Model 3 Test Drive

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Runt8

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#1
Thanks to the extreme generosity of @PatrickM I was able to see and test drive my first Model 3 yesterday.
Here are my first impressions of the Model 3. I'm coming from a 2006 Acura TSX and a 2015 Toyota Tundra. I also took an extended test drive of a new 75D Model S a couple weeks ago, so I have a rough idea of what to expect from a Tesla.
  • Initial impression
    • It's been said a million times, but it looks better in person (and I've always thought it looked great in pictures).
    • It's both smaller and bigger than i was expecting - more volume but sleeker and shorter.
    • To me the aero wheels have always been kind of "meh, ok but not worth $1500 to upgrade and lose range." However, in person they look pretty good. After seeing them I'm considering buying a second set from Tesla for my winter tires.
  • Interior
    • I've seen thousands of pictures of the interior and I really like the clean, sleek look. However, it's a whole different thing to experience it in person.
    • I generally don't like wood in cars, however the wood dash wasn't too bad. It's light enough that it kind of blends in to the dash. My dad's Lexus has very shiny hardwood accents and they look awful.
    • This Model 3 had the center console wrapped in a matte vinyl, and it's definitely something I will do as well. Not a huge fan of the shiny black on the door control buttons (mainly how easily they will scratch and show fingerprints), so I will definitely cover those up as well.
    • I'm just over 6', and when the drivers seat was adjusted for me there was plenty of room in the back seat. My main concern was having enough space for 2 kids in the back, but it's not going to be a problem (I was able to fit in the back, and while I wouldn't want to take a road trip back there it wasn't bad at all for a short drive).
    • The most jarring thing was how low the dash was - in other cars I frequently feel like I either have my steering wheel too low or too high in order to see through it to the instrument cluster. With the Model 3 the only consideration is where to put the wheel in order to maximize comfort.
    • The seats seem very comfortable. The vegan leather is very soft and supple, but the seats have good support and the side bolsters seem more than adequate for spirited driving.
    • The seats move vertically a surprising amount.
    • Headroom is amazing and the glass roof is incredible - it has to be seen to fully appreciate.
    • The trunk opening is decent for a car this size, but it's much deeper (bumper to bumper) than I was expecting. The frunk is also wider and deeper than I thought it would be, but not as tall.
  • Controls
    • I drove for about 10 minutes and I didn't have any trouble adjusting to looking at the screen for speed and turn signals.
    • Having the turn signals return to the neutral position took me about two turns to get used to. I really like being able to lightly tap the stalk and have them turn off after a few blinks (which is a feature in a lot of cars but I've never had it). The stalks themselves felt really solid.
    • I'm firmly in the "smartphone generation" so I have no problems with everything being on the center screen. I'm betting Tesla will move enough functionality to the steering wheel controls to address most people's major concerns. Without spending a lot more time with the car I wasn't able to really dig into things and find any major concerns or annoyances.
  • Drive
    • First off, holy crap, this thing is fast. While intellectually I realize that the Model S I drove is faster, I wasn't able to tell a difference in the feel of the acceleration. It's far and away faster than any car I've owned. Most impressive to me is the passing speed acceleration - going from 30 to 60 feels effortless and practically instantaneous.
    • The steering wheel is a little smaller than I'm used to, but I really appreciate the low steering ratio. It's thick enough to get a good grip, and overall feels really nice.
    • I didn't have any problems with the ride quality. Obviously with only 10 minutes drive time I wasn't able to get a very in-depth feel for it, but nothing stood out as rough or problematic.

Overall, finally experiencing one in person makes me even more excited to get my own. It's far and away better than an ICE car I've previously owned, and I think it fits my needs better than a Model S.

Thanks again to @PatrickM for taking the time to meet me and allow me to experience his car!
 

Runt8

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#3
One thing I forgot to mention - regenerative braking definitely feels less strong on the 3 than on the S. During my S test drive I had a hard time smoothly engaging regenerative braking by letting up on the accelerator, which resulted in a fairly jerky ride. On the 3 I was able to adjust very quickly and come to almost a complete stop smoothly without touching the brake pedal. I’m sure with more time spent driving the S I would adjust but initially the 3 felt more natural.

I also saw a second Model 3 (white) not 10 minutes after I left on my way home. Hard to believe I spent all these months without ever catching a glimpse and then I get to drive one and see a second one on the same day!

Such a great community we have!
Yes, this place and the people here are amazing!

@PatrickM mentioned that one of the things he likes best about owning a Tesla is the people he meets at superchargers. He says often the time spent supercharging flies by because of all the people standing around chatting.
 

TesLou

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Aug 20, 2016
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Louisville, KY
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#4
A shout out to @PatrickM for his generosity. SoFlaModel3 is right; this is a great bunch of people here. Every other car forum I've ever been associated with (and there have been PLENTY), is filled with petty bickering, arguing, and name calling. Thanks to the quality of folks we have here and to the moderators who oversee it all, it's a great place to stop by and unwind and get informed. And, for anyone in the Central Kentucky region, I'll be happy to give rides and drives when mine comes in later this month.
 

