45 minute test drive of dual motor performance - first impressions

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artsci

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#1
Today I had one of the first test drives at the Owings Mills Maryland store/service center of the dual motor performance Model 3. As there was no one scheduled around me, I was behind the wheel for a about 45 minutes, so I was able to experience the car on a wide variety of roads and in a variety of conditions, from interstates and winding country roads, to suburban lanes. Here are my first impressions. Note that I have owned a Model S for more than five years so my impressions are in a sense comparative.

This car clearly has Tesla's DNA in every respect, but it's not a smaller scale Model S. In a number of respects it's better.

It has a much lighter feel and, if it's even conceivable, is more responsive to throttle and steering inputs. When I first engaged drive in the Owings Mills parking lot and touched the throttle, it just jumped ahead, which took me a bit by surprise. And it's even quicker than the Model S and I don't mean just acceleration. A touch on the throttle at any speed generates a nearly instantaneous response.

The ride was impressively good, as good as the Model S air suspension on a smooth road, but on a rough patch of road, not it's not equal but still impressive. No sway, no rocking, tires firmly planted on the ground in almost every road situation. Of course, it's quiet, and impressively so, I would say the equivalent of my extensively soundproofed Model S.

Handling was also top notch. Steering inputs are instantaneous and road feel is impressive. Again, a notch above my Model S.

The large single touchscreen takes some getting used to, if you're accustomed to a Model S screens. Tasks that are a single touch on the S are a but more complicated and not nearly as intuitive. But I imagine this has much to do with my inexperience with this new screen's controls. I imagine with a few hours behind the wheel I'll get the hang of it.

In sum, a good way to think of the car is as a luxury go-cart on steroids -- that's the Model 3 dual motor performance.

The Tesla Customer Experience Specialist who accompanied me on the drive, Nichole Neville, was incredibly knowledgeable about the car and the company. When I fumbled with the touchscreen controls she quickly showed me what to do. In every respect she was an expert. Having her along for the ride made it much more productive and enjoyable.

The very best thing she said was when I asked her when I could expect delivery (Tesla indicates an August to October window), she said that none had been delivered yet to Owings Mills and because I was the first to place an order for Owings Mills delivery, my car was very likely to be the first performance version. Cheers!
 

artsci

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#3
@artsci,

Another confirmation of why I ordered this Car! Thanks for the review!

Ski
For a more appropriate set of comparisons, my brother has owned BMW’s for most of his life, mostly 3 series models. I’ve driven most of them, often extensively. In every respect the Model 3 is clearly superior — handling, quickness, responsiveness, road feel, comfort. There’s a new “Ultimate Driving Machine” and it ain’t BMW:)
 

garsh

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...is more responsive to throttle and steering inputs. When I first engaged drive in the Owings Mills parking lot and touched the throttle, it just jumped ahead, which took me a bit by surprise.... A touch on the throttle at any speed generates a nearly instantaneous response.
One thing I hated about my old minivan (and indeed, many modern cars) is that you didn't have good low-speed control of the accelerator. Any slight press of the accelerator resulted in a quick "lurch". It sounds like this *might* be what you're describing, but I'm not sure.

I can put my Leaf in ECO mode, which changes the accelerator mapping to be "less touchy". If I floor it, I still get full power and maximum acceleration. But I have better control during low-speed situations, such as gently coercing the car over the "hump" to get into the garage. That's always been a problem in the minivan. If you tried to gently press the throttle while the wheel was against the hump, you'd more than likely just spin the tires against it, with a wonderful squealing sound to accompany your embarrassment. I'm hoping the 3's accelerator isn't "touchy" like this.
 

Dr. J

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#6
For a more appropriate set of comparisons, my brother has owned BMW’s for most of his life, mostly 3 series models. I’ve driven most of them, often extensively. In every respect the Model 3 is clearly superior — handling, quickness, responsiveness, road feel, comfort. There’s a new “Ultimate Driving Machine” and it ain’t BMW:)
This is very helpful, but what about compared to Model 3 RWD (my personal choice)? Have you had the pleasure of driving that?
 

artsci

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#8
One thing I hated about my old minivan (and indeed, many modern cars) is that you didn't have good low-speed control of the accelerator. Any slight press of the accelerator resulted in a quick "lurch". It sounds like this *might* be what you're describing, but I'm not sure.

I can put my Leaf in ECO mode, which changes the accelerator mapping to be "less touchy". If I floor it, I still get full power and maximum acceleration. But I have better control during low-speed situations, such as gently coercing the car over the "hump" to get into the garage. That's always been a problem in the minivan. If you tried to gently press the throttle while the wheel was against the hump, you'd more than likely just spin the tires against it, with a wonderful squealing sound to accompany your embarrassment. I'm hoping the 3's accelerator isn't "touchy" like this.
I think I perhaps was not clear on that part of my test review. It wasn't a lurch, just split second throttle response. It won't be the kind of problem you described with your old minivan.
 

