The Tesla P90S converted me into an electric car fan or more accurately a Tesla electric car fan. The rush I got from driving the P90S was comparable to many of the supercars and hypercars I have driven over the past few years. That may sound rather nutty but the pure thrill of acceleration from a Tesla is a pure adrenaline rush. This past week I got the opportunity to spend some quality time with a Tesla 3 and man oh man was it a fun experience. A few years ago I got to look after the Tesla 3’s older brother the Tesla P90 which was a total driving revelation. The tesla 3 is a smaller version of the P90S and quite a bit cheaper, however the fun factor remains an all-time high.
When my friend asked me if I wanted to test drive his Tesla 3 for a week in return for dropping him off at the airport I was very excited. We took the Tesla onto the upper levels highway in North Vancouver. The old familiar rush from accelerating the Tesla P90S came flooding back. I simply wanted to go faster and faster. The autopilot system was still in its infancy when I looked after the P90S so I was curious and honestly a little nervous to try the autopilot in the Tesla 3. I engaged the autopilot and kept my hands close by the steering wheel as is required in the event I needed to take control once again. It was a surreal and unnerving experience not having my hands on the steering or my foot on the accelerator. The Tesla 3 duly slowed down when a car merged ahead of us and then when that car turned off the highway the Tesla 3 returned to the predetermined speed limit of 90km. My friend then suggested commanding a lane change, so I clicked on the left indicator and the Tesla 3 duly changed lanes. I marvelled at the ingenuity behind this technology, however for the energy required to sit at attention waiting to take control of the Tesla in case the autopilot failed or a dangerous situation arose was mentally exhausting. No doubt one would become accustomed to the system over time. My friend uses it all the time on his long work commute. If I owned a Tesla I am not sure how much I would rely on the autopilot system, then again perhaps I am just being a luddite.
I dropped my friend off at the airport and the Tesla 3 was all mine for a week. I think I would be getting lots of speeding tickets if I owned this car. The instant response from the 4 motors on each wheel coupled with the small size of the car literally rockets you down the road. Most supercars have double clutch gearboxes that make gear shifting seamless, but the torque of an electric car just keeps on pushing you down the road. Driving the Tesla 3 does require you to adapt your driving style especially when using the regenerative braking system. It does take time to master using the deceleration by simply getting off the throttle and only using the brake pedal at the last moment. On my way to squash I was surrounded by Tesla 3’s, P90’s and X models and it was interesting to watch some drivers applying brakes when lifting off the throttle would have been easier. The instant acceleration also gives me more confidence merging onto highways, or generally merging into any traffic. My day to day driver is an old Toyota Camry that does not have great pickup which makes me more cautious when joining a highway or going for a gap in traffic, it simply does not have the instant response of the Tesla 3.
Electric power aside one of my favourite aspects of the Tesla 3 is the Spartan nature of the cabin. The so called modern car cockpit is festooned with multiple screens, numerous dials and buttons that clutter up the drivers space. Ferrari is notorious for sticking dials and buttons all over the cabin making the driver perform mental gymnastics to operate some of the basic functions of the car. Stepping into the driver’s seat of the Tesla 3 one is immediately struck by the uncluttered nature of the cabin. There is no cluster of gauges or a driving screen in front of the driver, no mass of controls for the environmental controls, or the infotainment console, instead Tesla has embraced minimalism and provided a single 15 inch touchscreen. It is a little jarring having the touch screen in the center of the dash as opposed to having a screen in front of the driver, however over time you do get used to this placement. The touch screen itself is easy to navigate around, it reminded me of my iPad. My friend has his screen split into a lane alert section which shows your car and others surrounding you which is very useful. I found I relied more on this system as the mirrors on the Tesla 3 are very small with heavy tinting which blocked my vision at night making them quite ineffective. The other section of the screen is devoted to navigation projecting a constant moving map. The speed of the car is displayed at the top of the screen along with battery life.
I am huge fan of glass roofs, I love the panoramic glass roof in the Ferrari FF and Ferrari Lusso. My friends Tesla 3 also has a glass roof which allows for an airy and well-lit interior. The slope of the roofline could make taller (over six foot) rear seat passengers slightly uncomfortable. On the other hand front and rear seats can be heated individually. The front cabin sports dual zone climate controls, a feature that my wife fully appreciated as she is often cold and I am boiling hot. Without an engine the interior of the cabin is whisper quiet, the only thing you can hear is the occasional whine of the electric motors. Another bonus of not having an engine is lots of luggage space both in the trunk and the front. The tesla 3 a great car to take to shops, you can pile a hoard of groceries into both trunks.
So what the range and charging up your tesla. As with a gas powered car range is partly dependant on how enthusiastic you are with right foot. With judicious use the Tesla 3 could get you 400km possibly even more if you were incredibly disciplined. Battery life is optimal when the battery is heated, so winter will degrade your charging radius. Charging stations are plentiful in Vancouver and the on-board map can plot you towards the nearest station. Tesla supercharger stations are always going to be best but sadly there are not enough around. A Tesla supercharger station will charge your Tesla in an hour. The medium chargers most station will take several hours for a full charge. People who have a garage can install a charger on the wall which costs around $1500 and simply plug in their cars overnight. Battery charging remains the most challenging aspect of electric vehicle ownership.
The other day I drove three Tesla models in the space of an hour. The Tesla P90 and the Tesla X are much larger vehicles compared to the Tesla 3 which a small and nibble car. The tesla 3 is a cheaper option though the base starts at $56,000 in Canada. The model I tested cost $80,000 so not a cheap car by any means, however the exhilaration I got from driving it makes it worth the money in my mind. That is without even trying the Ludicrous mode. The Tesla 3 my friend has can do 0-100 km in 3.4 seconds which is supercar quick. It was exciting to get behind the wheel of a Tesla 3 if only for a few days. The instant torque is an adrenaline rush that I have yet to get used to but I would love the opportunity to find try. I still love my supercars but they could take a lesson from the Tesla 3 minimalist interior. I am definitely looking forward to the 2 seat Tesla roadster. Bring on the electric car revolution.