Today my new 2019 Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD Performance arrived. After having spent around 8 hours with the car, I wanted to reflect on highly anticipated and most popular EV in the country.
My first impressions may be a little different than most, given that I was fortunate enough to drive the Model 3 around a track, at the Australian media launch a couple of months ago.
I’ll have a much more detailed full review of the car coming soon, but for now, here’s the first reflections and maybe these will impact the way you think about EVs.
This car is fast, stupid fast. The official spec sheet lists the 0-100km/hr time as just 3.4seconds. Go take a look at the Wikipedia list of cars that beat that and you won’t find a cheaper one. It’s worthwhile remembering the 2015 Lamborghini Huracán only beats the Model 3 Performance by just 0.2seconds. That Lambo cost more than 3 times the price, so the Tesla is looking like a great deal.
A lot of people spend a lot of money, going after performance figures by acceleration and top speed. The Model 3 has a crazy level of performance from the factory and its under warranty.
The application of that performance is done through the use of technology, maintaining traction to all 4 wheels, ensuring all the kilowatts are deployment to the road.
Now I knew the car was fast, but perhaps the biggest surprise is just how little percentage of the throttle is required to jump your speed from 60 to 80, or 80 to 60, pick a number, it just jumps, without trying.
Having driven a number of EVs now, I’m used to the lack of noise when you plant your right foot and although I added an aftermarket exhaust to my last car, I don’t miss it for a second, this is so clearly the future.
When the Model 3 got released, I wasn’t in love with the front bar. To be honest, it was a real concern, but in the name of aerodynamics and all the other features on offer, I could look past it.
Now I have the car, I actually noticed my opinion changing. Australia’s requirement to have front and rear number plates (unlike much of the US), means that front bar is actually broken up with the plate. Now that I’ve seen the front bar from a lot of different angles, I think it’s really not an issue anymore. Is the front end as aggressive as an Audi RS3? No, but it does fit with the rest of the exterior design that prioritises aerodynamic efficiency to optimise range.
The Aero wheel covers are fairly controversial, with some people disliking them enough to remove them. Thankfully the wheel underneath is a very decent grey alloy rim. A popular accessory is the Wheel Cap Kit which a version of is even sold by Tesla themselves.
Personally, now I’ve looked at them up close and think the aero wheels are something new that people haven’t really seen on a car before and are likely a good talking point with casual observers. It also doesn’t hurt that the covers add as much as 5% to the range of the car, so especially for long trips, you’ll want them on.
When I drove the car previously, we were at a private track, so it wasn’t representative of day-to-day living with the car, on public roads. Now that I’ve experienced the car on the fairly ordinary Aussie roads around Albury Wodonga, I’m pretty glad I elected a car with 18″ rims and a little more sidewall on the tyre.
The Model 3 replaces my 14-year-old modified lancer that had 17″ rims (upgraded from 15″) with low profile tyres and lowered, sports suspension. I built this car to handle around corners and the consequence of that was a fairly harsh ride.
Given my benchmark for a daily driver was substantially different than most, the Model 3 feels like smooth in comparison, still firm, understandably so, given the car was also built to handle corners well and the extra weight of the battery.
The other big aspect of ride comfort is the seats. Moving out of Evo 8 Recaros, I really hoped the Model 3 seats offered the same, hold you in place around the corners while being comfortable for cruising on long road trips.
Thankfully I can confirm the seats in the 2019 Model 3 Performance do a good job, although they’re not the insane buckets you find in the Focus RS.
As someone who’s taller, I love these seats, their electronic adjustability, combined with the steering wheel adjustments, mean you can get into basically the perfect driving position.
The seats are also heated and in my model, even the rear seats are heated. Although we’re now heading towards an Aussie Summer, they’ll be handy next Winter. We have some of the widest spans of temperature here in Albury Wodonga, from 45 degrees in Summer, to -5 in Winter.
As we approach the warmer months, I do wish Tesla could have squeezed seat cooling into the budge, like the ones found in the early Model S.
The rear seats are also great for adults, and the lack of a transmission tunnel means your middle-rear passenger has room for their feet to be flat on the floor, even if the included floor mats weirdly don’t protect this area, a strange omission.
Charging vs Supercharging
Most people will charge their vehicles at home, setting the charge limit between 10 and 90% of capacity. This will result in a longer lifespace for the battery while you’re tripping around town, but every now and then, you can extend it all the way up to 100% for maximum range.
Charging at home is by far the cheapest (I’m currently paying $0.23c per kWh), but what you save in price, you spend in time. Most days, this is the best trade-off, as you don’t mind if charging takes hours while you sleep.
When you need energy fast, you can stop at a Supercharger and Tesla will charge you $0.42 per kWh.
I’m in the fortunate position to have accumulated 33 referrals, 16 of which have been delivered. This gives me 1,500km each time my referral link () is used and a massive thanks goes out to my amazing audience who’ve used my link.
Other than for the purpose of the review, I’ll be charging for free at the Superchargers. Wodonga has 6 bay which has all been upgraded to CCS2 for the Model 3.
The car arrived with Version 9 of the software installed. While I, like many had watched dozens of videos from international Model 3 owners, I still didn’t appreciate the first-run experience of climbing into the car for the first time.
I started by connecting my phone via Bluetooth, a simple, easy setup. I then added my driver profile and configured my mirror and steering wheel positions. That made me think about the chair a little more, so tweaked my driving position further. I then used the mobile app to pair my phone as a key for the car.
After those few configurations, you’re then left to stumble your way through the navigation. Maybe you find your way to set your Home and Work locations in Maps, or the Spotify login page, but there’s no handholding at all, certainly nothing about Sentry mode or Dashcam drive configurations. This could definitely be improved.
As V10.0 rolls out to the world, I’m really hoping to get it this week and will include the changes in the final review.