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Model 3 - 1st impressions (for real this time)

karmamule

Member
May 24, 2014
261
26
Waltham, MA
@karmamule @jtri Hey, since we're all relatively close, maybe we can plan a meetup once we have our cars. Good way to diagnose if certain issues are one-off or across-the-board. I'm curious if my HVAC fan motor is louder than normal.

I used to work off Winter St near the reservoir. That bridge took like what, 10 years to renovate? :) Anyone else in Boston metro here?

Definitely, I like that idea! I'm sure I'll be posting when I get my VIN then take delivery, and will try to remember to specifically give a shout out to you and the other Boston area folks. (And I live just a couple miles from that bridge and yeah it felt that long!)
 

slipnslider

Member
Apr 13, 2016
786
875
los angeles, ca
"User Interface
In general I think buttons on the UI need to be much bigger for a car interface. Bumps in the road reduce our fine motor control to toddler levels. I think Tesla is still designing for a tablet form factor in all their cars. A touchscreen in a car is not a tablet, even if they are similarly sized. They should go back to first principles and take into account that loss of fine motor control in their design."

PREACH BROTHER! These are moving vehicles. Touchscreen controls require taking your eyes off the road and hitting the exact right part of the screen, hoping you don't hit a bump at the wrong time. Touchscreens might work for fully autonomous vehicles, but they are poor control surfaces for vehicles that need to be driven by humans, and we are nowhere near fully autonomous vehicles being ready.
 

novox77

1.21 Gigawatts
Nov 25, 2017
1,640
3,545
NH, MA
It's like getting used to a rental. After a day or two, you get used to where the controls are and how the brake and accelerator (and sometimes clutch) feels. Then when you go back to your own car, things feel weird for a bit again and then normalizes.

Model 3 feels the same way. There's an adaptation period, and then after that, everything feels normal.

There are still ways to make the screen UI more usable/efficient for sure. I'm finding that I don't like reaching for buttons on the far side of the screen (like canceling the navigation).
 

T34ME

Active Member
Mar 31, 2016
2,262
3,528
Inland Empire
Model 3 feels the same way. There's an adaptation period, and then after that, everything feels normal.
That's the problem with many of the reviews of the model 3 by first time users and auto magazines we have seen. There is an adaptation period (maybe a day?) before the driver feels comfortable with the systems. The model 3 reinvents the wheel so to speak. You have been a previous Tesla owner and you understand that Tesla is doing things differently. Good well balanced review. You should be writing for Car and Driver.

There are still ways to make the screen UI more usable/efficient for sure. I'm finding that I don't like reaching for buttons on the far side of the screen (like canceling the navigation).
The UI is a work in progress. The day is nigh when you will simply say, "cancel navigation" and you won't need to reach for a button. I agree with you that buttons should be bigger until the day we have full voice recognition.
 
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tanner

Active Member
Nov 17, 2013
1,118
286
SoCal
@novox77 - I'd say the car is next to perfect, it's by far an UPGRADE (not the downgrade like I thought it would be) from my 2016 MS 90D. I kind of disagree regarding the HVAC... All HVACs are noisy when you bump up the fan speed, but I find that's not really necessary in the 3 due to the highly futuristic airflow controls. Tesla has done something no other manufacturer has (again), they've reinvented climate control in cars (not just EVs). I find with the 3 that less is more and dynamic directional airflow is where more manufacturers will trend toward moving forward. It's truly a remarkable innovation in the industry; so simple yet so beneficial, the way it should be.
 

John Lamoureux

l Parzival l
Jul 2, 2016
192
120
NH
@karmamule @jtri Hey, since we're all relatively close, maybe we can plan a meetup once we have our cars. Good way to diagnose if certain issues are one-off or across-the-board. I'm curious if my HVAC fan motor is louder than normal.

I used to work off Winter St near the reservoir. That bridge took like what, 10 years to renovate? :) Anyone else in Boston metro here?

Southern NH here, but work in Northern MA. Would love to be involved in any local group. Of course, once I get my car... :eek:
 
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xav-

Active Member
May 26, 2016
1,187
821
Orange County CA
That's the problem with many of the reviews of the model 3 by first time users and auto magazines we have seen. There is an adaptation period (maybe a day?) before the driver feels comfortable with the systems. The model 3 reinvents the wheel so to speak. You have been a previous Tesla owner and you understand that Tesla is doing things differently. Good well balanced review. You should be writing for Car and Driver.


