Tesla Model 3 Owner Review

title image of Tesla Model 3 LR after 50 days - the fears, the attractions, the unexpected and the verdict.

Tesla Model 3

Long Range Blue AWD 2021

10/10not logged41 votes

Tesla Model 3 LR after 50 days - the fears, the attractions, the unexpected and the verdict.

It's not a car - it's a spaceship!

24 Jul 2021

Tesla Model 3 Pros and Cons

Pros:
  • Vegan leather seats are surprisingly good.

  • Can refuel from home. Very cheap and convenient and no more service stations!

  • The car is just incredibly fun to drive.

  • The community. It's a mixture of environmental crusaders and rev-heads and they are super-helpful on forums. With a Tesla you can be both green and enjoy the thrill of the acceleration.

  • Acceleration. 0-100km/h quietly in 4.4s. Changes the way you drive.

  • No keys required except your phone. Just walk up and drive away!

  • Quietness. I hate noise, and this thing is about as silent as you can get. Gold.

  • Autopilot and adaptive cruise - transformational on long trips.

  • Maintenance. There is virtually none.

  • Has wireless charging for phones and USB-C ports.

  • Range. I get between 400-450 km on a "tank" if I project the actual kms done and the percentages reported on 110 km/h road trips. That's more than enough for Aussie road trips.

  • The app. You can pre-heat or pre-cool the car, know where it is, check the charge state, lock it, wind down the windows. Cool!

  • Touchscreen - awesome interface. Very user-friendly. Great navigation.

  • Heated seats and steering wheel are divine.

  • Great use of cameras for warning about collisions in tight spaces. Tells you how many cm you are from objects.

  • Voice recognition works well and makes the car safer.

  • Thumbwheels on the steering wheel are very intuitive.

  • No more exhaust fumes or oil.

  • Sound system + low noise = nice listening experience.

  • Fun to have spotify/netflix on board.

  • Supercharger network. Gets you between major cities in Australia on the East Coast.

  • Car is mostly good for the environment. Until you have to dispose of the battery.

  • Remembers your seat settings.

  • Glass roof gives passengers a nice driving experience.

  • AWD. Hugs the road.

  • The boot opens and shuts at the touch of a button but the frunk doesn't.

Cons:
  • The Australian government hates EVs. They're inevitable. They should get over it.

  • Some people worship Elon as if he's some sort of God. He isn't.

  • Often gets speed limits wrong, especially out of school hours. Very annoying.

  • After being on Autopilot it is easy to "forget" that you have to steer! This is perhaps the most dangerous thing about the car.

  • No spare tyre.

  • Despite the 8 year battery warranty, it is too early to predict how it will fare in 2029. The replacement cost could be enormous and you'd be at Tesla's mercy.

  • Car doesn't always tell you why it won't let you do something.

  • When on Autopilot doesn't slow until *AFTER* hitting the new speed zone, danger of getting caught speeding.

  • Tyres. They cost a lot each and are prone to punctures on pot holes. They also need rotation.

  • Price. 86K was a lot of money to part with. Now it costs 80K. :(

  • The claimed range on the website should have all sorts of disclaimers.

  • No heads up display. Can be distracting to look at the screen when driving.

  • The "handover". Takes about 5 minutes and leaves you without enough knowledge to drive properly. A 30 minute tutorial would have been invaluable especially when you just handed over more than $86K AUD.

  • Difficult to fit a roadbike inside it without dismantling it.

  • The cost of tyres and the EV tax in Victoria is more than the cost of the electricity it consumes.

  • Large turning circle/large vehicle. Awkward in car parks.

  • Some people think that the car is emissions-free. In reality it is only as green as the power source. 

  • Would have preferred a hatchback.

  • Car doesn't remember your rear-vision mirror position.

  • Navigation doesn't have driver's view. It is all top-down. 

  • Tight entrance to the boot (trunk). 

Considered buying

Tesla Model S

example image of Tesla Model S

The Dealbreakers:

Cost.

mg ZS EV

example image of mg ZS EV

The Attractions:

Cost

The Dealbreakers:

Range is pathetic. Not as cool.

Owner Review

Tesla Model 3 LR after 50 days - the fears, the attractions, the unexpected and the verdict.

MB+Tesla
MB+Tesla

Well, after about seven years of research and after watching hundreds of YouTube videos I finally bit the bullet and purchased a Tesla Model 3 Long Range. Fifty days later I'm delighted by the purchase, as is my wife.

