Tesla Model 3 initial impressions (and compare to. BMW 5-series)

st_o_p

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#1
First post here - cross-posting with other forums (like bimmerfest).

I took delivery of a new Tesla Model 3 LR AWD few days ago, and had a chance to put it through its paces. It is a really impressive car in many ways.

First - build quality. My car is early 2019 build. I do NOT have any panel gaps or misalignments - with one exception, the rear driver-side door chrome edge is slightly misaligned (but not enough to bother me). Did not find any other issues whatsoever, inside or out. There are no rattles at all inside the cabin so far (I know it's still early days) - but very happy about that. In short - the car has been perfect.

I got the car fully loaded (to the extent that term applies). The only thing I didn't get is the white interior - as I don't think it looks better. I got the 19" wheels - that is the one option I was undecided about; good arguments both ways; in the end I went with it because the car I test-drove had the 19" - and I liked the ride. Also the reviewers said that (1) the 19" stock tires have much better stopping distance than the 18", and (2) - counterintuitively - the 19" offer more compliant ride as the sidewall of the stock tires is softer. I know those are both the tires, not the wheels - but since I don't intend to change the stock tires until I wear them out - the arguments apply. The ride on the stock 19" is nice, a bit stiff but not harsh at all.

I will compare the Tesla to our other car - BMW 535 (also fully loaded). I realize the BMW is higher class car - and a lot more expensive. It has a number of bells and whistles not present on the Tesla. Surprisingly though - overall the Tesla comes ahead. And also surprising - it has a number of luxury features where I didn't expect it will match the BMW but it does.

Some areas where Tesla is better:
(I will not get into the advantages of electric vs. ICE - those are well known. To me the only downside would be driving long distance - and since our household has also the ICE car - I will never use the Tesla for that - so zero downside on the electric). On the actual driving experience:
* Driving dynamics - the Model 3 is outstanding. Acceleration/handling/braking/etc. - absolutely great! Better than any BMW I've owned.
* The navigation - no comparison. Way better than what I have on the 5er.
* The seemless experience. I thought the BMW keyless entry is great - but man the Tesla just smokes that. You only need your phone - which I always have with me - never a danger I will forget my car key. Exit the car - don't touch anything, walk away - the car locks itself. Approach the locked car - grab the handle and open the door. (As opposed to the BMW where you grab the handle and the car unlocks but if you don't wait for a bit you pull and the door is still locked). The Tesla leaves the garage - and the garage door closes (without me having to touch anything). Come back to the house - the garage door opens by itself. The expirience is awesome, and can't keep but ask - why is it otherwise with any other car??
* The phone app - the functionality it offers remotely is fantastic (and improving further as more features like advanced summon get rolled out).
* Over the air upgrades. Major advantage (though I admittedly have not had a chance to experience yet).
* Number of other things I'm forgetting - the huge screen, the always functioning browser in the car is nice when you need quick info, and so on.

About on par:
* The air-conditioning. People rave about the air-conditioning system in the Tesla. I don't find it that superior. It is good and works well - but I don't like it better or worse than the more traditional system in the BMW. Both are good. My BMW does have 4-zone climate control - so for the rear-seats it's better.
* The entertainments system. I guess Tesla is better - but for my purposes both work equally well. The BMW has Sirius (with lifetime subscription) which Tesla doesn't have. Also my BMW has rear-sear entertainment system with screens where you can watch from a USB drive (or DVD but we never use DVD). I intend to get Kindle Fires for the Tesla - but cannot figure out how to attach to the back of the front seats (as Tesla seats are monolitic rather than having separate headrest).
* Seats - comfort and adjustability. I guess BMW is better - but for me they both work fine. Also - 4 heated seats on both cars.
* Some other things - like lane-departure warning work exactly the same. Not talking about auto-pilot, simpy that the steering wheel vibrates when you hit the divider. I like that feature - and didn't expect to get it in the Tesla, so nice surprise.
* I believe the front colision warning (and auto-stop) should be the same - but didn't get a chance to test on the Tesla. Works great on the BMW.

