Last updated on July 26th, 2020 at 07:01 pm
The Tesla 3’s appearance doesn’t scream its abilities, unless you already know what Teslas can do. Even the Performance version with its 20in wheels and red brake callipers is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. However, in a similar fashion to the way a Prius came across 25 years ago, the Tesla 3 is sufficiently different to a “normal” car that it looks futuristic. The central cabin is a little bulbous, but the panoramic class stretching the entire length also lends a sense of quality, and the overall cleanliness of the lines is surgically efficient.
Since this is not an electric version of a car that was once fossil-fuel-driven, there was no need for a large intake grille at the front, which lends a smoother appearance, although there is a smaller intake beneath the number plate. You might be taken aback by the complete lack of keyholes outside and the flush door handles that you have to press in to use. Instead, you wave a key car near the A pillar to lock and unlock the vehicle, or you can use your smartphone. Overall, Tesla has done a good job of discarding as much of the internal combustion heritage from the Model 3 as possible, whilst still looking like a car.
If the Tesla Model 3 has one Achilles heel (and to a certain extent so do all Teslas), it’s in the interior design and finish. The fact that virtually everything is controlled via the giant central LCD screen means that there is very little button clutter, but the plastic trim doesn’t have the same sense of quality finish you get from a German luxury car. It’s simple and doesn’t suffer from complications, but also has more of the Ikea about it than Harrods’s furniture department.
We’ve also heard many reports that earlier Teslas had some issues with panels fitting precisely, although this was always sorted out on warranty, and the Model 3 appears to be less susceptible. However, you might like the spartan interior look, and the standard panoramic glass roof on all models gives the interior a welcome sense of space. There’s a lot of storage in the central console, too, whilst the four USB ports and docking for two smartphones provide plenty of flexibility for the device-obsessed occupant.
The seats are comfortable enough, with synthetic leather involved whichever model you choose, although the two higher-end ones use more of it and of better quality. There are 12-way adjustments to get the front seats exactly the way you want them. Without a transmission tunnel, the middle rear passenger has more leg room than in most cars, too. So this is a fairly comfortable car for five adults.
Storage and Load Carrying
Although the Model 3 is a saloon, Tesla’s design means that you get luggage space front and rear. The total is a reasonable 425 litres, although the front is a mere 85 litres – enough for a couple of bags of shopping. This is well ahead of a Mercedes C-class, but still behind the BMW 3-series, Audi A4 or Jaguar XE.
However, you can also drop the Model 3’s rear seats down in a 60/40 arrangement, which isn’t as flexible as the 40/20/40 you get from many competitors, but still useful. It’s hard to get an official statement of capacity with the rear seats down, but we calculated it at around 1,140 litres, which is behind hatchbacks like the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, although it’s not far off a Nissan Leaf. The boot aperture could be a problem for some loads, as this is still a saloon, but this is a decent amount of capacity when you need it.