Yes that’s right. Taking delivery of one of the first Tesla Model 3’s in Australia we drove away from our delivery appointment last Thursday in our own Batmobile. After a week of driving, playing, poking and learning I thought I’d give a few quick first impressions.
The Freaking Future
To start with I should probably preface this with saying that I’d already seen multiple Model 3’s before our delivery day. Both DW and I had already gone over a red, grey and black one with a fine tooth comb both inside and out so there was no real “shock” moment when we first saw our one.
It was a bit of a strange feeling though as we have been waiting so long. 1,266 days to be precise. More than 3 years since I first put down that $1,500 AUD reservation but Tesla absolutely delivered on their promise.
If I had to encapsulate my overall impression of the car it would be that it is absolutely, 110%, the freaking future. The car is very nice looking on the outside but inside OMG. Driving it, using it, accelerating in it is just so far beyond any other vehicle I’ve ever driven it’s just ridiculous.
I’ve driven Lamborghinis, Alfas, performance Mazdas, performance Audis. I’ve been in and looked in countless luxury cars but none of them hold a candle to the Model 3.
The tech inside it is off the charts bananas. It’s like playing with a new phone or laptop. I personally love playing with new tech but know many also don’t. Don’t be turned off though, as everything is so pleasantly simple, neat, minimal and intuitive that even without digging into all the high tech weeds driving the car and enjoying it is still dead simple.
How simple? Just plant your right foot. Dat acceleration holy cow! We bought the Standard Range Plus model (ie the slowest one!) and it still goes so quick that it gives people literal nausea when accelerating in a straight line just one time.
The Tesla phone app is also awesome. Once again leagues ahead of 99% of other cars. You can watch as someone else drives the car along a map, seeing exactly how fast they’re going at every second. You can start it, lock/unlock it, stop it charging, cool or heat it up, see when doors are open and more. There is still a ton of things I’d like to see added to it over time but I’m sure Tesla will get there.
Another big part of the car is that basically everything is automated. Windshield wipers are automatic and work great. Headlights are automatic and work great. Turning on/off high beams is automatic. So is unlocking and locking the car (via your phone no less) not to mention Autopilot.
Easy Entry is also super cool once all setup properly. This automatically adjusts the seat and steering wheel to be far back and out of the way so you can get in and out easier. Being quite tall it’s a pleasure now to get in/out of the car as I don’t get squashed due to DW having the seat so far forward.
One oddity with this though is that everything is automatically adjusted… except the revision mirror. That’s still manual for some reason. Bit of a let down but it’s still a great overall feature.
Along with this automatic everything is the minimal design in general. The entire process for driving the car off is 1) open door 2) put foot on brake 3) put into Drive 4) put foot on accelerator. There’s no getting out your key fob or pushing a start button. The operation, just like the interior, is super simple and streamlined.
It’s also been fantastic to finally go about my life with no keys at all. I’d already paired them down to just our home and car keys but with our Bluetooth enabled smart lock and now the Model 3 all working via my phone… I don’t need anything. Once I can get rid of one other card I carry I won’t even need a wallet either which will be even better.
For me, the biggest adjustment wasn’t the screen or the acceleration or even the fancy leather seats, it was the regenerative braking. Coming from a manual coasting along without my foot on the accelerator was just second nature. Now though the car comes to a complete stop if I take my foot off for a few seconds.
It doesn’t take very long to get used to but it was the most jarring of all the changes. Turning “Creep” mode off helped a lot (it’s creepy) and getting used to looking to the side for speed/info literally took about 30 seconds worth of driving.
Another big adjustment is just worrying or being concerned over scratching, damaging, crashing or whatever. Coming from a car that was about 15% the value of this one it does play on ones nerves a little being so expensive.
The more I drive, park, reverse, manoeuvre etc the more this worrying goes away and my confidence builds. Beyond all this though adjusting to the “new hotness” is just a pleasure. Acceleration is so smooth and the tech is so advanced and in tune with what a car should be. Even with all the hype the car has received, even with all the build up waiting more than 3 years has contributed I’m still blown away with it.
While I’m clearly excited by what Tesla is doing and how they’re doing it they still could get a few things tweaked and changed to make the experience better. While none of the below would stop me from recommend people hands down buy this car it’d be nice to see some of them get fixed.
To start with the SR+ model doesn’t come with floor mats or a mat for the Frunk (Long Range and Performance models do). When the car starts at $70,000 AUD it damn well should! Mats are what? $50? Just include them Tesla, this shouldn’t even be up for discussion.
Similarly their fantastic spot that you put your phone in to charge doesn’t actually come with the USB Type-A to your phone cables. Again, this shouldn’t even be up for discussion. Even a $10 USB Flash drive from Bunnings comes with it’s own USB cable, so a car damn well should too! On delivery they should ask “what port does you phone have?” and give you the two cables you ask for. The End.
The only other thing that confused us a bit was the general car settings and how they worked with the car profiles. Individual profiles for the car are brilliant, but it’s really just not very clear what setting in any of the menus are “car wide” and what’s “profile specific”.
If I set the screen to be dark mode all the time is that car wide or just for me? Who knows. What about regen strength or Autopilot follow length? With some things like the seat position it’s quite clear, but most other things required fiddling around to find out.
On the topic of profiles these should be fully synced with the app, the website and car. You should also be able to change all these settings on the app or on the website. From what I hear, this is what Tesla is working towards but they just haven’t gotten there yet.
Why would you buy anything else?
While the Model 3 isn’t cheap here in Australia (starting at $72,000+ drive away) there’s a lot of people that have that kind of money. Basically anyone you see driving any new BMW, Audi or other “luxury” car has likely spent this amount or probably more.
While I’m by no means a professional car reviewer who’s travelled the world for decades covering every make and model I’ve seen and driven my fair share of normal and luxury cars. I honestly can’t imagine why anyone with $70,000 to spend on a car would buy anything else. This is of course assuming they’re looking for a 4 door sedan type car not a SUV or sports car etc.
The car is a complete breath of fresh air from everything else I’ve ever been in (including other Model S and Model X’s) as it’s interior is just so minimal, simplified and calming. While it’s 100% a huge tech overload this isn’t the perception while using it as everything is so well concealed.
This concealing doesn’t make thing confusing either, as the touchscreen and other systems intuitively bring whatever information you need to you at just the right time. Plug in to charge, the charging info pops up. Parking the car, the sensors display – down to the centimetre! – how close you are to everything. Meanwhile most other things you’d usually need to operate manually like wipers, lights etc are all just automatic.
With just one screen, no buttons, no air vents and such refined integration the “stark” interior as some might describe it I think is instead beautifully minimalist. As a result driving is relaxing and fun as opposed to a chore.
This article first published at Alex Shoolman’s personal blog. It been reprinted with permission.