Test – The electric Tesla Model 3 could use some improvements

Elon Musk does not shy away from controversy. The world’s richest person (sometimes Jeff Bezos is too rich for him) has already shot a Tesla Roadster into space, recently claiming that the next generation of his electric sports car can even fly. Every time Musk on Twitter a mysterious one oneliner post, his followers collectively go crazy. With statements like “I kinda love Etsy” of “It can play Cyberpunk“, where you can ask yourself what the man means now, the stock prices of the companies in question invariably go sky high. They call this it Elon Effect.

Musk recently stated without ministering that it is better to postpone your order after the introduction of a new Tesla. “When production has started and the numbers are going up fast,” said the Tesla CEO, “then it is difficult for us to get all the small details right. If you want to be sure that you get a good car, then you have to have either the very early copies or the cars that come off the line once production is up to standard. Only then will the quality be optimal. ”

If another auto CEO came up with such an outpouring – Herbert Diess of Volkswagen urging the customer not to order an ID.3 until all software issues have been resolved – it would be swept right under the rug by the PR machine. But at Tesla it is all part of it. That is it Elon Effect.



Quality of the Tesla Model 3 was not great

We can hardly accuse Elon Musk of white lies. The build quality of the first European Tesla’s Model 3 was indeed not great. In the car we tested, colleague Bart noticed, among other things, that the two glass roof panels were not of the same width, and that there was a crack of I-you-there on one side of the car. His conclusion: “Give Tesla another six months or more to perfect the manufacturing process.” Foresight – with Elon’s compliments.

“The Tesla Model 3 can no longer be caught with flaws”

Almost two years later and Tesla has made all kinds of modifications and improvements to the Model 3. The most current version of the electric lease favorite can be recognized by its matte black trim parts. Previously, the window frames, door handles, the bases of the exterior mirrors and the flashing light units at the front wheels were still chromed.

The finish of the car has also improved noticeably: now both glass panels of the roof are the same width and they no longer lie flat and crooked in their grooves. In fact, we have not been able to catch the Tesla tested here at all with remaining minor flaws. Everything looks neat.



Control via the central screen is easy to get used to

Boarding the Tesla Model 3 is still a science fiction experience after two years. The white upholstery of the test car, the soberly lined, empty dashboard and the large central screen (15 inch) are not what you are used to from a contemporary car – wow! But then the moment will come when you want to leave. It is wise to link the key card that comes with the car to the Tesla app on your smartphone, so that the doors unlock when you are standing next to the car and the Model 3 is ready to start immediately. All you have to do is put the right handlebar lever in forward (or reverse) and off you go.

The operation via the central screen gets used quickly, although the electronic adjustment of the door mirrors and the steering wheel is downright awkward. We understand that for safety reasons it is better to find a parking space to adjust your working position, but just a button on the door for the mirrors or a lever under the steering column would have been more practical. Fortunately, you can change the position of the seats with ‘old-fashioned’ buttons on the side of the seat.

Once you’ve driven the Model 3 a little longer, the idea of ​​’difficult, difficult’ disappears of its own accord. You will learn that the layout of the control panel is very logical. And otherwise you can always rely on the voice control, via the right rotary control on the steering wheel (which is now made of metal). You initially look for an accident to the adaptive cruise control, until you discover that the speed can be fixed with a simple up or down movement of the right steering handle. The automatic speed and distance control works superbly in the Tesla Model 3. There is no reason to keep your right foot close to the brake pedal ‘just in case’.

Our test car does not come with the extensive Autopilot package or Enhanced Self-Driving Capability. Nevertheless, the Model 3 Long Range with Premium equipment also recognizes red traffic lights and brings itself to a complete stop. As soon as the light turns green, a friendly signal sounds that you can start driving again. A tap on the right pedal and the adaptive cruise control resumes its duties.



What is the battery capacity? No idea

Tesla is very dubious about the properties of the battery pack. The American brand is just communicating the WLTP range of 580 kilometers, but what exactly is the capacity of the batteries… Joost should know! “Consumers don’t think that’s important”, goes the argument, but that immediately raises all sorts of questions for us.

We think it is an important fact, so why not transparency about it? In any case, sources that are usually very well-informed (and are not contradicted by Tesla) report a gross battery capacity of 74 kWh for the Tesla Model 3 Long Range. You have approximately 70 kWh at your disposal for mileage and all accessories and electronic functions.

“Tesla itself is very dubious about the properties of the battery pack”

To approach the stated range of 580 kilometers, you should aim for an average energy consumption of 12.1 kWh / 100 km. That will not be easy. You have 440 hp at your disposal, divided between 164 hp generated by the electric motor in the front, and 276 hp from the engine between the rear wheels.

In addition to the total power of 440 hp, the maximum torque is 493 Nm – available from a standstill. Then try to keep energy sparing. After you command full speed ahead for the first time, you’ll already be hooked on the Tesla’s astonishing acceleration power. In just 4.4 counts you are on the hundred.



Chassis Tesla Model 3 is actually too sturdy

With so many electrical forces under your right foot, Tesla’s choice for a sporty tuned chassis makes perfect sense. You want the Model 3 to keep its four rubber feet firmly on the floor in all conditions, and that requires stiff coil springs and strong shock absorption. In combination with the sharp, very natural feeling steering, you will not be short of sporty driving pleasure. But if you stumble along on an almost deserted A2 outside rush hours in an energy-efficient shower at 100 km / h on the adaptive cruise control, you will quickly get bored of that firmness. Not a bump, bump, pimple or pimple in the asphalt that escapes you. Tesla would do well to develop an adaptive damped chassis for the Model 3.

An important improvement that you do not see is the use of a heat pump for heating. This uses less energy than the old electric stove. In the test week, the temperature gauge did not exceed 5 degrees. Preheating the interior via the Tesla app, now only nibbles about 5 kilometers from the range. In just 10 minutes, the interior of the Model 3 is heated from a chilly outside to a comfortable living room temperature. A warm welcome. Then try resisting the Elon Effect …


Conclusion

After a false start with numerous quality problems, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range is finally at the level you would expect from a 57,995 euro car. No matter how critically we looked, the car can no longer be caught on the annoying production errors that you had to take for granted according to Elon Musk. The large battery pack and low power consumption ensure a large operating radius: a relief, compared to many new competitors from China, Europe and the United States. The tax-attractive addition discount is no longer the only reason to give in to the Model 3. Sooner or later it will get Elon Effect grips you.

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