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Model 3: First 100 Miles Impressions from a P85D Owner

MarkS22

Member
Apr 6, 2015
796
1,985
Morris County, NJ
I took delivery of my 3 on Monday. It’s apparently the 10th black Model 3 in New Jersey. I’ve been driving a Model S P85D for almost 3 years, so I thought I’d share initial thoughts from that perspective... and probably put together a video comparison. (I’ve also driven a recent P100D, so when I compare to the S, I’m also taking into account the latest iterations.) Also, note that I went into this knowing I’d be “beta testing” to a degree.

High level thoughts:

The design of the 3 feels cohesive and cleaner. For example, the latest S has some odd angles where the center console meets the 17” screen. At a certain point, you need a full refresh as opposed to making minor upgrades. That’s one example.

The 3 has superior sound in comparison to the S with premium audio.

The 3 has more refinements, like coat hooks, lighted vanity mirrors, better integrated (eg door) storage. It has a back seat arm rest with cup holders build into the center seat. Even simply things like the glove compartment... on the S, a pair of earbuds or a pen can “jam” the door by falling in the hinge. The 3 solves this.

The 3 has a much improved display, albeit smaller, with significantly faster response time. The interface itself looks more modern with clean, flat white icons that feel like 2018. The S interface still retains some older icons. Moving the map is noticeably faster and feels like a current generation iPad. Button presses don’t lag. Voice control feels faster, but that’s subjective.

The 3’s vent control system is really slick. Even though it’s one slit, you can use the screen UI to move the air flow by dragging circles with your fingers. No positioning vents manually. It all happens behind the scenes. The driver and passenger can set the flow individually. I’m not sure if it does this yet, but this makes air flow position a possible driver profile save.

The 3 has music that increases in volume with speed. (Coming to the S, but not there yet.)

The dual phone dock is slick and works well with an iPhone X with thin case. A thicker case needs modifications.

I don’t mind the lack of an instrument cluster. I like the clear view of the road more than I miss it.

The simple interior button press to open the door on the 3 is much more refined than the S interior handle.

Overall, it just feels more modern. Just like the original S felt like a “car from the future” to me 3 years ago, this one feels like it’s from the future today. Being in it feels better than the photos, in my opinion. That flat, unobstructed dash with a single piece of wood across it is fantastic. The front end evokes Porsche more than I got from the photos.

Not having to use a keyfob also feels more modern. Just walk up with your phone and it lights up, unfolds the mirrors, and you’re ready to go. It’s almost as cool as the welcome of the S self-presenting handles. Almost. (The credit card keys are also beautiful.)

Yes, the glass roof is huge and gorgeous. My 5 year old daughter commented that it feels being in a submarine while looking at the sky. (On that note, she says the 3 is cooler looking inside.)

This is in addition to my previous comments elsewhere about the 3 having redundant wiring and a redundant steering motor, plus an extra internal camera.

On the negative side, some nitpicks:

Who decided to put such a lousy backup camera on this amazing vehicle? The one on the S is vastly superior.

The premium package should include a power liftgate.

The exterior door handles take some muscle memory. You must let go of them completly before shutting the door or it won’t close. You also need a little more force than expected to close the doors.

The piano black center console came with subtle scratches like paint swirling. It’s a fingerprint magnet and I suspect scratch magnet as well. I’ll probably get it wrapped.

When I reach for the seatbelt, I’ve scratched that cloth headliner material a couple times. I feel like that could be an issue over time. Maybe they should’ve made the headliner a different material? Heh. (Seriously, the cloth looks fine... just concerned with this one area.)

I miss the energy graphs. Maybe with a software update?

You can’t connect to home Wi-Fi yet. It connects at the Service Center, but tapping on LTE doesn’t allow you to add your access point yet.

Autopilot is almost there, but still feels a little “glitchy” in comparison to AP 1.

Performance:

In terms of performance, clearly the S is superior at accelerating. However, it’s unfair to compare a single motor non-performance model to a dual motor performance. Subjectively, the 3 feels like it has more power in the higher end than the acceleration should allow. In other words, it feels like the acceleration could be software limited at 0-60. I wouldn’t be shocked if there was an eventual uncork after the S refreshes. (I repeat: subjective... not trying to start a rumor.) Overall, it feels like you’d expect... a smaller, slightly more nimble Model S with less powerful acceleration.

Child car seats:

We have Diano Radians. In the S, you can fit two and still fit another (small) adult in the back seat. You can squeeze someone in, but it doesn’t feel safe.

With two car seats on the outside positions, you can use the armrest and cup holder.

With one car seat behind the passenger, you can still lower the 60% back seat for extended trunk space.

Delivery and Issues:

First, let me be clear there is nothing major that Tesla hasn’t already resolved (or agreed to resolve).

Upon delivery, they pointed out a small cluster of dents and a paint chip on the center of the hood. It was clearly visible... a white chip against black paint with a couple dents nearby. They offered to take it to a body shop or allow me to wait for a new hood. I bought a brand new car, so I opted for a replacement.