Some areas where the BMW is better:
* HUD. Surprisingly I do not miss the instrument cluster. But Model 3 badly needs HUD. In fact I would have never bought a car without HUD - except for the Tesla factor.
* The doors. The Tesla doors are horrible. We do have soft-close doors on the BMW and I guess we got used to those. Never thought I'd consider them more than minor. However - half the time I close the Tesla door it tells me it's not actually closed. I noticed after that happened couple of times to my wife, she started slamming the doors real hard. Not good. It's kind of Ok when you're sitting in the car and have to re-close. But when you're walking away - and expect the Model 3 to lock itself - and it doesn't because it thinks a door is open - that's a recipe for disaster.
* Top camera on the BMW. Can survive without it - but am missing it badly.
* Automatic trunk. And I don't just mean motorized, I mean the feature where you kick under the rear bumper and the trunc opens (when your hands are full).
* Heated steering wheel - as mentioned in many other posts.
* The headlights on the BMW are better, though the auto-headlights on the Tesla work pretty well.
* The finish / interior quality in the BMW is much nicer.

Now I do realize the BMW advantages are luxury features of a higher priced car. When it comes to driving experience - the Tesla really smokes the BMW out, it's all one-sided. However I have to say this - I would have paid another $10,000 for a luxury pack on the Tesla containing those features. As it is I purchased the highest prices Model 3; the only way I could go higher was extra $10K for performance model - which I don't need as performance of my car is already fantastic. Would have paid more for luxury though - if offered. I am sure I am not the only one cross-shopping mid-level luxury sedans with Tesla so they could make some extra $$ offering that. (The only way to get higher end car with Tesla was to go with Model S - however that is $30K more so not really comparable; plus I liked how Model 3 drives a lot better than the S so wouldn't go there).

Finally - the autopilot. To me the $8K spend on AP+FSD was the least justified part of the purchase. As an adaptive cruise-control it works very well. I had trouble getting the auto-steeting to work (it keeps disengaging - I'm sure I'll figure it out, but it's not seemless or intuitive). Couldn't get it to auto-park either. In my few tries - it only recongnized parking spot once, and then when I put the car in reverse and pushed the button to auto-park, it basically didn't do anything. So maybe the software upgrades will get the FSD to a point where it is worth the money - in fact I'm counting on that - but for now I find it not very impressive.

Bottom line - the Tesla is an awesome car, much better than I expected - despite some things it is missing.

========

Edit:

I was able to get the car to auto-park itself - after some experimenting. It was really cool actually. Not sure I'll be able to do it reliably every time I need - but I think I'm getting how it works.

I was also able to get the auto-steering to work. Turned out I was applying too much pressure to the steering wheel so it was disengaging. It's a bit of an art right now - too little pressure and the car complains, too much and it disengages - but I'm getting the hang of it - and yes when it works it works great.

I was also able to hardwire my radar detector though that was a royal PITA. BMWs are way easier to hardwire things.
 
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garsh

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#2
Great write-up. I found myself nodding in agreement to your list of items where the BMW was better. Not that I own a BMW, but I think it's just a general list of items that I wish were better, or that a feature was included.

One nit:
4 heated seats on both cars.
The Model 3 has 5 heated seats. ;)

 

Frully

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#3
Great write-up. I found myself nodding in agreement to your list of items where the BMW was better. Not that I own a BMW, but I think it's just a general list of items that I wish were better, or that a feature was included.

One nit:

The Model 3 has 5 heated seats.
I noted that but wasn't gonna reply... :D best nit.
 

HCD3

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#4
First post here - cross-posting with other forums (like bimmerfest).

I took delivery of a new Tesla Model 3 LR AWD few days ago, and had a chance to put it through its paces. It is a really impressive car in many ways.

First - build quality. My car is early 2019 build. I do NOT have any panel gaps or misalignments - with one exception, the rear driver-side door chrome edge is slightly misaligned (but not enough to bother me). Did not find any other issues whatsoever, inside or out. There are no rattles at all inside the cabin so far (I know it's still early days) - but very happy about that. In short - the car has been perfect.

I got the car fully loaded (to the extent that term applies). The only thing I didn't get is the white interior - as I don't think it looks better. I got the 19" wheels - that is the one option I was undecided about; good arguments both ways; in the end I went with it because the car I test-drove had the 19" - and I liked the ride. Also the reviewers said that (1) the 19" stock tires have much better stopping distance than the 18", and (2) - counterintuitively - the 19" offer more compliant ride as the sidewall of the stock tires is softer. I know those are both the tires, not the wheels - but since I don't intend to change the stock tires until I wear them out - the arguments apply. The ride on the stock 19" is nice, a bit stiff but not harsh at all.

