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.
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:
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?