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My expectation of the Model 3 test drive

The test drive with the Tesla Model 3 is to find out how the latest Tesla works and therefore by the way: what makes the Model 3 different from the larger Model S (apart from the length). In order to find out, I did a trip to the countryside – a short tour through the varied Lower Austria.

Introducing my individual passengers

Andreas Icha in front of the Tesla Model 3
Andreas Icha is responsible for our resort “Alles Auto” (All about Cars will come soon to the english website).

I invited three completely different passengers to my test drive. No. 1 is female, over 50, knows different cars, drives cars almost every day, but is only very interested in the topic – they should work. No. 2 is male, about 30, soaks up everything about cars, like a dry Greek natural sponge. No. 3 is female, counts 90 (!) years, still drives joyfully and safely small cars and is curious about everything new. And there is me – since my childhood infested with the auto virus and a critical observer of the mobility concepts for our future. For the personal opinions of the persons, I will use these Numbers in the editorial as 1 to 4 – that’s easier (for me).

The Tesla Model 3 variants to choose from

The Tesla Model 3 isn’t named like that because of  THREE different versions. But there are three models to choose from. You can choose from the following options:

  • Standard range Plus: Rear-wheel drive and partial premium interior
  • Maximum range: four-wheel drive and premium interior (our test vehicle)
  • Performance: four-wheel drive and premium interior

Model 3 does not skimp with power

Model 3 from Tesla doesn’t stint with performance. 460 HP is an announcement for a car of the middle class. The same class is Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, C-Class Benz and exotics, such as Jaguar XE or Renault Talisman. It is not the pure performance that inspires. No, the characteristic of the powerful e-drive. The full torque from the first engine revolution – that’s impressive.

Like pulled toward from an extra strong jar glass rubber, the Tesla slurps the hundred in 4.6 seconds. The top speed of 235 km / h is OK – for Austria at least sufficient. No. 2 very pleased: “Hurry, the next traffic light is red again. Give it a good gas … uh … electricity!”. The joy I like – “whoohoo” and we are gone – but only up to 50 km / h. We are still in the city area.

No. 1 notes that it is not that quiet in the interior. Although no engine hum can be heard (really now?), however, the wind and rolling noise are clearly audible with 80km/h. A well-insulated, modern oil burner is not much louder. So we roll over the Danube river highway in the direction of the airport, where “No. 3” is already waiting for us.

Tesla 3 in the rain
The Model 3 in the rain – all OK thanks to all-wheel drive for optimum traction

Tight front seats

The seats are a functional and pleasant compromise. For No. 2, the front seats have too little lateral support – compared to the sports cups of a Porsche (hm…). No. 1 means: “The upholstery could be a bit softer”. In my humble opinion, seating fits best for everyday life. During civilized driving style, the lateral support is fine, the seats are suitable for about 180 cm tall people and the tight padding helps the occupants to keep in a good mood and lively, even after long distances. A weakness: the headrests are not adjustable in height and inclination.

Front Seats of Tesla Model 3
The front seats are well-sized and comfortable – even on longer trips.

Seat row two for long distances

Sitting back is no punishment inside Model 3 from Tesla. As in the front, the passengers in the second seat row are well and long-distance suitable lifted. Tight cushions ensure a tireless journey.

Modern sedans are generally a bit confusing. Tesla Model 3 is no exception. When parking backward, the camera at the rear and the acoustic beep tone helps anyway. So you’ll squeeze the Tesla into every tight parking space.

You can handle Model 3 almost entirely via the central monitor in the middle of the dashboard – which also impresses unicorn llamas

Operation via the central touch screen

In terms of functionality, Tesla goes its own way. In the interior, the central touch screen is the dominant design and operating element. Beside the screen there are only two steering column levers and two turn & push buttons on the steering wheel – that’s it. The menu navigation on the fixed tablet is very simple if you have seen through it once. That’s all it takes to operate a car. All functions are available here and you will be able to adapt all configurations. You can see that Tesla is a computer with a driving function. Only No. 3 is a little confused. “And how do you take the tablet down from there?” she asks doubtfully.

