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Tesla Model 3 Performance at one year - true love is possible after the honeymoon is over!

dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,187
5,211
FL
It's hard to believe that it's been a year since we first put down what seemed like a staggering chunk of money for the first of our two Model 3s in late July/early August of last year. The first one came pretty quickly a matter of weeks, and I was so blown away by the car and the overall genius of it that I ordered another one for my wife just before the free unlimited supercharging was about to expire. That second purchase decision now looks to be one of my smartest moves ever.

First things first. While the car is hardly perfect – what a piece of technology is? – it's been the most fun to drive, most practical, and the most economical to operate and (potentially) trouble-free car either of us have ever owned. It's too early to know whether or not the drivetrain reliability advantages on paper prove out over 100,000-200,000 miles and beyond but we're cautiously optimistic that they will. We tend to keep our cars for a very long time, so we will find out!

My take-home message to folks who've never experienced this car is, first of all, test drive one! I probably sold at least five or six Model 3s to various contacts and colleagues without getting any official credit via use of the Tesla referral code but I guess that's what they call a “first world problem”. My other take-home message to potential buyers is that this is essentially a four-door electric Ferrari that gets over 100 MPGe, pretty much doesn't require maintenance, is the best long distance driving car ever, has one of the best navigation and infotainment/stereo systems you've ever seen or heard in a car, has the best space utilization in a vehicle you've ever seen, and is the safest vehicle on the road you can currently buy, while having performance that pretty much torches every other sports sedan . . including that perennial and iconic class leader, the BMW M series, and the vaunted Mercedes AMG 6.3 group – both of which guzzle gas like drunken sailors. Most people's reaction to that report – of such an impossible compilation of best-in-class virtues – is to be highly skeptical, until they test drive it and experience the performance first-hand, and then they see the other collective evidence regarding safety, economy of operation, etc.. Then they are uniformly wowed.

Pros:

1) an amazing dynamic envelope of overall performance, including great handling, braking, with instant acceleration. The car has a pretty decent ride too, especially after Tesla revised shocks and springs in early to mid 2018. The Instant acceleration is quite linear (G force proportional to how much you depress the pedal), unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, even in comparably powerful ICE vehicles. Totally addicting. Total absence of wheelspin or noise makes this addicting level of performance and acceleration far less likely to attract undesirable attention.

2) Easiest car ever to drive, perhaps one of the biggest surprises. Can be a low effort, relaxed crusiemobile when you want to loaf and take it easy. Autopilot for sure is part of this, but it isn’t just the EAP. Great steering, feedback from all the controls is generally excellent, and you can position the car on the road with considerable precision and little effort. It's both a drivers car –more so than its somewhat ponderous if faster older brother – and a very easy car to drive!

3) Brilliant, paradigm-shifting integration of all the car’s systems through the big, bright and beautiful 15 inch touch screen, complemented by NFC card keys and Bluetooth phone access. I particularly love the virtual detents within the touchscreen operation in terms of dragging submenus from the bottom especially the audio system menu. This whole effort to consolidate the entire operating system into a touchscreen was incredibly brave of Tesla, particularly given the risk that the absence of traditional speedo and gauge clusters – to say nothing of keys or even key transponders – might disorient and turn off some potential buyers. But Tesla pulled this off, and I think it now sets the standard for the industry in terms of operating system integration, ease of use, etc. We could never go back to keys, key fobs, and all that stuff now seems like typewriters. Again, both a giant leap forward in convenience, and virtual elimination of what have become punitive costs around lost key fobs (vs. $20 for two NFC cards). Remote access via the phone is a game changer, allowing remote activation of locking/unlocking, monitoring, climate control, charging, etc.. Everyone is scrambling to equal Tesla's brilliant operating system, and it contributes significantly to overall ease-of-use.

4) Over the air updates that regularly and significantly improve functionality of multiple systems. This has included the famous anti-lock braking fix but also significant horsepower increases, improvements in the screen layout, cold weather behavior, enhanced supercharging, etc.

