Model S to Model 3 Positives/Negatives/Regrets

Model S to Model 3 Positives/Negatives/Regrets

Hi guys,

I am a Model S owner that’s moving to a Model 3. I know several in this forum have done the same and I wanted to ask for some feedback on what your experience has been, the positive, negatives, and if anyone has any regrets.


lilbean | April 17, 2019

I’m positive I will regret reading the negative comments.

reed_lewis | April 17, 2019

I own a Model S and my wife drives a Model 3 which we also drive for regular trips together.

Positives for the 3:
- Smaller makes it more nimble, more efficient, and handles more precisely.
- Later technology. It has the later hardware which makes it faster with all the new capabilities
- Less expensive to operate, and purchase
- Seems to accelerate more confidently. My S is a 75D, but the acceleration seems more wild and the 3 seems more cultured.
- Faster charging now and in the future.

- Single screen can be a PITA to get used to. It is even more difficult for me because I drive the S and then get into the 3 and wonder where the screen is. Of course once you drive it for any period of time, then it becomes normal.
- Smaller trunk and no hatch back means less storage. Frunk is tiny.

But all these things are a lot less than the sum of the total package of the 3. Both are great cars, and both are quite nice. Compared to an ICE car, both are much better in all ways.

Manny13z | April 17, 2019

Thank you @reed_lewis, I appreciate your insights. The 3’s agility is a consistent positive I have heard from others, I look forward to experiencing that. I will miss the tailgate and additional storage of the S, I wish Tesla would have made the 3 a hatchback as well. I personally would have preferred that to the single piece of glass for the rear window. After Tesla, there’s no way I can go back to ICE, I’m spoiled now.

stevecurran00 | April 17, 2019

Not yet had the opportunity to drive a model 3 but just bought a brand new SP100D. No regrets.

Manny13z | April 17, 2019

@stevecurran00 congratulations.

sdond | April 17, 2019

Take the price difference out of the equation and I (MS owner) have the same problem. Each time I get into my wife's M3 I love it. M3 is better for trips because it gets for miles per minute at SC's. I'm tempted to trade my lovely 2016 90D for a M3 with full self driving.........

Chunky Jr. | April 17, 2019

I've thought about going from my 2013 P85 to a Model 3, but I'm waiting to see if they have a compelling S refresh with significantly more range. I'd like to have a smaller car, but I'd like even more to have a big jump in range as that could save me at least a half hour every time I have to drive about 300 miles, which is about every other month.

Manny13z | April 17, 2019

@sdond That’s good to hear, the M3 increased charging rate will be very nice on long trips.

Manny13z | April 17, 2019

@chunkyJr I just read today that a refresh is just around the corner, it is probably smart to wait it out.

NKYTA | April 17, 2019

We own both. Wish my Classic S had the regen of the 3.

Otherwise, pick the Tesla that works for you.

Manny13z | April 17, 2019

@NKYTA Good advice. I love my MS, but I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the cost, it’s by far the most expensive car I’ve ever owned, the M3 puts me back into my comfort zone. I’m sure I will miss some things about the MS, but I am excited about the M3, form what I’ve seen it’s a great car.

Anthony J. Parisio | April 18, 2019

Can anyone compare the level of quite and smoothness of ride between the two models? Which seems to more quite and smooth?

EVRider | April 18, 2019

We have both a Model S and Model 3. The Model 3 is quieter and smoother, and I prefer the dual display and dedicated controls of the S, but I wouldn’t be upset if we only owned the 3.

EVRider | April 18, 2019

Sorry, I meant to say the Model S is quieter and smoother.

reed_lewis | April 18, 2019

I find the S is more like a luxury sedan, whereas the 3 is more like a sports sedan. The S rides more smoothly (even though I have coil suspension on my S), and the 3 is more of a driver's car.

egonzo21 | April 18, 2019


Bjorn did a Sound test on the Model 3:

with 20' rims

with 19' rims

AERODYNE | April 18, 2019

Rent each on Turo for a few days. If a tie, let the Wife decide. On second thought, unless you want to buy another car soon, better let the wife decide in any case.

Anthony J. Parisio | April 19, 2019

Thanks guys.

52eleven | April 22, 2019

From a perspective of someone who went from a Model S85 to a Model 3 LR AWD (returned) and back to a new Model S100D here are my thoughts.

Positives from S to 3
- Smaller Car: Much more maneuverable and easier to park
- Fun to Drive: Far more nimble than my S
- Modern Functional Interior: Absolutely love the Model 3 interior
- More Ergonomic: I found the single screen design much safer & more intuitive
- Faster Charging: Less time charging is always a bonus
- Seats: Model 3 seats are among the most comfortable yet supportive that I've ever sat in
- Better Sound: Sound system feels better than my Model S with High Fidelity.
- Card/Phone Entry: Worked great and I loved not having a bulky car key fob.
- Door Buttons: They're very cool and make more sense given your hand stays on the handle.
- Better Autopilot: Navigate on Autopilot felt much smoother than my Model S despite full self-driving on both.
- Better Steering Wheel: The controls and feel are superb to the Model S.

