Living with a Tesla Model 3 Performance: The comprehensive 1 year review

On September 30th, 2019, just over one year ago, a brand new 2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance was delivered to my door. After 12 months of ownership, I’ve now...

On September 30th, 2019, just over one year ago, a brand new 2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance was delivered to my door. After 12 months of ownership, I’ve now accumulated plenty of lived experience of using an electric car as my daily driver, so its time to break down what’s great and what’s not.

In October last year, I wrote my full Tesla Model 3 Performance review which before this update, was the longest and most exhaustive review I’ve ever written. 12 months on, this serves as a great basis in which to reflect on my early thoughts on the car and see how far my opinion has moved since then.

Owning a Model 3 has helped confirm what I’d suspected for a few years now, that ICE cars are living on borrowed time and in May, I announced to the world that I was done covering ICE vehicles.

Before we get into the detailed analysis, I wanted to share a quick story about my delivery day experience which was, eventful.

Let’s go back to March 2016, where I watched online as Elon Musk unveiled the Model 3 to the world. In January of 2019, I placed an order. In August 2019, I was one of the first in Australia to drive a Model 3 at the Aussie media launch, then finally at the end of September, my very own car was being delivered. This 37 years old (at the time) felt every bit like a kid on Christmas morning.

The delivery driver backed my car off the truck, it had arrived! I chose a 2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance (Stealth) in Pearl White Multi-Coat, with a black interior.

I tried to be diligent about running through my delivery day checklist, to ensure the car was right before accepting it. I have to admit, I got caught up in the moment and the list went out the window.

A quick observation didn’t reveal any big issues, so I accepted the car and the delivery driver went on his way and it was time to go for a drive.

By this stage I had already driven the Model 3, so I felt like I knew my way around it fairly well and I’d also watched every YouTube video under the sun, so my job that day was really just to enjoy the car and to calibrate autopilot.

This was the second new I’ve bought in my life, with the first being a 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer, so this was quite the upgrade.

About 80km and a couple of hours later, I received a call from a Tesla representative. They were incredibly apologetic but informed me that the wrong vehicle had been delivered.

Two of the same spec car, in the same colour, were being delivered to Wodonga on exactly the same day. The chances of that have to be 1 in a million.

Let’s be clear, this was a mistake made by the courier company, not by Tesla.

I agreed to meet the other driver at the Wodonga Supercharger and we swapped vehicles. Had I been diligent about my checklist, I would have noticed that the VIN didn’t match the delivery paperwork, so I felt partly responsible.

The other new owner was a lovely elderly gentleman, and had been busy with an electrician installing his home charger that day. This meant he really hadn’t driven the car delivered to him (mine) much at all. I felt bad that I’d already clocked up 80km+ but promoted the fact that I’d calibrated his autopilot for him.

After switching cars to our correct VINs, we were on our way and for a second time that day, repeated the process of calibrating the autopilot cameras.

There were no negative consequences to this mistake by the transport company, but it clearly wasn’t the customer experience Tesla wanted and they offered 1,500km of free Supercharging as compensation. I was thankful, but when I explained I had already amassed a decent amount of charging thanks to referrals, it was clear that was not as much of a reward as they were expecting.

Ultimately I just felt a little weird that the photos I’d taken of my brand new vehicle arriving, were not actually my car. It happened, can’t change that, time to move on. I did wonder if anyone attentive readers would pick the different number plates in my review photos, but nobody did.

With that saga done and dusted, it was time to settle into life with my new car, one that represented the successful completion of a 5+ year dream to make my next car an electric vehicle.

The best edition

I believe that I bought the best version of the Model 3, the M3P Stealth which unfortunately is no longer offered by Tesla.

Before the order page went up, I expected to be buying the Long Range variant of the Model 3, based on what was available internationally, my budget and when that wasn’t offered in Australia at launch, I had a difficult decision to make.

While there are many, very happy Standard Range+ owners, I really had my heart set on the longer range that the Performance offered – 560km (NEDC rated).

The extra speed provided by the Performance model was really just a bonus, but something I absolutely love now I have it. After stretching even further than planned to get a M3P, Tesla eventually did add the option to buy the Long Range variant, as well as the white interior option, but by then it was too late and changing would mean a delay.

My model has the same stunning acceleration figures of 0-100km of 3.4s, but was around $6k cheaper than the Performance+ model. Sure, it doesn’t have the larger 20″ wheels, lowered suspension, red brake callipers, aluminium pedals, and carbon fibre spoiler, but the important AWD from dual electric motors, was there.

I also love that Musk eventually honoured the lifetime premium connectivity, as there was no mention of a 12-month limitation at the time of ordering. This now costs you A$9.99pm, so over the life of the vehicle, that’s quite the saving. I really enjoy the features of Premium connectivity, like live traffic data, satellite view on maps, streaming services like Spotify and the ability to browse the web.

The HomeLink hardware module was also included in the purchase price, which I had installed after delivery (in December 2019) which required a drive from Wodonga to Melbourne.

Finally the Model 3 Performance Stealth, also includes Track Mode and while I’ve tested some of the functionality (lap timer, data recording etc), I’m yet to take my car to the track. I was booked into a drive day earlier this year before Covid-19 happened and the event was cancelled.

Tesla recently redesigned the frunk and removed the two grocery hooks which cover the bolts to secure the inner lining. The hooks are actually incredibly useful, something I take advantage of weekly.

Now for the fun stuff, Performance.

Performance

This car is an absolute savage! There’s no other way to describe it. It feels like it shouldn’t be legal its that fast and it’ll beat almost anything on the road.

The feeling is like nothing else you’ve experienced in a car. The ability to just use two pedals to go and stop offers a simplicity that makes anything else seem archaic. You have to remember, I upgraded from a car with a 5-speed manual which I modified to have a short shifter. I used to love the manual control over the engine and deciding when I’d shift gears, but that honestly is now a completely ridiculous proposition.

The ability to stand on the accelerator and have the car launch like a rocket ship is something I do to this day, a year on and I still absolutely love it. It sounds dumb, but you almost want a red light to experience the thrill one more time.

In practical terms, the application of all that power, is great for overtaking or getting out of potential accidents. It’s also fantastic to move in and out of corners so much faster than other cars. With the right combination of performance, traction, stability and grip, the Model 3 Performance is an absolute weapon and it’s just bloody fun to have a fast car.

Ironically, this car is simultaneously the most fun and the most boring car to drive.

When you are driving, that performance is a relentless fun factory on wheels and the capability of the car, definitely feels wasted thanks to the speed signs on the side of the road.

When you let Autopilot drive, it can be the most boring car to drive as you have almost nothing to do. Just apply force to the wheel to signal to the car you’re paying attention and are ready to take over if you’re needed. Thankfully with how good Tesla’s Autopilot offering is today, that’s pretty rare on roads with white painted lines.

