24 Jan 2022

Motoring Review: The Tesla Model 3 powers ahead

Motoring review: Elon Musk’s smallest, simplest and most affordable offering yet

Motoring Review: The Tesla Model 3 powers ahead

The new Tesla 3

When the Tesla name is mentioned, you immediately think expensive high-end electric vehicles, but the Model 3 is Elon Musk’s smaller, simplier and most affordable car yet. Designed and built as the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle, it is a critical step in Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

The Model 3 combines industry-leading powertrain efficiency, aerodynamics and chassis technology to deliver the longest range of any comparable electric saloon. The Model 3’s powertrain technology has been designed for ultra-high endurance, and Tesla has proven its technology over more than 10 billion miles of real-world driving across its global fleet of vehicles.

It comes in either rear or all-wheel-drive formats, with acceleration and performance that are just as impressive as its larger siblings. The exterior design of the Tesla Model 3 is very distinctive with its low nose and tapering rear, and it shares the subdued styling of the Model S and Model X SUV. It has the appearance of a hatchback but is a compact saloon styling with a boot space of 542-litres, but this can be expanded by dropping the split-folding rear seat backs.

Cutting-Edge Technology

There is no key to open the car but rather a slim RFID card (similar in size to a credit card) which is used by pressing it against the card reader spot on the B-pillar to allow access to the car, or you can access it via your smartphone. Once this RFID card makes contact with the senor, the slim door handles open, while the doors open inside with a simple door switch that looks like an electric window button. This RFID card must then be placed in a cradle where, once placed, the car will automatically start.

The cabin of the Tesla Model 3 is roomy and minimalist in its design, and the full-length glass sunroof makes it bright and airy. There are no buttons on the centre console, just a sleek dash with full-width air vents and a pair of roller-knobs on the steering wheel, four window switches on the door and the usual electric adjusters on the front seats.

The cabin boasts a huge 15-inch landscape touchscreen which is easy to read, laid out sensibly and responds to input requests quickly. Similarly, the satellite navigation, which is based on Google Maps, is easy to use, while Tesla has redesigned the centre console to now feature fixed inductive charging mats for two smartphones, which is wrapped in luxurious microsuede. Tesla cars regularly receive over the-the-air sofware updates that add new features, increased performance and enhance existing functionality via Wi-Fi.

Test Car

My test car was the Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive finished in Red Multi-Coat paint with 19” sports wheels with a Black and White Premium interior. The Model 3 gains speed smoothly and silently, with the eletric motor providing strong power.

The Model 3 carries its battery under the floor, resulting in a low center of gravity, which helps it change direction crisply and makes it feel planted on the road, and stable in corners. The steering is precise and well weighted, with three different settings that adjust the level of steering effort.

The Model 3 doesn’t use air springs or adaptive dampers, but like traditional sporting saloons, it uses passively-damped coil springs at each corner. As a result, the ride quality in the Model 3 is impressive, as is its outright performance from a standing start, or when overtaking. The Model 3’s smooth and progressive brakes are powerful too, and the car’s considerable weight is kept under control thanks to low-slung batteries, and well judged chassis tuning.

The Model 3 is built for safety, with standard active safety features and hardware built to provide visibility that a driver cannot access alone. Eight surround cameras allow for 360-degree vision, while twelve ultrasonic sensors provide detection of surrounding objects. Forward-facing radars see through heavy rain, fog, dust, and beyond the vehicle ahead - helping to prevent accidents by providing simultaneous visibility in every direction. The Model 3 achieved a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating in every category, with the highest ever score in the latest Safety Assist tests.

All Tesla cars comes standard with advanced hardware capable of providing Autopilot features today, for functions such as steering, accelerating and braking; and full self-driving capabilities in the future through software updates designed to improve functionality over time.

Electric Incentives

Electric vehicles are less expensive to fuel than petrol powered vehicles, with the cost of electricity up to seven times lower than petrol. Teslas also require significantly less maintenance than traditional vehicles due to their reduced mechanical complexity and fewer moving parts. With no annual service required, owners only need to bring their cars in to check certain components at specific intervals, keeping vehicles on the road for longer and eliminating the need for annual service checkups. Additionally, electric vehicle (EV) incentives currently in place include 0% BIK for company car drivers, an SEAI plug-in grant for personal purchases (of up to €5,000), and an SEAI grant of up to €600 toward the installation of an EV Home Wall Charger.

Pricing for the Tesla Model 3 starts at €48,990 (including an SEAI grant of up to €5,000). Tesla offers a four year/80,000km limited warranty and an eight year/160,000km limited warranty on the battery and drive unit.

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