I will compare the Tesla to our other car - BMW 535 (also fully loaded). I realize the BMW is higher class car - and a lot more expensive. It has a number of bells and whistles not present on the Tesla. Surprisingly though - overall the Tesla comes ahead. And also surprising - it has a number of luxury features where I didn't expect it will match the BMW but it does.

Some areas where Tesla is better:
(I will not get into the advantages of electric vs. ICE - those are well known. To me the only downside would be driving long distance - and since our household has also the ICE car - I will never use the Tesla for that - so zero downside on the electric). On the actual driving experience:
* Driving dynamics - the Model 3 is outstanding. Acceleration/handling/braking/etc. - absolutely great! Better than any BMW I've owned.
* The navigation - no comparison. Way better than what I have on the 5er.
* The seemless experience. I thought the BMW keyless entry is great - but man the Tesla just smokes that. You only need your phone - which I always have with me - never a danger I will forget my car key. Exit the car - don't touch anything, walk away - the car locks itself. Approach the locked car - grab the handle and open the door. (As opposed to the BMW where you grab the handle and the car unlocks but if you don't wait for a bit you pull and the door is still locked). The Tesla leaves the garage - and the garage door closes (without me having to touch anything). Come back to the house - the garage door opens by itself. The expirience is awesome, and can't keep but ask - why is it otherwise with any other car??
* The phone app - the functionality it offers remotely is fantastic (and improving further as more features like advanced summon get rolled out).
* Over the air upgrades. Major advantage (though I admittedly have not had a chance to experience yet).
* Number of other things I'm forgetting - the huge screen, the always functioning browser in the car is nice when you need quick info, and so on.

About on par:
* The air-conditioning. People rave about the air-conditioning system in the Tesla. I don't find it that superior. It is good and works well - but I don't like it better or worse than the more traditional system in the BMW. Both are good. My BMW does have 4-zone climate control - so for the rear-seats it's better.
* The entertainments system. I guess Tesla is better - but for my purposes both work equally well. The BMW has Sirius (with lifetime subscription) which Tesla doesn't have. Also my BMW has rear-sear entertainment system with screens where you can watch from a USB drive (or DVD but we never use DVD). I intend to get Kindle Fires for the Tesla - but cannot figure out how to attach to the back of the front seats (as Tesla seats are monolitic rather than having separate headrest).
* Seats - comfort and adjustability. I guess BMW is better - but for me they both work fine. Also - 4 heated seats on both cars.
* Some other things - like lane-departure warning work exactly the same. Not talking about auto-pilot, simpy that the steering wheel vibrates when you hit the divider. I like that feature - and didn't expect to get it in the Tesla, so nice surprise.
* I believe the front colision warning (and auto-stop) should be the same - but didn't get a chance to test on the Tesla. Works great on the BMW.

Some areas where the BMW is better:
* HUD. Surprisingly I do not miss the instrument cluster. But Model 3 badly needs HUD. In fact I would have never bought a car without HUD - except for the Tesla factor.
* The doors. The Tesla doors are horrible. We do have soft-close doors on the BMW and I guess we got used to those. Never thought I'd consider them more than minor. However - half the time I close the Tesla door it tells me it's not actually closed. I noticed after that happened couple of times to my wife, she started slamming the doors real hard. Not good. It's kind of Ok when you're sitting in the car and have to re-close. But when you're walking away - and expect the Model 3 to lock itself - and it doesn't because it thinks a door is open - that's a recipe for disaster.
* Top camera on the BMW. Can survive without it - but am missing it badly.
* Automatic trunk. And I don't just mean motorized, I mean the feature where you kick under the rear bumper and the trunc opens (when your hands are full).
* Heated steering wheel - as mentioned in many other posts.
* The headlights on the BMW are better, though the auto-headlights on the Tesla work pretty well.
* The finish / interior quality in the BMW is much nicer.

