Tesla has amassed a sizable cadre of diehard fans, and the circumstances surrounding the recently introduced Model 3 illustrate the automaker’s enviable position within the industry. Long before the first Model 3 rolled down the production line, Tesla gave buyers the option of reserving the car with a $1,000 deposit. So far, the company has taken nearly 400,000 orders for the Model 3, and many of these were placed before the car was available for viewing or a test drive.
The love affair between car shoppers and the Tesla brand first blossomed with the Model S. This car was last year’s best-selling full-size luxury sedan, outpacing favorites like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series. When it was first introduced back in 2012, the Model S offered more than double the driving range of some electric cars. This helped make it a practical choice for those who love the eco-friendly aspects of electric driving but hate the range anxiety that can often be part of the experience.
With the Model 3, Tesla gives shoppers more of the same, but in a smaller and more affordable package. This luxury car has a compact footprint and a base price less than half that of its larger sibling. Tesla’s aim with the Model 3 is to provide an affordably priced electric car offering the quality and luxury that has made the brand a household name.
Below, we take a look at eight great traits of the 2018 Model 3… and we also discuss a major shortcoming you should keep in mind before reserving one of these new Teslas.
#1: Huge 15-inch touchscreen
Automotive technology features have evolved and become more upscale in recent years; this even applies to vehicles in the market’s more modestly priced segments. This endlessly rising tide makes it harder for automakers to truly wow car shoppers with their tech offerings.
The “wow” factor is pretty high with the Tesla Model 3’s 15-inch touchscreen. The screen is more than twice as big as the screens offered on some rivals, and it gives the cabin a thoroughly modern look and feel.
The Model 3’s touchscreen serves as the interface for most of this Tesla’s functions. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your preferences.
A 15-inch touchscreen is standard on all Model 3 sedans.
#2: Futuristic cabin design
When many of us ponder the future, we think about a world in which less is so much more. Whether it’s a home, a car, or a device, many of the most forward-looking items have a radically minimalist look and feel.
This lean approach to form and function is exactly what you get with the Model 3’s cabin design. There is a striking absence of buttons and knobs, and you’re required to tap a giant touchscreen to access most of the car’s key features. The cabin’s appearance is elegant and clean, though some may find it to be a bit austere.
The Model 3’s interior looks and feels like science fiction, and this will no doubt appeal to a certain swath of car shoppers.
#3: Impressive lineup of standard features
Some cars can be stingy with their standard equipment. This is true even in the high-dollar luxury segment.
With the Model 3, you get a respectable range of standard amenities. Base models are equipped with features such as dual-zone automatic climate control, LED headlights and taillights, remote climate control using the Tesla app, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and forward collision mitigation.
This represents decent value for the Model 3’s $35,000 starting price.
#4: Thrilling handling
Many of the earliest mainstream electric cars weren’t exactly engaging in terms of handling and performance. That was the price paid for driving a car that’s clean and green.
Thankfully, the segment has evolved a lot since then, and this is evident in the Model 3’s driving dynamics. The car is nimble and responsive enough to keep you entertained on open roadways. It’s also quite quick. Tesla reports the Model 3 can sprint from 0-60 mph in as little as 5.1 seconds.
#5: Roomy trunk
Utility is sometimes an afterthought with small, modish luxury cars like the Model 3. But with this Tesla, form walks hand-in-hand with function.
The Model 3 melds its modern style with a generous level of cargo capacity. Its trunk provides 15 cu.-ft. of room for your luggage, which is more than you’ll get with some rivals. For example, the Alfa Romeo Giulia delivers just 12 cu.-ft. of cargo space in its trunk.
This makes the Model 3 a good choice for shoppers who value the versatility ample cargo space provides.
#6: Spacious cabin
Small cars usually come with small cabins. In many cases, the most painful aspect of this is cramped second-row legroom.
You won’t have this problem with the Model 3. The car’s seats are generously sized and supportive, and there is good legroom in both rows.
With its relatively spacious cabin and solid cargo capacity, the Model 3 shines as a nice choice for small families seeking clean transportation.
#7: Sleek sheet metal
Every item we own makes a statement about who we are. This is true of the clothes we wear and the cars we drive.
With its sleek sheet metal, the Model 3 makes a thoroughly modern statement. Luxury-car shoppers care about a vehicle’s appearance, and the Model 3 has the kind of exterior that flatters the driver.
#8: Practical driving range
Impractical driving range was the Achilles heel that hobbled many of the earliest electric cars. It was common for models to provide just 80 or so miles of travel between charges.
Tesla’s Model S raised the bar when it comes to driving range, and the Model 3 walks in its big brother’s footsteps. This newest Tesla can travel for up to 310 miles between charges, according to the automaker.
Its generous range makes the Model 3 an easy fit for most lifestyles.
A fatal flaw
With the Model 3, Tesla hasn’t had a problem with demand, but it’s had notable issues when it comes to the supply end of the equation. Thanks to slower-than-expected production, Tesla estimates a delivery timeline of four to 12 months for new Model 3 orders.
And the $35,000 base model that the manufacturer touted when the car was launched has proven to be as elusive as a unicorn. In fact, it has yet to be made; thus far, the only Model 3 cars produced have been those optioned to cost $49,000 or more.
This has everything to do with economics. Base-model versions of the Model 3 are less profitable for Tesla. Company head Elon Musk has revealed that the base-version Model 3 likely won’t be available to car shoppers for several months.
And while we’re on the topic of production issues, there has also been a problem with one aspect of the Model 3’s performance. In tests conducted by Consumer Reports, the car had an unusually long braking distance. Tesla has said it will promptly update the car to correct this issue, and the product ratings company has promised to retest the car when these upgrades have been made.
The Model 3 has a look all its own. With its spartan, forward-thinking design cues, its cabin makes a strong case for minimalism. And the car’s sheet metal is sleek and sporty enough to turn heads.
This Tesla also delivers entertaining handling and zippy acceleration. And there’s useful utility to be had, thanks to the car’s roomy rear seats and big trunk.
Fun, futuristic, and easy to live with, the Model 3 shines as an excellent pick for car shoppers seeking a thoroughly modern alternative.
By: Warren Clarke, NY Daily News