Unlike most powerful cars, the traction control system on a Tesla is absolutely amazing, it ensures the power deployed from your battery to the electric motors, is being delivered instantly and without loss of traction.

There are no spinning tyres, there is no loud engine or exhaust, instead, you launch perfectly, every single time. The Model 3 Performance is one of the fastest accelerating cars on the road, but also one of the easiest to drive. Given how quiet the car is, it actually provides a lot more opportunities to have safe, cheeky spurts of fun without drawing attention.

If you were serious about transforming this into a track weapon, then lowered suspension, larger brakes would definitely be on the must-have upgrade list, but I wanted this as a daily driver and for that, it’s exceptional.

Thankfully I got to experience the Model 3 Performance set free, around a closed private track at the media launch day. During that, I was able to really push the car to understand it’s capabilities and came away from the day incredibly impressed and eager to get my own. The car reached speeds of 190km/hr, but is officially rated to go as high as 233km/hr, while the Performance+ is good for 261km/hr.

There are certainly cars that have higher top speeds than the Tesla, but a far more important attribute to have, is acceleration on-tap, whenever you want it. Any car on the road can get to 110km/hr, but it’s how you get there that’s the exciting part.

Handling

The amount of grip this car is fantastic, aided by the battery weight positioned low, in the floor of the car. This even distribution, combined with the car being AWD and some decent rubber (Michelin Pilot Sport 4), help the Tesla handle like it’s on rails.

Even in the rain, or after a shower where the road surface can be wet and slippery, traction has never been an issue. This is also a credit to the team who engineered the traction control software. The goal of a Tesla isn’t just performance, it’s about the deployment of that power in an intelligent way.

The adjustable steering weight also really helps complement the type of driving you’re chasing. For highway driving, you can choose a softer setting, but given you’ll likely be on Autopilot the setting really becomes redundant.

I live exclusively on sport mode which gives a heavier feeling, offering a more connected and responsive drive, while being able to feed in more precise inputs, placing the car exactly where you want it through corners.

The local council, and Australia more broadly, seem to love roundabouts. These are often great opportunities to pass slower cars. As you approach, you let off the accelerator and let regenerative braking slow you, then turn through the corner and a quick squirt of the accelerator as you leave the roundabout.

The speed at which you’re able to take successive corners like this is amazing, easily 20-30km more than an average car. This means a quick check of your rear vision mirror and you’ll be amazed at the distance behind other cars are, that just a second ago, were right beside you.

On more open roads, the advisory signs around corners, are almost laughable, obviously determined for the worst possible car on the road, not at all appropriate guidance for a new, modern, smart Tesla.

Personally, I find the handling of the car to be seriously impressive, particularly when you appreciate the extra weight of the batteries feels almost indistinguishable from behind the wheel. If you’re really hooking in through consecutive turns, you do get a hint of weight transfer, but it really surprised me just how nimble the car feels, considering it weighs 1,856 kg.

Comfort

The seats in the Model 3 are seriously comfortably, soft enough to be comfortable for long drives and provide enough adjustment in position and lumber support to be comfortable for even taller drivers (I’m 6’3′).

I do wish the angle of the headrest for the front seats was adjustable, as I felt like my ideal seating position had to be adjusted to accommodate.

While the base of the seats provides fairly good bolstering, the sides could be more substantial to hug you around the corners. Obviously not everyone who buys a Model 3 is going to drive it hard (see Chill mode) so I understand they also need to accommodate more casual drivers.

I would still love to see Tesla offer a version with Recaro’s similar to those found in the Focus RS. There seems to be a growing community of people wanting to take their cars to the track and the inclusion of Track Mode suggests Tesla is all for that.

I am incredibly impressed with the amount of headroom available in both the front and rear seats of the Model 3. I’ve been in a number of mid-sized sedans, where the back seat is just not a viable option for taller people on longer trips. With the Model 3, the space is definitely acceptable and the lack of a transmission tunnel makes the center rear seat actually usable.

In terms of ride comfort, Tesla engineers have found a nice balance between firmness for better handling, and softness for driver and passenger comfort. I ride on the 18″ tyres and find it a comfortable, but firm ride, while those on 20″ have a smaller air cushion and have reported firmer rides. The Model 3 Long Range comes with 19″ which would land somewhere in the middle, so I’d say, make sure you take ride comfort into consideration when purchasing.

Overall, I love the comfort on offer in the Model 3 and with the number of hours spent riding versus driving set to change dramatically in the future, comfort is critical.

Fast entry and exit

You won’t find this feature on the website, or in the manual, but this is one of my favourites. Tesla is deploying its software smarts, to make the entry and exit to the vehicle, a really great (and fast) experience.

Simply walk up to your car, press the handle, open the door and sit down, the car is ready to go, thanks to it’s the always-on state. You were able to enter the vehicle as the car unlocked itself, after detecting your phone key via Bluetooth. This means you walk up and get in, with your phone in your pocket, it’s like having a wireless keyfob, without having to carry something extra.

Since owning a Tesla I now don’t have to carry keys on me and if Victoria would just add a digital license, I wouldn’t carry a wallet either. This feels a lot like living in the future.

To start driving, simply place your foot on the brake, select drive and accelerate away. This happens literally in a few seconds.

The same slick experience is also there when you arrive at your destination.

Brake until you come to a complete stop, then unbuckle your seatbelt, open the door and just get out.

The car detects the vehicle is stopped and there’s no reading from the driver’s seat pressure sensor, so automatically shifts into Park for you. As you leave the proximity to the car, your car will recognise that, and lock your car.

When arriving or leaving a location, you’ll find you’re able to do that much faster than friends in ICE vehicles. They are likely still manually shifting into park, engaging the handbrake, turn off the ignition, then locking their vehicle. All of that happens for free with Model 3 and I just never think about it anymore.

Over-the-air updates

The Model 3 was a great the day I got it, but I knew that wasn’t the end of the story and since then has improved significantly. Tesla has not only committed to ongoing over-the-air updates but actually delivers regularly.

On average, I’d say we’ve received at least 1 per month, sometimes more and they vary in scale, some are big new features, others are just bug fixes. Combined though the car today is a much more capable, enjoyable vehicle than it was when I bought it.

The process of updating the car is really slick and a model others are now following. The mobile app pushes a notification to you, to let you know a new version of the software is available. You have a choice to install now, or schedule for later.

If you confirm the installation, it’ll take around 25 minutes and we really haven’t seen Tesla use a delta update model, it seems like an entire OS rebuild each time.

Once the updated is complete, you are again notified and the next time you enter the car, you’ll see release notes to see what’s changed in the latest build. Often there are instructions relating to new settings you can go and enable. This definitely could be improved, with a quick access link to the page where that setting lives.

Obviously having a car unavailable while it updates for almost half an hour could be really inconvenient during the day, so Tesla allows you to schedule the installation overnight.