The GPS was stuck showing me in California. It didn’t resolve in a few days. A reboot of the car by a ranger fixed this in minutes.

The right rear light didn’t work. The ranger fixed a wiring harness connection literally in seconds.

Conclusion:

This is an interim car for me until the next S refresh. When that happens, the 3 will go to a family member. (I need the extra room... with two children and a dog, the hatchback is a must.) I really like what I see, though. If they can churn these out, they have a hit. At the same time, it really makes me feel like the S is being neglected. I’m disappointed they couldn’t introduce a refresh with the release of the 3 but I’m sure “production hell” isn’t helping.

When you take into account price and range, I have a difficult time justifying an S in its current state unless you absolutely need more trunk space/wider cabin and performance/acceleration. To me, the 3 feels like the latest technology and platform. Not just a smaller economy Tesla. I’d imagine dual motors and a performance version will be particularly exciting.
 

Skione65

Active Member
May 5, 2016
1,468
722
Kentucky
@MarkS22,

Excellent write up! Thank you for taking the time to compile such a detailed review. One of the most detailed, informative reviews yet....what I like is the applicability of review as it compares to your years driving the ‘S’. Great perspective. I hate to even say this at this point but still surprised QC either didn’t catch or they just tried to pawn off the several delivery issues hoping you don’t notice, especially the hood dents and paint chip. They just plain have to get control of these even though I understand they are trying to ‘ramp up’. However, excellent that they stepped up and are correcting those issues appropriately. Kudos to Tesla there.
Enjoy your new 3!

Ski
 

jbcarioca

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2015
5,107
23,431
Thanks for this post. Thus is exactly my current car, and I deferred Model 3 until AWD and P arrive. I cannot wait!!
 

FloridaGary

Member
Sep 27, 2015
633
308
Orlando, FL.
I have a reservation for a Model 3 and currently an S owner. Question: Are you using any transponders for toll roads or gated community? There are many threads discussing the placement of the transponders on the windshield or trunk rear deck on the S. I wonder what Model 3 owners are experiencing.
 

PhatCat

Kisco Kid
Jun 14, 2012
438
612
Mt Kisco, NY
Thanks for the thoughtful write up. You didn't comment on the suspension/ride quality. Do you find it nervous or jumpy as have some? I had a recent Jag XJL with non-adjustable air suspension that was jumpy and i found it really annoying at times. I'm deferring my Model 3 delivery until availability of white interior since the car is heading to Hawaii but i am wondering if I should also wait for air suspension.
 

Zaphod

Galaxy President (former)
Dec 10, 2015
2,160
1,957
Austin, TX
I still don't get the whole wanting a power liftgate. It's a relatively light trunk lid, not a huge heavy hatch. Seems completely bizarre to me how many times I see people wanting the trunk powered.

The conjecture on the backup camera is that it will still be improved with further software update(s). There has already been one update that has improved it.
 

ForeverFree

Supporting Member
Jul 9, 2015
603
1,361
Sherman Oaks, CA
Thanks for the thoughtful write up. You didn't comment on the suspension/ride quality. Do you find it nervous or jumpy as have some? I had a recent Jag XJL with non-adjustable air suspension that was jumpy and i found it really annoying at times. I'm deferring my Model 3 delivery until availability of white interior since the car is heading to Hawaii but i am wondering if I should also wait for air suspension.


A suspension fix is already available. SC has ours on order.


As for black interior in Hawaii, I wouldn’t let that delay you from enjoying a great car. Remember that you can turn on the AC remotely a couple minutes before getting into the car. Besides, you guys don’t get hot-hot there, the way that we do in CA.

(And, black carpet will show red dirt less than blonde carpet.)
 
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MarkS22

Member
Apr 6, 2015
796
1,985
Morris County, NJ
I have a reservation for a Model 3 and currently an S owner. Question: Are you using any transponders for toll roads or gated community? There are many threads discussing the placement of the transponders on the windshield or trunk rear deck on the S. I wonder what Model 3 owners are experiencing.

Good question. I haven’t moved my EZPass yet, but I’ve always used the external license plate-mounted one on my S. That works in the NJ/NY area, but on road trips, other states seem less prepared with sensors that can read the license plate transponder.
 

MarkS22

Member
Apr 6, 2015
796
1,985
Morris County, NJ
Thanks for the thoughtful write up. You didn't comment on the suspension/ride quality. Do you find it nervous or jumpy as have some? I had a recent Jag XJL with non-adjustable air suspension that was jumpy and i found it really annoying at times. I'm deferring my Model 3 delivery until availability of white interior since the car is heading to Hawaii but i am wondering if I should also wait for air suspension.

I haven’t experienced anything particularly negative. It’s clearly “lighter”. It I don’t know if I’d call it nervous or jumpy. The P85D, by comparison, feels almost like a tank in comparison. The ride quality (with air suspension) goes down the road with more authority, feeling almost magnetized to the road. I didn’t comment on ride quality yet because I’m only about 100 miles in, so I don’t think I’ve been on a wide enough variety of roads yet.
 