5) Speaking of supercharging, the best charging network hands down. Not even close. Version 3 superchargers and the enhancement of Version 2 charging rates to 150 kW will continue to cut down on trip travel time. We are particularly glad we got the unlimited free supercharging – even if for a lot of people that's not a great value at an estimated $5000 price tag. We will get more than our money's worth.

6) One of if not simply the best navigation system, with excellent speech to text input in terms of destinations. This prevents tedious and what could be on the road potentially distracting typing of destinations. Excellent integration of potential supercharger destinations and their current level of availability into the nav system, with battery conditioning now whenever you have a supercharger as a destination.

7) Enhanced autopilot. Yes, we know all about its quirky and even occasionally frankly unsafe behavior, and the occasional strange phantom braking, and other gaffes, but it's simply a brain-saving and stress-reducing Godsend on long drives, the trade-off being that you have to monitor the car versus do the tiring grunt work of driving it. We'll take that trade-off any day of the week on any long drive, even just 15-30 miles. It removes the most cognitively fatiguing aspects of driving – lane centering and speed matching (although all forms of radar-guided cruise control on many makes of newer cars take care of the second of these challenges), and trades those for a simpler and perhaps wider angle monitoring of your environment. We believe that this ability to take your attention off the minutia of driving actually enhances traffic awareness and safety. While we find it sometimes too conservative due to an ultra safety-conscious set of paradigms in heavy traffic especially around lane changing, I vastly prefer its operation to the stress of squeezing out a few more miles per hour by relentless tailgating and lane surfing (what almost everybody else on the road is doing most of the time).

8) Excellent infotainment and sound system (but see cons regarding some of its quirks).

9) Best front seats I've ever experienced. Excellent and highly customizable driving position, savable across multiple drivers which is hugely convenient (and reduces family squabbling!)

10) Track Mode 2.0. Look out for 3.0, especially if it includes ‘sliders’ (adjustable max torque front and rear)! Excellent car for the track junkie at least in shorter sprint type races.

11) Speaking of tracking and tweaking, there are excellent options for aftermarket tuning, particularly from Mountain Pass Performance (our personal fave!), but multiple vendors are getting heavily into the Tesla mod market. Excellent coilover kits are available, along with a wide range of wider and lighter alloy wheels, a great front spoiler from UP, etc. Tesla Tuning Addiction on the other hand requires a full 12 step program to kick!

12) Mobile service can fix a lot of issues without your having to bring the car in (but see cons).

Cons:

1) Interior materials simply do not match up or even get close to best-in-class. This includes carpets, trim pieces, door panels, etc. This makes the cars look and feel cheap at their price point, particularly relative to the best German and Japanese sports sedans, which typically have uniformly excellent interiors.

2) Long wait times for service, and although service has been generally excellent, Tesla in our case did not agree that a structural issue with the glass roof is a factory quality control problem versus some kind of rock or other impact problem, despite the absence of evidence for clear impact. Cracked roof glass has been one of the Model 3s bugaboos. Service centers are typically a long way away. This can mean a three-hour drive just to get an issue taken care of that mobile service can fix.

3) Quality control still is not up to snuff, although in general our cars were delivered in good shape excepting a funky computer board in my wife's car, and a too tight trunk latch in mine. Getting better, by all accounts, but paint quality, panel alignment, and a host of other theoretically minor but ultimately annoying QC issues still seem to find their way into delivered vehicles.

4) Wind noise as you get above 65 miles an hour. We've mitigated this with the RPM Tesla noise kit, plus additional door seals, plus extensive door and trunk dynamatting. We doubt most users are willing to put this kind of time and energy into mitigating something that Tesla should have taken care of, especially in the pricier dual motor cars. We've gotten an estimated 5 DB of noise reduction, but again better noise mitigation should have been part of the standard equipment of the car. This problem of wind and road noise is of course amplified by the total absence of drivetrain noise – one of the vehicles great charms.

5) USB music drive no longer supports Apple lossless files. This valuable functionality was deleted for uncertain reasons, never acknowledged by Tesla, and never fixed. Workaround may not be sonically as good – playing back lossless files via phone Bluetooth.

6) Lack of support for both Apple Car Play and Android Auto. While we personally don't especially miss them, we know that a lot of people do.

