The Tesla Model 3 is Out – Here are the First Reviews

The hand-over has begun and with that the Tesla Model 3 reviews starting to roll in. The verdict? It’s early but it would seem the Model 3 is is shaping up to be very promising. Here are some excerpts:

Motor Trend

Tesla worked hard to increase interior space, and subjectively it succeeded. For a compact car, the Model 3 feels incredibly light and airy. The dash is pulled ahead and pressed down, but cleverly, the touchscreen is apart from that, close to your right hand. (It was embedded into the Model S’ dash, constraining them to be equidistant.) The Tesla Model 3 has a trunk opening instead of a Model S-like hatch to delete the hatch-required crossmember, which shaves rear headroom. The prototype’s trunk opening was criticized as too small; now it’s yawning. And at 15 cubic feet, with a very low lift-over and 60/40 folding rear seats, it looks hungry for a surfboard or a bike. (Franz assures me of this; he’s a cyclist.) Up front, the frunk is precisely sized to hold a carry-on suitcase. “If it’s too big here,” Franz says, “you’re going to have to check it.” I tap the stalk down into drive, and we arc out onto Mulholland.

Great but how does it drive? Apparently pretty well.

If anybody was expecting a typical boring electric sedan here, nope. The ride is Alfa Giulia (maybe even Quadrifoglio)–firm, and quickly, I’m carving Stunt Road like a Sochi Olympics giant slalomer, micrometering my swipes at the apexes. I glance at Franz—this OK? “Go for it,” he nods. The Model 3 is so unexpected scalpel-like, I’m sputtering for adjectives. The steering ratio is quick, the effort is light (for me), but there’s enough light tremble against your fingers to hear the cornering negotiations between Stunt Road and these 235/40R19 tires (Continental ProContact RX m+s’s). And to mention body roll is to have already said too much about it.

Top Gear had a similar impression:

The overall feeling of peace and quiet is helped by the uncluttered interior but the sound deadening and insulation of the Model 3 is impressive with road noise minimal. The steering is meaty and positive, but beyond that on such a short drive the overall impression was that it delivers a very similar driving experience to the Model S or X and stays true to previous product dynamics.

It’s all begs the question – how much should MINI and BMW worry? For $45k well equipped, Tesla has built an electric car with a 300 mile + range and packed with enviable technology. And perhaps most interesting to all of us is that it may actually drive like a true sports sedan. Perhaps the only issue is availiity. If you order a Model 3 today you’ll be lucky to get it at the end of 2018.

The all electric MINI E will have a lot to live up to when it’s released in 2019.

  • ulrichd

    I like the spartan interior but I am not sure that a large touchscreen display is the best way to interact with your car. How close are we to dependable voice recognition for basic functions such as temp. control? I know the new 5-series has gesture control but it seems to have gotten mixed reviews.

    • Greg

      Not close enough, but you can make a touchscreen interface simple enough to be quick to change settings and not want to do it by voice.

  • Rikki Loades

    I really hope the Model 3 sharpens minds at BMW regarding EV’s. The i3 was a massive missed opportunity. It should have been styled a bit more mainstream and had 4 proper doors. With the Countryman SE, it looks good but they priced it a tad too high and 20 mile battery range is a little too small. Infotainment is well behind what’s available in Tesla or VW’s at the moment.

    I was waiting for a Countryman, and have been planning for about 4 years so far to switch to one. I’ve had 3 mini’s in the past and am a bit of a mini nerd and loved my first R56. However as it stands today if the Model 3 was available in the UK there would be no question i would get that instead. BMW and Mini need to double down and refocus their efforts to bring something desirable to market before the Model 3 is more widely available sometime in 2019. Hopefully the electric mini announced is not just 3 door variant, they will have blown it in my mind if they don’t also do a 4 door.

    • Greg

      As long as they do the 3 door I’ll be happy, because the only reason I’d need a bigger car is to go farther, it’s more useful to more people to have the smaller car be electric for city driving (and parking)

      • Rikki Loades

        Yeah, i totally understand your viewpoint. I however have had a child enter my life in recent years and boy do rear doors make a massive difference when you’ve got one of those :).

