I Am Model 3 (And So Can You!)

Beaker

Active Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2018
Messages
26
Location
WA
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#1
Long time reader and (now) first-time poster on this forum; I’m also an early post-reveal online reservation holder. In the almost two years since the engineering prototypes were unveiled, I’ve consumed just about every piece of Model 3 related news, tweet, article, review, video, posting, speculation the internet had to offer in anticipation of owning this car. Recently I was beginning to wonder upon which end of the subjective spectrum between “Futuristic: Best. Car. Ever.” to “paint-shaker jarring ergonomic nightmare” I would land. Of course, I’ve been hoping for the former over the past 22ish months, but before dropping $50k on the car, wouldn’t it be great to be sure?

I had previously only sat in stationary showroom S & X and 3 cars, but never before been in a moving Tesla of any kind.

Finally, this weekend, a local owner via Turo enabled me the opportunity to live with a Model 3 for a day. Here’s a report of the experiences of this first time Tesla driver.

The Drive
Believe the hype. Hands down the best car I have ever driven. Feels like driving a laser beam. A brief moment after a deep press of the accelerator pedal, the thrust sinks you into the back of your seat and the peripheral world blurs, kind of like being pushed into the Get Out Sunken Place if that place were actually Automotive Nirvana. Plenty of swell to blast you to freeway on-ramp stardom with a simultaneous Zen balance of control. With the thick and Goldilocks-diameter steering wheel set in sport mode, nothing beyond it but an unobstructed view of the road ahead, and zero engine noise about, the car itself almost disappears.

Handling
Almost equally intoxicating as the acceleration is the cornering. The low heft of the battery made it feel solid and firmly planted. The RWD sensation through a turn was akin to a banked front-car roller coaster curve and the tail snap of a clean carve on a parabolic ski. I’m not an above 7/10th’s kind of driver, and I did not need to push it to get enjoyment. I never sensed I was close to the verge of uprooting the backend.

Suspension
After reports of kidney-punishing coil-over I was a bit concerned about this aspect as my family intends to use this as a daily driver and not a weekend track car. It certainly coveys the nuances of the surface it’s driving on as one would expect from a sport suspension. It is firm but by not vengeful and I found no need to slalom around road blemishes. This car had the 18” aero wheels with the stock tires. I’ve never driven an air-suspension car so maybe I just don’t know what I’m missing. This was the biggest relief I had from the rental. If you commute on cobblestone highways, your experience may vary.

Braking
The regenerative breaking took a bit of getting used to. After only a day with the car I didn’t quite master one-pedal driving technique, but was getting better at it. “Hold Mode” was one of the unexpected surprise joys from the car; who wants to keep his or her foot uncomfortably pressuring the break pedal throughout an entire red light? Not me anymore. No way.

Autopilot
This was my first time with autopilot and still not 100% comfortable giving up control to the car. I tested it on the freeway and first thing I noticed is that I apparently drive way to the right of the lane because it instantly pulled hard left. The first two times I retook control while I figured out that it was likely trying to center itself. After that it worked well in the center lanes. While driving in the righthand lane it felt like it started to veer onto a freeway exit instead of staying straight, so I intervened. This happened again near a different exit and I let it go a bit longer ... it eventually pushed more left to kept me on the freeway. This time it seemed like as the lane I was in widened to the right to split off the exit lane, the logic was still attempting to keep the car in the center of the entire lane instead of keeping aligned to the center of the lane post exit. If had a long daily freeway commute I would consider it, but I think I’ll save the 5k for now and maybe enable in the future.

Exterior
I know almost every review says it looks better it person than it does in photos and that is because this is true. “Sleek” and “Sporty” were the words my family used when seeing it for the first time. I also thought the aero wheels looked better in person. This car was white and in the mid 4k serial numbers and I took a good look and didn’t notice any glaring panel gaps. I also did’t get out the micrometer to quantify. After 80ish miles of driving on damp roads the white paint showed dirt/splash behind the front and rear wheel wells.

Interior Design
One of the early reviews I read likened this car to driving an Eames chair. I don’t think I can sum it up any better than that. Beautifully minimalist.

Ergonomics
My 2010 Prius has a center-ish mounted speedometer and turn signal indicators so not too much of a difference here. With how silent and smooth the car is, I was usually going more than 10 mph faster than I thought; I’m going to need to recalibrate myself. I found the turn signals easy to use after only 20 minutes. Learning all of the menus and functions the one horizontal screen has to offer will take a bit to commit to muscle memory, but not that long. Door handles: no problem.