I have never once scheduled the update, as I’m always looking forward to seeing and experiencing the new functionality. With the Tesla community being so connected, we have usually seen the release notes before it arrives in the car.

Below is a list of the improvements in the last 12 months. It’s hard to say what value this adds to the car, but by adding new features and functionality, Tesla are able to continue driving new customers to buy.

  • Performance upgrade – ~5% improvement to acceleration
  • Automatic navigation – Detects common routes and automatically enters them into the nav for you.
  • Sentry Mode and Dashcam viewer (will now format USB drive and overwrite when full).
  • Voice Commands – moved to natural language
  • Text-to-voice Text Messages
  • Entertainment apps – Cuphead, TRAX, Fallout Shelter, Spotify, Careoke, Browser
  • Dog Mode (ensures your pets stay cool in the car)
  • Camp Mode (ensures you stay warm and romanced)
  • Track Mode V2 (adjustable power distribution and record runs)
  • Joe Mode (reduces the notification volume)
  • Charging – 3rd party chargers and out of order Superchargers are now shown on the map
  • Reverse camera – now shows side repeater cameras
  • Smart Summon (FSD required)
  • Driving Visualisation improvements (FSD required)
  • Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control (FSD required)

I think we can agree, that this rate of improvement is amazing in just 12 months and continues to raise consumer expectations that the competition will have to match.

Tesla uses possibly the most direct communication channel to add these new features – Twitter. Love it or hate it, Twitter creates a direct line of communication with people and brands and their audience. Many of the features listed above arrived as a result of Twitter suggestions, made by owners and agreed to by Elon Musk on Twitter.

After Musk commits, it can take months to appear, but one by one, these features are arriving as promised and the latest is a birds-eye view of the car, created from aggregating the cameras around the car. I also love the community at Tesla Ideas which offer up some great suggestions and track which are implemented.

The Tesla community are amazing in their ability to come up with creative use cases for the connected computer on wheels and having a community volunteer ideas serves is a really great resource for Tesla to tap into.

Charging

Easily the two questions I get the most as an EV owner, relate to range and changing. Thankfully Tesla has a really great story to tell here. My car charged to 500km on the day I got it, however for daily use, it’s recommended to keep between 10% and 90% charge in the car.

While others plug their car in each night, based on my usage, I need to charge once a week. I happen to live just 8km (10 minutes) from the nearest Supercharger. This Wodonga Supercharger consists of 6-bays which were retrofitted ahead of the Model 3 launch, to include the CCS2 connector.

Wodonga plays a key geographical role in the recharging network between Sydney/Canberra and Melbourne, so in 2015, Tesla installed a 6-bay Supercharger here, and so far, I have never had a problem getting a spot.

Typically charging takes around 35-40 minutes, which is certainly longer than it takes to refuel a car, but something I actually look forward to. I often charge my Model 3, after my wife and daughter head to bed on a Friday night, so I can charge up for the weekend and week ahead. This has now become an opportunity to relax and watch some YouTube and I even have a driver profile specifically for charging.

I’ve taken the car on a number of longer drives, the longest of which was down to Geelong last Christmas. In practical terms, the humans needed to stop, way before the car did.

Charging infrastructure has also come a long way in the last year, with the longest distance between fast chargers between Wodonga and Melbourne, now just over 150km. This is also being reflected in NSW, SA and QLD, with most of the population living in locations within driving range of a fast charger.

Ordering a Tesla Model S, 3, X or Y
Please use our unique referral link for free Supercharging – https://ts.la/jason45054

Now for the cost.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have 58 people use my referral link to buy a Tesla, which means after 16,500km of driving, I still have more than 82,500km of free Supercharging remaining.

If you were paying for charging at Tesla’s supercharging, it’s priced at $0.42c per kW. Let’s use a fairly common example of arriving at a Supercharger with 10% remaining. Assuming you want to charge to the max recommended for daily use, you’d charge to 90%. This correlates to an 80% charge of the 75kWh pack in the Model 3.

So if we use the following equation, we get the total price of an 80% charge using Tesla’s Superchargers. 75 – 80% = 60kWh required, 60 x $0.42c = A$25.2 for a typical charge.

This is substantially less than running an ICE car, with recharging often costing between 1/2 to a 1/3 the price of refuelling. Naturally, you can charge at home, which would be far cheaper, but would take much longer.

Most EV owners would typically charge overnight when power is often cheaper during off-peak windows. Now many of us are working from home, those with solar panels, would be smart to charge their car during the day, directly from the sun instead. This would consume your $0.12c/kWh Feed-in-tariff, instead of costing you around $0.30c/kWh to pull from the grid.

In the last 12 months, I’ve paid $0 for Supercharging to drive more than 16,500km, with the only cost being $69.08 when using Chargefox’s fast-chargers. I’ve also charged for free in Albury and Holbrook at 50kW public chargers provided by NRMA that were free. Plugshare is a great resource to track down chargers when travelling, although Tesla is now showing 3rd-party chargers in the car’s navigation.

Given many EV owners would charge using a 240v outlet at home, I also tested the provided AC charger at my parent’s house and yes, this would take many, many hours to fully charge the battery. This means using this technique, you’ll likely need to plug in each night to top off the battery, replacing the kWh you used that day.

Everyone’s baseline will be different, but I’ve gone from spending around $1,500 per year on fuel with my last car, to spending nothing, representing a substantial saving in ongoing costs, helping to reduce the total cost of ownership over the longer term.

These free Supercharging credits do create a bit of a dilemma when it comes to the longevity of the battery. There’s a decision I need to balance make between charging at home which is slower and costs money, or charge for free at the nearby Supercharger.

It’s commonly thought that charging at higher speeds is something you should only do occasionally to reduce stress on the battery pack. Battery degradation so far has been on-track with those who only charge at home and after 1 year is thankfully flattening out.

This weekend, we took a road trip to Falls Creek, so charged to 100% and had 469km of range. Last week, I charged to 90% and had 418km of range.

This range reduction due to battery degradation confirms my decision to stretched past the SR+, was the right decision. For others, the SR+ will be fine, but your range calculation should be this:

  • -10% than the advertised NEDC rated range to get to a realistic number.
  • -10% to accommodate the 90% recommended max for daily driving.
  • -5% for 1st year of battery degradation

If we take the advertised rate of 560km (NEDC est) for the Model 3 Performance and subtract 25%, we land at 420km of the daily range, very close to my 418km last week.

Most people do less than 42km per day, but knowing you could drive a lot further if you had to (could be a phone call away), is reassuring. With my daily distance fairly low, that’s how I’m able to achieve a once a week charge, which also puts fewer cycles through the battery.

Driver profiles

If you share your vehicle with others, then having the ability to set up multiple driver profiles is a really great feature. As a comparison, my wife bought the top of the line 2018 Honda CRV and you get 2 sets and each of these can be associated with seat positioning, nothing else.

