it gives the car a low centre of gravity.
I find the steering to be overly assisted, the wheel is rather small too, but the feedback feels very digital. I’ll put it this way, I had some “spirited” moments when I wasn’t entirely sure how the car would react.
With rims that big, the ride was bound to be firm, but it’s not a deal breaker. Thankfully the AWD system should prevent you coming unstuck, there’s a track mode so someone thinks it’s a neck breaker.
But it just can’t match the dynamics of any BMW 3 Series for example.
The white or black seats may look leather, but the car is in fact now fully vegan. The brand calls it “Tesla Synthetic Material”, whatever.
It does have a remarkable but unbranded sound system, in fact it’s a Madison Square Garden on wheels. There are 14 speakers, 1 subwoofer, 2 amps and a 3D or immersive effect. It’s fair to say that Tesla has hired personal from some of big brands, such as Bang & Olufsen.
Via the Tesla App you can heat or cool the car remotely. It’s been so cold recently I’ve hardly removed my Ugg boots. But there’s nothing better than defrosting your car, from bed. Speaking of technology, you either hate the interior or fully embrace it. The giant 15” screen sits front and centre, there’s no instrument cluster and virtually no buttons.
There are on-board computer games and you can even make the blinker make a fart sound effect. We’re talking about a brand created by Elon Musk, so you’d expect some weird shit.
Don’t go looking for the AM or FM dial, all content is streamed via TuneIn radio or Spotify for example. When stationary an internet browser can be opened. You could kick back and watch YouTube videos, I don’t know where and why you’d do that.
What I love
The Tesla Model 3 is an absolute onslaught of technology, that’s at least two or three years ahead of any other brand. Fully autonomous driving is possible but restricted in our region. But the autopilot system still allows for a very long period of time where you could take your hands off the wheel, which you shouldn’t…
The structure is very strong, the Model 3 can take a real hammering and sets the benchmark when it comes to safety, it easily scores a five-star ANCAP rating.
The Tesla Model 3 Performance scores an eight-year/160,000km battery warranty. Step up into the Long-Range version and an eight-year/192,000km battery and overall drive.
Bowen’s report card
The Tesla Model 3 Performance offers an intoxicating mix of technology, notoriety and brutal bang for your buck. If you can cop a complete rethink of driving, the Tesla Model 3, or any model as a matter of fact might be you go. It’s a 92 out of 100 from me.