My concerns and thoughts after buying my 5th Tesla but 1st M3

My concerns and thoughts after buying my 5th Tesla but 1st M3

I got my Model 3 a week ago (250 miles driven) and here are my take-aways. By way of quick background- I have/had both MS & MX for 5-years and am a self confessed car nut with ICE cars in my garage that I love:

My major concerns for the Model 3 coming out of my MS P85D were:
1 - At 6’3” would I feel cramped?
2 - How slow would it feel compared to my P85D and how would it compare to my wife’s MX 100D?
3 - How would I feel about the 1 screen?

Here are my brief thoughts and happy to answer questions:

1 - I feel as if the space for the driver is no less than the MS. Definitely no compromise and by comparison to the BMW M3 I test drove recently, way more space both for the driver and the other 4 passengers. My kids in the back think there is more space than the MS. In the MS they tended to sometimes get car sick due to the high door sills. Not so in this (so far).

2 - This car is quick but it’s not scary quick like the P85D (and of course the P100D). It feels similar to my wife’s MX (100D). It accelerates faster than most cars and Is certainly still fun to drive. I loved the acceleration of the P85D but don’t ache for it. That said I just put in another reservation and will order a Performance M3 if/when it is available. That would/will be awesome!

3 - This is easy. Forget the worry about not being able to see your speed, if that is your concern. It’s right there in your peripheral vision and the steering wheel will never be in the way like it can be in a draditional car when you’re turning. The windshield wipers are very easy and in general exceptionally well thought out.

The lack of turn directions on the screen behind the wheel are made up for by an improved navigation system on the M3’s one screen. I previously used ‘trip’ view but now use this default screen and probably prefer it after a week’s familiarity. The ‘trip’ view is just a touch away to see how you are progressing on a longer trip.
What is missing or could be changed (in my humble opinion):
- The turn list would be easier to see/read if it was on the left of the navigation screen (rather than the right).
- Calendar sync (with your phone) like the MS/MX. I just assume and hope that is a matter of time.
- Adjust the cruise control speed with the right hand dial on the steering wheel. Maybe also adjust the distance sensor with a left/right on that same steering wheel dial.
- Trip energy use screen like the MS/MX. Again, hope this is just awaiting software update.

Efontana | 28/01/2018

Thank you.

Would you do an iPhone sound level check at 70 mph? Please tell us the phone model and app, then we can get a comparative reference.

Decibel X is one choice.

vmulla | 28/01/2018

Nice write up.

I've observed that the turn stalk feel/behavior is different than other cars, there's no clicking or tactile feel to distinguish between 'half-turn' and 'full-turn', Im making those terms up, I don't know what they're called in automobile lingo. The turn signal snapping back to off isn't happening after gentle turns, it's just different.
I'm not sure if this is better or worse, but it's definitely something that I need to get used to.

AJPHL | 28/01/2018

How is the firmness of the ride? Do you prefer model 3 to any of your air-suspension equipped Tesla’s?

ReD eXiLe ms us | 28/01/2018

cbentinck: Congratulations! Thank you for your impressions!

madkim23 | 28/01/2018

I agree with that assessment. I am 6' 3" and find it roomier than my S. More headroom than my sunroof. While I have the seat all the way back in my S to be comfortable, I could go back 4-6 more inches in the 3 if I needed it. My kids find the backseat as spacious or maybe more than the S. They like the cupholder/arm rest pulldown that divides the back seat. No issue using this interchangeably with our S for road trips.

Hi_Tech | 28/01/2018

Excellent write-up! Thank you for the review.
I'm super excitedly awaiting my delivery date now. Anyway now... :)

bernard.holbrook | 28/01/2018

Thanks for the post. I've been concerned about the single screen and if my height would be an issue so I appreciate your thoughts on this.

cbentinck | 28/01/2018

Just to follow up:
I have 19” rims and the ride may be a little more firm/sporty than the P85D. Ie less limousine like but not drastically so and those who like to ‘drive’ would probably prefer it and those who like to be driven would possibly prefer the MS/MX. Again just as far as ride comfort.
Sound level is very similar (in my option) to MS/MX maybe slightly quieter on highway.
I would agree the turning stalk’s lack of tactile response is different. Not sure I really like it but importantly, I do not find the ability to tell if you’re turn signal is on being diminished by 1 screen (similar to speed visibility). Sound and peripheral vision make it minimal/no compromise.