In the Tesla, you can have multiple driver profiles and these can contain many more user preferences. The list is growing, but currently includes your seat, side mirror and steering wheel positions, your music and climate preferences (including airflow direction), as well as many other settings configured through the touchscreen.

Follow distance is a great example. In the Tesla, my wife and I each set our preference, in the Honda, it’s shared, so each time I drive, I need to adjust it, then when my wife drives again, she adjusts it back to her preference. Take this one simple thing and multiple it by a couple of dozen small preferences and it’s easy to see why the Model 3 is the most personalised car on the market.

The cool thing is, these settings change based on the profile selected. Thankfully selecting a profile typically happens automatically, based on the closest (or first) phone paired with the car.

This isn’t perfect, as there’s been a number of times where I get in the car after my wife and the seat doesn’t shift back to allow easy entry. Her phone is still within proximity to the car, so her profile is still selected.

Thankfully Tesla’s upcoming software 2020.40.1 will allow you to select a default phone, of which I would select mine, given I do 95% of the driving.

Audio system

The sound quality of the audio system inside the Model 3 is fantastic. It is obvious that audio performance was a clear focus at Tesla, particularly as they knew entertainment experiences like Netflix and YouTube were on their way.

I listen to a lot of music in the car via Spotify often get a dumb smile on my face when you hear your favourite tracks come on, they just sound great, there’s no other way of describing it. It’s also tempting to turn up the volume because it sounds so damn good and you can feel that bass in your body thanks to the Sub integrated into the boot.

When it comes to watching movies, the sound is incredible, with a soundscape that’s a cross-section of clear crisp speech, with great mid-tones and a very healthy amount of bass. This is about as close as it gets to a movie theatre on wheels and one of my favourite things to show off to people experiencing a Tesla for the first time is the Terminator Dark Fate trailer.

While I’m sure there are luxury cars with better audio systems out there, for Tesla to include seriously great audio in a car at this price point, it’s impressive and something I love about my Model 3.

Autopilot

The driving experience in the Model 3 is really made much easier, thanks to the technology available. While many cars now ship with lane guidance ADAS technology, this often results in ping-ponging between the white lines. Tesla took a radically different approach and instead does lane-centering.

Using their computer vision system, the car tracks the white lines on the road, much like a human sees them, but Autopilot does a much better job at positioning your car in the center of the lane. I enable this wherever possible, as is far safer to drive and dramatically lowers the mental energy required to navigate your car to its destination. This means you get out from a drive, much fresher than other cars.

With autopilot engaged, I know the car will steer for me and adapt to vehicles ahead of it. Having used it for a year now, I know where to trust it and where corner cases are still yet to be addressed.

This means I get to relax a lot more while driving, still paying attention, wary that the car still can’t deal with potholes, debris on the road or other bad drivers.

Long trips are no longer a physical challenge, as Autopilot does the work and you look out the windscreen almost as if you’re watching a movie. When the car needs to you to intervene it will alert you visually and audibly and I’ve found the handover generally pretty good.

In the last 12 months, I’ve seen the car improve dramatically in its ability to handle complex situations like a lane ending and merging when two lanes become one. This gives me confidence that Tesla’s autonomy efforts are just around the corner.

Full Self Driving

I bought the car without the FSD package for a couple of reasons. The first being the cost, on top of an already big stretch to afford the car, FSD was an extra $7,100 at the time and that just wasn’t in my budget. The second reason was that buying it during the order process would attract even more Luxury Car Tax, something that could easily be avoided by unlocking the feature after purchase.

After the car arrived, I started to see improvements to the car’s capabilities that were only available to people who had FSD. This certainly increased my motivation to find a way to afford the feature. For more than 6 months, I focused on reducing expenditure and increasing income, and on May 2nd 2020, I was able to achieve that FSD purchase.

At the time I purchased, FSD cost A$8,500. Musk has been very clear that as the features of FSD become a reality, Tesla will continue to increase the price of the FSD package and it’s currently priced at A$10,100.

FSD currently includes the follow features:

Navigate on Autopilot

Automatic driving from motorway on-ramp to off-ramp including interchanges and overtaking slower cars.

NoA is certainly a great feature, however it’s not without issue. When taking my road trip to Geelong last Christmas (pre-FSD), I needed to regularly disengage Autopilot, perform an overtake, then re-engage. With FSD, overtakes happen automatically which is a huge improvement.

When taking an on-ramp, the car often indicates left, ahead of a merge to the right to join the freeway. This feels like a hangover from the left-hand-drive navigation from the US and I expect this to be addressed in a future update.

At times, I felt the car would stay in the right lane much longer than I would after an overtake, however, the latest update seems to have resolved that for me.

Auto Lane Change

Automatic lane changes while driving on the motorway.

I have a number of dual-lane carriageways around my area and changing lanes to move past slower traffic is a regular occurrence. Typically each one of these lane changes would be a potential for an accident, however, automatic lane changes really help eliminate this risk.

When you want to change lanes, it’s as simple as putting on your indicator and ensuring you have a hand on the wheel. The car then checks the available space in the lane beside you (while understanding its own dimensions), then calculates the distance required to safely merge the car into that space and then performs the lance change automatically. If a car is in your blind spot, the car will wait until the path is clear.

This is a dramatic demonstration of where the car’s abilities are super-human. The car knows and understands its surroundings and can respond accordingly. I trust this so much now that head checks are a thing of the past, the system just works.

With multiple cameras and ultrasonic sensors outside the vehicle, the car has far better visibility of the environment around it, than I do from the driver’s seat. My view is limited by the position of the side mirror, or even with a head check, the a, b and c pillars all block my view that could be hiding a car.

It’s hard to attribute a value to this, but it’s certainly one of my favourite parts of owning FSD.

Autopark

Both parallel and perpendicular spaces.

Many accidents happen at low speed and bumps, scratches etc occur when people aren’t focused on the task of parking, so I’m all for automating it.

I’m actually pretty capable of parking myself, but if a car can park for me, I’d let it do it.

Unfortunately, Autopark is severely limited, only available when a parking space has cars both sides of the available park.

If you do find a compatible park, you simply tap the parking icon that shows up on the display, and the car basically does the rest.

There’s no switching gears, you just hover over the bake pedal just in case, but in my experience, Tesla do a great job of parking. As the car reverses, then rotates the wheel to angle into a park, it’s constantly measuring the distance to the cars around it.

While the Autopark system may get closer than I ever would to the car behind, I know it’s sensors don’t have to guess how far away an object is, they know precisely, so they won’t hit it. Sometimes the perspective of the rear camera makes things appear closer than they actually are.

When the car completes the park successfully, it feels like another driver duty removed, allowing you to think about more important things in life than how to park your car.

