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Test drive completed...not sure...

Jibjab

Member
Aug 8, 2020
170
87
Doncaster
Hi All

Apologies for the epic post in advance.

Long time lurker and wanted to get the views of current owners. A little bit about my car history for the last decade for some context, BMW 320d, TVR Chimaera (always a second third car), Golf GTD, Porsche Cayman S, Maserati Ghibli S, Mercedes CLS 63 AMG and currently a Volvo V90 on a lease..sold the CLS to release some funds for a house purchase.

I run my own Ltd company and like many others the prospect of running an EV is very appealing as it’s currently very tax efficient. At the top of my list was the longest range and most convenient/fast charging network I could find. This led me to the Tesla Model 3 LR for a reasonable lease cost and the great charging infrastructure. I scoured the internet, read many many reviews, watched several YouTube videos and of course poured over the forums, including one.

I thought I ought to try and get a test drive before I decide to sign up to a lease. I’m glad I did as I’m really not so sure now.

I’d be interested to hear from current owners if their car was a ‘grower’ I.e. not initially grabbed/impressed but you gain an appreciation over time.

My observations and thoughts, and I’m happy to be challenged if perhaps I’m being unrealistic here.

The not so good:

1) The whole car just felt ‘flimsy’ is the best word I can use. I understand the doors are frameless (and I’ve had several cars work frameless doors) but they hardly feel, or sound, any better than my TVR! The boot clangs when shut and doesn’t seem to have any heft, possibly aluminium? The Cayman’s ‘bonnet’ was similar to be fair.

2) The interior just doesn’t seem on a par with anything vaguely premium. The materials seem thin, the covered storage lids are plasticky, what buttons there are don’t feel like they’ll last.

3) The fit and finish seems hap hazard both inside and outside. The a pillar coverings we’re just wonky, the top dash gaps were wildly different at each side.

4) The car seems to resonate somehow, like it feels hollow. Not too loud, but feels like a light

5) It shouted at me constantly like there was impending doom at any moment, the Volvo bus does this occasionally, but not to this extent. I’m assuming the alerts can be scaled back in the settings so this is probably user error.

6) More of a user error for this one, the regeneration. I guess you get used to this, and to be fair I started to improve at the end of the drive.

7) I’m used to both firm and marshmallow rides, see car history, but this seemed firm but without having the benefit of good body control. This was the M3P but on 18s, not sure if they are firmer? It reminded me of the early Audi S line suspension where it was very firm but didn’t ‘flow’ with the road.

The good:

1) The space seemed really good for a car of this size, especially width wise. Felt great in the front and the back.

2) The glass roof. Really liked this...so did my 10 year old :)

3) For the most part the Autopilot worked well. It did say ‘steer assist not available for the rest of this drive’ after a while though for some reason.

4) I couldn’t really get a true sense of the performance as they gave me an M3P service vehicle locked in chill mode. I know it will be fine though.

5) The handling, I don’t drive that quickly, despite my precious car history, but in general I do like a car to feel like it will change direction cleanly and without fuss, which it did.

6) The touchscreen. Took a little bit of getting used to, but it’s incredibly clear and responsive. I’m used to touch screen controls in the Volvo for most things, so it wasn’t a massive departure.

7) The external looks. I love how they look. They do look premium, from the door handles to the lighting to the glass roof. It’s only on closer inspection that perhaps the side is let down.


In summary I really wanted to love this. car, but ultimately came away underwhelmed.

Maybe it was a Friday afternoon car that has been abused to within an inch of its life as a service vehicle perhaps?

Perhaps I should readjust my expectations?

Could perceived flimsiness be in the pursuit of lower weight?

I know it’s not comparing apples with apples, but I got back in my fiancé’s Audi A5 coupe and it felt, looked (and sounded with the closing of the doors) and drove with a far more premium, refined and solid feeling. I think she’s going to book a test drive so she can tell me what an idiot I’m being :)

Any thoughts and observations from you lovely current owners welcome :)

James.
 

NorfolkMustard

Active Member
Apr 18, 2019
2,168
2,140
M3P w/FSD
Flimsy: agreed. It definitely doesn’t “sounds just like a golf”. You can make some improvements to the boot rattle by changing/removing the number plate bracket.
It does sound like you had a particularly unloved/well-used example though.

“Autosteer unavailable for the rest of the drive“ = it put you in autopilot sin-bin for not keeping hold of the wheel (in just the right way).
 