The UI is a work in progress. The day is nigh when you will simply say, "cancel navigation" and you won't need to reach for a button. I agree with you that buttons should be bigger until the day we have full voice recognition.
The interesting thing with car magazines is they get familiar with the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf instantly.
 
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T34ME

Active Member
Mar 31, 2016
2,262
3,528
Inland Empire
Don't confuse simplicity with superiority. Yes the tesla interior looks cooler, but digging through touchscreen menus is functionally inferior to hitting a button that you can feel without looking at it.
Yes, but please understand where Tesla is going with their UI, - voice recognition (probably much more within a year) and then eventually FSD. The buttons and dials on Bolt and Leaf are a technological dead end with no way to upgrade except purchase a new car, like when "smartphones" had physical buttons.
 

ℬête Noire

Active Member
Jan 30, 2018
3,105
2,556
TX
Don't confuse simplicity with superiority. Yes the tesla interior looks cooler, but digging through touchscreen menus is functionally inferior to hitting a button that you can feel without looking at it.
Don't confuse not-having-that-functionality-you-expect-in-modern-$36K-vehicles-at-all with simplicity. I do like my Bolt, don't regret trading in my top-trim Acura TL for it, but it is decidedly primitive on the "features" front. :(
 

slipnslider

Member
Apr 13, 2016
786
875
los angeles, ca
Yes, but please understand where Tesla is going with their UI, - voice recognition (probably much more within a year) and then eventually FSD. The buttons and dials on Bolt and Leaf are a technological dead end with no way to upgrade except purchase a new car, like when "smartphones" had physical buttons.
Voice control is also inferior to a button you can touch without speaking. "Shut up for a second honey... Tesla switch audio source to iphone."
And cars that aren't full time self driving still need to work ergonomically for drivers.
 

novox77

1.21 Gigawatts
Nov 25, 2017
1,640
3,545
NH, MA
@novox77 - I'd say the car is next to perfect, it's by far an UPGRADE (not the downgrade like I thought it would be) from my 2016 MS 90D. I kind of disagree regarding the HVAC... All HVACs are noisy when you bump up the fan speed, but I find that's not really necessary in the 3 due to the highly futuristic airflow controls. Tesla has done something no other manufacturer has (again), they've reinvented climate control in cars (not just EVs). I find with the 3 that less is more and dynamic directional airflow is where more manufacturers will trend toward moving forward. It's truly a remarkable innovation in the industry; so simple yet so beneficial, the way it should be.

To clarify, the noise I hear from the vent is not airflow. If you put the fan setting to 10/10, all you hear is the airflow. That's fine. But at the speeds the fan typically operates at (between 1 and 4), the buzz/hum of the fan motor is very pronounced. Even then, it gets drowned out by road noise once you're over 45mph. It's really not a big deal. I just remember sitting in the showroom 3, playing with the fan, and not remembering hearing anything but the whoosh of the air, even at low fan speeds. That's the only reason I called it out. It's pretty trivial.

Voice control is also inferior to a button you can touch without speaking. "Shut up for a second honey... Tesla switch audio source to iphone."
And cars that aren't full time self driving still need to work ergonomically for drivers.

From a human-computer interaction standpoint, I really hate touchscreens because of the lack of tactile feedback. Some day we'll have a better way to interact with machines, and we'll look back at this era with nostalgia and ridicule, much like how we now view cassette tapes for music. But for it's time, cassettes were nice because of their portability. Touchscreens are nice because of the unrestricted UI you can present on them. The tradeoff is losing tactile feedback, but that tradeoff is worth it IF the UI is well-designed.

My Sonata has a small touchscreen and a slew of physical buttons. The only physical button I can use without looking is the volume dial. All others require eyes off the road, and there are so many buttons that I have to take my eyes off the road a long time for some operations. So the issue is less about physical button vs touchscreen; it's about good design.

A well designed button is one you can glance at quickly (similar to a glance at the speedometer) and be able to tap first try. Quick glances are not a compromise to safety, IMO. We already make quick glances in our daily driving with no ill effect. That's why buttons on touchscreens need to be easy to reach and easy to hit. Many of the functions on Model 3 can indeed be accessed with a quick glance.

