REVIEW: I drove the new Tesla Model 3.

REVIEW: I drove the new Tesla Model 3.

TSLA #Tesla Model 3 China

The new Tesla Model 3 is now available for test drives at several Tesla Showrooms. It was available just an hour from me, so I decided to drive up and give it a spin.

The first Tesla I ever drove was a Model 3 back in 2019 when I first started writing for Teslarati. Since then, I have had the chance to drive the four models in its lineup. The Cybertruck is not yet available near me, but when it is, I’ll be sure to take that for a spin, too.



My expectations going into the drive were pretty standard. I knew that Tesla had changed a lot about the car, and I really do love the new look of the Model 3; it’s sporty and sleek, and just a better aesthetic than what was previously offered. However, looks only go so far, and what I was really interested in was the true performance and interior changes that the new Model 3 equipped.

FIRST THOUGHTS AND INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by the look. I really do like the new front end of the car. It looks sporty and tough and clean, but also it just seems more appealing. I think the legacy Model 3 is a good design, but it was just too generic when comparing it to this option.

The new headlight design is sleek and slim and, from the outside, you truly do think you’re getting into something that is super luxurious. I also loved this color in particular. I usually like white cars, but this Stealth Grey was super clean.

GETTING IN

The new interior is similar to the legacy Model 3 interior, but there are a few noticeable changes. I will say I don’t think I’d ever want to own a car without stalks. I totally understand the removal of things in preparation for Full Self-Driving, but we’re pretty far off from having a fully autonomous vehicle, so I think there should be an option for people to have traditional stalks.

Without them, and without a lot of other things, the interior of this car just feels empty. I am still a firm believer in having some more physical buttons and knobs because things are easier to adjust and are more accessible that way. In my car, I am able to change the climate, adjust which vents are active, and control other features, like my drive mode, with the touch of a button or the turn of a knob. It takes less than five seconds to do so.



In the Model 3, it takes a few touches on the center screen to adjust everything from the mirrors to the steering wheel. To me, it’s too much of a process to perform these simple tasks, and the lack of things to look at is something I personally do not enjoy. I do understand the appeal, though.

Tesla moved from haptics to physical buttons on this new steering wheel, which was an interesting touch. It only took me about three or four turns, or roughly ten minutes, to realize I needed to stop reaching for stalks. I feel like the buttons are super convenient, but there were times I would push the edges or corners, and the signal would not come on.

You have to push the center of the signal button for it to activate, and it also holds that hand captive on that portion of the wheel.

The high-beam button is also where things get dicey. During my drive, someone was attempting to merge over into my lane in front of me. I flashed my lights at him to get over, which he did. But it was more difficult than just flicking a stalk a couple of times.

I totally realize that these are pretty tedious complaints, but I do believe there are some people who would see this as such an inconvenience that it would stop them from buying a car.

A lot of things I liked, including the ventilated seats, the wireless charger, the center console, and the cup holder covers are a sleek touch. Everything felt very high-quality. There was not very much creaking or movement from these parts, which can sometimes be cheap and seem like an inferior quality. This was not the case in this car, I was really impressed with everything.

DRIVING

It is fun to drive an electric car. Every EV I have ever had the opportunity to drive has been more fun than a gas version that is similar. The Model 3 is definitely an improvement from its legacy build, and I was impressed by the suspension feel, the cabin noise reduction, and the overall ride quality in general.

I started on a four-lane highway that featured stoplights to test how it felt in traffic. It was as you’d expect. Where I really wanted to test it was on backroads in Pennsylvania, which there are plenty of. This is where the most fun driving is done, at least in my opinion.

I took it on some windy and tight backroads and it hugged the corners super well. The suspension kept the car feeling sporty and capable during some of the curves. I tried to push the car as much as I could responsibly, and it passed with flying colors. I will say there are only a handful of vehicles that have given be this amount of confidence when taking turns with some speed, one of them being the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Even the updated Model 3 outperformed the Mustang Mach-E, which was one of the most fun driving experiences I have had in recent memory.

I had a Rear-Wheel-Drive version of this car, and it was missing that truly face-melting instant torque that I have had in other cars, especially the Long Range All-Wheel-Drive and Performance configurations that I’ve driven in the past.



For me, I don’t drive super fast. I was in a couple of car accidents in high school as a passenger, and they taught me to be more responsible on the road. I know when I have to drive with some aggressiveness and with some speed, and it is not often. However, this configuration was just not enough pep for me. If I were to make an order, I’d be going a step up.

OTHER THOUGHTS

A couple of things worth mentioning are the rear legroom, the rear touchscreen, trunk and frunk space, and the road noise.

REAR LEGROOM

I am 5′ 8″, and I did not move the driver’s throne when I decided to hop in the backseat to see how much room there was.

There wasn’t much, and I don’t know if I could see myself being strong enough or patient enough to make it more than a few hours with such little space to move.

For a sedan, it’s pretty understandable to have limited space. You will be stuck in this generic position for most of the ride, but the back is definitely more suitable for children.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Tesla did a good job of improving some of the parts of the Model 3 with this update. The sleek and sporty exterior look is great, the amount of noise in the cabin was excellent, and the suspension and ride comfort were top notch.

Were there things I wish were different? Yes. Absolutely. I wish stalks were still a thing, I wish changing climate control settings and other things that are commonly adjusted throughout the course of a drive were more easily accessible.

Do I think this is a mini Model S? It’s tough to say. Personally, the interior of this car makes me feel like I’m not getting much for the price. I didn’t feel blown away by the inside of the car from an aesthetic perspective. It just felt too minimalistic, and I’ve liked driving other Teslas more than this.



“Would I trade in my current car for this one?” is the question I ask myself when I have the opportunity to drive other vehicles. I did not get that impression from the Model 3. In fact, the Model X and Model Y are the only two cars I’d even remotely consider at this point from Tesla, but there are a few reasons for that.

  1. I prefer an SUV or something with more interior space than I truly need,
  2. I drive my car on the beach every year; I wouldn’t sacrifice that privilege for a sedan that doesn’t blow me away in every aspect,
  3. The minimalism truly is a major turn off for me. I liked the stalks, the display behind the steering wheel in the Model X and S, and more things to look at

Did Tesla improve this car? Yes. Was it the best EV I’ve ever driven? No. But it’s also the entry-level Tesla, and if you want more, you have to pay more, or settle for another car. It is unrealistic to expect this vehicle to check off all the boxes at this price. Is it a good car for a first-time/young driver? Absolutely. It is something I’d consider if I drove an hour to Baltimore or 45 minutes to Harrisburg for work. As someone who works from home and spends a limited amount of time behind the wheel, it would not be my first choice. But, it’s still a great car.

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