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Can't decide between P3D or Model S, halp!

Sunshine State

Automotive Enthusiast
Jul 13, 2017
We have 3 new S’s, two Performance and one LR+, the oldest one we bought in late 2019 and the newest just a few weeks ago. We just traded our late 2019 Performance 3+ back in on the 2021 S because while we liked the P3 it lacks in ride and comfort when you drive it even against the Performance S with 21" performance tires. The P3 may have an advantage on a racetrack but likely more than 99 percent of Teslas never see a racetrack. The S has the bigger advantage of more range, room and comfort on the road and the LR Model S is just about as quick but the Performance S will crush the P3 in power and acceleration. It boils down to your budget, in my opinion if you can afford the higher price of the S it is a nicer car. I also think the hatchback design of the S is a no brainer and the 3 could have been so much more if it had one.
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Aug 12, 2016
For me, it is the S. I need to be able to carry three golf buddies and their equipment. The 3 is a hassle when you are trying to get four bags of clubs in the trunk. You have to take your woods/metals out of the bag(s) and position them just right. If I was only doing this once in a great while, no big deal. But once or twice a week would be a real pain to be in a 3. Plus I'm old(over 60) so comfort is a consideration for me. My performance S is perfect.

Big Toys

Jan 19, 2019
I have an S and i can dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge around traffic without issue.
I don't care how old you are, if you like to drive around slow people then drive how you want. speed limits are bullcrap anyway but only pass when legal and safe.
The S is a large car but it handles amazing, i've never even squeaked a wheel and i've hit corners at 115mph no problems.
The 3 looks funny both inside and out. The S looks more classy and elegant.

I have an S as well, and can do all the things you say as well. However, I don't get in my car looking forward to the moment I need to zip around a slowpoke. I just do it and like that I can. If you are hitting corners at 115mph out in the Ft. Irwin NTC desert, my advice is to stay there so you don't kill anyone but yourself. 1st ID rules, BTW.
Oct 10, 2019
I have an S as well, and can do all the things you say as well. However, I don't get in my car looking forward to the moment I need to zip around a slowpoke. I just do it and like that I can. If you are hitting corners at 115mph out in the Ft. Irwin NTC desert, my advice is to stay there so you don't kill anyone but yourself. 1st ID rules, BTW.

The main reason i bought my S was for the power and speed. The 3 wasn't out yet and the S has more speed anyway so it was the obvious choice. I sold my supercharged mustang with 430hp at the wheel because i wanted to go faster. Also you're saying 1 ID rules you are prob a LEG so your opinion doesn't matter. #AATW

Big Toys

Jan 19, 2019
"Also you're saying 1 ID rules you are prob a LEG so your opinion doesn't matter. #AATW"

Ha, unless you are flying A10 over NTC, Ft. Irwin isn't exactly a naval base! I skipped airborne and rope-a-dope, although the latter was offered at Ft. Campbell, though it was way cool to say "Rakasan". I had too much invested in my head (Medical Corp) so I was a LEG but not infantry or tracktoad. NTC was fun though. Wouldn't want to be OPFOR stationed there.


Oct 6, 2014
Yeah im in the same boat here. Had a 2013 Model S P85. Then a 2016 Model X 90D, Currently have a Model 3 Performance. It is an extremely fun car to drive, however I am in love with the new interior refresh of the Model S. Im contemplating because I drove a 2020 Model S Long Range Plus the other day and it was a super nice drive, but I felt very spaced out and disconnected while driving it. Wasn't very engaging at all, and im hoping with the suspension adjustments I noticed in that model, that there is a way for the drive to be more fun when needed.


Active Member
Apr 25, 2019
The thing that frustrates me the most with the Model 3 is the lack of HUD behind the steering wheel. I'm coming from a car where I rely on the speedometer behind the steering wheel A LOT.

It's really not a big deal .. after all, you glance in the rear-view mirror all the time, right? And the wing mirrors? After a week or so you will get used to glancing at the speedometer on the center screen as well (and in the latest builds its in the top-left corner so it VERY close to your peripheral vision. My feeling was the M3 was more fun to drive than the MS because it is smaller (though its still a heavy car), but I prefer a 3-series to 5-series BMW for the same reason (though I prefer the Tesla to both).
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Sep 12, 2020
Salt Lake City, Utah
I've driven both and my opinion on which one is "sportier"... I sort of give the edge to the S. The 3 is smaller but mostly that means it's easier to park and maybe making tight maneuvers in heavy traffic. The S has a better suspension and the amount of power it has easily overcomes any weight problem it has.