I’ve only really used this feature a few times, it just needs to be available in more scenarios that are currently offered.

Tesla really needs to move to use the line-markings on the ground, rather than adjacent cars to make this feature practical. I’ve only seen the option to use Autopark about a half a dozen times over the course of a year.

While I could have found more parks with adjacent cars, that’s the opposite of what I’d prefer to do, given I’m intent on avoiding door dints, I try to park away from other drivers where possible.

Summon

Your parked car will come find you anywhere in a car park. Really.

When you use this feature for the first time, it’s a really amazing experience. You have this realisation that you’re controlling a $100,000 car with your phone like it is a toy RC car.

This is closely followed by a slight fear that what you’re moving around is a very heavy, very dangerous object if things went badly. This is quickly replaced by a level of confidence, once you see it stop for anything in its path, you know this won’t crash into other cars, or run people over.

Smart Summon is definitely a show-off feature, mostly because we’ve never seen cars do this before and certainly not ones that can be used by regular people. It’s important to point out that use of Smart Summon is only possible on closed roads (i.e. car parks), but once that party trick is done, you’ll want to try and find practical times to use it.

When I use Smart Summon, it’s often as I’m walking out of a Supermarket and sometimes, it works great, exactly as I expect and wanted it to. Other times, I’ve seen very strange routing, where the car wants to take a really inefficient route to come to you.

In these situations, you have a choice between giving up and just walking to your car, or adjusting the target to force the car to re-route and I’ve done both, based on how much time I have and/or other drivers entering the area.

I have definitely been successful in having the car come and pick me up and when it’s raining, which is a little window into an amazing future where the car can reliably pick up and drop us off, like having the best robot butler.

Old regular Summon is also not capable of dealing with inclines or declines, and with so any multi-level carpark, this will need to be resolved to make the future a reality. If you’re like me and have an angled driveway and want to use Summon to park your car in their garage, be prepared to wait for an update before this works.

Future revisions will also allow you to get dropped off and the car will then drive off to find an available park for you. Currently, Teslas can’t do this, which is a great reflection on the the FSD package as a whole.

What you’re buying with FSD, is a ticket to the future, rather than paying great functionality today. There is a subscription option on the way, but we don’t know the price (it’ll be expensive). Buying now also locks in the price and new features that arrive are your free (well for the FSD price).

I think we’ll look back in the future on the price today and consider it cheap, particularly once Tesla’s robotaxi network is up and running. I still don’t know if I’ll ever be prepared to have strangers get in my car, but I’m happy to keep an open mind that its an option that could be a revenue generator.

FSD still lists the following features under the upcoming heading:

  • Recognise and respond to traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Automatic driving on city streets.

The first of the two is already available in beta form and works really well. As you approach a red light or stop sign, the car responds accordingly and that’s amazing. That instantly makes a Tesla safer than any other car on the road, especially in light of how big the texting and driving issue is in Australia and internationally.

If you’re not following a car, you will need to confirm to proceed through a green light which will go away as Tesla gains more confidence in their ability to judge a safe intersection. Just this week, a new software build (2020.40.x) resolves this and ‘proceed on green’ would then let you proceed with or without a car ahead for simple intersections.

The second of the two items – automatic driving on city streets, is a real challenge. To tick this off, Tesla would have to complete turning corners, responding to giveway signs and to really be effective, navigate difficult intersections like roundabouts.

Looking forward to a time in the future where our cars drive themselves and reach level 4/5 autonomy, FSD will need to replicate and be better than humans at driving ability through incredibly complex environments, obeying our road rules. Watching FSD progress is a fun ride and I look forward to experiencing the new functionality as it rolls out in future OTA updates.

While the bones are there, it does feel like we have a long road to go, to reach the finish line. Musk talks about FSD being ‘feature complete’ being measured by a car having a greater than zero chance of navigating from your driveway to your workplace.

If that challenge is achieved by the end of 2020 and some of us start travelling getting from home to the office without intervention, the big question is, how long until all of us can say that is true?

How long will it be until we can pick a location and have the car navigate anywhere without intervention? How long will it be until we can enrol our cars in the Tesla fleet and have them start making money for us? How long until regulators approve the use of driverless vehicles? My guess is somewhere around late 2022/2023.

HomeLink (open garage door)

When the Model 3 order page first went live in Australia, it included HomeLink. This feature allows your car to communicate with your garage door opener to automatically open and close the door as you approach or leave home.

After returning home from a quick trip to Melbourne to have the hardware installed (December 2019), I attempted to set up HomeLink. Unfortunately, the frequencies used by Homelink are not compatible with many Australian garage door openers including mine. I knew the end result was going to be worth it, so I persisted.

I solved this issue by purchasing an add-on module, and after wiring this into my garage door opener, the setup was successful.

I was really disappointed to see Tesla discontinue HomeLink as an inclusion (now A$450.00 option), as it really does provide for a great automated experience when arriving or leaving your home.

When you do drive into your garage and exit the vehicle, closing the garage door is still manual. I do think Tesla could add an option for HomeLink to issue a close command to the garage door when the car is inside the garage and you exit the vehicle.

While we’re on the topic of garages, I also really appreciate the Model 3’s ability to give you the distance to object information with cm accuracy (I have mine set to 30cm). This helps you stop exactly where you need to and there are no tennis balls on strings in sight.

As part of the FSD package, you also unlock a button for HomeLink in the mobile app. This allows you to open and close your garage door on-demand, right within the Tesla app. This is actually really convenient and I use this regularly.

Unlimited Premium Connectivity (Spotify etc)

All Tesla vehicles have cellular connectivity and in the Model 3, we have 4G connectivity, delivered over the Telstra network. This sim card enables Tesla to receive data from the car for remote diagnostics and video from the car’s cameras that is fed into their AI learning to improve Autopilot and FSD.

This mobile connection is also used to send data to Tesla’s servers, which you get to see through the mobile app. Details like your vehicle’s current location is not only great if you forgot where you parked, but means you’ll always know where your car is, if it was ever stolen. If you issue commands to your car from your mobile app. like Summon, or Climate, or functions like honking the horn, are all sent over this cellular connection.

As a user, you can leverage this cellular connection for non-control items, like streaming entertainment services such as Spotify or TuneIn while driving, or YouTube and Netflix while stopped (like when you’re charging). These services are only available with Premium Connectivity.

If you were to buy a car today, Premium Connectivity costs A$9.99 per month, while I was lucky enough to make my Model 3 purchase, during a small window of time, when Tesla had no limitations listed on the website.

After some Aussies in a similar position campaigned Elon on Twitter, Australian Model 3 owners who purchased during this window (including me) are now enjoying unlimited connectivity for the life of the vehicle.

This connectivity also gets you live traffic information which can re-route you around congestion, or accidents. Metro owners may save hours per week thanks to this, however regional owners like me, may not benefit day-to-day but we could benefit in other ways.

