The first 30 owners of the new Tesla Model 3 received their cars Friday night – and the world's media got a (very brief) first glimpse too. So why is it so special, and what are the downsides? Find out below…
1. It's all electric. OK, this seems pretty obvious but there has been no compromise for Elon Musk and Tesla in rolling out the cars of the future. The Tesla Model 3 has a 220-310 mile range depending on your chosen specs and there is zero petrol involved. Tesla now has its own Gigafactory so they are all in!
2. Crazy, amazing tech. The central instrument cluster behind the steering wheel is gone. You can find the speedometer located on the horizontal 15-inch touchscreen in the top corner. Easy to see, along with your autopilot functions and navigation (on a split screen). Giving priority to future driving needs.
3. You could afford one. A starting price of 35,000 USD (26,650 GBP), rising to 44,000 USD (33,503 GBP) for the 310-mile version puts this car within reach of many more households. The Tesla Model 3 has a four-year, 50,000-mile warranty, with an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the battery. Factor in any local electric vehicle incentives and it will be very attractive to some.
4. It's a car for the masses. Now that production of Tesla cars is being ramped up to 500,000 vehicles per year from a fraction of that number, we should see a lot more on the roads. Costs are coming down because of the Gigafactory.
5. It keeps up with the S and X. It has been reported that Elon Musk had originally planned to call the Model 3 the Model E. That would have spelt out S.E.X. (or rather S.X.E. Whatever! The Model 3 has plenty of acceleration (5.1 to 5.6 seconds 0-60mph) and the same responsive, grippy, balanced characteristics of the Model S and Model X. Long live electric!
1. There's not much to touch. If you prefer the tactile feel of buttons and dials in a car then don't buy a Tesla. That said, the levers (I believe, they are from Mercedes) and two simple steering wheel buttons (which can control numerous functions on the touchscreen) are enough to make driving easy.
2. Over designed? The sweeping glass roof, which extends down over the rear seats puts you in a sort of pretty bubble. It's been reported there is only one air vent that takes care of all the climate control. Personally, I like this sort of innovative design, but it won't be to everyone's taste. We haven't heard yet about real-life, long range tests for how the cabin environment feels, so watch this space.
3. It gets a VIP treatment. Tesla has a strict policy of releasing its cars to customers and early adopters first, and not journalists. They will build the brand and its success, not the critics. It means many customers put down their deposits knowing very little about the car – but would you?
4. You might not be able to charge it. If you live in a block of flats without a garage then at present you are looking at street charging or stopping at a Supercharger on your way to work. Not ideal. Not the Model 3's fault, as such, although a petrol car wouldn't have this drawback.
5. The wait might be too long. Put yourself on the waiting list with a 1,000 USD deposit and you could be driving a Tesla Model 3 by mid-2018, provided Tesla meets its production targets. So the Model 3 is not a 'people's car' just yet – but with its first steps, it does do a very good impression of being one in the near future.