2022 Tesla Model 3 RWD Australian Review

Keen on a new Tesla Model 3? Discover what it’s really like to own one as we put the nation’s best-selling electric vehicle through its paces.

Despite the arrival of several new competitors, Tesla sold more than 12,000 Model 3s in 2021, sealing its dominance in the electric vehicle market.

Here are five things you need to know about the rear wheel drive Tesla Model 3.

1. New name (mostly) same car

The Model 3 is the only Tesla Model currently on sale in Australia and comes in three variants. It’s the most expensive model we tested here, a car that was formerly known as Standard Range Plus but is now simply called rear-wheel drive.

As the name suggests, it only drives the rear wheels using a single electric motor. The other two models – Long Range and Performance – each get a second electric motor to drive the front wheels, and in the process bring a hefty dose of extra speed.

The changes are for Tesla faithful (there’s no shortage) and include mildly modified taillights. In true Tesla form, most changes affect software and technology.

2. High prices

The Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive sells for about $70,000 at a short drive, which is $4,000 more than it was earlier in the year.

Compared to the Standard Range Plus, the RWD gets a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats (including the center seat).

Other standard equipment includes a power steering, front seats, and a panoramic glass roof (there’s no hood, so things can get steamy on a sunny day).

There’s also a crystal-clear camera with front, rear and side views as well as Tesla extras like built-in arcade games and Sentry Mode, a security measure that uses cameras to record activity around the vehicle.

3. It’s slower, but still fast

Tesla does not quote power numbers but in certification of the vehicle for sale, the company listed its peak output as 208 kW. There is clean traction at any speed.

The updated Model 3 allegedly takes 6.1 seconds to reach 100 km/h and our testing showed it took 6.3 seconds. Although this is slower than before, you will be hard pressed to choose it.

RWD has a great truck and we found it to be a bit faster than the old model from 60 to 100 km/h. It’s also faster than its two main competitors, the single-engine (two-wheel drive) Kia EV6, Polestar 2, and Hyundai Ioniq 5.

The declared range has increased from 448 km to 491 km and is also fast charging. You’ll add about 50 km/h of range using a home wall box with single-phase wires or up to 1,000 km/h using a Tesla Supercharger.

4. Get ready to relearn the controls of the car

Driving a Tesla requires some reprogramming.

The giant 15-inch touchscreen that disassembles the simple instrument panel and houses most of the functions, from infotainment and mapping to opening the glove box, luggage compartment and bonnet (or “frunk” as Tesla calls it). But they are all self-evident and quickly become second nature.

Some functions make traditional cars look old. You can pair your phone as the key, for example, and that’s all you need to drive the car.

There is no start button, instead the car recognizes the weight on the driver’s seat and the proximity of your phone until it becomes active.

5. It’s good to drive

For all its buzz and electric-only driving, the Model 3 does a lot of the normal car stuff surprisingly well.

The integrated steering wheel matches its direct responses. The suspension is strong but not contrasting and the 18-inch Michelin tires provide grip. You’ll feel the bumps, especially when they come in quick succession, but the body is well controlled, so there is a sense of security.

The biggest hit us is the aggressive regenerative braking, which cannot be adjusted. But since Tesla is so hot about over-the-air software updates — adding infotainment or changing driving functions is as easy as updating your smartphone — there’s every chance it could change in the future.

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