I'd like to see the conversation evolve from "OMG EVERYTHING IS ON THE SCREEN" to "which features on the screen are difficult to use after I've tried them". Because in my mind, the list of difficult features to use is quite small. It is a change from what we've been using for decades, but change itself is not a bad thing.

For those of you interested in UI interaction design, here's a really good article talking about why touchscreens suck and that we should be thinking about how to advance the technology. We're going thru a cassette tape phase, and the faster we can move on, the better.
A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design
 

dhrivnak

Active Member
Jan 8, 2011
4,436
3,653
NE Tennessee
Im the same as OP. Got the car 5 days ago and I still can't figure out what the fuss is about with glove box, windshield wipers, or the speed that is too difficult to read.
While I mostly agree the glove box does annoy me. I had to put a new insurance card in and get in passenger side and can’t open. So I have to crawl in the drivers side and reach way over. Annoying when a simple button would work great.
 

EV-lutioin

Active Member
Apr 2, 2016
1,933
2,680
California
There's no such thing as a perfect car, but hands down this is the best car I've ever driven. Sorry this is kinda long. It comes with the good and the bad, but for me, it's mostly good. I'll start out with some common usability gripes.


Wiper Operation
Coming from a Model S, I couldn't see what the fuss was about over wiper settings being on the center screen. There is a button at the end of the left stalk that controls a single wipe at the first detent and washer fluid + wipes at the second detent. The difference between S and 3 is that the S interval setting is a dial around the stalk, whereas in the 3, it's on the UI. And people are griping it's too much fiddling of the screen.

I happened to take delivery of my 3 during a rainy day, so this was the first feature I had to use. The car was delivered with the wipers turned off, so my first instinct before even putting the car into drive was to use the left stalk button to clear off the glass. Upon doing that, the UI on the screen automatically put itself on the wiper interval control settings. That to me is not much of a hardship. If for whatever reason my desired interval is not appropriate, I have no issue doing a manual wipe with the stalk first, then a single tap on the screen to the new interval.

Glovebox Operation
I've mentioned in other threads that in all cars I've ever owned, I've very infrequently needed to access my glovebox, and in all situations where I did, I was parked with the engine off. As of this writing, accessing the glovebox in Model 3 requires two taps on the center screen: 1) car icon on the bottom left; 1.5) quick controls (if you're already on this default settings page, there's no tap here); 2) glovebox. Takes about a second for each tap. Glovebox is open in 2-3 seconds. Sure, it's slower than a quick pull of a mechanical lever, but it's such a low-use feature of the car for me that this is inconsequential.

The prominent crash a few months ago that prevented the driver from accessing his glovebox for his registration/insurance info seems silly to me. In a serious crash where the center screen, 12v system, or glovebox itself are damaged, there is no priority for the driver to access any of that information. In most cases with severe accidents like this, the driver is wheeled off to the hospital. It's a testament to Tesla/EV design that people can walk away unhurt and then gripe that their glovebox is stuck.

Mirror + Steering Wheel Adjustments
These are initiated via center screen UI and then the steering wheel dials. I know my exact preference for side mirror viewing angle, so now that they are set, I don't plan to adjust them again. Same with the steering wheel. Because of the lack of instrument cluster, I'm able to set the wheel much lower than in my S and ICE cars. And because the wheel diameter is smaller, the wheel can go pretty low without reaching my legs. Easy entry profile lifts the wheel all the way up. I've heard people complain that the dials are awkward to use. I guess. But these are all set-it-and-forget-it settings.

Instrument Cluster / Binnacle
In my excitement to take delivery and to drive the car for the very first time, I totally didn't notice there was no instrument cluster in front of me until a mile in, where I was regenning down a steep hill and I looked down to see how much regen I was producing. This is a habit formed by driving in the S; otherwise I probably wouldn't have looked down at all. That's when I found and looked at my speed for the first time on the center screen.

Some things you don't notice until they change, and here, there's a big change. I've never driven a car where the instrument cluster was not behind the wheel (except for a Prius, but that was a single test drive). Before Model 3, I couldn't tell you how much I rely on the speed or other info down there because there's nothing special about looking for that info. Now that the info is in a different location, I'm acutely aware of how often I want to look for things. Turns out, I don't look at my speed very much. I do, however, look for regen almost every single time. Occasionally I'll look for my turn indicators to make sure they're on (when my music is loud enough to drown out the clicking noise).