7) Vulnerability of performance wheels and tires to damage and even failure from road impacts – this is not really a knock on the car, and as everybody knows, just an intrinsic trade-off of radical low-profile wheels and tires. But it might be nice to have performance versions with 19 inch wheels and tires, or even 18's if the buyer so desired.

8) Lack of an RS version – this could include an upgraded and lowered suspension with cockpit adjustable shocks, 265 or 275 series tires, forged lightweight wheels, upgraded inverter with extra ~50-75 hp, and a taller drive ratio to put horsepower peak higher than 45 mph along with enhanced motor and battery cooling that would allow full power output until running out of juice. Okay now I'm getting into fantasy wish lists. Currently some of this is do-it-yourself aftermarket, except of course the extra 50 hp which is complete vaporware but might become available, while the enhanced cooling and the taller drive ratio would have to be factory redesign.

9) Lack of an LS version – this could include extra sound dampening materials, upgraded interior leather choices, upgraded interior materials, etc. More fantasy wish list stuff obviously. Probably will never happen, but who knows. In any case Tesla should consider that they're making the best car in its class with only two interior color choices – black and white!

Realistically the Cons are fairly minor, although someone getting a car delivered with poor paint and other quality control issues is not going to feel good about their Tesla experience as it gets started. But on balance, these cars are the best cars we've ever owned, and even the best cars either of us have ever driven, price no object. That includes many expensive sports sedans, Porsches, and even an occasional Ferrari. Indeed it has taken the Ferrari Italia 458 off my bucket list. Overall, great work Tesla! But Tesla cannot sit on their achievements and needs to keep improving in multiple areas. My impression is that they get this.
 

WilliamG

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
3,977
5,248
Seattle, WA
It's hard to argue with your impressions. Some of the interior choices are peculiar at best:

1.) The center console travesty. I'm sorry, but cheap, piano-black plastic. Just, no. I'm so much happier after spending a little bit of time wrapping it.
2.) The white headliner. I mean, sure it's brighter than dark colors, but it's a dirt magnet, and easily projects the windshield stamping onto it.
3.) The top dash part. Terrified to clean it or wipe it down for fear of destroying it like some people here have done. Replacing it requires ripping the car apart, apparently, which is even more terrifying.
4.) Glove compartment is a scratch magnet, and not easily fixed, either. Never seen soft touch materials get scuffed and not be able to be wiped down easily.
5.) The door materials aren't great, either, and get torn pretty easily if you're not careful with a shoe etc.

And then exterior:

1.) The paint quality itself isn't great. I'm not talking about it being thin, as I've no way of measuring that. I'm talking about the little nibs (eyelets) in the paint, slightly rough edges of things etc etc. It's just not up to VW/Audi/BMW standards in any way, shape or form.

But with that said, I share your sentiments, despite only having had my Performance 3 not quite three months. It's easily the best car I've ever driven, with the best infotainment system I've ever experienced - and the whole car, too, has killed my enthusiasm for any supercar out there. The only one I've any interest in now is the Roadster 2.0. Everything else is pfffffft. Even driving my neighbor's new M5 was underwhelming. Press accelerator, wait, wait some more - power. Snore. For the everyday road, nothing compares to a Performance 3. Sure, on the track there may be more involving cars. But I spend 99.9% of my time on regular roads, and the Performance 3, with its instant torque, quiet ride and fantastic sound system - is THE supercar for the road.
 

Msjulie

Active Member
Jun 26, 2016
2,439
1,748
Monterey Peninsula
Perhaps I shouldn't but I allow Tesla a lot of slack because for a company so young, they are really making an excellent product.

It's not perfect but there is literally no other American car I ever wanted ever and at this point, the only non-Tesla that's even interesting to me is more of a hobby car: a Porsche 356 replica so I could actually have it on the road vs locked in a garage (and I couldn't afford a real one anyway) - it would have to be a BEV though..

