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Tesla Model 3 Review

Introducing the Tesla Model 3

It’s fair to say that the Tesla Model 3 has embedded itself into the New Zealand motoring landscape. The Clean Car Discount provided a financial incentive, and motorists stepped up to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while enjoying the Tesla brand experience. I will summarise my experience with the Tesla brand in today’s post.

I have now clocked up more than three months of motoring in my Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive, a Pearl White with black ‘vegan’ leather trim. However, let’s begin by taking a step back in time; though already confident in the vehicle’s performance, I took a test drive in late August 2021 mainly to ensure that at 1.89m tall, I would be comfortable. I placed an online order on 29 November 2021 and picked up the car on 7 March 2022 after ConsultCRO Limited completed the payment.

The Driving Experience

Operating the Model 3 is straightforward, and the mobile app enhances the experience. With a digital key in my iPhone, I approach the car, open the door, jump in, and it’s ready to go with personalised preferences and pre-set driving parameters.

For your benchmarking purposes, the Model 3 is about the same size as a BMW 3 Series. The Model 3 drives near-silently compared to the internal combustion engine vehicles I have driven previously. It is quick off the mark and pleasing to drive; regenerative braking takes minimal adjustment. The compact steering wheel results in responsiveness, and the suspension is firm with a rail-like grip provided by 18-inch Michelin tyres which I run at 43 PSI. I’m pleased that there is minimal body roll on corners and do like the adaptive cruise control feature when on the highway (I have not added the so-called full self-driving capability).

In-car Tech and Interior Design

Tesla takes a minimalist approach to interior design. The vehicle has a large touchscreen mounted at the centre, which replaces the traditional instrument cluster. The automaker has emphasised its in-car entertainment; my 9-year-old son would acknowledge this. The sound system is good, but I would like to see the adoption of Apple’s AirPlay. I’m a fan of the heated seats and the lumbar support. Frankly, I don’t remember car seats ever being so comfortable. As for the over-the-air software updates, Tesla is an iPhone on four wheels.

Before the Model 3, I drove a Peugeot 3008 Allure, a compact SUV with folding rear seats. I was concerned about the loss of convenience when switching to a four-door saloon car. I have concluded that my concerns were unjustified, and I certainly do not need to buy the Model Y, the fully electric, mid-size SUV that will be available in New Zealand from August 2022.

Charging and Range

Before purchasing, I had concerns based on an outlier event where I may need to drive from Auckland to Wellington in a single uninterrupted journey—the WLTP range falls short at 491km. In real-world conditions, my range is only 437km. Still, once rational thought prevailed, I realised that this caters to my day-to-day driving needs.

Since owning the Model 3, I have not once had range anxiety and charge at home using a three-pin plug, but I work from home, and my choice is not necessarily suitable for you. As far as mass adoption goes, I look forward to seeing a more extensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure in New Zealand. As I recall from frequent trips to Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen between 2015-2019, China is at the forefront of electric mobility. It would be great to see a more purposeful transition toward electrification here in New Zealand.

As for running costs, I have not yet thoroughly crunched the numbers. However, petrol prices have increased circa 50% since an I returned to New Zealand roughly two years ago. And we can expect petrol prices to increase further as inflation rises and macroeconomic conditions worsen.

Minor Gripes

My gripes are few and far between, but I have noticed that the panel gaps tend to collect dirt. I don’t recall this being an issue for a white Audi A6 company car I drove years ago. The left-side camera occasionally produces an error reading before reconnecting. And like other owners, I have observed the odd, hard-to-pinpoint rattling sound. Lastly, I wish the automatic windscreen wipers were more sensitive to light rain, but the Tesla voice command feature allows you to activate windscreen wipers easily.

A Lifestyle Choice

The Tesla Model 3 has an excellent safety rating and has drawn praise from the automotive engineer Sandy Munro. However, I know that purchasing an electric vehicle is only a half step. To complete the journey, I must collect solar energy through solar panels and store the power in a power bank. I have a north-facing property and will work toward this outcome. And I’m sure Tesla will seek to accelerate a transition to sustainable energy globally even if the company is currently reducing the size of its workforce.

Thank you for giving me the gift of your time and attention.

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