Editor's OpinionEditor's Opinion

My Initial Impressions on the Model 3

I took delivery of my new Model 3 about a week ago and I am thoroughly impressed.

The Model 3 is an amazing car. First, the car looks and feels like a Tesla. I’m glad that they kept many of the exterior design features of the Model S as the Model 3 looks like a slightly smaller Model S. Driving the cars feels like vintage Tesla. Instant torque, seamless acceleration, and great handling. In fact, since the Model 3 is a smaller car, it handles curves much more adeptly than its big brother the Model S. Under 60mph, the Model 3 is a much more fun and nimble car to drive. At the end of every day this past week I was left thinking, “Wow! This is a great car!”

The interior of the Model 3 is the future of Tesla interior design. I personally think they nailed the interior design and it feels great inside. The seats feel great. The simplicity in design is stunning. I was quickly able to get used to the 15” center screen and wasn’t bothered by the lack of a driver console screen. Some people online have complained about how some of the functions work on the 15” screen, but I know all of the software can and will be improved upon. What they have right now is a fantastic start and is more than capable.

Most importantly, I don’t feel like I’m driving a “budget” Tesla. From the delivery experience all the way to the actual driving, I feel like it’s a real Tesla and not a compromised vehicle. For Tesla to fit a 75kWh-ish battery pack (that goes over 300 miles per charge) into this car at this price point is quite amazing. And for the car to drive like it does is also amazing. I don’t think there’s anything in it’s price point that can compete with it. Tesla has not only succeeded in it’s mission to release a stellar mass market electric car, but they also have created a car that is in a class all to its own. Hats off to the entire Tesla team for a job well done.

The Model 3 does have its share of quirks and challenges. For example, cabin noise is noticeably louder in the Model 3 than in my 2013 P85. I used a sound meter app on my iPhone and on the same stretch of 5 mile freeway, my Model S averaged 71dB while my Model 3 averaged 73dB. So, about a 2dB sound difference. While it’s not a huge difference, it is noticeable. Also, the Model 3 does have a firmer ride than the Model S so one can feel the bumps in the road more. Further, there are numerous minor gripes I have about the car. The backup camera is grainy and poor quality (I’m hoping they can fix this via a software update but I’m unsure). The doors on my Model 3 are difficult to close. I think it’s partially because the doors don’t have the same weight as the Model S doors, so the doors need a lot more force to close. But I’m constantly re-closing doors. The trunk at least on my car is a pain to open and close. It’s as if it lacks lubricant and is difficult to open and close. I really wish they would have made the Model 3 as a hatchback like the Model S. This would have provided a lot more cargo space and would have been a much better design choice in my opinion. Another complaint I have is my car keeps turning on with a loud sound when I pass by my garage door inside my house (due to the phone BLE proximity feature). So, I frequently hear a loud “clicking” sound of my car turning on when I’m inside my house. I’m not sure how they will be able to fix that. Also, the rear visibility is very poor since the rear dash was designed to be higher to make the trunk opening larger. It makes it where sometimes it’s difficult to see the car right behind you if you look back.

However, I think it’s easy to err on majoring on the minors and lose the bigger picture. Many of the minor issues with the Model 3 will be fixed and improved on over time, and they are not deal breakers. Rather, they are to be expected for a first year model of a completely new car. But what Tesla has done is nothing short of incredible. They’ve managed to create a car that will crush the competition and will be in reach to millions of people. What we see now is just the tip of the iceberg. Once more people get their hands on the Model 3, they will not want any other car in its class. They won’t be able to stop thinking about the car. I think it’s the most exciting consumer product since the launch of the original iPhone.

Tesla has defied the skeptics and has completed their initial mission. And now they have an amazing core product that they can improve over time. What you see in the Model 3 is just the beginning. Tesla will relentless innovate and bring efficiencies and improvements to the Model 3. The range, performance and value will surely increase over time. One example is with the huge amounts of batteries Tesla’s gigafactories will be making, this will drastically bring cost efficiencies due to scale but also spur increased research and development to improve cell chemistries and even improved forms of energy storage over time. Tesla’s charging team will continue to work to improve supercharging speeds. Tesla’s Autopilot team will continue to improve its software until they can reach fully autonomous driving. And Tesla will introduce AI and robotics that will drastically revamp and reshape how auto manufacturing is done. Tesla will continue to improve their service and sales. And the hundreds of teams inside Tesla will continue to work toward making their products better. The core of Tesla is now the Model 3 (and the upcoming Model Y). The Model 3 is the car that will bring Tesla cars in masse to the public and to the world. And it will be the car that will provide the finances for Tesla to become profitable and to fund the multitude of other projects they have in the works.

If the Model 3 is this good right now, I can’t imagine what it will be like in 10 years.

DaveT, Editor (subscribers: 3632)