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  • The final cut of TMC Podcast #34 is available now with topics timestamped. We covered Tesla's rollercoaster prices, Toyota pushing junk science, Mike's new Model 3, Optimizing track mode for snow driving, FSD V11 apparently coming by the end of this week, and more. You can watch and check out the chat replay on YouTube.

Model 3 vs Model Y

MY-Y

Active Member
Mar 4, 2020
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MD
The MY is more comfortable than the M3 for the driver (I own both). The seat is much higher from the floor, so the leg comfort is much better. Visibility, ground clearance, and ingress/egress are also better in the MY.

The M3 is more connected to the road and has better visibility out of the back window.
 
Just do what I am doing - get both! Ha. We have an M3LR and we had a Jeep for things like camping, hauling stuff, etc. Once we got used to the Tesla, we found ourselves dreading driving the Jeep. There is simply not any good alternatives at the moment to Tesla so we opted for a MYP. We went performance mainly because of the small delta vs LR at the time of ordering (5K) and faster delivery time.

I would love to get a Rivian R1S but they are just too new (and this model isn't even available yet).

But considering your situation I would go for the 3. It is a blast to drive. I went ahead and installed coilovers and it's even better if you are into that kind of thing. Space is an issue at times mainly due to not having a hatch but you can fold down the rear seats and fit a decent amount of stuff. Wouldnt recommend camping in the 3.
 

tm1v2

Active Member
Oct 18, 2021
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@jessepotter

Y = much more practical for hauling cargo and/or adult passengers, and still very quick

3 = much more fun and satisfying to drive (even if it's not much quicker)

As a second car I say get the 3. That's what I did. We still have our old S for when we need to haul big things or people. No regrets, the M3P is a blast to drive, I'm very glad we picked it.

Now if it was to be your only car or primary hauler, then you really have to ask yourself is the 3 sedan practical enough. For us it wouldn't be, it couldn't be our only car the way our S was for many years. Whereas a Y could fill that role.
 
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tm1v2

Active Member
Oct 18, 2021
2,451
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USA
Thanks for all the replies. I think as the fifth car in our family, the M3P will be perfect for me. I did install aftermarket coilovers on my MX-5. I'll wait and see how bad the suspension is on the M3P before I pull the trigger, though.
@jessepotter Road car suspension feel has a lot of personal preference to it, but I'll give you my thoughts...

The M3P is a blast even on the stock suspension. Which btw feels pretty much identical to the M3LR suspension. However...the suspension is definitely a weak point in the driving experience if you push the car hard.

First, the ride is a little busy by modern car standards. I don't mind the ride at all (after switching to 18" wheels), I like feeling the road a bit, but there are sporty cars out there that manage to ride smoother and handle better at the same time. (Btw the 3 rides a lot smoother than the Y, at least for the 2021 cars I tested.)

Second, the handling...at first the 3 will feel sporty because you feel the road, the ride is mildly busy, and the steering ratio is really quick. (I love the quick steering ratio!) However the harder you push it and the more challenging the road gets, with uneven pavement, big bumps and dips, etc - the sloppier the car gets and the stock suspension can get completely overwhelmed fast.

On my test drives I took it on a real torture test stretch of twisty+uneven+wide+familiar road where I could drive it HARD...and it completely failed. The car's weight was shifting all over, never settling down, it crashed into the bumpstops hard after a big dip, and steering reactions felt way too slow due to the suspension never catching up to what I was asking of the car. Wife thought we were going to fly off the road and die. (No we weren't but it sure felt like the car wanted to bounce away somewhere.)

Even just taking a smooth ramp quickly, you can feel the steering reactions are a tad delayed and the suspension takes longer to settle vs better-handling sporty 4 cars. That said on most roads the suspension doesn't really hold the car back per se, it just doesn't feel as taught or controlled as I'd like.

So based on the drives I ordered Redwood Motorsports Öhlins DFV coilovers in "Performance Sport" trim before we even picked up the car. The car doesn't need them, it's a blast for shredding up twisties even with the stock suspension, but for sure it could benefit from a suspension upgrade.

I picked the Öhlins DFV because another EV we tested, the Polestar 2 Performance, had those dampers from the factory and its suspension control blew me away vs the Model 3, along with smoother ride quality at the same time. Driven casually the P2P felt less sporty than the M3P, but pushed hard the P2P with its Öhlins just felt better and better, always in tight control, always responsive to my inputs. And with great smooth-firm ride quality at the same time. (Not floaty magic carpet ride, I wouldn't want that anyways.) Even my wife readily agreed the P2P handled much better and that's why she approved me putting the same kind of Öhlins DFV dampers on our M3P. :)

Also the P2P had quicker steering reactions (despite slower steering ratio), though I suspect that has as much to do with bushing choices as the dampers and springs. I am putting MPP front lower control arm bushings on my M3P in an attempt to improve steering reactions and feel.

