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Tesla Motors has finally revealed its most anticipated new model, the Tesla Model 3, and we’ve come to California for an exclusive first drive.

CarAdvice was among just a handful of media outlets to attend the event in Fremont, California, with Elon Musk, Doug Fields and Franz Von Holzhausen briefing media ahead of a first drive.

If you’re looking at ordering a Model 3, or just keen to know what’s on offer, here’s everything you need to know – so far.

Key details

  • Pricing to start from US$35,000
    According to Musk, following conversion and local taxes, Tesla won’t be adding any extra costs to the asking price. That means a price of $43,827 and, depending on your state, stamp duty charges of around $2000, making the price sub-AUD$50,000.
  • Battery size: UPDATE, JULY 2017: Although not revealed at the Model 3’s unveiling, Elon Musk confirmed on a July 2017 investor there will be two battery packs: one offering “just over 50kWh“, the other of about 75kWh.
  • Range of 220 miles (355km) (EPA estimated), with a 500km long-range option available
  • 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds, drops to 5.1 seconds with long range option
  • Top speed 130mph (210km/h) – long-range top speed increases to 140mph (225km/h)
  • Standard features:
    • 15-inch touchscreen display
    • dual-zone climate control
    • FM/Internet streaming radio
    • textile seats
    • two USB ports
    • front/rear parking sensors with reverse-view camera
    • auto dimming rear-vision mirror
    • one-touch power windows
    • RFID card and phone act as the vehicle key
    • eight airbags (six in front row, two curtain airbags)
    • two tether points in second row for child seats
  • 423 litres of cargo capacity (seats fold flat to increase space)
  • 4694mm long, 1849mm wide, 1443mm high, 2875mm wheelbase
  • 1610kg kerb weight (220 mile battery pack), 1730kg (long-range pack)
  • Interchangeable charging plate supports 240 volt NEMA 14-50 adapter, 120 volt NEMA 5-15 adapter, J1772 public charging adapter

MORE: Tesla Model 3 REVIEW

Kicking off from US$35,000, Tesla Motors CEO, Elon Musk has challenged people to “find a better looking car at this price point”. With over 500,000 pre-orders placed globally, the brand says that it’s doing everything it can to kick off manufacturing.

While there is a stack of marketing hype around the model, it is actually quite well-equipped in terms of standard features and will be the only car on the market we are aware of without a key to enter or start the vehicle.

Even at the entry level, the Model 3 will be capable of acceleration from 0-60 miles per hour (97km/h) in just 5.6 seconds, with a top speed of 210km/h.

Customers will be able to option an extended-range battery pack that increases range from 355km to 500km, that also comes with a drop in the acceleration time from 5.6 seconds to 5.1 seconds.

While Australian pricing is yet to be confirmed, Tesla boss Elon Musk has said there’ll be no extra on top of US pricing. With currency fluctuations in mind, it should come in at under $50,000 inclusive of on-road costs.

Gaining access to the Model 3 is done either by telephone, using the Bluetooth function, or an RFID card the size of a credit card. It also eliminates buttons on the door and a lever on the steering wheel for mirror and steering adjustments. Everything happens using the 15-inch colour touchscreen located on the dashboard.

Using the screen and steering wheel controls, drivers can adjust functions on the go.

Also eliminated to reduce cost and weight is any instrumentation or display behind the steering wheel – instead, speedometer, tachometer and other driving information all sits in the top left-hand corner of the central infotainment screen.

In our still-limited experience, through this weekend’s event, we can at this point say… ‘it kinda works’. We’ll need more time with the 3 to decide if the move was misjudged.

Adjustment of climate controls is also contained within the infotainment screen. A bubble that can be moved around the x and y axes allows adjustment of blower direction and opening, as opposed to manual controls.

There are two USB ports up front, plus another two in the second row. Second row passengers also get their own air vents, with the second row of seats folding in a 60/40 split-folding fashion to increase overall cargo capacity.

In terms of measurements, the Model 3 is slightly longer and slightly wider than a BMW 3 Series sedan. The second row also gets a large glass sunroof panel above. This panel is thermally rated to prevent sun damage to occupants and the interior materials, and it also increases the total amount of room for second row occupants.

Door handles have been deleted and replaced with a single button that’s used to open the doors. From the outside, a push-and-pull style arrangement (similar to the Aston Martin V8 Vantage) opens the door.

New to Tesla is an interchangeable plate beneath the now vertically opening charge port. The plate can be swapped by Tesla to allow for the different charging standards available across the world.

Buyers wanting to add some extra kit to their car can do so with the following options:

  • Long-range battery (US$9000)
    • Increases range to 310 miles (500km), supercharging at a rate of 170 miles’ range (274km) per hour, and home charging at a rate of 37 miles’ range (60km) per hour (240V/40A)
    • Acceleration rate increases to 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds and top speed increases to 140mph (225km/h)
  • Paint options (US$1000)
    • Solid colours are free, but midnight silver metallic, deep blue metallic, silver metallic, pearl white multi-coat and red multi-coat are all extra
  • Wheels ($1500)
    • 18-inch wheels are standard, while 19-inch sport wheels are an extra cost
  • Premium upgrades package (US$5000)
    • Includes premium heated seating, open pore wood decor, two rear USBs, 12-way power adjustable front seats, steering column and side mirrors, premium audio system, tinted glass roof, auto dimming and folding side mirrors, LED fog lights and centre console cover with docking for two smartphones
  • Enhanced AutoPilot (US$5000)
    • Radar cruise control, lane-keep assist, lane change assistant and self parking, plus any additional functions that are developed
  • Full self-driving capability (US$3000, requires Enhanced AutoPilot)
    • While all Model 3s come with the required hardware, this option enables full self driving, which is planned to be rolled out in the future

Australian deliveries are expected to start in early 2019, with the company ramping up production from today onwards.

What do you think of the pricing and feature set?

MORE: Tesla Model 3 REVIEW
MORE: Model 3 news coverage

MORE: Everything Tesla




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