So I brought my car in to fix a small paint blemish from delivery and I received a Model S loaner for the time it’s in the shop. First time ever driving the S and coming from my 3 I gotta say I was quite surprised. It’s a Dec 2018 build, base 75D, black/black textile seats, 2,500 miles, no autopilot.
First what I like over the 3:
-of course the power hatch is really nice, makes loading things much easier.
-the suspension/ride is much smoother and less harsh
-at freeway speeds it’s quieter with noticeably less tire/road noise
-the textile (fabric) seats are actually really nice, wish they’d offer that on the 3/Y
...and that’s about it!
What I don’t like (compared to the 3):
-It’s MUCH bigger (barely fits in my garage) but nearly has the same interior space & frunk is smaller
-MUCH less visibility, both front and rear
-The steering wheel feels too big & thin (love the 3’s smaller, thicker “sportier” wheel)
-Even set to “sport” the steering feels too light - lighter than the 3’s standard setting
-The standard (highest) setting for regenerative braking is a lot weaker than the 3, it doesn’t slow nearly as much, requiring the use of the brakes more often.
-The stereo sucks, or at least compared to the 3’s amazing sound
-There is a noticeable electric “whine” sound at low speeds when accelerating that’s not really present in the 3
-To each his own, but I much prefer the minimalist interior of the 3, the S now seems dated and much more like a regular ICE car (don’t care/need for the extra dash screen, manual climate vents, extra steering column stalks etc)
-The seats aren’t as comfortable, with the side bolsters being way too aggressive
-The center armrest is set way too far back. I can barely rest my arm there, and I can’t do it at all if holding the steering wheel with my right hand set low at 4/5 o’clock (one of my preferred positions on the freeway and/or with autopilot)
-Same goes for the cup holders, kind of an awkward position being too high up/far back
-No easy place to rest my phone, especially if I want to have Waze going in the background to glance at from time to time
-No door pocket storage
-Opening & closing the doors from the inside a bit awkward with the small grab area being separate from the open handle and it being in the center. With the 3 it’s so easy with the handle in a more natural position to grab when closing and to push the button with your thumb while already having the grab handle in hand when opening
-While I like the larger screen, the nature of it being in portrait mode places the control functions (stereo, climate control, etc) much lower on the dash, requiring you to look further away while driving
-No rear center armrest
-Higher energy usage (wh/mi)
Don’t get me wrong, the S is a fantastic car, but it’s almost like Tesla just did too good of a job on the 3, totally outshining it’s big brother. When you compare them side by side, it’s amazing how well designed the 3 is, especially when considering cost. My 8-year-old son kept asking why the S is so much more expensive...ahhh, cause it’s bigger?? I really didn’t have an answer. I seriously have no idea why anyone would consider spending $30-40k MORE to get an S. The 3 is simply that good.
So if anyone out there is on the fence whether to get a used S or a new 3 (as I once considered long ago), unless you absolutely need the small amount of extra cargo space and/or utility of a hatch, the answer is a resounding go with the 3! IMHO ;-)