Steering wheel Tesla Model 3
The clearly drawn and tidy dashboard is a trademark of Tesla

Crisp chassis for sporty driving

Model 3 you can drive crisp and direct because of the relatively high deadweight of almost 1.9 tonnes and the low center of gravity through the batteries let the load fed on the asphalt. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires on the test car are top and fitting very well with the vehicle. The category “sporty sedan” characterizes the driving dynamics best. Curvy overland trails, such as along the Wagram, conjure the Tesla an imaginary grin in the front. He acknowledges tight, fast corners with the intervention of the electronic assistance systems. They down-regulate everything so that a safe course is secured. Up to the limit, the Model 3 is neutral to slightly understeering on the road. The chassis is tight and fits well with the sporty character. 

The driving behavior of the Model 3 is quite sporty – with a racing kart you should better not compete

If you drive provident you will rarely need to use the brake pedal. Simply go from the gas or accelerator pedal and the energy will be recovered by recuperation and fed into the battery. If this is not enough, the brake calipers grip the four discs and decelerate the tight two tons until they standstill.

Tesla Model 3 Wheels and brakes
The brakes are sufficiently dimensioned and benefit from recuperation.

Interior and Trunk

The interior of the Tesla Model 3 is simply clear. This was addressed earlier in the context of usability. The materials don’t match the feeling of other premium manufacturers. Front and back, the Model 3 offers enough space. Four people will travel very comfortably by car – five of them fit in anyway.

Trunk of Tesla Model 3
The (rear) trunk can hold a lot of luggage – even if the loading floor is slightly high due to the batteries.

The trunk volume is sufficient for a mid-size vehicle. The high cargo space floor in the rear cargo space is because of the batteries on the car floor. The access is a big hole – unfortunately, the model 3 has no despite hatchback. In the front Trunk of the car, you will also find a storage space – this is the advantage of the compact electric motors.

Compartment of the Model 3 Tesla
All hatches open – access to the rear luggage compartment could be more convenient if it were a tailgate.

Full equipment – all in there

Our test vehicle is equipped with everything that Tesla has to offer – this is called ‘premium interior’. The front seats are 12-way adjustable and heated. The rear seats can be heated. Enjoy listening to music with the premium audio system – 14 speakers plus subwoofer make great sound.

Sunscreen – not the greatest thing since sliced bread

Ambivalent reactions trigger the tinted panoramic glass roof. While No. 2 finds the transparent roof extremely cool, No. 1 is less positive about it. “Because the sun is dazzling. It’s getting extremely hot because of that. Why isn’t there a nice sunshade roller blind? “, so the feedback. So I start to install the not very practical sunscreen. “Well … that’s not the greatest thing, since sliced bread but ok”, notes No. 1 sullen.

Mobile Sunshade Tesla Model 3
The sunshade for the panoramic glass roof is an impractical thing – perhaps Tesla will consider a more comfortable solution

Autopilot – on the way to autonomous driving?

No. 2 nearly can’t wait anymore. He wants to see how the autopilot controls the car. “Come on! Take your hands off the steering wheel! Let the Tesla drive itself! “, It sounds highly motivated from the second row. No. 3, already experienced a lot in her 90 years and would like to spend some more time on this planet, moans: “Does it really have to be that way?!”

Come on – take your hands off!

 “Autopilot” sounds more dramatic than it is. The centerpiece is adaptive speed control, which does a pretty good job on the highway. For example, change lane? Yes, it works. However, the system acts so carefully – it needs enough space and no car should be visible from behind. But that raises the question of purpose. If you are no longer able to make a lane change without automatism, then please return your driver’s license.

From the use of the autopilot function in the city Tesla advises, is clear. Don’t do this. – I completely agree. Wrong estimated boundary lines on the road, or just next to it on the sidewalk, triggers sweat attacks. Sudden braking maneuvers, because the system thinks – there is a perceived obstacle – can bring the cars behind you into dangerous situations.

Autopilot Tesla Model 3
The autopilot is a first step in the direction of autonomous driving – but the way is still very long.

Tesla – Heel! – The blaming “Enhance Summon” feature

Enhanced Summon Feature Tesla Model 3
The summon feature on the Tesla app seems to make sense to lure the Model 3 out of a tight parking space

There is still the “enhance summon” feature that lures out the Tesla from any parking space as if done by a magic spell. That must be tested on practicality.

Szene: Sloping parker opposite a Greek Restaurant in Korneuburg. The garden is full – about 50 curious heads stretches to the parking spaces and looking forward to a high-tech spectacle.

Model 3 is moving – but short. Connection interrupted – aha. Again. Oh, another piece out of the square. Connection interrupted. Hm … is going again like this several times. Now the Tesla stands across the road and blocks five cars that can’t pass anymore.