That's just my impression from the time I've had in both vehicles. YMMV.


Active Member
May 19, 2015
Sydney NSW
The 3 is more nimble, but I wonder how much more nimble than the old S the new one will be- I think it loses a huge amount of weight? 10%?

I wonder what the Plaid + weighs??


Active Member
Dec 17, 2012
Cary, NC
We have both. Ride is obviously better on the S and the 3 is much more nimble. I think various drivers would very strongly prefer driving the 3 but most probably the S. We can't know how you drive. Everyone thinks they are an above average driver. Both cars objectively handle well.
Nimble isn't weight alone. But it is certainly a factor.
The center screen is really a minor issue for me.
For me, I take the 3 when I am alone and driving around town. With the family/on the highway - I prefer the S. Not for size but I am certainly not enjoying the nimbleness with anyone else in the car. And the ride is definitely more stable - and I have coils.


Sep 3, 2017
If you secretly want a Model S but are going for the 3 for ”sensible” reasons, you’ll most likely end up regretting not getting what you wanted each time you see one in traffic. Think about it.

I would hate to drive a new car and not be 100% committed to it.

Model 3 is likely better value, but S is the better car.


Supporting Member
Jan 30, 2019
Cross River, NY
Get the P3D!!!!

I’ve driven manual sports cars my whole life. My last two were a modded C7Z06 and then a manual JCW Cooper S. Once I got the 3 the JCW felt like a lifeless dud and we got rid of it as it was never driven anymore. My mother in law has a S P100DL. I loathe driving it. Big and boat like feeling. Which it should have. The question is are you an M3 guy or an M5 guy. I’ve always been an M3 person. Right now I think the P3 is the best car on the road at any price. However, I do have a deposit on a Plaid +. If they can get that thing to drive as well and fun as the Model 3, I’m in. If not, I’ll wait for the Roadster as it’ll be best of both worlds.

But, in truth, ignore what we all say and go drive both cars to make up your mind. :)


Supporting Member
Jan 30, 2019
Cross River, NY
PS on the HUD thing, the Z06/Z07 has the HUD and I used it all the time. I darkened the whole dash and only used the HUD at night. Jet fighter style. I promise you the center screen is more than adequate. I went from the “this will never work it needs a HUD” camp. To “oh this is so much better” camp. Again, if you’re thinking about the new S then drive them both. The old S is a lesser car than the 3 IMHO.

Trust me....I’m a driver too...I get it.



Active Member
Dec 23, 2018
Encino, CA
I have a 2018 P3D. I brought it in for a service about a year ago and was given a Model S loaner. After driving the Model S for a couple days, I was very glad I bought the P3D. I am an amateur enthusiast. My previous cars have included a BMW 3 series, an Audi A4, and a Subaru WRX. I like a stiffer, sporty ride that hugs the road. IMO, the P3D definitely came much closer to feeling like a fun, numble, sporty car to drive. Granted, I was not given a performance Model S to compare, but the S felt big and bulky in comparison. Also, because the P3D has no gauges, there is more windshield. The P3D cabin feels more open and airy compared to that of the Model S.

It took me all of 10 minutes to get used to looking at my speed on the center screen. One of the benefits of not having the gauge cluster behind the steering wheel in the P3D is that the air vent is there instead. During hot summer months, I love being to direct the airflow coming from behind and through the steering wheel directly onto my face.

As others have mentioned, choosing between the P3D and the Model S is like choosing between a BMW M3 and a blend of a 5 series and 7 series. All great cars, but it just depends on what you individually prefer.

Bottom line, go take both for a test drive. Take note of your actual experiences in each and let this be your main determining factor.


Sep 14, 2020
west palm beach
Honestly you are comparing apples to oranges. I was in the same boat as you and I’m glad i got a model S. They gave me a model 3 recently as they were servicing my S and man there is a day and night difference. Yes model 3 is small and easier drive BUT there ride quality is no where close to model S. The model S feels more luxurious plus sporty. ModelS goes when you push it. I left my buddy behind on his new BMW modified M4. plus MS is the flagship and many issues have already been sorted out in the new ones however model 3 is a work in progress. With no air suspension in model 3 the ride is very rough specially if you have the big wheels.
Model 3 is seen as a cheap affordable Tesla however model s is like wow Tesla. but again it’s what you like not others so I almost can guarantee you will enjoy model S more than model 3.

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