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Published on July 29th, 2017 | by Zachary Shahan

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4 Highlights From Motor Trend’s Tesla Model 3 Test Drive

July 29th, 2017 by  


Well, Motor Trend’s fairly early and outspoken love for the Tesla Model S certainly hasn’t hurt its Tesla test drive opportunities. The mainstream auto magazine got yet another super exclusive opportunity to test out the Model 3, this time 36 hours before the final reveal last night.

The entire article may be worth your time to read. I have to admit that I found it a little verbose and flowery for my own taste, but just heading over there to check out the photos is a must. Additionally, there were 4 gems in the article that I found super interesting. They almost seemed hidden in the bushes of the overall story and in the midst of all the details we learned from Tesla in the past 24 hours, so I wanted to pull them out for stronger highlighting, discussion, and future reference.

1. The Model 3 Feels More Spacious Than You’d Expect

“Tesla worked hard to increase interior space, and subjectively it succeeded. For a compact car, the Model 3 feels incredibly light and airy,” Motor Trend Testing Director Kim Reynolds wrote.

This surprisingly light & airy feel is something that I find keeps popping up with electric vehicles designed electric from the ground up, not just the Model 3. This is a highlight of the BMW i3 that we discussed at length in a recent #Electrifying webinar.

When it comes to the Model 3, this is something we also got a hint of from the EV Annex boys last year at the first Model 3 unveiling, and again today during our latest #Electrifying webinar. However, it’s nice to see it confirmed and emphasized by another source — and one that has presumably had the most time with the Tesla Model 3 outside of Tesla’s staff.

As Matt Pressman hinted today and I think Elon hinted last night, the back seats of the Model 3 may even feel more spacious and open than the back seats of the Model S, thanks in part to that supersplendulous windshield it stole from the Model X.

2. Slickest Freakin’ Air Vents In The Business

“Interior air (from subtle vents) is aimed by moving spots around on the display, even dividing the airflow to send it past each ear.”

I imagine this may seem like a small thing to many people, but think about it: how many times have you been irritated by the annoying, undesired direction an air vent was blowing? How many times have you or someone else just not been able to get the air flowing in an ideal way for all the car’s passengers? HOw many times has an air vent blasted you in the eye like a Super Soaker?

This “small” improvement in the Model 3, if it’s as it sounds from Motor Trend‘s reporting, is one of those little things that make Tesla just that much better than the luxury car competition. This is actually one of the things I’m most excited to play with when I finally get my hands on a Model 3!

3. The Frunk, Conceptualized

“Up front, the frunk is precisely sized to hold a carry-on suitcase. ‘If it’s too big here,’ Franz says, ‘you’re going to have to check it.'”

How big the frunk actually is, what it can fit, and what it’s ideal for carrying are all questions that frequently pop into people’s heads and out of their mouths. This description from Kim Reynolds (er, from Franz von Holtzhausen) is super useful for answering those questions. It would also be cool if this claim was legitimately correct — it would be awesome to get into a kerfuffle with a Ryanair suitcase Nazi and be able to tell them, “Nah, you’re wrong, it fit in my frunk.” (You Europeans know what I’m talkin’ about.)

4. Incomparable Driving Experience — A New Era

“What’s blanching, though, is the car’s ride and handling. If anybody was expecting a typical boring electric sedan here, nope. The ride is Alfa Giulia (maybe even Quadrifoglio)–firm, and quickly, I’m carving Stunt Road like a Sochi Olympics giant slalomer, micrometering my swipes at the apexes. I glance at Franz—this OK? “Go for it,” he nods. The Model 3 is so unexpected scalpel-like, I’m sputtering for adjectives. The steering ratio is quick, the effort is light (for me), but there’s enough light tremble against your fingers to hear the cornering negotiations between Stunt Road and these 235/40R19 tires (Continental ProContact RX m+s’s). And to mention body roll is to have already said too much about it. Sure, that battery is low, way down under the floor. But unlike the aluminum Model S, the Tesla Model 3 is composed of steel, too, and this car’s glass ceiling can’t be helping the center of gravity’s height. Nearly-nil body roll? Magic, I’m telling you. Magic. And this is the single-motor, rear-wheel-drive starting point. The already boggled mind boggles further at the mention of Dual Motor and Ludicrous.”

Yeah … ’nuff said.

Though, Reynolds also added a note about the car he drove away after the Model 3 was gone:

“By happenstance, associate road test editor Erick Ayapana had penciled me into a 2.0-liter Alfa Romeo Giulia to get here, and it feels like a wet sponge by comparison.”

All images via Tesla

More Model 3 stories:

Tesla Model 3 vs Used Model S (#Electrifying Webinar Today!)

Tesla Model 3 Test Track Video (#CleanTechnica Exclusive From Unveiling Night, Abridged)

Tesla Model 3 Will Come In Standard & Long Range (310 Mile Range) Version, Full Specs Revealed


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About the Author

Zach is tryin’ to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he’s also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada.

Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don’t jump to conclusions.



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