We all need to get back into the car quickly – bu speed is relative for a 90-year-old lady. Finally, everyone is inside. But I can’t drive away immediately, because the car rolled straight and not in a curve out of the parking space. So  I need to roll back into the parking lot again, let all (now eight) cars pass and then pulling out of the parking slot manually. The mischievous grin of the guests at the Greek restaurant bothers me – I’m just very sensitive.

Safety and Security

Active safety is GREAT on Tesla’s Model 3. Recently, the Model 3 received five stars in a crash test by ÖAMTC / ADAC (see here: https://www.oeamtc.at/tests/crashtest/crashtest-2019-07/tesla-model-3-32606934). Among other things responsible is the high-strength metal structure of the body, all-around airbags and a lot of safety assistance systems.

The high passive safety is arguable by the enormous acceleration potential. In addition, you will find that driving with an electric vehicle is very relaxing and soothing. we need more relaxed motorists in this country!

Safety Standards Tesla Model 3
The female passengers are happy about the high safety standards in Model 3.

Clean and green without emissions

Zero emissions! Of course, it is not and only half the truth. Depending on how the electricity was produced from the charging station, it is clean (renewable energy), dirty (lignite) or questionable (nuclear power). The ecological footprint also includes the production of the batteries. However, I deliberately do not want to continue this discussion here – the top experts in the world have been arguing for years.

Tesla Model 3 at the super charger
Model 3 on the Tesla Supercharger – charging up to 80% battery capacity is relatively fast.

Certainly, the Tesla Model 3 generates no polluting pollutants while driving – which at least contributes to better air in the city.

Auswahl an Ladekabeln für den Tesla Model 3
All sorts of charging cables for all connections can be found in the double floor of the luggage compartment.

The Pricing

If you want to buy a brand new model 3, you have to pay (i Austria in September 2019) at least EUR 46,680. (35.000 USD USA Price List) For that, you get the “Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus”.

The retail price of our test car comes to EUR 64.930, – (Tesla Model 3 maximum range with dual-engine four-wheel drive and some extras). We did not consider the huge savings of Fuel and tax savings and state fundings.

Tesla Model 3 cheapest price
Model 3 is the cheapest way to drive a Tesla. Retail Pricing starts at EUR 45.700, –

Tesla Model 3 vs. Model S – differences

First of all – the Model 3 is in a different league compared to the model S of Tesla. The big Tesla is longer and offers more space and a plus in travel comfort. The ‘little one’ drives more agile and sporty and therefore feels noticeably more comfortable on winding roads. The Model S performs larger ranges. The interior feels a bit higher in the Model S, but the Model 3 with its minimalist approach – One display that’s it – offers an even more modern ambiance. Pricing of the Model S starts at EUR 87,980, – compared to the EUR 46,680, – the Model 3 entry price (with significantly lower equipment and rear instead of four-wheel drive).

Conclusion of the editor

The Tesla Model 3 fascinates by its agile handling and the sports car-like performance. Due to the four-wheel-drive of the test vehicle, there are hardly any traction problems. In the city, the sedan is sufficiently maneuverable and offers four people and enough space for five people. Lovers of powerful electric cars can’t ignore the Tesla Model 3.

Data & Facts of the test

  • Vehicle: Tesla Model 3 Maximum range
  • Engine: Three-phase asynchronous
  • Power: no transmission
  • Drive: four-wheel drive
  • Capacity: no displacement capacity
  • Power: 340 kW / 460 hp
  • Torque: 630 Nm
  • Battery: 75 kWh
  • Acceleration 0-100 Km / h : 4.6 sec.
  • Maximum speed: 235 km / h
  • Range: 560 / approx. 500 km (NEDC / test consumption)
  • Length: 469 cm
  • Width: 185 cm
  • Height: 144 cm
  • Wheelbase: 288 cm
  • Turning circle: 11.60 m
  • Boot volume: 85 / 340 liters (front / rear)
  • weight: 1856 Kg
  • CurbTires: 235/45 ZR 18 (Michelin Pilot Sport 4)

Helpful links:

Text and Photos: Andreas Icha

*Chief Editor’s Note: The Tesla Model 3 Maximum Range has been made available to our editor free of charge for test drives. The article thus contains advertising by brand name, which, however, has no influence on the judgment of our editor. (MR)

More from Andreas’ world of the most beautiful cars you can read here:

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