Glancing over to the right for any of this info is actually not foreign to me. In the smartphone era, I've always had a phone mount on the windshield placed near the center of the car. Glancing over to look at Waze/Maps is something I do for almost every drive. I can see how looking right can be a big change for some, but I don't consider it unsafe (unless you're fiddling with the UI all the time, and there's no reason to do so).

Driving at night is also an interesting experience. Aside from the ambient lights in the footwell and side cup holders, the screen is the only thing lit in the interior, so it makes it easy to default to a side glance. I did freak out once glancing down and seeing only black where the binnacle would be, and for a second, I thought there was a malfunction and that "screen" was off. The driving experience definitely makes my brain think I'm sitting in my S and not my ICEv, even though the driving feel is quite different from the S. More on that later. Hands and steering wheel not being backlit is a bit weird. The dials on the wheels have no light indicators, so you're feeling for them in the dark. Not hard to find, but lighted outlines would make it more spaceshippy. Oh wait, found a setting that enables backlight on the steering wheel. An ambient (not bright) light strip along the HVAC vent would be slick too. Tuners take note!

2018.10.5 Firmware
Here, I have to give thanks to those before me who had to put up with incessant louvre actuations, vampire drain, contrasty fisheye backup camera video, and other quirks that have since been addressed by recent OTA updates. My car came shipped with 2018.10.5 and I can confirm the improvements I've seen mentioned in other threads here. I do still have concerns about phantom touches. There's some speculation that some instances of phantom touches are related to interior cabin temperatures; the screen may warp when hot, causing the malfunctions. As we transition to warmer weather here in the northern hemisphere, we'll find out soon enough if this is a widespread issue. It's been around 50F during the day around where I live, and I haven't experienced any issues yet. I totally expect to be a 'beta tester' as an early adopter, and the primary reason I didn't trade in my last remaining ICEv is in the event I need to send my car to service for them to troubleshoot some yet-to-be-discovered issue.

Steering Wheel / Driving Feel / Suspension
The steering wheel looks kinda plain - a letdown from what I imagined to be the steering mechanism for a spaceship. But I really like how it feels! Instead of a very circular cross section, this wheel has some sharper edges that makes me feel like I have a strong grasp of the wheel without any slippage. Those sharper corners exist along the wheel spokes as well, so you can grasp the 9 and 3 o'clock positions and feel like you have a lot to hold onto. I tried to pull on the wheel to see if the car took off, but alas it didn't.

The smaller diameter coupled with sport mode driving makes the wheel the most responsive car I've ever driven, more so than my old E36 BMW M3. Where the Bimmer will likely win is in the corners, but I suspect if Model 3 is tuned correctly, it'd be just as good.

Model S drives very differently than Model 3. The 3 is so responsive it feels like it has no weight at all. And the turning radius is much sharper. The front view is way more expansive and you can actually see the parking lot lines when you pull into a spot. I think the 3 will introduce to the masses what a sports car feels like. Most people shy away from sports cars because historically they were not very fuel efficient, not practical, and the interior ergonomics were subpar. With Model 3, you get the sports car handling without sacrificing fuel economy or cabin spaciousness. It's going to make a lot of "regular" drivers enjoy driving. Model 3 makes me want to just take the car out for a drive for the fun of it. And I consider myself pretty utilitarian.

As far as suspension goes, this one is quite subjective. Who knows if early Model 3s had extra stiff suspensions or not. Mine feels just right. I can feel the texture of the road without it being jarring. It seems like the proper amount of road feedback to go along with that super responsive steering wheel. Admittedly I've never experienced Tesla's air suspension, so I don't know if I would like that more. I'm in New England where the roads are consistently in less than ideal situations (rough pavement, excessive chip-sealing, frost heaves, potholes, etc.), so if I were driving Model 3 in areas where winters don't destroy roads, it would be buttery smooth to me.

Midnight Silver Metallic
This color is amazing. I love how it looks different under various lighting conditions (see my other thread for photos). Yesterday when it was rainy and overcast, it had a slight blueish tint to it. Under blue skies it's got flashes of bluish purple. Under direct sun, it looks more gray. And photos don't do it justice. I think the red is similar; in person, you pick up on the metallic sheen more than what shows in photos.