Negatives from S to 3
- Poor Build Quality: Delivered out of alignment with panel gaps galore. Fixtures also started falling.
- Road Noise: Lots of road noise from the 19'' wheels. Forget taking calls on the highway or rough pavement
- Road Presence: Bentley's and Astons yield for my Model S in Newport Beach, not in my Model 3 (I know).
- Less Storage: Losing the hatch and its utility is a big deal
- No Sunroof: Must have in SoCal. It's discontinued but still available on some inventory cars.
- Exterior Design: The Model 3 front facia just doesn't feel right.
- Summon Issues: Seems to struggle using it via your phone. It only worked 30% of the time on my iPhone XS.
- Badging: Dual Motor badging feels unnecessary in a car with such a beautiful minimalist design.
- Headliner: Once you go Alcantara you don't go back
- Brake Lights: Feels like the afterthought of the century and potentially, a safety issue.
- Rickety: Closing the door never felt solid.

Things I Thought I Would Miss but Didn't
- Presenting Door Handles: Model 3 door opening UX felt very close the same. More fingerprints though.
- Dual Screen: I found one higher screen much better than the two in the Model S.
- Key Fob: See positives
- Less Steering Stalks: The S feels antiquated by comparison.

If my Model 3 had better build quality I would have kept it but after my experience, I lost confidence. Tesla's 7-day return policy is great to have and getting a good deal on an inventory Model S made for a seamless return/pickup.

nothotpocket | April 22, 2019

Great write-up, I've been looking for something like this. Thanks @52eleven

Munka | April 23, 2019

52eleven, when did you have your issues with the 3? Reports indicate greatly improved qa since the first batches and am wondering if your experience was an early one?

52eleven | April 23, 2019

@Munka It was a new build delivered on 3/31 at Costa Mesa, CA. I was originally told it would be delivered on 4/4 but they either rushed production or someone else dropped out.

sr.smr | April 24, 2019

The 3's ventilation system and it's attractive look in and out are positives. On the negative side is the lack of a heated steering wheel. When you live up north, it's a big deal. Also spoiled by the quiet and smoother ride of my S.

revrev4ruach | April 24, 2019

@52eleven, sorry to hear about your build quality. I received at 3 about the same time on 3/29, and my build quality was excellent. Even better than my 2016 MS. Great and helpful write-up of your positives and negatives, though!

2015P90DI | April 24, 2019

Benefit to the Model 3, you get all the tech that Tesla is known for. Not really giving anything up. At this time, actually getting more than you get with the S as its interface and battery are better. I love having interior storage (door pockets, armrest console, etc).

Aside from this, I really miss the solidity of the Model S. The Model 3 feels rickety to me (by comparison to the S). Model S much quieter. I truly miss my air suspension. I still hate the Model 3 door handles. Model 3 has a key fob now, but the Model S keyfob is MUCH more user friendly. Miss the extra storage. Size is just a personal preference for anyone to decide. But a hatch is better than a trunk in either car. I still hate having to do everything from the center screen. I also don't like that a third of the 3's screen is used up for what should be in a center cluster. Model S gets to use the entire screen for what you want with informative data directly in front of you. Yes, you get used to the Model 3 way of doing things, but that doesn't mean it's better. I still truly miss having a center cluster and more so, the secondary navigation instructions.

As soon as the S is at least equal to the interface and battery tech of the Model 3, I'll be out of my M3 and back to a Model S. I couldn't bring myself to spent that kind of money on a car that still feels almost identical to my 2013 Model S. At half the price, the M3 is well worth the discount. Once the Model S is updated, then there will be a better argument for its price premium. Right now, it's a tough sell, as clearly demonstrated by the massively declining sales of the S & X. It's in its 8th year of production and feels dated. Common consensus is that an updated S is coming just around the corner. Yesterday's light "updates" released for the S are a sign that a bigger update is likely coming in the next couple of months.

rxlawdude | April 24, 2019

Pretty much concur with 2015P90D - Model S, jet smooth, and AP1 is still quite serviceable. M3 lots of tech (though lack of AM and XM radios is inexcusable) and a blast to drive. But road noise is significant in the 3. Not to the point of being bothersome, but oh what a contrast to the MS. (Comparing '17 M3 with '15 S70D.)

Hammonddave | April 25, 2019

For anyone with a Labrador Retriever the answer is obvious.

revrev4ruach | April 25, 2019

Or a Newfie and a Swissie, both of which fit in the hatchback for short distances. Like Darth Vader telling Princess Leia, "Give me some space!"

Hammonddave | April 25, 2019

I take road-trips with my Lab all the time. The huge hatch space covered with two layers of padding and a comforter is her “Den from Heaven”. When I saw that hatch and how much room is back there, any thoughts of buying the Model 3 vanished.

sweetmanpe | April 26, 2019

My 75 lb Greyhound is a perfect fit for the 3’s middle seat with an Orvis large dog hammock.

Haggy | May 2, 2019

Yes, the S is quieter and smoother. If you switch to the 3 but keep the S, then when you get into the S after using the 3 for an extended period, you will notice the difference. If you don't have an S or get rid of one, you will notice the ride difference if you move to a 3, but might just think of it as "that's the way the 3 rides" and if you don't get into an S, you might not think about it.

Also, while the S might be smoother, the 3 isn't a bad ride. I had the original suspension, which was much tighter, but the current 3 suspension is somewhere in between. Keeping the tire pressures a few pounds lower also helps.