Tesla’s Model 3 is floating in a strange sort of scarcity-induced stealth mode. Mainstream auto mags can’t seem to get their hands on units to review, but video reviews from owners and internet-era citizen journalists are starting to appear: Doug DeMuro, writer of the Oversteer column on Autotrader; Trevor Page and Kenneth Bokor, the founders of the Model 3 Owners Club; and The Tesla Show podcast have all posted first-drive reviews.
Our friends at EVannex are among the fortunate few who have been able to conduct an in-depth evaluation of the new sedan, and they’ve taken a slightly different tack, comparing and contrasting it with its elder sibling, Model S.
Most of the differences fall into two categories: some are due to the fact that Model 3 is a smaller and cheaper vehicle, and others have to do with new features that Tesla developed since Model S went into production (some of these may be designed to enable driverless car-sharing).
EVannex’s Matt Pressman points out that the mid-size Model 3 can’t compete with Model S in interior volume, which is 30 cubic feet in Model S, compared to 15 cubic feet in Model 3. Furthermore (an issue dear to this writer/musician’s heart), Model S’s hatchback design is superior when it comes to loading large items of cargo, although Model 3’s trunk opening, combined with second row fold-down seats, does make it easy to carry long objects. Model S also has a larger frunk.
Pressman finds that Model 3’s novel interior design gives it exceptional driver visibility, and also notes that “Tesla has improved its interior design chops.” Model 3 has a well-designed and functional center console, as well as a number of handy little things that are absent from Model S, including coat hooks, a rear-seat armrest, small storage compartments and back-of-seat kangaroo pockets (this may be a mixed blessing for EVannex, which has built a good business selling such items as aftermarket accessories).
EVannex did have a few small quibbles with Model 3. The push-rotate-grab door handles of Model 3 achieve the desired aerodynamic qualities (and are probably a bit cheaper), but “they pale in comparison” to Model S’s famously cool auto-presenting handles.
Pressman’s conclusion is that Model 3 and Model S are different vehicles for different demographics. “Both will turn heads, and both are the epitome of current automotive technology.” There’s no question that you want a Tesla, but which one is right for you?
While some of Model 3’s interior design cues are superior, when it comes to performance. premium feel, interior space and exterior aesthetics, the more expensive Model S “wins going away.”