Panel Gaps / Body Defects
Either I got very lucky, or issues with panel gaps are overblown. Given all I've read about them, I was totally prepared to have to document a handful of alignment issues and report them to my service center. But aside from one spot that's probably 1/16" off, I don't see anything that sticks out. Charge port alignment is perfect. Hood and headlights are spot on. Trunk alignment is perfect. Glass panels are spot on, and weatherstripping looks uniform. No cracks in the glass that I've seen. I did have 3 small scratches to the clear coat which were already noted by Tesla before delivery. But they are so small I don't think I'm going to have the service center buff them out. Over regular driving, they are going to blend in with new blemishes. I don't expect to keep my paint in showroom condition.

Headlights
Best headlights I've ever experienced. Much better than my 2014 Model S, which I thought were pretty good when I first got them. The S was my first experience with HIDs - figured I needed to set that context. I've heard that when the S went from projector lenses to reflectors that the light quality suffered, so I was a bit worried about the 3's reflector design. It's good. Maybe the refreshed S has weaker lumen output; the reflectors are not at fault. Model 3 smoothly washes the landscape with bright light using reflectors. First time I got into the car at night was a holy sh*t moment. Was not expecting so much illumination - not exaggerating at all. I can see why Tesla doesn't want you messing with the beam angle. It would blind oncoming drivers if set too high.

Sound System
Amazing sound. So much better than my 2014 Model S, but that's not saying much. My Hyundai Sonata's premium audio sounded better than the S by a little bit. I noticed the factory setting for the equalizer on the 3 wasn't flat. I turned down the treble slider a bit and left the rest alone.

HVAC Fan
The fan sounded louder than I expected, and it has a harsh hum to it. I was expecting mostly the whoosh of the air flow. Quite obvious even at 3/10 fan setting. Wondering if this is normal or if it's just my car; I don't remember hearing this in the showroom model. My S vents are much quieter and smoother sounding.

AutoPilot
I haven't driven enough to activate enhanced AutoPilot. Rumors are the next update enables the right scroll wheel for adjusting AP. Seems like a really good usability fix.

User Interface
In general I think buttons on the UI need to be much bigger for a car interface. Bumps in the road reduce our fine motor control to toddler levels. I think Tesla is still designing for a tablet form factor in all their cars. A touchscreen in a car is not a tablet, even if they are similarly sized. They should go back to first principles and take into account that loss of fine motor control in their design. Fortunately the UI is not set in stone. I expect the usability to improve over time. It already has improved quite a bit.

I disagree with folks who jump to the conclusion that having most everything controlled by the center screen UI is unsafe. The fast majority of settings are one-time configs, or things you can set while parked or at a light. You can choose when to take your eyes off the road. When my Sonata refuses to connect to my phone via bluetooth, I have to hunt and peck thru some deep menus before I can force a connection. I'll wait till the next stoplight to do something like that. Use common sense.

RWD
Unless we have a major snow storm in April (rare but it's happened before), I won't get to test RWD handling in the snow until next year. I do plan to get a set of winter tires, which I'm now convinced will make RWD comparable to (or a tad better for stopping ability) AWD with all-seasons.

Bugs
- At one point, I bumped the left dial on the steering wheel and the volume went immediately to max. Damn those speakers are good. But not so good for the ears at max volume.
- When I'm parked and first shift to reverse, I see a "regenerative braking limited" warning. Not sure why. It goes away once I get moving, and regen feels normal to me (similar to my S).
- Driver profile dropdown window didn't disappear a couple of times (it had a stop button, even though the adjustment between easy entry and my profile had completed). Might be tied to Easy Entry feature.

Overall
It's not a perfect car, but will there ever be such a thing? Same thing with phones. No one device will satisfy everyone's individual needs and wants perfectly. Model 3 is a really, really good fit for me, and I think it will be a good fit for a lot of others as well. Tesla still has time to work out bugs before those issues are experienced at mass scale. Even just a couple months later, I'm spared of a bunch of issues. It's only going to get better.

When Tesla is at a point where they can meet demand with their production rate, they will finally be in a position where they might consider advertising the car. They will offer test drives in their showrooms. And countless people who currently barely know about the car are going to be hooked. Look at how hard Porsche, Jaguar, and Hyundai are clamoring for attention with their current advertising. Tesla hasn't even begun to fight.