DaveW

Active Member
May 21, 2019
1,153
915
Beds, UK
Sounds like they car you a loan car, rather than a test drive one? From what I’ve read on the state of some loaners, I don’t think Tesla take particularly good care of them. If it was a performance with 18’s, it was likely an P-, so no sports suspension or brakes, so more in line with an LR.

They definitely don’t have the Audi ‘clunk’ on closing the door (improved with an additional weather sealing kit though, not that you should have to), but mine feels well enough put together, certainly no worse than my previous BMW M140i.

They are a bit prone to wind and road noise, but I think that’s also exacerbated by the lack of engine noise.

My M3P handling wise feels a bit floaty at times, but digs in when you push it in a corner, on the plus side it’s a lot less ‘crashy’ than say my BMW was.

Autopilot on the motorway works great for me, it does nag you a lot about the steering wheel, but in line with the laws it has to abide to, never had it turn off on mine though.

Warning wise, it can be a bit of a nervous Nancy at times, but I guess that might pay off one day when it spots something I haven’t.

You will defo get used to regen fairly quickly, feels very weird to drive a car without it now :)

If you’ve got any questions, post them up, great bunch on here, we will all try and help.
 
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Durzel

Active Member
Jul 17, 2019
2,913
1,953
Bath, UK
“Autosteer unavailable for the rest of the drive“ = it put you in autopilot sin-bin for not keeping hold of the wheel (in just the right way).
Also happens if you exceed 90mph with AP active.

Fit and finish is something you have to make peace with, or not, as it’s a fundamental difference between the car and others (particularly German marques) that you may be used to.

It’s best to think of it as that you’ve paid the bulk of that money for the technology, and the battery, etc. A straight comparison to other ~£50k cars will likely lead to disappointment.

Any genuine issues with QC you can get resolved with service appointments. Not ideal, but not an insurmountable problem. Regen strength can be tweaked if you’re uncomfortable with it.
 

Jibjab

Member
Aug 8, 2020
170
87
Doncaster
Thanks everyone. I think you’re right about it being a bit of beaten up example. From what I’ve read they keep improving the build every month, which is good to know. I really like the looks, tech and ownership proposition. The imagine a large chunk of the £50k is in the battery/motor department and it’s an unfair comparison to make with ‘normal’ cars. I guess there’s a bit of compromise between weight and quality too. I noticed that the Polestar is circa 300kg heavier.

I’ll book another test drive in I think when it’s not Friday afternoon and the other half can drive :)
 
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Drew57

Member
Apr 4, 2020
913
1,026
Chester UK
Before I answer your question, many any of the things you mention about doors, boot etc and the overall impression of the interior make it sound like this honestly won't be the car for you.

In my case I've spent several years driving my Daughters Model X or occasionally a Model S (which are in a different league quality wise), also a couple of Model 3s so my expectations were pretty realistic. Having said that, mine had no paint issues, zero wind noise, no rattles, good panel fits, interior trims aligned correctly - basically exactly as it should be. I was delighted on the day it was delivered and if it's possible, even happier 4 months and 3,500 miles later!

I forgive Autopilot for very occasionally phantom braking but otherwise, using it on motorways/dual carriageways & some A roads it is excellent. I can't really comment on region braking 'growing on me' as it's a feature I took to immediately on the first Tesla I tried and quite frankly, I hate driving any other car without it.

Aftermarket door seal kits (not expensive & easy to fit) easily resolve the tinny door/boot feel & give a much more satisfying clunk (yes, doors, boot & frunk are aluminium) & if you want more of a 'wow' interior, the white trim is a real head turner. Quailty of materials, wheel buttons etc don't change though.

I have never been a 'car' person so probably came at this from a completely different direction to you. It's the tech, constant improvements via software updates (including a few temporary backward steps!) & the supercharger network that appeal most - although I must admit it that for me the driving experience is like nothing else I've owned & the only vehicle that I look forward to using rather than just something to go A-B. I also use existing solar PV & house battery storage to charge & run the car for free for much of the year so they were also factors in my decision.

I suspect you may regret getting an EV just now but with so many manufacturers attempting to emulate Tesla there is bound to be something else in a year or two with the same build quality as a high end German manufacturer - or maybe from one of them.

Either that or audition a Model X P100D ...(but be warned you may want to sell your company or a few limbs just to be able to own one :eek:)
 

Gordon87

Member
Mar 5, 2019
153
145
Chicago
Thanks everyone. I think you’re right about it being a bit of beaten up example. From what I’ve read they keep improving the build every month, which is good to know. I really like the looks, tech and ownership proposition. The imagine a large chunk of the £50k is in the battery/motor department and it’s an unfair comparison to make with ‘normal’ cars. I guess there’s a bit of compromise between weight and quality too. I noticed that the Polestar is circa 300kg heavier.