Another great feature is the distance measured by the ultrasonic sensors displayed in inches on the screen when next to something - no more need to guess back wall proximity when pulling into the garage: 22” every time.

Wipers
Living in the Pacific NW the wiper controls were of significant interest. Since pressing the button on the left stalk wipes once and brings up the wiper panel on the display, it’s not like you have to manually dig through three screens to get there. The auto wipers didn’t quite come on soon enough for my taste, software upgrade opportunity. Also maybe pushing the stalk button and using the right scroll wheel to control wiper speed would be another possibility.

Heated Seats
My wife and I both love heated seats, like almost unhealthy so. These warmed up quickly and got to a nice temp, not quite as scorching as our Subaru, but those are borderline burn hazard. Love the fact that they stay on the same setting as when you last used the car. Maybe the rear seat heaters will be activated by the time we get ours.

HVAC
The air blade style HVAC is really novel. I liked the way the air can flow directly through the steering wheel at the driver. One surprise is how loud it is at medium to high settings, not only in the cabin but a whirring noise outside the car. Maybe all cars are like this but it is just not as noticeable over the ICE engine sounds.

Seats
Seats were much more comfortable than our current cars. The seating position is low and forward, but it felt great once driving. The leatheresque -material was comfy and supportive. The profile saved configurations will be very much appreciated.

Roof
The glass roof is unreal, but will be most appreciated by your rear passengers or in future camper mode. Driving with my son in the back I was hoping he’d be looking upwards and imagining shapes in the clouds, but he seemed most interested in the speed limit sign shown on the display and admonishingly contrasting that with the higher numbers on the speedometer. He also loved the Drawing Easter Egg.

Phone Connectivity
Since this was a rental, didn’t get the chance to use the app for (un)locking, just the card which worked okay but a couple of times took more than 8 seconds to recognize against the B-pillar. Looking forward to using remote preheating. The included phone dock prongs are too short to use with any phone case, but the owner of this car had installed 1 cm aftermarket extender pieces that worked like a charm; he said they were like $7 for a pack of 2 on Amazon. I was able to easily connect my phone for streaming music via Bluetooth, worked great.

Stereo
Played a variety of different music types and all sounded clear and could be played to unreasonably loud decibels without distortion. The virtually nonexistent noise floor of this car allows the details to come through. It didn’t quite create hifi level imaging and soundstage to my ears. I probably could have played more with the EQ settings. Hey Tesla, any chance of getting an updated audio mode option to emulate mid-century hi-fi tube amp mid-range glow?

Leg room
The rear seats have good legroom. There is not enough space underneath the front seats and above the floor to put your feet through. I was able to snug my toes in with just socks on.

Headlights
Super bright and wide field of view.

Trunk/Frunk
Fit all of our luggage.

Benchmark
One weekend prior, my wife and I test drove a Chevy Bolt to have a contrasting EV experience. While both are electric vehicles with over 200 miles range starting around $35k, and that’s about where the similarities end. ICE analogy: the Bolt is a competitor to the Model 3 in the same way a Chevy Cruze Hatchback is a competitor to a BMW 330i.

Conclusion
Any potential doubts I had about continuing to wait were utterly obliterated. I’ve wondered about the future dual motor version, but the first production didn’t really leave me wanting anything performance-wise. But don’t take my word for it...

Recommendation
If you are a reservation holder, I cannot recommend renting a Model 3 highly enough (if available in your area). Reward yourself for waiting the past two years. It will probably be the best money you’ve spent since, well, your deposit. There is no better way to know how this car will measure up against your own expectations.
 

Michael Russo

MSM Team Founder, Midnight S≡R≡NITY rider
Moderator
TOO Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
5,800
Location
Pau, France
Tesla Owner
Model S
Country
Country
#2
Fabulous, extremely detailed & objective review, @Beaker !! Great of you to join and welcome to the forum, with kind regards from afar, across the pond.

Sounds like you’re (more than) convinced and, seen you’re an early reservation holder, you should not have to wait much longer for your dream car...

Guess we’ll be hearing from ya then!!

Take care,
Mike
 

SoFlaModel3

@Teslatunity
Moderator
TOO Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2017
Messages
9,770
Location
Florida
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#3
Autopilot
This was my first time with autopilot and still not 100% comfortable giving up control to the car. I tested it on the freeway and first thing I noticed is that I apparently drive way to the right of the lane because it instantly pulled hard left. The first two times I retook control while I figured out that it was likely trying to center itself. After that it worked well in the center lanes. While driving in the righthand lane it felt like it started to veer onto a freeway exit instead of staying straight, so I intervened. This happened again near a different exit and I let it go a bit longer ... it eventually pushed more left to kept me on the freeway. This time it seemed like as the lane I was in widened to the right to split off the exit lane, the logic was still attempting to keep the car in the center of the entire lane instead of keeping aligned to the center of the lane post exit. If had a long daily freeway commute I would consider it, but I think I’ll save the 5k for now and maybe enable in the future.
Great first post! You have a point here that I literally made to my wife yesterday. To quote “it’s amazing how bad I am at staying in the center of the lane, because each time I enable autopilot it tugs pretty quickly to center me”.