I agree with the Roadster 2.0 comment @WilliamG but that's also outta my price range and who knows when Tesla will actually start making them... would be nice though!
 

smithre4

Member
Jul 18, 2019
37
10
Bel Air, MD
7) Enhanced autopilot. Yes, we know all about its quirky and even occasionally frankly unsafe behavior, and the occasional strange phantom braking, and other gaffes, but it's simply a brain-saving and stress-reducing Godsend on long drives, the trade-off being that you have to monitor the car versus do the tiring grunt work of driving it. We'll take that trade-off any day of the week on any long drive, even just 15-30 miles. It removes the most cognitively fatiguing aspects of driving – lane centering and speed matching (although all forms of radar-guided cruise control on many makes of newer cars take care of the second of these challenges), and trades those for a simpler and perhaps wider angle monitoring of your environment. We believe that this ability to take your attention off the minutia of driving actually enhances traffic awareness and safety. While we find it sometimes too conservative due to an ultra safety-conscious set of paradigms in heavy traffic especially around lane changing, I vastly prefer its operation to the stress of squeezing out a few more miles per hour by relentless tailgating and lane surfing (what almost everybody else on the road is doing most of the time).

This is the one thing that has me guessing on paying $6K for FSD. EAP has all (I think) features that FSD currently offers. Some folks praise the functionality, while others do not. I elected to order a Performance model as opposed to a LR+FSD, but I do wonder if I should buy the FSD (either way it will be after delivery, because if I add it to the order it's above the 63K that MD allows for the excise tax rebate (yes I know they ran out of funds; either way I gamble).
 
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dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,187
5,211
FL
This is the one thing that has me guessing on paying $6K for FSD. EAP has all (I think) features that FSD currently offers. Some folks praise the functionality, while others do not. I elected to order a Performance model as opposed to a LR+FSD, but I do wonder if I should buy the FSD (either way it will be after delivery, because if I add it to the order it's above the 63K that MD allows for the excise tax rebate (yes I know they ran out of funds; either way I gamble).

I think you're getting the new computer for FSD either way if you get AP, but I suspect the FSD software is probably going to come down in price in the future. Could be wrong about that so like you said it is a Gamble
 

djpj12345

New Member
Oct 13, 2019
4
3
Nieuwegein
Hi dfwatt, I was looking for a post like this (experience after one year) :). The point is: I'm at the point of ordering a Tesla Model 3 as a lease car. But I'm in doubt which one: AWD Long range or Performance. I really like the Performance acceleration a lot! I can easliy afford the Performance (because of tax rules in the Netherlands it will be around 100 dollar cheaper than my current Jaguar XE). But on the other hand: the Long range will save me 150 euro's per month compared to my current car. But then again: I really, really like these launch roller coasters where you accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3 seconds. So being able to experience this feeling every day when I drive to my work, would seem great! :)

But now the actual question: how do you experience this acceleration after one year? Does the fun wear off? Or does it never get old?
 

dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,187
5,211
FL
Hi dfwatt, I was looking for a post like this (experience after one year) :). The point is: I'm at the point of ordering a Tesla Model 3 as a lease car. But I'm in doubt which one: AWD Long range or Performance. I really like the Performance acceleration a lot! I can easliy afford the Performance (because of tax rules in the Netherlands it will be around 100 dollar cheaper than my current Jaguar XE). But on the other hand: the Long range will save me 150 euro's per month compared to my current car. But then again: I really, really like these launch roller coasters where you accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3 seconds. So being able to experience this feeling every day when I drive to my work, would seem great! :)

But now the actual question: how do you experience this acceleration after one year? Does the fun wear off? Or does it never get old?
It never gets old. We have two of them and my wife says the same thing.
 

djpj12345

New Member
Oct 13, 2019
4
3
Nieuwegein
And it totally spoils you for any internal combustion engine vehicle however powerful. They all feel like slugs compared to the model 3 Performance due to the instant response and linear power delivery

Yes, I believe that. I had one test drive in a Performance a few weeks ago and my Jag felt pathetic when I drove home afterwards. Let's hope that there are a lot of electric alternatives when I have to return my Tesla after a few years.
 

Richt

Just traveling down the road...
Dec 20, 2017
122
52
Seattle
I’ll second that. We’ve had ours for just about nine months now and we still giggle at full throttle.