Another reference point of mine is my last sporty car, from many years ago, a Subaru STI hatchback that I lightly modded. If memory serves it certainly didn't ride any better than a Model 3, probably worse, but it had much better suspension control when the going got tough. It was a lot more controlled through that same torture test stretch of road.
 
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I wonder why the range would increase with smaller tires. You'd think that bigger wheels would be more energy efficient because they need less revolutions to cover the same ground.
Wheel is smaller but tire is larger so overall diameter is the same... The smaller wheel is much lighter (around 30 lbs for a typical 19" vs 65 lbs for the stock 21's) so it takes less effort for the motors to turn. My MYP added close to 30 miles of range by switching to 19's
 
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tm1v2

Active Member
Oct 18, 2021
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I wonder why the range would increase with smaller tires. You'd think that bigger wheels would be more energy efficient because they need less revolutions to cover the same ground.
@HellsKitchen Usually when changing wheel size it's best to maintain approximately the same overall tire diameter. So smaller diameter wheel == taller sidewall tire.

Now why is smaller wheel + taller sidewall usually more efficient than bigger wheel + shorter sidewall? Here's my understanding (not an expert):

1) Usually smaller wheel + taller tire ends up being lighter overall. That should obviously help efficiency, especially in city cycle testing with frequent slowing down and speeding up.

2) I suspect flat tire sidewall is more aerodynamic than wheel spokes. Especially without an aero wheel cover. This should help mostly at higher speeds, e.g. in highway cycle testing.

3) The official range/efficiency difference between OE wheel options is often exaggerated because bigger diameter OE wheels often come with grippier, less efficient performance tires, while smaller wheels tend to come with lower performing efficiency-minded tires. The tire DOES make a difference but it's NOT the whole difference. Once you switch to your preferred tires this part doesn't matter anymore of course.

I put about 1k miles on my M3P's original 20x9" wheels wearing 235/35R20 summer performance tires (Tesla-spec Pirelli PZ4). Then I switched to much lighter 18x8.5" wheels wearing 245/45R18 summer performance tires (Bridgestone Potenza Sport). I don't track my efficiency super closely but I seemed to gain some efficiency/range, I have an easier time hitting or getting close to the car's EPA rated efficiency now. This despite continuing with "max performance" summer tire category. (Ride, grip, and power steering feel are also all better with the smaller, lighter wheels & new tires, for what that's worth. Only downside is appearance.)
 
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tm1v2

Active Member
Oct 18, 2021
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@jessepotter Since you bought a Miata and upgraded its suspension, you seem like someone who cares about the full range of a car's handling. I'll therefore go a bit deeper, beyond what I've ever been able to explore in a normal test drive...

If you ignore the poor stock damping, I think the M3P's fundamental handling balance and control is actually very good. At least by my standards / based on my experience with sporty cars (my own and friends' cars I've driven, on road and on track). For a 300+ mile range big battery EV (i.e. heavy) it feels wonderfully nimble, playful, fun, and light on its feet. (And it is lighter than any competitive 4 door EV!) Obviously coming from a modded MX-5 it'll still feel like a big tank, but I think it's actually quite good as 4 door family-friendly cars go. Note the stock 20" wheels are ridiculously heavy, switching to lightweight forged 18" wheels make a real difference in how nimble the car feels (beyond what I expected - I mostly did the switch for wheel protection).

The super fast steering ratio + firm smaller diameter steering wheel are sublime for car control, especially on tight twisty roads, or for applying quick counter-steering in a slide. (Fun fact: I once spent $2k on a hand built quick steering rack to change a car from 15:1 to 11.5:1. It was made by a machinist who specialized in rally car parts/builds. I think the Model 3 steering is even quicker from the factory!)

The balance of the car makes it a sweetheart. It's setup to understeer at the limit of course, as any street car should be I think, but it also has a heavy rear bias to the power delivery. So even the dual motor 3 and Y feel very RWD, much moreso than a typical fulltime AWD ICE car (e.g. compared to a manual Subaru or longitudinal Audi). Combine that with perfect sharp EV throttle response and it's super easy to rotate the car with the accelerator, it just does exactly what you want it to. I don't think it has any scary or extreme handling tendencies, or I would've discovered them by now with the fun driving I've gotten to do in this car. ;) Certainly no signs of snap-oversteer or anything like that!

This is the first car I've owned that can readily power oversteer / drift on pavement, my past sporty cars were all AWD or FWD. But I have pretty solid experience with controlled sliding in the snow and ice (from years past when I had real winters). I got the back of my M3P sliding out real good once under power in the dry, and the quick steering + precise throttle control made catching and recovering from the slide an instinctive breeze. I'm not used to power sliding on pavement at all, not something I could do in my own cars before, yet I felt in control the whole time, like I could make this car dance if I wanted to and had room for it. (Having room to do that safely and responsibly is pretty rare for me, so that one experience is it for now. I can't wait to drive this car in snowy rural mountain roads someday though. Maybe next winter.)