I’ll book another test drive in I think when it’s not Friday afternoon and the other half can drive :)

I was going to reply with a longer post but I think you get it. I'd summarize it as -- With other premium cars, one is purchasing “premium” interiors – fine leather, fancy switchgear, etc. With this car, one is purchasing high-end tech.

The best feature of the car, in my view, is the seamless integration between the software (both in-car and the phone app) and the hardware (the car).

Once the software was updated to allow full one-pedal driving, I find that I rarely use my brakes while driving around town. I got used to it very quickly and wouldn't give it up. It is an example of the great integration between hardware and software which allowed them to add this feature.

For background, I have a LR AWD which I find fast enough. We test drove both a LR AWD and a Performance model before placing my order. The Performance model was incredible, but for my driving and given the roads in my area, I didn’t feel it was the right model for me.
 

Artiste

Member
Jun 17, 2019
405
279
Lancashire
You have managed a very fair summary of the car. If your priority is performance, tech (which can be very flaky) and running costs then there’s not much to compare with Tesla at the moment, though this is beginning to change. If your priority is build quality, comfort and refinement then the M3 will come as a bit, or a lot, of a disappointment.

For me the main disappointments are crap windscreen wipers (though they have improved), crap automatic headlights, front seats that aren’t nearly supportive enough for a car of this performance, and above all the fact that comfort and refinement are just not good enough for a car in this price range. I’ve also had big problems with downright dangerous phantom braking on autopilot to the extent that I don’t believe it’s currently fit for purpose and won’t use it.

I don’t regret getting my M3P, but I doubt my next car will be a Tesla unless they improve significantly.
 

m3gt2

Member
Sep 14, 2015
878
298
england
Thanks everyone. I think you’re right about it being a bit of beaten up example. From what I’ve read they keep improving the build every month, which is good to know. I really like the looks, tech and ownership proposition. The imagine a large chunk of the £50k is in the battery/motor department and it’s an unfair comparison to make with ‘normal’ cars. I guess there’s a bit of compromise between weight and quality too. I noticed that the Polestar is circa 300kg heavier.

I’ll book another test drive in I think when it’s not Friday afternoon and the other half can drive :)
It's lightweight in its construction to make it efficient. They are not as well put together as a Volvo or Audi but it's definitely on a par with our specced up E Class. I think The other thing that some people mistake for ' cheap' is the very minimalist interior, I liked it from The word go but it has taken The wife a little longer to come to terms with it. I used to love buttons (multiple s Class, A8, 7 series, Scorpio back in the day plus loads of other cars) but now I love the simplicity and hate going in the Mercedes with buttons and screens everywhere plus the whole user experience seems so laggy. Ultimately only you know if it's The right car for you but if you do many long journeys for work I would still say that a Tesla is the only realistic choice of EV due to the charging network. If you don't do regular long trips The choice of EVs is getting much better and will be suitable for more people's needs.
 

Mr H

Active Member
Jan 6, 2020
1,474
1,470
Manchester
Thanks everyone. I think you’re right about it being a bit of beaten up example. From what I’ve read they keep improving the build every month, which is good to know. I really like the looks, tech and ownership proposition. The imagine a large chunk of the £50k is in the battery/motor department and it’s an unfair comparison to make with ‘normal’ cars. I guess there’s a bit of compromise between weight and quality too. I noticed that the Polestar is circa 300kg heavier.

I’ll book another test drive in I think when it’s not Friday afternoon and the other half can drive :)
If your wife drives it then you'll be ordering one or even two :D
 

Drew57

Member
Apr 4, 2020
913
1,026
Chester UK
Oh apologies, my mistake - I was told that unlike the aluminium bodied S&X, the 3 uses a steel chassis & main body panels but with hinged openings in Alu to save weight.
 
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12Pack

..
Aug 25, 2017
405
258
Manchester, UK / SFO, US
Well, as they say -Tesla builds a battery and tech. The car is bit lower prio...
But some of your comments sound a little bit like just having to get used to an EV built on a skateboard platform. This does result in the “resonating” you refer to. The Model S is better here.
 

VanillaAir_UK

Supporting Member
Jun 17, 2019
7,315
4,815
Surrey, UK
I’d be interested to hear from current owners if their car was a ‘grower’ I.e. not initially grabbed/impressed but you gain an appreciation over time.