PatrickM

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#5
Hey, I missed this thread - I'm off with my family on Spring Break and internet access has surprisingly hard to find until today - which is good because it's neat to go off the grid for a bit, but it's bad because I miss threads like this one until I get back online.

It was a lot of fun to meet up and show an enthusiastic future owner his next car. :) Like I told @Runt8, I remember the angst I felt about putting a non-refundable deposit down on a car that I had barely seen from the outside - there was a big of feeling like I could be making a huge potential mistake if I didn't like the car. I even lost a bit of sleep thinking about it. I'm happy if I can help someone else feel reassured about their Model 3 order.
 

Tesla blue 3

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#6
Hey, I missed this thread - I'm off with my family on Spring Break and internet access has surprisingly hard to find until today - which is good because it's neat to go off the grid for a bit, but it's bad because I miss threads like this one until I get back online.

It was a lot of fun to meet up and show an enthusiastic future owner his next car. :) Like I told @Runt8, I remember the angst I felt about putting a non-refundable deposit down on a car that I had barely seen from the outside - there was a big of feeling like I could be making a huge potential mistake if I didn't like the car. I even lost a bit of sleep thinking about it. I'm happy if I can help someone else feel reassured about their Model 3 order.
Thank You for your generous support.
 
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#7
Australian here will be in San Fran for two days on my way to Canada, as we won't get the Model 3 for at least 18 months (possibly longer) any one who would be willing to take me for a test drive (May 2nd and 3rd) I would be extremely grateful. Happy to shout lunch drinks etc.
 

PatrickM

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#8
Australian here will be in San Fran for two days on my way to Canada, as we won't get the Model 3 for at least 18 months (possibly longer) any one who would be willing to take me for a test drive (May 2nd and 3rd) I would be extremely grateful. Happy to shout lunch drinks etc.
I think if you could find the right owner, they'd be happy to help but finding that person is going to be hard. Your best bet to make sure this happens is Turo - a car renting service that's owner-to-driver. It can be expensive but if you write to the owner and go to where they are and talk to them ahead of time you could see if you could get a rate for just half a day or something like that. If you google "turo model 3 san francisco" you can scroll through the listings, or maybe there's a way to search just for Model 3's on turo.com but I couldn't see it.

If you just want to see the car and sit it in but not drive it, you could go over to the Tesla Fremont factory (take Bart (light rail) and then Lyft/Uber) and go to the showroom there. It's not very far away. And, of course if you were headed to Denver, I'd let you drive mine but it's a long trek from San Francisco to here.
 
Last edited:
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#9
Since you mentioned your concern initially as you have two kids, I thought you might be a good person to ask about a car seat. I have a 9 year old, a 5 year old and one on the way that was a pleasant surprise between now and when I originally reserved the Model 3 years ago. Haha. Does it seem like it would be roomy enough to support a 9 year old, a 5 year old in a booster and a car seat? Or is it a tighter fit than that.

After all this time, I am so close to my invitation and now wondering how feasible it will be. Haha.
 

Runt8

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#10
Since you mentioned your concern initially as you have two kids, I thought you might be a good person to ask about a car seat. I have a 9 year old, a 5 year old and one on the way that was a pleasant surprise between now and when I originally reserved the Model 3 years ago. Haha. Does it seem like it would be roomy enough to support a 9 year old, a 5 year old in a booster and a car seat? Or is it a tighter fit than that.

After all this time, I am so close to my invitation and now wondering how feasible it will be. Haha.
I’ve read that it’s a tight squeeze for three car seats, but if you only have one I would imagine it would be doable. By the time I get mine both of my kids will be in boosters so I was more concerned with leg room.
 

SoFlaModel3

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#11
I’ve read that it’s a tight squeeze for three car seats, but if you only have one I would imagine it would be doable. By the time I get mine both of my kids will be in boosters so I was more concerned with leg room.
With my 2 (big) seats there is barely any room in between them.
 
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#12
I think if you could find the right owner, they'd be happy to help but finding that person is going to be hard. Your best bet to make sure this happens is Turo - a car renting service that's owner-to-driver. It can be expensive but if you write to the owner and go to where they are and talk to them ahead of time you could see if you could get a rate for just half a day or something like that. If you google "turo model 3 san francisco" you can scroll through the listings, or maybe there's a way to search just for Model 3's on turo.com but I couldn't see it.

If you just want to see the car and sit it in but not drive it, you could go over to the Tesla Fremont factory (take Bart (light rail) and then Lyft/Uber) and go to the showroom there. It's not very far away. And, of course if you were headed to Denver, I'd let you drive mine but it's a long trek from San Francisco to here.
Don't laugh, I will be in the Midwest from Mid May to Mid June. I am all over the place Denver is certainly a possibility.
 

PatrickM

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#13
Don't laugh, I will be in the Midwest from Mid May to Mid June. I am all over the place Denver is certainly a possibility.
Well my offer is sincere - although I'll be in Europe for most of June. But yeah, if you are headed to Denver in May or the first week of June, send me a message using the Conversations option here and we can meet up.