I live in Melbourne, Australia, and we typically drive (10-15)K km per year. I was aware that batteries are still expensive, and that if I waited, I could probably get a better car for cheaper, but wanted to be an early adopter. So I pulled the 92K trigger. Gulp!

The Fears:

There were many things that appealed to me about the Tesla Model 3, and a few that scared me, like:

  • Build quality. I've seen the horror YouTube videos about panel gaps!
  • Cost. (It was going to be 92K AUD = 68K USD = 49K GBP)
  • Lack of a dash. Would I crash looking at the touch screen?
  • The use of artificial intelligence. Computers are imperfect.
  • Battery range, rate of decay and ultimate lifetime/cost to replace. Would the thing be worthless in 10 years?
  • My wife might hate it. I ride to work and she uses it 7d/week. 

Build Quality: Fortunately, the build quality on my car has (so far) been exceptional. The panel gaps are perfectly fine. It was made in China - I'm told that helps. I had a car nerd go over every inch of it and his only quibble was how the pop-up charger panel sticks out 1-2 mm. To me it was invisible.

Cost: After ordering the price dropped by 6K to 86K, which they passed on. Sadly a couple of weeks ago the price dropped by another 6K. Oh well.

Lack of a dash: Whilst this would be preferred, I don't miss it much as the car warns me when I speed. I do find that if I don't know how to do something, and I start poking around things get dangerous pretty quickly. Like trying to change channels on the radio.

The use of Artificial Intelligence: In my professional life (I'm an astrophysicist) I use machine learning a lot. I was worried about how reliable it would be. So far I'm delighted by it but not to the extent that I'd buy "Full Self Driving" for another 10K! The way the car spots things and displays avatars and drives between cities is a game-changer.

Battery: There are many Tesla owners who have absolute faith that their batteries will last the entire lifetime of the car. I think that the reality is we're part of an experiment that will determine this. Historically Li-Ion batteries go off a cliff at a certain age. If Tesla have "solved" this, then great. Time will tell.

My wife might hate it: Fortunately, this didn't happen, although the lack of a decent tutorial/handover makes this a risk as there is a steep learning curve.

20210709 190018

OK, so I had it coated in ceramic and paint protection film.


The Attractions:

Although I'd watched a lot of videos, the major attractions to me were:

  • Renewable-powered transport - I'm very green.
  • Low maintenance costs - I hate car servicing/unexpected maintenance costs.
  • Quietness - I find noise tiring.
  • Stress-free road trips - I find the concentration required for road trips mentally challenging/headache inducing.
  • Instant and powerful acceleration - this sounded like fun.
  • The app - I liked the idea of turning on the heating before I got to the car.

Renewable-powered transport: The car uses about as much electricity as my solar panels generate in a year. That's nice. There's also no oil, grease, fumes on idle. Your garage doesn't get coated in oil. I spend virtually nothing on electricity using a combination of solar, off-peak and free chargers. Win!

Low maintenance costs:  Electric engines are super-low maintenance compared to internal combustion ones. My first service isn't scheduled for another 10 months. 

Quietness: I hate noise in cars, especially on road trips. In the city at low speeds this thing is delightfully quiet. At 100 km/h you hear the wind and tyres on the road, but it's fine and not masked by engine drone. 

The superchargers make some road trips a breeze.

The superchargers make recharging a breeze - where they exist!

Stress-free road trips: There's a lot of angst about range anxiety with EVs. Doing Melbourne-Adelaide I didn't experience any. The LR gets you about 400-450 km and if you recharge every 350 km or so for 30 minutes you're laughing. Wonderfully, the cruise control and autopilot on well-marked highways makes interstate trips a breeze.

Instant and powerful acceleration: I'm not a petrol-head, and ride bikes for thrills, but you don't know the power of the dark side until you've experienced it. This thing is amazingly fun to drive. The instant torque and (quiet) acceleration are addictive. My Porsche-loving mates were entranced by it on a recent test drive.

app

The app keeps you in touch with your loved one - and those who drive it!

The app: The car is very online. If it is cold you can preheat the cabin, turn on the heated seats/steering wheel, check the charge level or pop the trunk for someone already at the car. I don't usually carry a key, just use the bluetooth in the phone and as I get near the car it unlocks. When I walk away it locks! Another cool feature is that when you are being picked up by someone driving it, you can pull out the app and see exactly where it is. Very handy!