On the other part... I try my best to stay toward the middle/left for the exact reason you described. If you watch on the left one third of the screen, as soon as you lose one lane line the right, the car drifts to try to find it and if it doesn’t then it snaps back to the remaining lane line on the left. This is avoided by staying toward the middle/left of the highway.
 

Beaker

Active Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2018
Messages
26
Location
WA
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#4
Thank you for the feedback and corroboration. It is good to know that it is not just me.

Great first post! You have a point here that I literally made to my wife yesterday. To quote “it’s amazing how bad I am at staying in the center of the lane, because each time I enable autopilot it tugs pretty quickly to center me”.

On the other part... I try my best to stay toward the middle/left for the exact reason you described. If you watch on the left one third of the screen, as soon as you lose one lane line the right, the car drifts to try to find it and if it doesn’t then it snaps back to the remaining lane line on the left. This is avoided by staying toward the middle/left of the highway.
 

TesLou

Well-Known Member
TOO Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2016
Messages
359
Location
Louisville, KY
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#5
I love these long and detailed “first drive” posts. They really go a long way at making my wait less painful. Thanks for taking the time and making the effort.
 

LucyferSam

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2017
Messages
202
Location
Ames, IA
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#6
Thank you for the feedback and corroboration. It is good to know that it is not just me.
Heh, yea it was quite startling the first time I engaged autopilot test driving an S, had the same thing happen. I always favor the away from traffic side of a lane so it takes a bit of getting used to having the car properly center itself in the lane.
 

JWardell

Legendary Member
Joined
May 9, 2016
Messages
3,512
Location
Boston
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#9
Great review @Beaker and welcome to the forum!
Amazing that you went this long absorbing ever little thing about the 3 but just now gave in to join us in the forum...now the wait gets even harder!
 

Beaker

Active Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2018
Messages
26
Location
WA
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#10
Adding just a couple of other notes I forgot to mention in the original post.

Turning Diameter
Just about a foot too wide to make a u-turn on our street without rolling up on the neighbor’s driveway across the street. Steering wheel turn-to-lock was noticeably quick.

Business in the Frunk
The frunk fit the entirety the luggage I take on business trips (a roll-aboard and a backpack) snugly, but flush enough to close.
10A68521-59FE-4E9D-AB53-2C517E4F02F2.jpeg

Party in the Back
Folded the rear seats and tested future camper mode. Length was sufficient for me 5’10”, width could fit two (snugly).
Mood lighting provided by the UMC.
61D65FC1-6BA4-4154-AE97-A692DCCD5DE8.gif
 

SoFlaModel3

@Teslatunity
Moderator
TOO Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2017
Messages
9,770
Location
Florida
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#11
Adding just a couple of other notes I forgot to mention in the original post.

Turning Diameter
Just about a foot too wide to make a u-turn on our street without rolling up on the neighbor’s driveway across the street. Steering wheel turn-to-lock was noticeably quick.

Business in the Frunk
The frunk fit the entirety the luggage I take on business trips (a roll-aboard and a backpack) snugly, but flush enough to close.
View attachment 6010

Party in the Back
Folded the rear seats and tested future camper mode. Length was sufficient for me 5’10”, width could fit two (snugly).
Mood lighting provided by the UMC.
View attachment 6009
When you get the car, try the mood lighting at night!!!

 

SoFlaModel3

@Teslatunity
Moderator
TOO Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2017
Messages
9,770
Location
Florida
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#14
Seeing this animation this week from the above tweet convinced me to permanently install a second UMC at home instead of a wall connector. I love it. The extra $200 in my pocket helps too.
Why not save $500? How often if ever will you need to take the UMC with you? I would guess 99% of people only need the one UMC.
 

JWardell

Legendary Member
Joined
May 9, 2016
Messages
3,512
Location
Boston
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#15
Why not save $500? How often if ever will you need to take the UMC with you? I would guess 99% of people only need the one UMC.
Clearly you don't know me. I'll always have a UMC, 75ft cord, and every adapter under the sun including some I make myself in the car. Maybe even some alligator clips!
I have to trust my wife to take this car from time to time...I don't even let my phone get below 70%!