Bokonon

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#9
I can put my Leaf in ECO mode, which changes the accelerator mapping to be "less touchy".
...
I'm hoping the 3's accelerator isn't "touchy" like this.
I prefer to drive my e-Golf in "Eco" mode for the same reason -- makes the accelerator less sensitive, and makes the car easier to control at lower speeds.

FWIW, when I briefly drove a Model 3, I found that it did not jump from a standstill, but when the car was already in motion, the accelerator seemed a little more sensitive. It could have just been me getting used to the car, but I definitely remember being surprised at the apparent difference in feel as I tried to navigate through a crowded, low-speed area. And that wasn't the Performance version. :)
 

Jrich703

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#10
Yes, but only briefly and in conditions that prevented a full impression. But for the 5 minutes behind the wheel it was very impressive.
The review you provided on your test drive was extremely insightful, especially for those that have yet to get behind the wheel (me) and i for that I thank you!

Now even though you said you have only driven the RWD M3 for 5 minutes -- would you say the higher price tag for the Performance model is worth it / justified...?


BTW -- I'm in Northern VA so I might see you on 495 ;)
 

artsci

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#11
The review you provided on your test drive was extremely insightful, especially for those that have yet to get behind the wheel (me) and i for that I thank you!

Now even though you said you have only driven the RWD M3 for 5 minutes -- would you say the higher price tag for the Performance model is worth it / justified...?


BTW -- I'm in Northern VA so I might see you on 495 ;)
Given how little time I drove the RWD MR, it would not be fair to answer that question. But I have to imagine the handling, ride, and responsiveness is on a par, and only acceleration and top speed are substantially different. I attend many Tesla gatherings in the region. Perhaps we can meet at one of these. It will not be long until the 3's outnumber the S's and X's at the events.

 

Jrich703

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Given how little time I drove the RWD MR, it would not be fair to answer that question. But I have to imagine the handling, ride, and responsiveness is on a par, and only acceleration and top speed are substantially different. I attend many Tesla gatherings in the region. Perhaps we can meet at one of these. It will not be long until the 3's outnumber the S's and X's at the events.
Fair enough -- I will be placing my order this weekend but have been really torn between just going with the RWD or going all out with the Performance.. Maybe the answer to this question might help my decision one or another; Would you be content purchasing the RWD after knowing and feeling the difference in the Performance model?

That would be awesome to attend a TESLA meet-up!
Just let me know when and where.
 

artsci

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You have to understand my personality with cars for my answer. I’m an aggressive driver so the performance version appeals to me enough that I’m willing to pay the extra cost. I faced the same decision about my Model S — 85 or P85? I went with the P. But it’s not at all objective:)

I’ll let you know about the next event — as I’m going on vacation for a few weeks it’s likely to be in the fall.

Rick
 

Drhalo

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Guys, I test drove a Performance Model 3 and an RWD today at the Natick MA Store. My impressions of the performance model are OMFG! I wish this wasn't easily 10K more than the AWD Non-P as I have to tell you folks that going from 15 MPH to 70 was mind numbing literally. I could feel myself going blurry when I hit the pedal from 15 MPH. This car absolutely shines if you are rolling and really hit it. I had to back off the pedal at around 60ish as I felt myself getting foggy. Off the line, also quite impressive.

Then I drove the LR RWD version. Very nice, but the acceleration off the line obviously not as impressive as the P. From 20-50 acceleration was nice, but significantly different experience. Overall its fast enough.

On Handling, the P had the larger wheels and handled amazingly, with the RWD model it had the Aeros and I noticed the tires screeching when taking turns at speeds I thought were reasonable. This I'll have to really watch once I get my hands on the AWD non-P.

All in all, if you can afford the P go for it. I personally cannot justify the extra 10K+ for the P although this inspires me to have more ambition in my life so maybe someday 10K won't mean much to me.
 

Bokonon

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Guys, I test drove a Performance Model 3 and an RWD today at the Natick MA Store. My impressions of the performance model are OMFG! I wish this wasn't easily 10K more than the AWD Non-P as I have to tell you folks that going from 15 MPH to 70 was mind numbing literally. I could feel myself going blurry when I hit the pedal from 15 MPH. This car absolutely shines if you are rolling and really hit it. I had to back off the pedal at around 60ish as I felt myself getting foggy. Off the line, also quite impressive.
Then I drove the LR RWD version. Very nice, but the acceleration off the line obviously not as impressive as the P. From 20-50 acceleration was nice, but significantly different experience. Overall its fast enough.
On Handling, the P had the larger wheels and handled amazingly, with the RWD model it had the Aeros and I noticed the tires screeching when taking turns at speeds I thought were reasonable. This I'll have to really watch once I get my hands on the AWD non-P.
All in all, if you can afford the P go for it. I personally cannot justify the extra 10K+ for the P although this inspires me to have more ambition in my life so maybe someday 10K won't mean much to me.
Awesome experience! Nice too that you got to compare Performance and RWD back-to-back, so you could really feel out the differences between the two... Thanks for sharing.

