Unhinged performance - The Tesla Model 3 (Performance)
My experience driving the new Tesla Model 3.
Before I start, I know I'm late to the party. We all know when the Model 3 came out, and we all know what it's like. This however, is my personal experience and my own thoughts.
It isn't the prettiest car in the world. It takes a lot of optional extras to make it look like a car worth wanting. The car I drove was a Model 3 Performance, with the: Dual Motors, 20" Satin grey alloys, red brake calipers and a metallic grey paint job. That, ladies and gents is a good looking motor (no pun intended). Now, I was apprehensive at first because I didn't think much to the exterior and I certainly didn't think much to the interior. You have to sit in it to admire it though, the beauty in the lack of instruments and buttons. It screams modernism and I would urge more car manufacturers to take that path. The options for the interior are limited, it mainly consists of technological extras. In terms of aesthetics, it ranges from the dashboard to the seat material and colour and that's it. You'd expect more given the price but, I have to say it's elegant. Simple, but elegant.
The features are excellent. I'm not talking about the car anymore, but the gigantic tablet-style screen you get in the centre console. It oozes gadgets to play with and there's always a new one to find. For example, it has a feature which allows you to play a whoopee cushion prank on a passenger of your choice. Dumb and pointless yes, but hours of laughter. You can actually log into your Netflix account. I admit, this cannot be accessed or used whilst on the move because it is obviously a huge distraction to the driver. When you're out and about though and you pull into a McDonald's for a cheeky Big Mac, it's the ideal party trick to use to pass the time and entertain yourself. It has a whole toybox (literally, not physically) to mess about with, providing the perfect fun extra to what otherwise looks like a pretty boring car.
Speaking of boring, we have to get on to the performance. This is no ordinary family saloon, it's a monster. It will do 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds when you have the acceleration set to 'Sport' and not 'Chill'. It has a top speed of 162mph, and with the instant torque of the four electric motors this does not go unnoticed. It forces you into your seat like a runaway train, and I'm surprised I came away without a scratch. I did come away with a headache though. Having never driven a purely electric car before I wasn't prepared for what was waiting for me after I hit the accelerator. The torque is instant unlike in any engine-driven car where you have to wait for turbos to spool up or engines to get going. It's light too, it's made from aluminium and the performance pack provides a carbon fibre rear wing. The batteries holding all the electricity are mounted low down in the spine of the car so it has the same centre of gravity as a worm. This means that slinging it round a bend it quite an event.
It's practical too. It has generous seating for five with plenty of legroom for all of your passengers. It has a big boot at the back, and another at the front because it has no engine. This means family holidays are a breeze, you can be in continental Europe by early afternoon. Inside you get a sizeable glove box, and many compartments to store your various accoutrements. I'd love to say that all of them can be opened by voice activation, but only the glove box does that. The door pockets, meaningless I know but they're huge. You could fit a small dog in them.
The technology packed into the car is ridiculous. Lets start with the sound system because it's ludicrous. It has a total of 15 speakers in the car, one of which is a colossal sound bar stretching from pillar to pillar underneath the windscreen. I did a test of this by logging into my Netflix and putting whatever I fancied on, and it was better than being at the cinema. The air conditioning system is leaps ahead of any other brand, only reason being that you can electronically alter the position they release cold/hot air at you. I should add that this is only in the front of the car, but it's so cool. It's controlled via the tablet in the centre console and you can drag the virtual vents about on-screen to suit your height and how aggressive you want it. It's so Star Trek.
As a passenger the experience is similar, minus the adrenaline of driving it. Comfortable, quiet and a truly lovely place to sit. People talk about Volvo's and Rolls Royce being the epitome of interiors but, the Tesla has them stuffed here. You don't need exotic materials and a million different dials to define luxury. It's defined in: space, comfort and noise control and the Tesla tackles all three magnificently. It's most definitely quiet, because it's electric. Its very spacious, much more spacious that you'd believe due to the lack of an engine and drive shaft. My god is it comfortable too, it soaks up pot holes and bumps in the road like they mean nothing to it. It shrugs off bumps and absorbs knocks protecting the inhabitants of the car and giving them a really comfortable ride.
I can hand on heart say that I have never gotten out of a car after driving it, and wanted one more than this. It re-calibrates your mind as to what you think is possible from a car. I can't imagine a Model S or a Model X being much faster than one of these because, that car was staggering. The performance, practicality, comfort, gadgets and everything about the car is breathtaking. This however, is where I come to the shortfall of the Model 3.
The equivalent 3 Series BMW is £33,000, give or take. This is going off of equipment, materials, build quality etc and not performance. Your equivalent for power is more along the lines of a Jaguar F-Type, which I admit is more expensive brand new. For what you got on the Model 3 in terms of equipment and where it sat in the range I was expecting it to cost somewhere between £30,000-£40,000 but, the car I drove specifically is in the region of £58,000. Do I think this is worth the price? Not entirely, but getting into the nitty gritty of the technicalities of it you can see why it would be worth that, if not more. That's what makes it brilliant though, it looks so innocent.
It's like a little puppy in the world of Bulldogs and German Shepherds. You would never expect what it's capable of just my looking at it, but when you're sat behind the wheel you have the equivalent of 450bhp to play with. This is the true party piece of the Model 3.
Yes it's expensive, but I want one more than I want both of my lungs. This is coming from a die-hard petrol head and that, ladies and gentlemen is the god honest truth.
The future is electric, and I couldn't be more excited.