Braking updates put 'EV for the masses' back on the 'nice' list

It's amazing what difference a week can make in motoring. Just last week, Consumer Reports said it wouldn't recommend the Tesla Model 3, after testing revealed some strange behaviour under brakes.

Elon Musk responded quickly, telling the world he – or rather, Tesla – could fix the problem with an over-the-air update. Update duly delivered, car duly re-tested and the Consumer Reports frown has turned upside down, with the consumer publication openly recommending the car.

"I’ve been at CR for 19 years and tested more than 1,000 cars, and I’ve never seen a car that could improve its track performance with an over-the-air update,” said Jake Fisher, director of vehicle testing at Consumer Reports. 

The update, which Tesla says improved how the car's anti-lock braking system adapts under certain environmental conditions, cut the much-talked-about stopping distance to 133ft (40.5m) from 97km/h, down 5.8m on the initial result.

Some issues remained, however. Although the revised braking test result boosts the Model 3 into the 'recommended' category, over-the-air updates can't solve the terse ride, uncomfortable rear seat and wind noise problems noted by reviewers.

After Musk used Twitter to argue more recently-built cars don't suffer those problems, CR vouched to test a new car and find out what the story is.

"Braking & UI upgrades apply to all Model 3s. Improved windshield for aero noise & suspension for ride comfort are major ops. Unless you’re really bothered by them, don’t replace. Best way to improve ride is drop tire pressure to ~39 psi. 45 psi is best range, but lower comfort," Musk tweeted.

Australia

These changes don't impact Australian owners, because the Model 3 isn't here yet. Right-hand drive production will start at some point next year, but there's no official timeline for when the first cars will start touching down on local soil.