Now I do realize the BMW advantages are luxury features of a higher priced car. When it comes to driving experience - the Tesla really smokes the BMW out, it's all one-sided. However I have to say this - I would have paid another $10,000 for a luxury pack on the Tesla containing those features. As it is I purchased the highest prices Model 3; the only way I could go higher was extra $10K for performance model - which I don't need as performance of my car is already fantastic. Would have paid more for luxury though - if offered. I am sure I am not the only one cross-shopping mid-level luxury sedans with Tesla so they could make some extra $$ offering that. (The only way to get higher end car with Tesla was to go with Model S - however that is $30K more so not really comparable; plus I liked how Model 3 drives a lot better than the S so wouldn't go there).

Finally - the autopilot. To me the $8K spend on AP+FSD was the least justified part of the purchase. As an adaptive cruise-control it works very well. I had trouble getting the auto-steeting to work (it keeps disengaging - I'm sure I'll figure it out, but it's not seemless or intuitive). Couldn't get it to auto-park either. In my few tries - it only recongnized parking spot once, and then when I put the car in reverse and pushed the button to auto-park, it basically didn't do anything. So maybe the software upgrades will get the FSD to a point where it is worth the money - in fact I'm counting on that - but for now I find it not very impressive.

Bottom line - the Tesla is an awesome car, much better than I expected - despite some things it is missing.
For SiriusXM I have always had it on my previous cars. I canceled my radio subscription and for 6 bucks a month I got a streaming subscription. I have unlimited data on my Verizon plan and really great service so I’ve never had any buffering or loss of signal. It sounds really good.. Hope that might help you.
 

mswlogo

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#5
Something is wrong with your doors. I agree the doors could be better compared to other cars. But mine close absolutely perfect. Trunk too, which I know some people have had issues with.
My doors didn't have to break in or anything, worked fine on day one too. And it's been mostly winter (last 5 months) I've owned it.

I'd look into what's going on with your doors. Might need a simple latch adjustment or the door isn't aligned correctly or a gasket is not installed correctly. All plausible with Tesla. Careful, they could make it worse !!! Get a expert body shop opinion first of what might be going on.

My previous car had a heated steering wheel and I thought I'd miss it. I really don't. The "instant heat" more than makes up for it. I'd choose instant heat over a heated steering wheel. As well as preheating. But preheating can cost you a fair number of watt hours. It does not need much preheating. 5 minutes is PLENTY.

I've never had a HUD, so ignorance is bliss there. I think if we ever get to the point where the car is an order of magnitude smarter, this will be less of an issue.
 

Madmolecule

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#6
I gave my 5-series to my daughter when I bought my Tesla. I agree with mostly everything in your write up. My autopilot works pretty well and getting better. I even saved a video today of a section of road, on my route to work, that it usually freaks out at, but today it handled it flawlessly. My auto-park works more like you described.

Big negatives on the BMW is maintenance and service. $600 for a new battery and many multi-thousand dollar mystery services like replacing a seal that I didn't have any indication needed fixing and no clear evidence that work was done. Also that turning the engine off at stops is crazy on a performance vehicle. It might save gas but it has got to add more wear to the engine and starter. (it can be disabled but it is a terrible "feature".
 

st_o_p

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#7
...
One nit:
The Model 3 has 5 heated seats. ;)
:) Ok - granted.
Don't particularly care about the rear heated seats anyway - we have child seats there.

Edit: Actually - yes the Tesla has 5 heated seats, but the BMW rear sear riders can adjust the heat themselves - so that tilts things the other way.

For SiriusXM I have always had it on my previous cars. I canceled my radio subscription and for 6 bucks a month I got a streaming subscription. I have unlimited data on my Verizon plan and really great service so I’ve never had any buffering or loss of signal. It sounds really good.. Hope that might help you.
Thanks - that's actually an idea.

Something is wrong with your doors. I agree the doors could be better compared to other cars. But mine close absolutely perfect. Trunk too, which I know some people have had issues with.
My doors didn't have to break in or anything, worked fine on day one too. And it's been mostly winter (last 5 months) I've owned it.

I'd look into what's going on with your doors. Might need a simple latch adjustment or the door isn't aligned correctly or a gasket is not installed correctly. All plausible with Tesla. Careful, they could make it worse !!! Get a expert body shop opinion first of what might be going on.
...
Maybe. I won't go in for service just for that.
Plus - want to give it some time. Maybe it's just us being too used to the soft-close doors on the BMW.
 