Your point about drive ability isn’t discussed a lot but is really true. Put it into chill mode and we’ve done 14 hour drives under autopilot like it is nothing. Feels like 3-4x less driver fatigue.

and the new v10 is actually even better in its splining when making lane changes :)

Yes, I believe that. I had one test drive in a Performance a few weeks ago and my Jag felt pathetic when I drove home afterwards. Let's hope that there are a lot of electric alternatives when I have to return my Tesla after a few years.
 
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dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,187
5,211
FL
The Teslarossa - lowered, staggered, etc. Wife originally totally indifferent to my differentially 'pimping out' (as she put it) my car, but started to pressure for equal treatment after she saw the results.

Recently she questioned "When is my car going to get 'pimped out'??? More on that saga later :p:p

The serious risk of developing TTA (Tesla Tuning Addiction) is the only real problem with this car . . .but payoffs are obvious.

1) MPP Sports Coilovers, lowered 1.25 inches - easily the best coilover kit I've ever done, and this is my 6th. Have them set rather firm at 10/8 compression/rebound. Still pretty comfortable, and with excellent isolation, but quite firm over larger bumps. Tracks like it's on rails though.
2) Vorsteiner 9x20, 38 mm 10.5x20 45mm V-FF 107. Room for wider wheel at front with 265/30-20 PS 4S, to reduce stagger to nearly squared. Next tweak - VS forged VS14 at 9.5 40mm and 10.5 50 mm. Need infusion of cash first!
3) Tesla-specific 275/30 rears (meaty little suckers!) to go with the OEM 235/35 fronts. Shockingly little understeer with this setup - back was previously a bit squirrelly with squared stock setup (felt like the rear was anxious to swap places with the front at the limit), now feels locked down and surprisingly close to neutral at/near the limit - wonder if Tesla VSC partially compensates for staggered setup?
4) Racing Brake rotors front and (soon) rear replacing the OEM performance brake 'thin hat' rotors - allows/almost mandates more wheel offset to avoid excess poke and keep close to stock scrub radius.
4) UP Front airdam, hand painted to match (beatch of a job). Now you can get them matched to factory paint but this costs $300! Really nice piece, very well made, and highly resistant to impact damage. Gets back some lost range from the massive tires, esp. combined with lowering car 1.25-1.5 inches.
5) Car fiber turn signal covers, interior center console, window controls, rear vent housing - thinking about doing the dash wood strip. See cash infusion issue. Can you have a carbon fiber addiction?
6) Stereo tweaks - dynamatting of all four doors, rear trunk, 3 Infinity REF4022 in front dash 'sound bar' (huge difference!) and 2 REF4022s in rear doors (latter is not recommended - required major door surgery and would leave those alone). Car stereo went from almost great to phenomenal. Better than several custom separates systems I've done with significant and most notable improvement in vocals and high frequency reproduction - but subwoofer still needs help below about 40 Hz where it basically craps out. Doubt that I'll tackle that, given the code risk as you need new amp (which can trigger dreaded "Car Unable To Maintain Power code), even with the isolation circuits that have been done (new firmware seems to detect load on battery even with isolation circuitry?).
7) Noise reduction tweaks - dynamatting all over the place, RPM wind reduction kit with some supplementing of rear window tubing, plus extra door seals, and Tesla's interior sun shades - these really help with both heat and noise in cabin but at some minor cost to feeling of spaciousness. Wish I had formally measured prior to installing all this, but car is very discernibly quieter on highway at 70-75+ mph. Given what others have measured for each of these, would conservatively estimate 5-6 db of noise reduction from combination.
8) Induction charging using high value M3 Future unit - this one's a no-brainer. Makes dealing with your phone just so much simpler.

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firebird8302

Member
Aug 27, 2019
66
157
Canyon Lake, TX
And it totally spoils you for any internal combustion engine vehicle however powerful. They all feel like slugs compared to the model 3 Performance due to the instant response and linear power delivery

This is true. Driving my 460hp C7 Corvette feels like slow motion after my Model 3 Performance.
 

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