I think about the upcoming summer, where Australia may again face road closures due to bushfires and knowing the car is routing you around danger or at least delays, is a feature I really appreciate.

There are clearly some restrictions on the data deal with Telstra, with OTA updates still requiring a WiFi connection to download.

Tesla does offer a browser which you can only use on cellular if you have premium connectivity pack. This could be used to browse to online streaming services like Foxtel or Amazon Prime that don’t have apps, but are strangely blocked in the Chromium-based browser.

Speed zone detection

When you enable Cruise Control, the car detects the current speed zone and automatically sets your cruising speed to that number (if you were going slower than this number). This differs from the standard Cruise that locks in your current speed as the cruising speed and relies then on the driver to increment the speed up or down.

Having the cruise control automatically changed based on the speed zone you’re currently in, ensures you are never speeding (by accident). This relies on a set of data that isn’t perfect and I’ve experienced a couple of streets in Wodonga, where the speed limit is 60, but Tesla understands that zone to be 50.

Thankfully this is about to change. With an upcoming software release, Tesla will switch to read the speed zone from signs, using its computer vision technology. This is reported to be included in the 2020.40 release for CA, AU and NZ on top of the US, impressive given the variety of sign types.

This gives the car the same opportunity as humans to get the speed right, 100% of the time. I’m looking forward to experiencing this change and will validate if the change is an improvement over what we have today.

Transporting the family

For parents, you may need to install a car seat in the car. Over the past 12 months, I’ve probably done that a dozen times and the ISOfix mounting points make this a breeze.

With the seat installed, it was great to see how much my daughter enjoyed looking through the glass roof of the Model 3. Many of us had concerns about the glass roof being too hot during summer. While it certainly gets hot, thankfully the tint, combined with great air conditioning system, means that it’s really a non-issue.

Having a high-performance car is fantastic, but it also has to be capable of everyday tasks, like accommodating the family on a holiday or road trip.

Last Christmas, we managed to pack in 3 adults, 1 child and week’s worth of luggage. Between the storage available in the boot and the frunk, we were able to fit out luggage in without issue. This answered one of my biggest questions, would we be restricted to taking my wife’s SUV on holidays and thankfully the answer is no, the Model 3 is up to the task.

Sentry Mode / Dashcam

The cameras integrated into the body of the car, are not only used to navigate the car through the world, but are also used for an integrated dashcam. Whenever you tap the record button at the top of the screen, or honk the horn the car records the last few minutes (up to 10) from the front, left, right and rear views of the vehicle. While the video quality is average, this is a really slick feature, especially now that playback is available in the vehicle.

In the past year, I’ve had a few weird and wacky things happen around me while driving, from ducks and kangaroos, to some pretty poor driving by other road users. If you’re someone who frequents the Dashcam Owners Australia Facebook page, you’ll often see footage recorded from Tesla’s Dashcam and being built-in, means you save on the need for an after-market solution.

Sentry mode uses the same cameras, acting as a security system when your car is parked. When you return to your vehicle, you receive notifications of any events (people getting close to your car) and this has been successfully used on a number of occasions to identify people who have damaged vehicles.

While these technologies make it far easier to track down offenders, unfortunately, this still isn’t recognised by insurance companies, so that Tesla Insurance can’t come fast enough.

Playback of the recording on the car’s 15″ display is a great feature, it allows you to switch between cameras and shows lots of detail in the recording, thanks to the multiple angles. What isn’t so great is the process of getting the footage out of the car.

Like many, I’ve ventured into the world of aftermarket accessories for the Model 3 and added a Samsung T4 SSD to the car, inside Jeda USB Hub (I also added their wireless charging pad). This hides the drive from criminals, but also makes it pretty inconvenient for you to remove the drive, connect it to a computer, transfer the video, just to share the footage.

Many of us end up just using our phones to record the screen in the Tesla, which is a real workflow failure. The in-car video playback really needs to have a share button that enables you to share content to your favourite social media account, or at very least, your cloud storage (Google Drive, OneDrive etc). If Tesla wanted to turn on some more revenue in their services division, they could definitely add an option for online storage under your Tesla account.

One final point on the cameras, they are not high quality, with almost any aftermarket dashcam, sure to deliver better video. The point is, the built-in dashcam extracts more functionality from your existing investment, finding another use for those cameras that many other manufactures just don’t have and therefore, can’t offer.

Track Mode

Another feature that can record is Track mode. For those who want to really test the capabilities of the Model 3 Performance, you can take your car to the track and enable this feature.

Technically you can enable Track mode anywhere, it’s not geoblocked to race tracks, but the smart thing to do is to keep this for the track.

Track Mode V2 completely refreshed this feature and now provides absolute control over the power delivery. You can completely transform your car to a a FWD, loading 100% of the power to the front wheels. Alternatively, you can switch 100% of the power to the rear, making your car a RWD, as well as percentage between these to extremes. This ability for an owner to configure how the car behaves is an absolute breath of fresh air and something enabled by having dual electric motors that communicate through software.

While the Tesla is typically all about traction, Tesla does let you dial down the traction control and dial up the fun using Track Mode. This means you can easily drift the car and there’s plenty of videos of people online frying tyres in the Model 3.

After the fun is over, the footage recorded from your cameras, during your track day will be available on your dashcam drive. Here’s the neat piece, where Tesla went above and beyond, they also provide you with a data file that contains telemetry from your event.

If you take this data and feed it into an application like Race Renderer, you can overlay your footage with data elements like speed, g-forces, throttle and brake percentages and steering angle.

The software can also accommodate multiple cameras, particularly useful if you run GoPros for lots of different angles during your track days. While I’d love to see a Tesla tool to do this, it’s fantastic than an OEM enables this level of enthusiast track support.

Climate Control

Australia is about to head back into the summer months and in Wodonga, we have some of the largest temperature spans in the country. In Winter, we get down to around -4°C , in summer, we get to as much as 45°C.

In the peak of summer, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of the Cabin Overheat Protection feature. I don’t run a sunshade and haven’t had my windows tinted any more than what comes from the factory, so the car can get hot.

The Cabin Overheat feature will turn on your air conditioning, even when you’re away from the vehicle. I’m confident most materials in the car are fine, but Tesla does have the unique challenge of keeping that display cool. Like most electronics, it probably doesn’t love being extremely hot, so whether it’s for your screen, or for you and your passengers, enabling this feature is a good idea.

An alternative to this is to use the Vent windows option through the mobile app. This lowers all 4 windows enough to allow the hot air to escape, but not enough for hands or arms to enter. It is a good idea to ensure no rain is forecast when using this feature. Typically the most efficient method of getting hot-air out of a vehicle would be through a sun roof. While Tesla’s all-glass roof doesn’t open, the venting works pretty effectively.