Mozart | 28/01/2018

I takes about 2 seconds to get accustomed to the screen. It was a little strange at night not having dash lights straight ahead

ST70 | 28/01/2018

@cbentinck - I feel about the same...except I still ache for my P85DL acceleration! :-) It's plenty quick for my wife...about twice the acceleration of her Subaru.

Hi_Tech | 28/01/2018

As i drive my S85 in cold weather, i feel cold draft in some areas. I'm wondering if the M3 is better insulated than the MS. Anyone know?

cbentinck | 28/01/2018

I’m afraid I live in SoCal so extreme cold is something I can’t properly comment on!
@Hi-Tech- I did mention that I’ve ordered another Model 3 with the hope that I can get a Performance Model 3!

EM34ME | 28/01/2018

@cbentinck that's my plan too, get one model 3 as soon as I can and then a second performance model with SAS.

Hi_Tech | 29/01/2018

Thank you.
I've got orders as well. Should be picking up the first soon, but will wait for the AWD for the second. That'll be enough performance for me in the north east (MA).

mark.ritter | 29/01/2018

The heating is not perfect. But I have found that under normal cold conditions (in MD) that it works just fine. No cold drafts.

Hi_Tech | 29/01/2018

Thanks Mark.
Now that I think about it, I'm wondering if the drafts in my MS are because it's from 2013. Possibly improved this since in all builds?
I do hope the heating is a bit more efficient than my older MS though.

PhillyGal | 29/01/2018

Thank you for sharing! I think your concerns are all very valid and great suggestions.

The amazing part is that Tesla can actually fix things and if so, push them out (for free!) to all cars. I'm still of the opinion this is the part that will hurt other automakers sooner and more substantially than being fully electric.

janendan | 29/01/2018

Does anyone else see the irony of a car designed to be automated and engineered to ‘be driven’, not ‘ridden’? I’d pay $1000 for the option to not feel every blemish in our crumbling roads. M3, for a ride engineered to be sporty, but not too Drastic.

janendan | 29/01/2018

And thanks for buying 5 Tesla cars. I guess the industry wouldn’t be dragged kicking and screaming to the electric car revolution without your support.

cbentinck | 29/01/2018

@janendan I have to confess when I first saw the Model S in 2012, I thought it was amazing looking from the styling to the technology. I then asked the sales person ‘Do you make a gasoline version?’ (You can imagine the eye rolling such an ignorant question t chives but patiently they explained ‘we are an electric car company’!
I was not ready to embrace electric cars but the more I read, the more I was convinced. Now 5 cars later...
That said, it is the technology and styling that have me buy Tesla’s but the performance and convenience of having one’s own ‘gas station’ every night doesn’t hurt.

Carl Thompson | 29/01/2018

"I then asked the sales person ‘Do you make a gasoline version?’ (You can imagine the eye rolling such an ignorant question t chives but patiently they explained ‘we are an electric car company’!"

I find it an interesting factoid that Tesla at one point intended to also make a hybrid version of the Model S (Whitestar). Then gas prices shot up later in 2008 or 2009 and they decided they were an electric only company after all.


Beagle | 29/01/2018

I’d pay $1000 for the option to not feel every blemish in our crumbling roads. M3, for a ride engineered to be sporty, but not too Drastic.
Does this mean that you have a new Tesla device for testing crumbling roads, or merely that you are unsure if you really want to pay $50K for such a device?

Beagle | 29/01/2018


Like janendan above I'm very concerned about the ride reports I'm reading. My present Bimmer has adjustable and adaptable suspension. It is 'firm', but not harsh. My present toy cars are a Porsche & a Ferrari. Neither will shake the fillings out of teeth. All of these will do a mean job on the road, however, I have had two cars that went too far over the wannabe "track" car line without any compromise for daily driving. In both cases I thought I could live with it, but ended up selling the cars in less than a year. One was an M3, (I think it was an '04), and the other was recent AMG. What most people don't realize is that race courses, (not including the Nurburgring) are super smooth, and will accept a very stiff suspension setup.

