I have seen the light. I wasn’t entirely convinced by Tesla’s business model, but after spending a week on the new Model 3, I was on the train driven by Elon Musk.
When I drove the Model S two years ago, I adored it but the asking price was shy of €100,000 and I couldn’t get that astronomical number out of my head all week.
Every time someone asks me about a Tesla since that week of testing in December 2019, I’ve been happy with the lyrical wax, but it always came with the six-digit caveat.
As anyone who reads my reviews knows – value for money is my top priority. Give me a Kodiaq on the X7 any day of the week. I’m serious.
So, with that in mind, I approached my test review last week with caution. Tesla has finally made a car that is (relatively) affordable and still looks good.
But will they have to strip it of supply to reduce the asking price to €50,000? That was my dilemma before I got behind the wheel of this pearl white Model 3.
First impressions don’t matter much in this type of business. I find some cars grow on me while others disappoint me gradually over the course of the week. But I rarely sit in a car and get a real sense of excitement and bewilderment.
Cars regularly claim to have the option of white leather seats but no other manufacturer on the planet can boast this level of white. Think of Ross Geller’s white teeth levels. They’re vegetarian too, and that’s just another way to prove that Musk is a genius.
And there are no buttons, knobs, dials, or toggles to hold. Just a great big steering wheel and a bigger touch screen. This is. The rest is storage.
The screen itself is a massive 15-inch (for context, the largest iPad you can buy is 12.9-inch) and includes every feature, service, security precautions, and gimmick you could possibly want. When the key was handed over (a credit card-sized device in your wallet) the Tesla team told me to “give it a few days” to get used to the controls, and I totally understand why they said it.
Windshield wipers require touching the screen twice instead of the usual clicking of the lever behind the steering wheel. Accessing the radio requires two touches as well; As do most controls.
But as the days and miles of driving increased during my week, it became more and more normal. By day seven, as I was emotionally driving this beauty to the showroom, I found myself not even looking at the screen to engage things. Muscle memory was already galloping.
Speaking of memory, it will take a long time and a lot of amazing cars to forget this week of testing. So much about it was fun, interesting and exciting. Several friends and neighbors have asked me for a quick tour and I was too happy to oblige. When I was working I was thinking about my next drive.
The reason is that behind all of Tesla’s tricks and fun features, there is now a really cool car. An actual car that will take you from A to B in a safe and comfortable way. Even with a full load (three kids could easily be put in the back) it was safe and comfortable.
Torque and top speed are two of the most important selling points of any electric vehicle. So much so that early Teslas had a “Ludicrous” driving mode to give you the feel of a rocket launch (just what you need in bumper-to-bumper traffic throughout the school).
Nowadays, it’s just the normal driving modes but don’t think this is a slouch in any way. You can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds and the top speed is 233 km/h. And it’s rooted on the road at any speed thanks to the weight of the battery so you never feel like you’re losing control.
The Long Range Edition of the Model 3 comes with an estimated range of 580 km and, like every electric vehicle on the market, is calculated during a closed test so you can be sure it was run by the thinnest of their test drivers. So realistically you should only aim for 500-520 km, but until then you’re talking about one of the longest ranges in the industry at the moment.
Which is why I believe this latest model will be a huge game changer for Tesla. Now that you can buy one for just over €50,000, you’re putting it in the same category as popular new electric cars like the ID.4, EV6, Enyaq and Ioniq 5.
All large family cars with good ranges and prices range from 50 to 60 thousand euros. Even the short-range Model 3 (rear-wheel drive) can offer around 400 km in range, which is incredible when you consider that the asking price is less than 50,000 euros.
It’s a cliché but… the future is now. I am a full member of the converts.
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