Four years ago, I ran the inaugural Beat the Blerch race hosted by The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman). He had written a comic about how awesome his Model S 85 was, and I got to see it in person while at the race. I wondered then if I would ever own one. I don't think I could have imagined that four years later, I would own two Teslas. Some people call Musk a con man, but if that's true, he's unnecessarily created some really awesome products in the process. Longest con ever.


The ventilation is much quieter if you have the back seat vent open.
Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 8.27.47 PM.png
 

insaneoctane

Active Member
Apr 6, 2016
3,532
6,704
Southern California
Great write up and thank you for your thoughtful comments. I am trying to take all the sky is falling threads appropriately, but your comments really heighten my excitement again! Thanks!

There's no such thing as a perfect car, but hands down this is the best car I've ever driven. Sorry this is kinda long. It comes with the good and the bad, but for me, it's mostly good. I'll start out with some common usability gripes.


Wiper Operation
Coming from a Model S, I couldn't see what the fuss was about over wiper settings being on the center screen. There is a button at the end of the left stalk that controls a single wipe at the first detent and washer fluid + wipes at the second detent. The difference between S and 3 is that the S interval setting is a dial around the stalk, whereas in the 3, it's on the UI. And people are griping it's too much fiddling of the screen.

I happened to take delivery of my 3 during a rainy day, so this was the first feature I had to use. The car was delivered with the wipers turned off, so my first instinct before even putting the car into drive was to use the left stalk button to clear off the glass. Upon doing that, the UI on the screen automatically put itself on the wiper interval control settings. That to me is not much of a hardship. If for whatever reason my desired interval is not appropriate, I have no issue doing a manual wipe with the stalk first, then a single tap on the screen to the new interval.

Glovebox Operation
I've mentioned in other threads that in all cars I've ever owned, I've very infrequently needed to access my glovebox, and in all situations where I did, I was parked with the engine off. As of this writing, accessing the glovebox in Model 3 requires two taps on the center screen: 1) car icon on the bottom left; 1.5) quick controls (if you're already on this default settings page, there's no tap here); 2) glovebox. Takes about a second for each tap. Glovebox is open in 2-3 seconds. Sure, it's slower than a quick pull of a mechanical lever, but it's such a low-use feature of the car for me that this is inconsequential.

The prominent crash a few months ago that prevented the driver from accessing his glovebox for his registration/insurance info seems silly to me. In a serious crash where the center screen, 12v system, or glovebox itself are damaged, there is no priority for the driver to access any of that information. In most cases with severe accidents like this, the driver is wheeled off to the hospital. It's a testament to Tesla/EV design that people can walk away unhurt and then gripe that their glovebox is stuck.

Mirror + Steering Wheel Adjustments
These are initiated via center screen UI and then the steering wheel dials. I know my exact preference for side mirror viewing angle, so now that they are set, I don't plan to adjust them again. Same with the steering wheel. Because of the lack of instrument cluster, I'm able to set the wheel much lower than in my S and ICE cars. And because the wheel diameter is smaller, the wheel can go pretty low without reaching my legs. Easy entry profile lifts the wheel all the way up. I've heard people complain that the dials are awkward to use. I guess. But these are all set-it-and-forget-it settings.

Instrument Cluster / Binnacle
In my excitement to take delivery and to drive the car for the very first time, I totally didn't notice there was no instrument cluster in front of me until a mile in, where I was regenning down a steep hill and I looked down to see how much regen I was producing. This is a habit formed by driving in the S; otherwise I probably wouldn't have looked down at all. That's when I found and looked at my speed for the first time on the center screen.

Some things you don't notice until they change, and here, there's a big change. I've never driven a car where the instrument cluster was not behind the wheel (except for a Prius, but that was a single test drive). Before Model 3, I couldn't tell you how much I rely on the speed or other info down there because there's nothing special about looking for that info. Now that the info is in a different location, I'm acutely aware of how often I want to look for things. Turns out, I don't look at my speed very much. I do, however, look for regen almost every single time. Occasionally I'll look for my turn indicators to make sure they're on (when my music is loud enough to drown out the clicking noise).

Glancing over to the right for any of this info is actually not foreign to me. In the smartphone era, I've always had a phone mount on the windshield placed near the center of the car. Glancing over to look at Waze/Maps is something I do for almost every drive. I can see how looking right can be a big change for some, but I don't consider it unsafe (unless you're fiddling with the UI all the time, and there's no reason to do so).

