We boarded the new Tesla Model 3: a profound evolution, but not everything is perfect
Where have the sensors and camera gone?
We took advantage of the Munich show to board the new and improved Tesla Model 3. We weren't able to drive it, but we were able to tour the owner and in particular test some new features. Here is our first complete and detailed opinion on this new electric car.
The new Tesla Model 3, unveiled by surprise by the American manufacturer a few days ago, was at the Munich Motor Show (IAA). The opportunity for us, who cover this show, to spend a little time aboard this new electric car. If it takes the basis of the old Tesla Model 3, it evolves on many points.
Here is our first opinion, in this long paper, accompanied by the video below.
Tesla thus announced 50% different parts compared to the previous version, still on sale in the United States. In Europe and China, we now have the right to this improved version, as Tesla likes to point out.
A design that evolves, without revolution
As you can see in the photos and our video, the design of the Tesla Model 3 has been slightly revised. If the silhouette remains similar, the front and rear parts have evolved. The bumpers are new, as are the optics. And it must be said that the result is really successful, even better in real life than in photos. This new Tesla Model 3 seems more up to date and gives a little old-fashioned look to the old model at the same time.
The rims have also been completely revised, whether in 18-inch or 19-inch versions. Two new colors are also appearing: the ultra red of the Model S and a new gray that we were lucky enough to see. Difficult to judge with the lights in the living room, but it appears darker and deeper than the old gray.
The new rims are not just there for show, since they are fitted with new tires (Michelin e.Primacy or Hankook iON Evo), which are more energy efficient. Coupled with the new, more aerodynamic design (with a drag coefficient Cx of 0.219), the range skyrockets (around 10% increase), reaching between 514 and 678 km in the WLTP cycle depending on the rims and versions. (Propulsion or Long Autonomy).
Moreover, the new Tesla Model 3 remains the queen of efficiency: it is the electric car that consumes the least energy!
A completely revised interior
But what interests us most is inside. We were able to get on board and spend a few minutes behind the wheel, but also in the passenger seat.
As a driver, the most striking thing is the disappearance of the controls (controls for the indicators, windshield wipers, gear selectors, etc.). Which allows us to offer an even more minimalist interior… but at what price?
Indeed, the indicators are now on the steering wheel, in the form of capacitive touch buttons. It is true that the system is very successful since it really feels like you are pressing a physical button (a bit like on the trackpad of a MacBook), but we fear the worst in use.
Remember that these buttons hardly convinced us when used on the Tesla Model S and Model X. But Tesla reassures us by specifying that customers of these electric cars quickly get used to the absence of controls... we will have to check with us. But above all: why did you remove these levers? What problem do these buttons address? We're still looking.
A nice LED strip and ventilated seats
The dashboard has been revised, with the use of new materials, which are more qualitative, and above all, the integration of an LED strip, from the dashboard to the rear doors, via the pillar front doors. A novelty that is not a revolution in the automotive world, but which allows you to create a friendly atmosphere on board, by choosing the color of this LED.
In the photo below, the LED strip is set to white color.
Tesla has not pushed the concept as far as its competitors, since it is (for the moment) impossible to adjust the intensity of the LED strip, and it is only possible to choose a fixed color.
The doors are also changing, with new pillars and new upholstery. We are clearly gaining in quality, and that will please aficionados of German productions. In this regard, Tesla announces a drastic reduction in rolling and wind noise, thanks to aerodynamic work (double glazing on all glass surfaces). It will be necessary to check this while driving, but the first tests show a very strong reduction in parasitic noise on the road.
Between the driver and passenger, the center console is also brand new, and the evolution is always welcome, even if it is lighter than the rest of the car. We still gain a little in perceived quality thanks to the materials used.
To finish on the front part, the front seats are now heated and… ventilated! We tried it, and it’s true that it’s nice. With the white interior, this is not necessarily necessary. But it has the merit of cooling your back and buttocks when you enter a cabin that has been left in the sun for several hours.
A new central screen… or almost
A word about the central screen: some colleagues have announced it to be more responsive and brighter. It is true that it is new since even if the display surface is the same as the old one (15.4 inches), the borders are thinner. It therefore seems that the panel is different.
But it's hard to say whether it's brighter (which is handy in direct sunlight) or more responsive. Especially since it seems that the chip that powers the operating system is still the same as the old Model 3 and the current Model Y, namely an AMD Ryzen.
We should therefore not (unless there is a last minute surprise as Elon Musk knows how to do) be able to enjoy Steam and console and PC games on the new Tesla Model 3, as it is possible to do with the Model S and Model X. Damage! For the rest, the interface is not changing at the moment.
We were also able to test the sound system, with the 17 speakers and the two subwoofers. There's nothing to complain about the volume can be set very loud without saturation, and the bass is (really) very powerful .
In the back: more comfortable seats… and a screen
In the rear, the seats are not ventilated, but heated, as before. However, they seem to be more comfortable and the central armrest is much more spacious than before. But above all, the big news is the appearance of an 8-inch central screen at the rear.
This screen allows you to adjust ventilation, music or even start a Netflix, YouTube, or Twitch video... while driving! Enough to keep the children occupied in the back during long journeys. Too bad you can't connect a computer via an HDMI port to be able to play on it, like on the BMW i7 with its gigantic rear screen.
Aside from that, the rest doesn't change, and we still have enough legroom for long journeys. Especially since it is possible to slide your feet under the front seats, which are not glued to the floor, unlike other electric cars.
Let's finish with the trunk: the capacity is up, now with a total of 594 liters, taking into account the under-boot of around 60 liters. That's really a lot for a sedan of this size that isn't even in station wagon format. We have saved space thanks to the subwoofer, which is no longer on the right side of the trunk but is now integrated into the rear shelf, with two woofers instead of one.
What to think of this new Tesla Model 3
To conclude, this new Tesla Model 3 improves the existing one, with a “small” price increase of 1,000 euros. Most of the developments are welcome and add even more weight to this electric car compared to the competition. But a few elements leave us wanting more, such as the indicators on the steering wheels, the absence of a head-up display, or a screen in front of the driver (instrument cluster)...
Still, for 42,990 euros (without taking into account the ecological bonus of 5,000 euros) in the Propulsion version and its 554 km of autonomy, the new improved Tesla Model 3 puts everyone in agreement on the terrain of autonomy/price ratio. Impossible to do better at the moment.