Did you have to schedule that test-drive with Natick, or did you just walk into the store? (Dedham still hasn't called me back about my test-drive, so if there's an easier path... :) )
 

Jrich703

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Guys, I test drove a Performance Model 3 and an RWD today at the Natick MA Store. My impressions of the performance model are OMFG! I wish this wasn't easily 10K more than the AWD Non-P as I have to tell you folks that going from 15 MPH to 70 was mind numbing literally. I could feel myself going blurry when I hit the pedal from 15 MPH. This car absolutely shines if you are rolling and really hit it. I had to back off the pedal at around 60ish as I felt myself getting foggy. Off the line, also quite impressive.

Then I drove the LR RWD version. Very nice, but the acceleration off the line obviously not as impressive as the P. From 20-50 acceleration was nice, but significantly different experience. Overall its fast enough.

On Handling, the P had the larger wheels and handled amazingly, with the RWD model it had the Aeros and I noticed the tires screeching when taking turns at speeds I thought were reasonable. This I'll have to really watch once I get my hands on the AWD non-P.

All in all, if you can afford the P go for it. I personally cannot justify the extra 10K+ for the P although this inspires me to have more ambition in my life so maybe someday 10K won't mean much to me.
THIS! Is the kind of review I was looking for -- I've had a reoccurring *nightmare* about pulling up to a red light in my RWD model 3, and a Performance Model 3 pulls along side, it turns greens and I have no chance. I don't know if I can go thru that in real - life :eek:..

Thank you very very much for your review!! I have my Model 3 test drive for next Sunday -- but am seriously considering placing my order this weekend.
 

Drhalo

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Awesome experience! Nice too that you got to compare Performance and RWD back-to-back, so you could really feel out the differences between the two... Thanks for sharing.

Did you have to schedule that test-drive with Natick, or did you just walk into the store? (Dedham still hasn't called me back about my test-drive, so if there's an easier path... :) )
I was in the mall last Thursday and to my surprise they had the 3 on the floor. After I spent about 20 minutes in it they approached me to see if I had a reservation on one and if I had driven one. I told them no and they asked if I wanted to drive one that day or tomorrow. I ended up scheduling for today, but they have tons of availability. They have 3 or 4 model 3's 2P's and or 2 RWD. I would say dont bother with Dedham, they havent been that friendly anyway.
I drove with Shannon and she was awesome.. She even looked in their salesforce system to see if there was any more info on my order. She was able to tell me who my ISA was. I was super happy with her. She was great.
Here's her contact.
Shannon Murphy | Customer Experience Specialist, NorthEast
1245 Worcester Street, Natick, MA 01760
p. (508) 975- 4230 | m. (774) 454-6977 | smurphy@tesla.com
 

Bokonon

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#18
I was in the mall last Thursday and to my surprise they had the 3 on the floor. After I spent about 20 minutes in it they approached me to see if I had a reservation on one and if I had driven one. I told them no and they asked if I wanted to drive one that day or tomorrow. I ended up scheduling for today, but they have tons of availability. They have 3 or 4 model 3's 2P's and or 2 RWD. I would say dont bother with Dedham, they havent been that friendly anyway.
I drove with Shannon and she was awesome.. She even looked in their salesforce system to see if there was any more info on my order. She was able to tell me who my ISA was. I was super happy with her. She was great.
Wonderful! Thanks for those details, I will definitely have to stop by on Monday!
 

Drhalo

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#19
THIS! Is the kind of review I was looking for -- I've had a reoccurring *nightmare* about pulling up to a red light in my RWD model 3, and a Performance Model 3 pulls along side, it turns greens and I have no chance. I don't know if I can go thru that in real - life :eek:..

Thank you very very much for your review!! I have my Model 3 test drive for next Sunday -- but am seriously considering placing my order this weekend.
You will love it. Just do it. Don't get into a drag race with the P you will just feel inadequate. The brakes on the 3 felt a little weird to me. Lightly tapping them there's a ton of resistance, you have to really push the brake hard to get the car to slow down quickly.

Autopilot worked well, but in a turn on the highway the car did take a few liberties by sticking to the outside of the curve.

Ride quality was better than I expected, quieter than I expected (some noticeable wind noise at 70+MPH) and it felt like a solid car. In the end I am feeling much better about plunking down 3500$ on a car I never drove.
 

Gavyne

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#20
Fair enough -- I will be placing my order this weekend but have been really torn between just going with the RWD or going all out with the Performance.. Maybe the answer to this question might help my decision one or another; Would you be content purchasing the RWD after knowing and feeling the difference in the Performance model?
My advice as a RWD owner, if you can afford the P or non-P AWD, do it. Once you've felt the instant torque, and how fast your car jumps when passing a car on the freeway, you are going to crave that feeling more and more. I'm fully satisfied with my RWD, but I'm among those that can't afford the P or non-P AWD. If I could however, I would go back and purchase a P.

There is nothing lacking about the Model 3 RWD, it's simply one of the best cars out there, and currently the best EV choice in U.S. But if you can afford the upgrade, do it. I can almost guarantee if you don't get the P/AWD now, you would regret it later since you could actually afford it.