  • Nick Dawson

    Will Tesla ever be profitable?

    Tesla posted a narrower-than-expected second-quarter loss Wednesday, boosted by revenue that nearly doubled. The strong revenue was driven by deliveries of its Model S sedans and Model X SUVs, helping to relieve investor concerns that the upcoming Model 3 was cannibalizing sales of its higher-end models.

    Here’s how the company did compared to what Wall Street expected:

    Adjusted loss per share of $1.33 vs. $1.82 expected, according to Thomson Reuters Revenue: $2.79 billion vs. $2.51 billion expected, according to Thomson Reuters

    Tesla’s reported a second-quarter net loss of $336 million, or $2.04 per share, compared to a loss of $293 million, or $2.09 a share, a year ago.

    Ongoing investment into its battery-producing Gigafactory in Nevada, as well as research and development for future models, has led to it accruing losses of $336 million in the three-month period.

    • Rikki Loades

      Sure they will. Given they had 150k pre-orders with $1000 deposit before the car was even seen. Which then grew to over 500k preorders by the time the first deliveries. Then on top of that they have reported getting 1800 preorders per day since the first deliveries.

      Right now they are investing so much its amazing they haven’t had even bigger losses. Assuming the car has a profit margin, the order book alone right now shows that they will eventually be profitable. They are a new company and investing in entirely new products and factories – once they eventually settle down into a iterative product update cycle like other manufacturer’s it will be easier to see.

      • Nick Dawson

        That’s assuming Tesla can deliver on those pre-orders. There is a cost involved in producing additional units, and Tesla is already borrowing heavily. Further more, up until now, Tesla has had it all its own way, but serious competition is looming on the horizon.

        • Rikki Loades

          Totally get you regarding those deliveries. I think it’s more a case of how quickly they deliver them as opposed to whether they can at this point. The production line is there. It’s just how fast it goes. And whether they can make parallel ones.

          As for tesla having it all its way. I’m not so sure. Certain states in the us ban them from being sold because of connections with oil and dealership franchises throwing their toys out of the pram. The subsidies the oil industry gets, tesla don’t get. Sure they got some incentives for building the gigsfactory but it’s peanuts compared to what big oil gets and that’s a established industry. The rest of the auto industry so far is yet to convince me that they can be relevant in the digital age with iPhones, tablets and great software (including over the air updates).

        • Nick Dawson

          Tesla’s pro-union workers say a skipped step with the Model 3 could lead to injuries during ‘production hell’. The real production frenzy won’t start until the fall, when Tesla will begin ramping up Model 3 production from 1,500 sedans a month in September to 20,000 Model 3 cars a month in December.

          Two of the Fremont, California, factory workers calling for a union told Business Insider there could be two potential issues with Model 3 production.

          One is that Tesla skipped a standard trial of the new equipment for Model 3’s assembly line. Unseen issues with new equipment could cause on-site injuries, the pro-union workers say, which has been an issue for Tesla in the past.

          The second possible issue is, even if the assembly line runs smoothly, Tesla is still contending with its biggest order to date. Two workers Business Insider spoke with said they worry Tesla will employ excessive mandatory overtime to meet the deadline, which also contributed to above-average workplace injuries at the Fremont plant.

          http://uk.businessinsider.com/tesla-union-problems-possible-model-3-delays-2017-8

        • Jon A

          Not to mention how many of those people will hang on once Tesla blows past the incentive volumes and the tax credits go away. They might become less attractive in this regard.

        • Nick Dawson

          Elon Musk says people are canceling Tesla Model 3 orders because it’s like an “hour-and-a-half wait for hamburgers”

          http://uk.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-tesla-model-3-cancellations-hamburgers-2017-8

      • Nick Dawson

        According to Business Insider UK, “Tesla will survive – but still won’t rule the electric-car future”.

        http://uk.businessinsider.com/tesla-will-survive-but-still-not-rule-the-electric-car-future-2017-7

  • Nick Dawson

    Nissan will use the platform of its next-generation Leaf to produce additional electric models, as it bids to offer a more comprehensive range of zero-emission vehicles. Nissan’s electric line-up currently includes the Leaf, the e-NV200 Combi people carrier and e-NV200 van, but a recent patent suggests it will soon gain an SUV model called the Terra, which is expected to share its structure and drivetrain with the 2018 Leaf.