It is important to remember you need a decent amount of charge left for this to work, at least 20%. You can select between running just the fan or turning on the AC, which naturally consumes more power. Personally, I found this feature works great and have left it enabled, although I wish it worked down to 10% SOC.

If you were to get into a hot car, it’s great to be able to cool the cabin in 1-2 minutes. While I typically don’t like the airflow blowing directly at me, on a really hot day, it’s the fastest way to reduce your body temp. By using the climate control screen, it’s easy to adjust the flow direction, and while some have complained about the lack of physical vents, they just feel outdated to me, Tesla has shown there’s a better way.

Minimalist interior

When it comes to design, I love the minimal interior. This car is a complete rethink on what vehicles could be, when thoughtfully considered in this decade. While the Model S and X had moved interior vehicle design-forward, the designers were really set free in designing the Model 3 and completely overhauled the car.

I’m someone who loves to have a clean desk, a clean home and a clean car is really the next logical extension of that minimalist lifestyle. In considering which car to buy, this was definitely a contributing factor and we’re now seeing other EV manufactures follow suit.

At Autonomy day last year, Tesla released an image of a Model 3 without a steering wheel, as a preview of what’s to come once FSD is complete. Where still likely years away from cars without steering wheels and pedals, but that is the epitome of clean design, with absolute symmetry between the driver and passenger sides.

Touchscreen display

Virtually all your interaction with the vehicle is done through the 15″ touchscreen display. I love the elegance of the center-screen position. As Tesla ships vehicles into both LHD and RHD markets, this dramatically reduces the number of difference between cars coming off the production line.

This places the Model 3 and Model Y at a significant advantage compared to the competition. To make sense commercially, most vehicles are sold globally, which makes the challenge of accommodating for market differences like language, something Tesla can now address almost entirely through software.

Despite a growing list of capabilities, Tesla has been able to maintain a simple software interface, on the surface that sounds simple, but is actually really difficult to achieve. It feels like the work of a team that is working together, to a single vision (probably Musks), not one that’s conflicted and fighting internally.

I have no doubt internally there’s been lots of discussions about the layout of the screen, but I think the product delivered to consumers is really well executed. As new features come on-board, new options just show up via a software update to the interface and owners can decide if they want to enable them.

Like Apple proved to the world that touchscreens were better than physical keyboards, Tesla has proved to the world that touchscreen interfaces in the car are just better.

I will admit, it’s only thanks to Tesla Autopilot that I feel comfortable glancing down at the screen to pick a different playlist, or turn on my fog lights, as I know the car has the driving largely sorted.

There also voice inputs for times where you can’t look down, or for some tasks, is just more efficient, like “Play the global top 50 playlist on Spotify”.

Aero wheels

To achieve the very best range, electric vehicle makers are pulling out all the tricks to get the most from today’s battery tech. There may be a day in the future where we have a surplus of range that means we can entertain less aerodynamic, more aggressive designs, but for now, the game is all about optimisation.

One drag reduction technique is the flush door handles, while another key technique is to use aerodynamically efficient wheels. My model comes with 18″ aero wheels and these definitely divide opinion. The Model 3 just looks like a sporty sedan to most people, so the wheels, are often the first indication to people that the car is electric.

After a few months of running the aero covers, I removed them, as many of my trips didn’t require the maximum range available. It is estimated that removing them has about a 4-5% loss to the range, but personally, with my usage, that wasn’t a problem for what I think is a slightly improved appearance.

After a quick trip to Amazon for an aftermarket wheel cap kit, I was able to use the stock rims, which actually look pretty great with the aero covers removed. Many people thought I’d purchased a new set of rims and were amazed that was what was hiding underneath. This feels a lot like you have 2 wheels in 1, transforming to suit your needs.

Ideally, I’d have a set of black Turbines from Tsportline in the US, or Tesla’s Zero-G Performance wheels included in their track pack, but that’s also not available in Australia, so for now, I’m running stock.

Steering wheel

The steering wheel is one of your biggest connection points with the vehicle. The wheel weight is actually software adjustable, changing the responsiveness and effort required to turn the car.

While I experimented heavily during the first few weeks, I found I was most comfortable with the handling option set to Sport. This makes the steering weight heavier, but that enables more precise input to be reflected by the car, allowing you to place the car precisely where you want it through turns.

The wheel itself is a great size, with the diameter almost perfectly matching the width of my shoulders. The wheel is also a lot thicker than most and as someone with larger hands, I’m fine with it, it actually fits like a glove.

When you’re engaging the car in spirited driving, the wheel feels like an extension of your body, just like a good sports car should. Sure, the leather-wrapped steering wheel isn’t heated, but that’s a luxury I’ve never had, so can definitely live without.

In terms of functionality, the inputs are very simple, just a 4-way scroll wheel on each side. These definitely look better in real life than the images on the website. Flanking each scrollwheel are LED lights that can be disabled if they annoy you at night. Given I’ve committed their position to muscle memory, I run them, and all interior lighting off while driving.

Location-aware

When I first reviewed the Model S, I was impressed at its location-aware air suspension, that would remember where you raised the ride height, to drive up steep driveways, or over speed bumps.

While the Model 3 missed out on that, it does have location-aware folding for the side mirrors. This helps the car squeeze into tight parking spots like your garage.

Once you’ve configured this to auto-fold at a location, you never think about it again, it just works. What I’d like to see is location be leveraged for more functions in the car. If your workplace has secure parking, you’ll likely have to fob into a boom gate. If you park in airport parking often, you’ll likely have to access it through a boom gate. These situations could be greatly improved by having an option to retract the driver’s side window based on a location.

While these locations would be driver-specific and saved against your driver profile, the obvious challenge would be dealing with rain. Thanks to Tesla’s ‘Deep Rain‘ AI, the car knows when it’s raining, so I expect an option to only enable the window down on location when it’s not raining.

Digital keys

One of the more recent features, is the ability to remotely provide access to other drivers via the web. This is done by logging into your account page on the Tesla website, then providing the email address of up to 5 users. Invited users are asked to install the Tesla app on their phones and sign up for an account with a unique token for that car. This app then becomes their digital key and allows them to access the vehicle.

You can revoke these at any time and there’s probably a couple of great use cases for this. Firstly, family members. Borrowing a family member’s car fairly common, so rather than handing over one of your 2 keycards and potentially having them be lost or damaged, a digital key is a much better alternative.

In a post-COVID world, if you rent out your property (on AirBnB or other), you could potentially include the use of a Tesla in the package. Creating a digital key for the renter would be easy, then revoke it when the rental period is concluded.

Finally, it could be used in a corporate scenario, where employees share a Tesla. If the employee leaves the organisation, their digital key could be revoked and they instantly lose access to the car.

While 5 keys may be limiting for some applications, this framework for remote access to vehicles is clearly Tesla setting up for the Tesla robotaxi fleet where people and access to cars, moves well beyond physical keys.