Its got no soul but does have a party trick - which is more an EV thing. I thought we would give it time to see what personality the car had before we named it. It just ended up being called 'Car'. Its nice to drive, but then aren't many cars? Maybe I've been fortunate to have cars that became members of the family, but I can't ever see the Tesla becoming one. Best bit, one pedal (most of the time) driving.
 
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Gatsojon

Member
Aug 4, 2019
577
536
Manchester UK
Interesting post and comments. You’ve had an interesting car history so the bar has been set pretty high for the baby Tesla.

It’s really disappointing you weren’t able to test the car you want to buy. As others have said, it looks like you have had an unloved one but then that gives some idea as to how robust they are. Aside from that, having a Performance stuck in chill mode is such a shame. I have the performance and have never tried the chill mode so don’t know how different it is but presumably it kills the instantaneous kick you get. For me, I love that access to the performance and you were denied that. I’m sure you’d have appreciated it too.

your other observations are reasonable. It’s not built like a Merc or have the interior of an Audi. Panel gaps are variable, the paint is a bit meh and it’s just not been put together that well. some of the latter you can improve. Taking the stupid Reg plate holders off really Does help.

you will quickly get used to the regen braking. I couldn’t get my head round how it would work but after a few miles of town driving it became intuitive. You can adjust the nanny state and the autopilot works very well once you get the hang of resting the right weight on the wheel.

my previous car was a BM M4 Competition. I prefer the M3P. The turn in is not quite as good as the M4 but it grips really well on the 20” MPS4S. I had the same (though wider) on the M4 and like them. Not sure what you’d have had on the 18”. I do miss a bit of bolster support over the M4 but otherwise the seats are more comfortable. I quite like the ‘vegan leather’ and don’t miss the rather delicate merino leather of the BM.

Overall I’ve found my M3P ownership fabulous with occasional Irritations.

Such a shame you didn’t get to try the full fat Performance version.
 
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Jibjab

Member
Aug 8, 2020
170
87
Doncaster
Thanks for the comments everyone, really useful. I’ll definitely arrange another test drive with a fresh mind and hopefully fresh(er) experience. My Fiancé was annoyed with me that I kept trying to shut the central lidded compartments and the kept popping open, she explained it’s all about technique, stroking the middle gently...the Jeremy Clarkson approach of just slamming them didn’t seem to work ;)

As previously posted it does seem you’re buying into the network/battery/motor/tech to which a car is then built around. I’ve seen some of the kits for wind noise, and good to know there are some simple things to improve upon. I think a Polestar may actually suit me better...but the Supercharger network is such a brilliant plus point for first time EV ownership. The Model S could possibly be in budget, just need to understand if it’s £300 a month (business contract hire) ‘better’ than a 3. I was selling this to the other half that it will save me money though going through the company, whoops.

Thanks again everyone, really useful to hear everyone’s opinions.

james.
 
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Dilly

Active Member
Feb 24, 2020
1,574
1,191
Norfolk
Your estimation was pretty fair. Being stuck in chill mode won’t have given you the wow. In chill it drives like any ordinary family car.
I was in two minds after our test drive. Wife loved it straight off. It’s quirky, certainly not mainstream and is improving. It’s a comfy ride.
I’ve warmed to it. Sad though it may seem, I look forward to the software updates!
You’re absolutely right to have a second drive. We drove an unfettered Long Range. Insist they give you what you want.
 

rincewind

Member
Nov 5, 2019
514
276
London England
My half penneth worth.

I've now had my M3P for 8 months, and I would not go back to ICE for a daily driver. It's a real shame that your demo was locked in chill because believe me the instant torque of the Performance model is brutal, there's really nothing like it - it's likie the throttle pedal is hard wired to your brain. After 8k miles, I still look for excuses to drive it and the way it accelerates does not get old, at all. Build quility on mine was fine, no issues except for a mis aligned steering wheel which was put right by the service centre. I drive it like Miss Daisy most of the time but I don't think one journey goes by when I can't resist using the performance - other cars are shocked. The other night an M135 tried it pulling away at a large roundabout - he was somewhat surprised to say the least.

Yes, the interior is not up to European standards but it's pretty good. I love the minimal approach and when I get in other cars and look at the scattergun approach to switchgear I just want the single screen.

On the downside, the brakes are lacking in feel and it's not particularly quiet at motorway speeds, quite a lot of roadnoise.
 
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Slow_Lane

Member
Sep 11, 2019
13
2
London
Would a second hand model s or x work or fit your circumstances? Not sure from a tax point of view and they are a chunk wider than a 3 but may help on the premium feel if that is an important factor.

May be worth just test driving an S for comparison if you're there anyway!
 

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