Driving at night is also an interesting experience. Aside from the ambient lights in the footwell and side cup holders, the screen is the only thing lit in the interior, so it makes it easy to default to a side glance. I did freak out once glancing down and seeing only black where the binnacle would be, and for a second, I thought there was a malfunction and that "screen" was off. The driving experience definitely makes my brain think I'm sitting in my S and not my ICEv, even though the driving feel is quite different from the S. More on that later. Hands and steering wheel not being backlit is a bit weird. The dials on the wheels have no light indicators, so you're feeling for them in the dark. Not hard to find, but lighted outlines would make it more spaceshippy. Oh wait, found a setting that enables backlight on the steering wheel. An ambient (not bright) light strip along the HVAC vent would be slick too. Tuners take note!

2018.10.5 Firmware
Here, I have to give thanks to those before me who had to put up with incessant louvre actuations, vampire drain, contrasty fisheye backup camera video, and other quirks that have since been addressed by recent OTA updates. My car came shipped with 2018.10.5 and I can confirm the improvements I've seen mentioned in other threads here. I do still have concerns about phantom touches. There's some speculation that some instances of phantom touches are related to interior cabin temperatures; the screen may warp when hot, causing the malfunctions. As we transition to warmer weather here in the northern hemisphere, we'll find out soon enough if this is a widespread issue. It's been around 50F during the day around where I live, and I haven't experienced any issues yet. I totally expect to be a 'beta tester' as an early adopter, and the primary reason I didn't trade in my last remaining ICEv is in the event I need to send my car to service for them to troubleshoot some yet-to-be-discovered issue.

Steering Wheel / Driving Feel / Suspension
The steering wheel looks kinda plain - a letdown from what I imagined to be the steering mechanism for a spaceship. But I really like how it feels! Instead of a very circular cross section, this wheel has some sharper edges that makes me feel like I have a strong grasp of the wheel without any slippage. Those sharper corners exist along the wheel spokes as well, so you can grasp the 9 and 3 o'clock positions and feel like you have a lot to hold onto. I tried to pull on the wheel to see if the car took off, but alas it didn't.

The smaller diameter coupled with sport mode driving makes the wheel the most responsive car I've ever driven, more so than my old E36 BMW M3. Where the Bimmer will likely win is in the corners, but I suspect if Model 3 is tuned correctly, it'd be just as good.

Model S drives very differently than Model 3. The 3 is so responsive it feels like it has no weight at all. And the turning radius is much sharper. The front view is way more expansive and you can actually see the parking lot lines when you pull into a spot. I think the 3 will introduce to the masses what a sports car feels like. Most people shy away from sports cars because historically they were not very fuel efficient, not practical, and the interior ergonomics were subpar. With Model 3, you get the sports car handling without sacrificing fuel economy or cabin spaciousness. It's going to make a lot of "regular" drivers enjoy driving. Model 3 makes me want to just take the car out for a drive for the fun of it. And I consider myself pretty utilitarian.

As far as suspension goes, this one is quite subjective. Who knows if early Model 3s had extra stiff suspensions or not. Mine feels just right. I can feel the texture of the road without it being jarring. It seems like the proper amount of road feedback to go along with that super responsive steering wheel. Admittedly I've never experienced Tesla's air suspension, so I don't know if I would like that more. I'm in New England where the roads are consistently in less than ideal situations (rough pavement, excessive chip-sealing, frost heaves, potholes, etc.), so if I were driving Model 3 in areas where winters don't destroy roads, it would be buttery smooth to me.

Midnight Silver Metallic
This color is amazing. I love how it looks different under various lighting conditions (see my other thread for photos). Yesterday when it was rainy and overcast, it had a slight blueish tint to it. Under blue skies it's got flashes of bluish purple. Under direct sun, it looks more gray. And photos don't do it justice. I think the red is similar; in person, you pick up on the metallic sheen more than what shows in photos.

Panel Gaps / Body Defects
Either I got very lucky, or issues with panel gaps are overblown. Given all I've read about them, I was totally prepared to have to document a handful of alignment issues and report them to my service center. But aside from one spot that's probably 1/16" off, I don't see anything that sticks out. Charge port alignment is perfect. Hood and headlights are spot on. Trunk alignment is perfect. Glass panels are spot on, and weatherstripping looks uniform. No cracks in the glass that I've seen. I did have 3 small scratches to the clear coat which were already noted by Tesla before delivery. But they are so small I don't think I'm going to have the service center buff them out. Over regular driving, they are going to blend in with new blemishes. I don't expect to keep my paint in showroom condition.