    The production Terra will use Nissan’s vastly improved second-generation Leaf electric drivetrain, which is predicted to offer a range of up to 340 miles – more than double that of the first-gen car. The gains will come thanks to new battery pack options that will enable Nissan to sell its models in a variety of specifications. It could integrate an additional rear-drive powetrain to make it all-wheel drive.

    The largest battery on offer with the Leaf is predicted to double the 30kWh lithium ion pack found in the highest-spec version of the current car. The use of such a battery in the Terra would give it a headline range figure of more than 300 miles. Lower variants will trim range for a cheaper starting price, broadening the car’s appeal and helping it to rank close to the Model 3 and its expected sub-£40k price tag.

    Nissan’s plan to spawn more models off of its upcoming Leaf platform mirrors a strategy to be used by fellow electric car maker Tesla, who will build its future Model Y Crossover off of the Model 3’s base, helping to drastically reduce development costs for the second model.

    • Greg

      The most efficient electric cars right now can do around 120MPGe, don’t expect that efficiency to go up by much between generations, so the Terra will need to more than double that battery pack to get this kind of range. With current battery and car dynamics, you need a 95.5kWh battery to hit 340 miles. Next generation tech could lower that to about 90kWh but not much lower.

      With the new information that Tesla released about the range of the Model 3, I expect a 60kWh battery pack in the base model, and a 85kWh battery pack in the bigger capacity version, if they manage to do slightly better than 120MPGe.

    • WheelNut

      Have you seen the recent spy shots of the new Leaf? It’s just the old Leaf- odd, which means the typical buyer is going to pass it over. Just like the current Leaf or BMW’s i3. The Terra might actually sell though. The Model 3 has people in a frenzy to buy one because its image is associated with wealth and prestige. That is precisely why it will be a smash success. Marketing and image is absolutely more important than product (the Model 3 might be a good product too).

      • Nick Dawson

        The 2018 Nissan Leaf will come with a 148hp electric drivetrain, according to information leaked ahead of its 6 September reveal.

        Specifications posted on automotive media and marketing site Autobytel last night -which have subsequently been removed – suggested that the new Leaf will have about 40hp more than the outgoing model. They also showed that the car will have a 40kWh battery; 10kWh higher than the current one’s largest option.

        Although unconfirmed by Nissan, the information backs suggestions that the new Leaf will have substantially more range. It is predicted to be capable of 340 miles on one charge – more than double that of the old model.

        Along with the improved drivetrain, this range improvement will have been possible as a result of the car’s more slippery exterior. Its styling, which is completely different from the old Leaf, takes cues from the new Micra. Sorry, the orange one not the white one!https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/83fcd7b4be7b311abda2b3872765ccf62a550be781312847b0ba7c3045d3f50c.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/96527a34317e591924d6dc899495c179eb11ab7a17450403d6e78b7d8a3c0d2a.jpg

  • Nick Dawson

    Tesla CEO Elon Musk has revealed that the Model 3 comes with 50kWh or 75kWh batteries during a conference call for bondholders.

    https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/tesla-model-3-musk-confirms-50kwh-and-70kwh-batteries

    • Greg

      Relative to the numbers I posted further down, that would mean that the Model 3 can manage around 145MPGe, which would make it the most efficient electric car yet, surpassing the i3 with the tiny 22kWh battery (124MPGe) and the Hyundai Ioniq with its equally tiny 28kWh battery (136MPGe), while having about twice the capacity

  • Nick Dawson

    Groundbreaking Mazda Skyactiv-X compression ignition petrol engines ‘cleaner than electric’ vehicles.

    https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/groundbreaking-mazda-skyactiv-x-petrol-engines-be-‘cleaner-electric’