The Unexpected:

Surprisingly, the regen braking (the car doesn't coast, it instantly decelerates upon releasing the accelerator to recharge the battery) is horrible at first but once you get used to it it is a delight. Braking is extremely rare. 

The interior is almost "knob free". Almost everything is on the touch screen. At first I didn't like this. I just wanted to hit the AC button, or turn down the volume, or point the vent at my face. But eventually I learnt that much of this functionality is available with short-cuts or voice commands. You can press a button on the steering wheel and say "I'm hot" or "I'm cold" or "ring Marion" and it takes action. This is where a tutorial in the showroom would have been invaluable, but where the Facebook groups come into their own. Help is never far away.

20210721 124139

On autopilot it steers and sticks to the speed limit for you. Very relaxing or too relaxing?

On my first road trip I decided that I hated autopilot, mainly because about every 30 seconds it would tell me to turn the wheel slightly to know I was still there. It didn't seem to matter how hard I gripped the steering wheel, it would nag me. The pain outweighed the gain! One quick post to the Aussie Tesla Model 3 group and people explained that if you rested just one arm on the wheel applying a minor torque the car would sense that and drive automatically for hours! 750 km later I was in love with autopilot!

AI - it knows what is around you.
AI - it knows what is around you.

Somewhat disturbingly, although the automagic features/AI are a revolution, it is concerning that when on autopilot the car WON'T STOP for red traffic lights (even though it knows they are there), WON'T STOP for speed humps (youch!), and when you come off autopilot and forget that you are off it and need to steer who knows if it would save you from going off the road or just think "well he did turn off autopilot so he's got what's coming to him"? - I'm also told it ploughs straight through potholes. AI creates many ethical dilemmas. I suspect we'll hear more and more about them.

Finally, it is quite a big car, and the turning circle is largish. I'm used to a Toyota Prius which is easier to maneuver.  

The Verdict

As a friend of mine said, "It's not a car, it's a spaceship!" I'm delighted by it and the community is fantastic. Vive la (EV) revolution!


Long-term average consumption

Long-term average consumption: 160 Wh/km

Tesla referral link

If my review helped you decide to buy a new Tesla, I'd be happy if you use my referral link below that will give the both of us 1.000 free Supercharger miles.

matthew97773

Tesla Model 3 Photos

Tesla Model 3 - 20210709 190018 Tesla Model 3 - 20210721 144420 Tesla Model 3 - 20210721 124139 Tesla Model 3 - 20210721 124208 Tesla Model 3 - marionPlusSkyTesla Tesla Model 3 - MB+Tesla

Discussion

  • 2021-07-24 10:22:37 UTC

    battery lifetime?

    Hi, thanks for your great review. Especially that you wrote some minuses. No car is perfect.
    I'm a big fan of electric cars, but I'm also worried about what the batteries will do after 10, 12 or even 20 years of use. Especially if someone will use them incorrectly (often charging to 100% or discharging below 5%). Some car manufacturers make batteries so that they can be disassembled and the faulty cells replaced. However, that probably won't be possible with Tesla batteries that are all encased in glue. What do you think about this?
    • 2021-08-01 05:35:30 UTC

      Re: battery lifetime?

      It's probably worth considering that the Made In China (MIC) Teslas use two quite different battery chemistries. The Standard Range (SR+) Model 3 and Y use Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries which have lower energy density, but can be good for around 10,000 cycles, so they should literally last much longer than the rest of the car. The LR and Performance versions all still use Lithium Nickel Cobalt Manganese (NCM) batteries, which might only be good for 1,500 cycles.
  • 2021-07-25 01:22:17 UTC

    Fantastic review

    Fantastic well-balanced review MatthewB! It alleviates most of my fears, confirms the pluses and also some of the areas for improvement. I too would so love a small hatch version of the model 3 (true, the model Y is a hatch but it is too big, and not available here yet). While I like the minimalism, to a certain extent, I would have preferred just a few more buttons/knobs and a heads-up display. I know many features can be accessed by speaking to and listening to the car talk but I like my peace and quiet and I feel awkward talking to the car when a simple button press could suffice (but that is a very personal quirk of mine and probably doesn't hinder others). Nonetheless, with the recent significant price drop and the rich and evolving feature set of the model 3 it's hard to think of any reason why you chose anything else (especially an ICE alternative) in that price bracket! Subsequently, I have put an order in and will hopefully get my hands on my own model 3 in the coming weeks. Thanks again for the excellent review.

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