Headlights
Best headlights I've ever experienced. Much better than my 2014 Model S, which I thought were pretty good when I first got them. The S was my first experience with HIDs - figured I needed to set that context. I've heard that when the S went from projector lenses to reflectors that the light quality suffered, so I was a bit worried about the 3's reflector design. It's good. Maybe the refreshed S has weaker lumen output; the reflectors are not at fault. Model 3 smoothly washes the landscape with bright light using reflectors. First time I got into the car at night was a holy sh*t moment. Was not expecting so much illumination - not exaggerating at all. I can see why Tesla doesn't want you messing with the beam angle. It would blind oncoming drivers if set too high.

Sound System
Amazing sound. So much better than my 2014 Model S, but that's not saying much. My Hyundai Sonata's premium audio sounded better than the S by a little bit. I noticed the factory setting for the equalizer on the 3 wasn't flat. I turned down the treble slider a bit and left the rest alone.

HVAC Fan
The fan sounded louder than I expected, and it has a harsh hum to it. I was expecting mostly the whoosh of the air flow. Quite obvious even at 3/10 fan setting. Wondering if this is normal or if it's just my car; I don't remember hearing this in the showroom model. My S vents are much quieter and smoother sounding.

AutoPilot
I haven't driven enough to activate enhanced AutoPilot. Rumors are the next update enables the right scroll wheel for adjusting AP. Seems like a really good usability fix.

User Interface
In general I think buttons on the UI need to be much bigger for a car interface. Bumps in the road reduce our fine motor control to toddler levels. I think Tesla is still designing for a tablet form factor in all their cars. A touchscreen in a car is not a tablet, even if they are similarly sized. They should go back to first principles and take into account that loss of fine motor control in their design. Fortunately the UI is not set in stone. I expect the usability to improve over time. It already has improved quite a bit.

I disagree with folks who jump to the conclusion that having most everything controlled by the center screen UI is unsafe. The fast majority of settings are one-time configs, or things you can set while parked or at a light. You can choose when to take your eyes off the road. When my Sonata refuses to connect to my phone via bluetooth, I have to hunt and peck thru some deep menus before I can force a connection. I'll wait till the next stoplight to do something like that. Use common sense.

RWD
Unless we have a major snow storm in April (rare but it's happened before), I won't get to test RWD handling in the snow until next year. I do plan to get a set of winter tires, which I'm now convinced will make RWD comparable to (or a tad better for stopping ability) AWD with all-seasons.

Bugs
- At one point, I bumped the left dial on the steering wheel and the volume went immediately to max. Damn those speakers are good. But not so good for the ears at max volume.
- When I'm parked and first shift to reverse, I see a "regenerative braking limited" warning. Not sure why. It goes away once I get moving, and regen feels normal to me (similar to my S).
- Driver profile dropdown window didn't disappear a couple of times (it had a stop button, even though the adjustment between easy entry and my profile had completed). Might be tied to Easy Entry feature.

Overall
It's not a perfect car, but will there ever be such a thing? Same thing with phones. No one device will satisfy everyone's individual needs and wants perfectly. Model 3 is a really, really good fit for me, and I think it will be a good fit for a lot of others as well. Tesla still has time to work out bugs before those issues are experienced at mass scale. Even just a couple months later, I'm spared of a bunch of issues. It's only going to get better.

When Tesla is at a point where they can meet demand with their production rate, they will finally be in a position where they might consider advertising the car. They will offer test drives in their showrooms. And countless people who currently barely know about the car are going to be hooked. Look at how hard Porsche, Jaguar, and Hyundai are clamoring for attention with their current advertising. Tesla hasn't even begun to fight.

Four years ago, I ran the inaugural Beat the Blerch race hosted by The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman). He had written a comic about how awesome his Model S 85 was, and I got to see it in person while at the race. I wondered then if I would ever own one. I don't think I could have imagined that four years later, I would own two Teslas. Some people call Musk a con man, but if that's true, he's unnecessarily created some really awesome products in the process. Longest con ever.
 

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