MarkS22

Member
Apr 6, 2015
796
1,985
Morris County, NJ
I still don't get the whole wanting a power liftgate. It's a relatively light trunk lid, not a huge heavy hatch. Seems completely bizarre to me how many times I see people wanting the trunk powered.

The conjecture on the backup camera is that it will still be improved with further software update(s). There has already been one update that has improved it.

It’s heavier than I expected, to be honest. It’s mostly useful when it comes to having your hands full. I might not be high on your priority list, but I was also comparing to my S which does have it. In my opinion, the power liftgate is a plus for the S.

I work in video production and I’m doubtful software will be able to make it much better. I know they made it look better recently, particularly with the blown highlights. That’s all stuff that can be done reasonably using software. It appears to be an inferior sensor or, perhaps, one that is better suited to Autopilot functions. I don’t see it ever getting as good as the S unless they completely messed up the software/driver. The resolution and dynamic range just isn’t there.
 

kirk8500

Member
Feb 1, 2018
18
25
USA
I still don't get the whole wanting a power liftgate. It's a relatively light trunk lid, not a huge heavy hatch. Seems completely bizarre to me how many times I see people wanting the trunk powered.

The conjecture on the backup camera is that it will still be improved with further software update(s). There has already been one update that has improved it.

There was a post in the Tesla.com Model 3 forum on this. I'm with you, but it sounds like people who are used to SUV's who have kids and shopping bags like the idea. Single males don't care for the most part :)
 
Dec 19, 2015
891
791
North Dallas, Texas
Saw and drove it for the first time yesterday. Excellent quality and performance. It will sell well and the average consumer will be hooked.

Ended up making S3X in the driveway.
 

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ZappBrannigan

Member
Feb 2, 2018
9
2
New Jersey
Thanks for the write up, its good to see a fellow NJ person in a 3.

I'm currently deciding between a CPO P85D / 85D or a 3LR. Price and range aside, do you feel like the S is still the superior car?
 

Sandiegodoug

Member
Apr 25, 2017
871
582
SAN Diego
I agree
Wish the energy use graphics were available on the small carrousel screen.
I also wish doors would suck close like on my x. Seems I have to slam them to close them. Overall car is fantastic. Had it a week and our x hardly moved.
 
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kbM3

Active Member
May 22, 2017
1,851
9,364
Orlando
Performance:

In terms of performance, clearly the S is superior at accelerating. However, it’s unfair to compare a single motor non-performance model to a dual motor performance. Subjectively, the 3 feels like it has more power in the higher end than the acceleration should allow. In other words, it feels like the acceleration could be software limited at 0-60. I wouldn’t be shocked if there was an eventual uncork after the S refreshes. (I repeat: subjective... not trying to start a rumor.) Overall, it feels like you’d expect... a smaller, slightly more nimble Model S with less powerful acceleration.

Child car seats:

We have Diano Radians. In the S, you can fit two and still fit another (small) adult in the back seat. You can squeeze someone in, but it doesn’t feel safe.

With two car seats on the outside positions, you can use the armrest and cup holder.

With one car seat behind the passenger, you can still lower the 60% back seat for extended trunk space.

Delivery and Issues:

First, let me be clear there is nothing major that Tesla hasn’t already resolved (or agreed to resolve).

Upon delivery, they pointed out a small cluster of dents and a paint chip on the center of the hood. It was clearly visible... a white chip against black paint with a couple dents nearby. They offered to take it to a body shop or allow me to wait for a new hood. I bought a brand new car, so I opted for a replacement.

The GPS was stuck showing me in California. It didn’t resolve in a few days. A reboot of the car by a ranger fixed this in minutes.

The right rear light didn’t work. The ranger fixed a wiring harness connection literally in seconds.

Conclusion:

This is an interim car for me until the next S refresh. When that happens, the 3 will go to a family member. (I need the extra room... with two children and a dog, the hatchback is a must.) I really like what I see, though. If they can churn these out, they have a hit. At the same time, it really makes me feel like the S is being neglected. I’m disappointed they couldn’t introduce a refresh with the release of the 3 but I’m sure “production hell” isn’t helping.

When you take into account price and range, I have a difficult time justifying an S in its current state unless you absolutely need more trunk space/wider cabin and performance/acceleration. To me, the 3 feels like the latest technology and platform. Not just a smaller economy Tesla. I’d imagine dual motors and a performance version will be particularly exciting.

In performance you really only mentioned acceleration. Do you agree with most that the handling is superior to the S?
 

MarkS22

Member
Apr 6, 2015
796
1,985
Morris County, NJ
In performance you really only mentioned acceleration. Do you agree with most that the handling is superior to the S?

Yes, being smaller and lighter does make it feel more nimble. It’s a little more sporty.

By comparison, the S is a powerful beast. It rides with authority and I feel—in comparison to the 3–the instant torque/acceleration does a lot to make up for handling in such a large sedan.

Ultimately, I think most people familiar with the S will get what they expect. Both cars are clearly siblings. They deviate strictly based on physics (size, weight, power).
 

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