Maintenance

In the past year, I’ve done zero maintenance to the car, outside a weekly hand wash. With sealed electric motors and battery, there just aren’t the standard components to maintain each year.

Eventually, I’ll have to replace the air filter, top up the windscreen wipers, but even brake pads are likely to last a long time, given regenerative braking does most of the work. Even the tyres are lasting well, with reports from other Aussie Model 3 owners of 60,00km+ of driving and still having decent tread left.

Typically I was spending around $400 in maintenance per year with my last car, and now that’s virtually zero, its another operational saving realised by owning an EV.

When it does come time that the car needs something to be serviced, Tesla will call me in and order the parts ahead of time to ensure the best experience. This is only possible when you have the right set of data and that’s enabled by the always-on connectivity in the Tesla.

I’ve only had one issue with the car since buying it, that was a strange noise when cornering that appeared over time. At the time mobile service wasn’t available in my area, so it did mean a trip to Melbourne, but that was an easy cruise down the Hume Hwy on Autopilot, so not an issue. This turned out to be a suspension component that needed tightening and I’ve never heard the problem since.

Fit and finish

If you’ve ever jumped into the Tesla conversation online, then you’ll be familiar with plenty of reports that highlight quality issues with Tesla’s fit and finish. As delivery day approached I was obviously a little nervous, having bought a car online for the first time. I knew I had the opportunity to reject the car if it had significant issues, but thankfully I didn’t need to.

My panels gaps are pretty good, I wouldn’t say perfect, but acceptable which made me happy with the exterior. In the interior, I was also happy, other than a small loop that had been pulled on the passenger-side A-pillar. It was so minor, it didn’t concern me enough to even report it.

I plan on having this car for the next 10-15 years, so durability was another question I had. While the glossy black piano finish on the center storage is certainly a dust and fingerprint magnet, that’s easily solved by keeping a microfiber cloth in the glovebox.

Over the past 12 months of ownership, the car has stood up fairly well, with the biggest issue being a couple of stone chips on the front bar. Despite having my follow distance set to 5, it does seem to chip fairly easily.

I thankfully haven’t scratched the interior glovebox or door panels, but definitely see how that could be easy to do with careless passengers.

One place where I have seen a bit of wear is on the outside of the driver’s seat. It’s only subtle right now, but this is still very early into the car’s life to see this. The leather is starting to wrinkle like it’s been crushed as I get in and out of the vehicle.

Overall I’m really happy with the car outside and in and how it’s holding up so far.

Things I don’t love about my Tesla

As much as I love the aspects of the Model 3 covered above, there are a number of areas I either don’t like or see opportunities for improvement.

  • Can’t summon on incline decline (my driveway)
  • Can’t set driver’s window to wind down at security gates (work)
  • Center mirror not being part of driver profiles
  • The front bar is a bug magnet
  • The front bar is susceptible to stone chips (follow distance 5)
  • The shape of the headlights (what is that even called?)
  • Auto-high beams are slower than me to respond
  • Auto-windscreen wipers (auto setting is slower than I’d like)
  • Fixed headrests in the front row
  • Smart Summon (weird routes, drives through parking bays)
  • Voice recognition can struggle to find music / locations
  • Phantom braking (getting better, but still occurs)
  • Indicating left when merging right on to freeway
  • Cup holders don’t support different sized cans/bottles
  • No bottle holders in rear doors.
  • Autopark is rarely available
  • Not vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity (Friends/family etc)
  • Driver profile doesn’t move between vehicles.
  • No AC controls for rear passengers (have to ask the front seat)

Overall

After a year of ownership, I can safely say, that buying a Tesla was easily one of the best decisions of my life. This is the fun machine that Musk promised us and I just love driving it.

The data shows us that most people, like me, upgraded to a Tesla Model 3, from a car worth much less, sometimes as much as 1/3rd less.

The size of the premium vehicle segment was thought to be fairly well understood, but what we are witnessing, is Tesla offering products that are so dramatically better, that the total addressable market is actually growing substantially.

I never in my life thought I’d be spending this kind of money on a car, but ultimately it’s about priorities in life. I don’t smoke, do drugs, gamble, but I do work my ass off, live a modest lifestyle and save hard to have the things in life I enjoy.

Do whatever you need to do (keep it legal), to find your way into a Tesla and you won’t regret it.

Despite being over the moon to have a Model 3 in my garage, I feel like the job isn’t done though. Every time I come home, I walk past my wife’s CRV and think, I really want to replace that with a Model Y and live a dual-EV life.

When it comes to the delivery of FSD, it will undoubtedly take longer than Musk expects, but I’m incredibly glad to have a ticket to the show, where we get to watch autonomy become a reality in this world. There’s a massive chance that my 2yo daughter will never get a license when she turns 16, she won’t need to. I also look forward to having my parents gain access to a mode of transport in their later years, that means I don’t have to worry about them driving once it’s beyond them.

I love driving, but I’m also very happy to hand over the daily commute and even road trips, to a computer that can drive for me, just unlock Netflix while the car’s in motion and I’m good.

It will be impossible to completely kill the need for an adrenaline rush inside me, so I hope when Tesla is done replacing us as drivers, they invest in a few race tracks and help us be better racers.

If you have any questions about Tesla, or EV ownership in general, please leave a comment below.

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TeslaVehicles

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
6 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

  • Chad18945
    4 October 2020 at 12:46 pm
  • Steve
    4 October 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Great recap of a year of ownership. As a fellow Stealth owner I agree with all you’ve said. There’s no better car on the market.

    Leave a Reply
  • Rick Wilcox
    4 October 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Jason, thanks for the great review, it was very helpful. I’d like a Y performance, any updates on ETA & cost for Oz?
    Cheers,
    Rick

    Leave a Reply
  • Brian
    4 October 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Great article Jason. I’ve had my P3D for 12 months now and its an unbelievable car, especially the FSD and the acceleration when you want it. Like you I just love getting stopped at a red light.

    Leave a Reply
  • Robert
    5 October 2020 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks for a very comprehensive review. I have recently purchased a model 3 SR+ and my calculation of savings (allowing for servicing, maintenance and petrol) is about $3500 p.a. It will be interesting to see whether I got that right. I am also in Victoria and look forward to actually being able to drive the car more than 5 km from home to see how it performs.

    Leave a Reply
  • Dave Straton
    7 October 2020 at 9:58 am

    Excellent review, Jason. I got the same M3P Stealth in Sept 2019 and endorse your comments 100%. The only item I would add is that charging from home using solar power makes it effectively free. I set my charging to begin at 10am, to give the home battery first bite at the solar cherry, so it can buffer any fluctuations in sunlight. I also detune the charging to 20amps, down from 32amps, so my draw does not exceed my 5kW inverter, and thus trouble the grid.

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