In normal driving mode (outside of Track Mode) the car's front:rear power bias in turns can feel a bit unpredictable at times, though it's clearly heavily rear-biased by default, you can feel that it wants to rotate under power even before you reach its limits and the nannies clamp down. Which they will if you get up to its limits, and they'll also really limit power coming out of a turn.

That's all fine though because the M3P has Track Mode for those times when you have opportunity to really explore its limits, and once you're in Track Mode the power delivery becomes more predictable thanks to the "Handling Balance" control.

The "Handling Balance" slider adjusts between 100/0 extreme understeer to 0/100 super oversteer-y. It does NOT directly set the front:rear power split, and it does NOT make the car fully RWD or fully FWD, but it does heavily influence the power bias especially in turns, and it feels more consistent & predictable to me than the normal driving mode. I'm told for racetrack lap times everyone finds 50/50 to be fastest, but of course if you're just out having fun on empty roads, set it to whatever you want. I've been using 50/50 for the twisties (for maximum control), 35/65 for empty ramps (some rear bias for easy rotation), and in the snow I'll probably start off around 60/40 or 50/50 initially and tweak it from there. (As mentioned I haven't driven this car in the snow yet.)

Track Mode of course lets you dial back the nannies using the "Stability Assist" slider, and while I'm told it never fully disables them, it seems to allow plenty of leeway for any driving I'm likely to ever do, including sliding around at lower speeds. (Apparently if you have opportunity to do 70 mph drifts on frozen ice lakes it's still intrusive. 🤯 Jealous, I am!) Since it's a slider you can also keep the nannies at pretty much full force if you like, e.g. if you just want to use Track Mode's extra strong regen (see below).

The final Track Mode slider is "Regenerative Braking," and it can actually go stronger than normal mode regen, which in turn makes the accelerator easier to control because more of the pedal travel gets used for regen. The regen slider is possibly my favorite Track Mode feature. Cranking up regen extra strong feels wonderful in the twisties, you can maintain a much faster pace while still primarily doing one-pedal driving, and of course it's more efficient than hammering on the friction brakes for every turn. The regen is why I love Track Mode for tearing up twisty back roads. (I do dial back the nannies slightly for the twisties too, just to make sure they don't interfere, but most of the twisty roads I get to have fun on have little-to-no room for error, so I keep below the car's limits and the nannies probably wouldn't be an issue anyways.)

Lastly, I've read that lowering or fully disabling regen is apparently very useful in the snow (so I'm told, no experience yet). Regen in the 3 and Y has a heavy rear bias (for maximum efficiency using the rear permanent magnet motor), so when regen is at normal/full force it's liable to make the back squirrely or even slide. Which is very different from friction brake force distribution of course.

Note that only the M3P and S Plaid get Track Mode, the crossovers including MYP don't get it. I think it's a big part of why Tesla puts a much higher price premium for M3P vs M3LR than MYP vs MYLR. However if you DON'T care for the kinds of driving where Track Mode is helpful, the M3P ends up looking like a poor value! Whereas MYP's minimal price premium is easier to justify over MYLR. (And to be frank, Track Mode and everything else I wrote about in this post is irrelevant to most drivers, and irrelevant to any "normal" driving on public roads with homes, buildings, people, other cars, etc around.)
 
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@tm1v2 You made a lot of good points and things I had not considered previously when comparing the M3P and the MYP. The track mode does seem more useful now than it had previously (I don't intend to actually track the M3P).

The main intent for installing coilovers on the Miata was to control body roll, but it also made the ride more comfortable. I was concerned the M3P would feel harsh after watching numerous YT reviews. This may be due to the reviewers comparing the vehicle to other $60k+ vehicles in the segment. Coming from cheaper cars and sports cars, I doubt it will bother me.

I'm not the average SUV/CUV shopper. I do appreciate handling, so the weight distribution and steering will be a delight. Maybe my wife will want to trade in her CR-V for a MY after she sees how nice the Tesla can be. She still has major reservations regarding range.
 
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terranx

Member
Aug 29, 2019
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The main intent for installing coilovers on the Miata was to control body roll, but it also made the ride more comfortable. I was concerned the M3P would feel harsh after watching numerous YT reviews. This may be due to the reviewers comparing the vehicle to other $60k+ vehicles in the segment. Coming from cheaper cars and sports cars, I doubt it will bother me.
For what it's worth, I have an E46 M3 with Ohlins coilovers (which are actually smoother than other coilovers on that car), and the M3P is definitely smoother than that. If you're comfortable with sporty cars, I think you'll be fine.
 

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