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Gordon87

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#9
...

Finally - the autopilot. To me the $8K spend on AP+FSD was the least justified part of the purchase. As an adaptive cruise-control it works very well. I had trouble getting the auto-steeting to work (it keeps disengaging - I'm sure I'll figure it out, but it's not seemless or intuitive). Couldn't get it to auto-park either. In my few tries - it only recongnized parking spot once, and then when I put the car in reverse and pushed the button to auto-park, it basically didn't do anything. So maybe the software upgrades will get the FSD to a point where it is worth the money - in fact I'm counting on that - but for now I find it not very impressive.

...
Regarding auto steer, I don’t know if your experience is the same as mine, but when test driving the 3 (I test drove both LR AWD and Performance models), I found that I would engage autosteer and then hold the steering wheel tight. It would drop off. I realized that I was turning the wheel too much, which is one way of turning off autosteer and re-taking control. More importantly, I realized that while the car drives in the middle of the lane, I was continually trying to correct, slightly moving to the left — I seem to drive more left than the middle. Once I realized what was happening, I have gotten used to letting the car pick the track. I purchased a LR AWD. It is a great drive, whether using AP or not.

BTW, I used AP this weekend while in stop-and-go traffic. It was so good.
 

DennisP

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#10
I also just came to change to a "loaded" M3 from a loaded 535i. I also miss the soft close doors and HUD but otherwise the M3 blows it away - glad to be done with the boat-like feeling and vague handling. As another M3 owner mentioned to me in a Safeway parking lot yesterday, when I drive down the road now it seems like everybody else is driving vehicles from another time in the past :cool:.
 

Lovesword

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#12
Soft close doors sound awesome to me. I've been meaning to upgrade my kitchen cabinets to those! Love them! I've not experienced it on a car before, am I on the right line of thinking here that it would be akin to the drawer style for homes? You close the door and even if you don't get it fully closed, the car pulls them fully shut?

As for my doors, they were hard to close at first. I did have the "break in" period others have mentioned here as did my wife in her Model S. We've both had our cars over a year now and that issue has since passed on the drivers door, same for the drivers rear which gets used often, occasionally still happens in the front passenger door, and happens more often on the mostly unused rear passenger door.
 

st_o_p

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#13
Regarding auto steer, I don’t know if your experience is the same as mine, but when test driving the 3 (I test drove both LR AWD and Performance models), I found that I would engage autosteer and then hold the steering wheel tight. It would drop off. I realized that I was turning the wheel too much, which is one way of turning off autosteer and re-taking control. More importantly, I realized that while the car drives in the middle of the lane, I was continually trying to correct, slightly moving to the left — I seem to drive more left than the middle. Once I realized what was happening, I have gotten used to letting the car pick the track. I purchased a LR AWD. It is a great drive, whether using AP or not.

BTW, I used AP this weekend while in stop-and-go traffic. It was so good.
Yes - thanks! Someone on the other forum also pointed that I probably applied some pressure on the steering wheel - and that is why it disengaged. Won't get a change to try until the weekend.
 

st_o_p

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#14
Great comments. You will probably get more used to autopilot and doors in a week or so. I can't wait till you prove yourself wrong on which car you pick for long drives though...
Ha-ha, we'll see...

Soft close doors sound awesome to me. ... You close the door and even if you don't get it fully closed, the car pulls them fully shut?
...
Exactly. Or rather you never have to close the door hard or slam it - you close with minimum pressure and it always gets closed.
 

DennisP

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#15
Soft close doors sound awesome to me. I've been meaning to upgrade my kitchen cabinets to those! Love them! I've not experienced it on a car before, am I on the right line of thinking here that it would be akin to the drawer style for homes? You close the door and even if you don't get it fully closed, the car pulls them fully shut?

As for my doors, they were hard to close at first. I did have the "break in" period others have mentioned here as did my wife in her Model S. We've both had our cars over a year now and that issue has since passed on the drivers door, same for the drivers rear which gets used often, occasionally still happens in the front passenger door, and happens more often on the mostly unused rear passenger door.
Yeah with the soft close doors you push the door close to the car and it sucks the door in in very quietly. A small but nice feature - I have to remember to give my M3 a fairly strong shove to close completely.