Tesla Model 3 First Drive

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Tesla Model 3 First Drive

Having spent five days with Tesla’s new mainstream all electric vehicle, the Tesla Model 3, I’m overwhelmingly impressed. With a starting price of $35,000, or at least eventually starting at that price, this should bring a relatively affordable, all electric, long range automobile to market. Currently, only the higher priced premium trims are available to purchase. Elon Musk allegedly stated if they were to begin production of the base model right now, it would cost about $38k. Higher than the announced $35k starting price announced back in 2016.

The trim I drove was the Long Range, Rear Wheel Drive model. Solid black exterior, black leather premium interior, and the aero wheels. With a range of 310 miles, the battery capacity is on par with your typical gas tank equipped vehicle. Charging the car to about 90%, which is recommended for daily driving, nets you 279 miles instead of 310. But this is still more than enough range for the average driver. Charging to 100% takes a considerable amount of time and is really only necessary for longer road trips.

Model 3 Dash

Model 3 Dash

The Car

The driving experience of the Tesla Model 3 is truly unique. Comparing it to any ICE car I’ve experienced is basically not fair. Sitting down in the driver seat, the only display in the car is the center mounted 15″ LCD touchscreen. Some people found this polarizing and too different for comfort during the initial announcement, including myself, but after experiencing it, I quickly preferred this setup. Visibility out of the windshield is considerably more than vehicles with gauge clusters. Glancing over to the right is something I’m used to with my own car so there was basically no adjustment period.

The Tech

The technology in the car is definitely the number one reason to buy one. Since the Tesla Model 3 launched back in 2017, many over the air (OTA) updates have been released. Some of the early updates added back basic functionality like an FM radio tuner. In the past few months, the version 9 software and autopilot improvements have taken center stage. New features such as Navigate on Autopilot are now available, and there’s an Atari arcade that lets you play mini games from the center display.

One neat feature of the car is Summon, which turns the Model 3 into a 2 ton RC car. It’s limited to forward and backward for only a few feet but according to tweets from Elon, it should be gaining more advanced features very soon.

Tweaks to the core driving experience can also be updated over the air. Aspects such as braking distance and stronger regenerative braking to put back more power into the battery have been applied without a need to visit a service center or dealership.

The Fun

Above all else, the Model 3 is insanely fun to drive. Electric vehicles with their instant torque where you can stomp on the accelerator at any time and be pushed back into your seat never gets old. Elon said himself Tesla makes cars that are fun to drive. I agree wholeheartedly and cannot wait until I purchase my own.

Model 3 Charging

Model 3 Charging

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