Some of you may remember an old Sylvester Stallone Indycar movie. He said, "You can throw a quarter on the track, and I can tell you if it landed heads or tails". I don't need OR WANT that information.

Besides all this, the car is for my wife. While she may enjoy blowing a few kids off in a stop light grand prix, it won't be pushed in the twisties. So - - - - - - How stiff is it?

ReD eXiLe ms us | 29/01/2018

Carl Thompson: That explains the path that the original Fisker KARMA took. Looks like his new company intends to forego the 'range extender' though, for fully electric this time. Someone at TMC uses the same factoid as the signature to their posts, only as a quote of Elon Musk.

janendan | 29/01/2018

A salesperson demonstrating the M3 at Miami(aventura) said that the suspension could potentially be electronically adjusted to a less firm reaction to the road. Is such an adjustment possible, or just wishful thinking?

SCCRENDO | 29/01/2018

@janedan. Pure BS

Madatgascar | 29/01/2018

I just drove my M3 on a 1000 mile road trip across the west. While the smooth stretches of fresh curving blacktop were a real joy, I didn't think the poorly paved roads were too compromised. I would give it a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 (softest) to 10 (firmest).

Rutrow | 29/01/2018

@ janendan, not pure BS, but placebo BS. If you pay enough, you could be convinced that it worked.

SCCRENDO | 29/01/2018

@rutrow. +100

cbentinck | 30/01/2018

I would say ride firmness is a preference but with 19” wheels and some less than great roads, I have not yet once thought that this was an unpleasant a ride in any way. Again all prefer nice but I have had far more harsh rides and I would suggest this car is a good balance. I throw it through a lot of twisty roads where I am and it’s really fun yet comfortable.
Is the M3 the best it could be, probably not but for the money in my humble opinion it’s a Model S killer. That said look how many 3 serious BMW sells versus 7 series and I expect Tesla will have a similar ratio (just a guess). In short, you have to be really difficult to find fault with this car for the money.

ckcland2 | 30/01/2018

@cbentinck, thanks for the write up. Very helpful for fellow owners who are considering the M3

bryan.whitton | 30/01/2018

My wife and I took a test drive in the Model 3 Sunday afternoon Thank you Andy and Georgia if you are reading) and the one thing I wanted to see was how stiff the ride was. I really don't like overly stiff suspension. I am pleased to say while the ride is firm, it isn't harsh. I intentionally drove over some country roads that had significantly rough surfaces and while you could feel the imperfections they were absorbed by the suspension as I feel they should have been. The car had 19" wheels and was in standard driver comfort not sporty or comfort. I didn't feel that the steering effort was overly heavy. In fact we test drove the new Leaf II on Saturday and we both liked it but the comparison back to back was a real eye opener. The Leaf II wasn't even in the parking lot let alone in the park.
When we order ours we will be getting the aero stock wheels so I would expect that the ride will be a little more plush. Although I wouldn't be concerned if Tesla for some unknown reason said that only 19" wheels were available. I have been thinking about my write up and will post more when I can put all my thoughts together. Having driven the Leaf II as well I am thinking of a comparison between the two. I currently drive a 2015 Leaf and it goes back in September.

BTW, the car was red. I have been trying to decide whether I wanted the blue or the white. After looking at the red I really have to add that to the list to make a decision on.

janendan | 30/01/2018

Thanks for your thoughts on the ride, Bryan. I’ve always wondered why the creative minds at Tesla hadn’t engineered regenerative shock absorbers that could both collect energy and adjust desired ride electronically.

Carl Thompson | 30/01/2018

"Having driven the Leaf II as well I am thinking of a comparison between the two."

I'd be interested in reading that! I haven't driven the Leaf but I'll post my thoughts on my time with the Model 3 this weekend.