Tesla Model 3 (Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

Tesla Model 3 (Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

How does a professional driver feel about the Tesla Model 3?

Although Alex McCulloch admits to not making a living as a professional driver, he sometimes gets called upon to perform the job on a closed course. We're talking about stuff like filming commercials here. Alex is actually a professional pilot, but this is what he does in his spare time.

McCulloch was honest to say that he knew very little about the car. The lack of relevant automotive reviews, added to the fact that Tesla is not the most transparent company on the planet makes this different from "other" jobs. Additionally, the Model 3 is very new, with technology that many people are simply unaware of. Alex shared:

Tesla Model 3 front seats

Tesla Model 3 front seats

"I was grateful to have the opportunity to participate in the film and contribute to its subject’s noble cause, but I couldn’t help contemplating that something greater was occurring in that fading sunlight. It was an intersection of the past and the future, one where an old-school driving enthusiast like me could experience what is clearly the future—and not have to relinquish the experience that I hold dear."

McCulloch did his homework before the gig, just to make sure he wasn't completely in the dark about the car's specs and controls. Since his job was making a film, rather than doing a full and comprehensive review of the car, he promised to not get too journalistic, although he found himself crossing the line on multiple occasions. To set it up fairly, Alex explained:

"Despite my lack of seat time in the car, it did what I asked with ease; it was communicative, composed, and surprisingly neutral, despite my not being able to figure out how to defeat the stability control. The steering, brakes, and balance were all on par with my expectations of a sport sedan—think E46 M3—but I’d better stop before I get too journalistic. I thoroughly enjoyed it—and no humans, cars, or cameras were injured!"

Basically, Alex received a call from a friend asking for a professional driver to put the Model 3 through the paces for an upcoming short film, which he points out ... is for a good cause. The only major caveat was that this is a "special" car ... one of the first Model 3s with a low VIN, and he would be entrusted to provide all necessary footage without damaging the vehicle. This includes putting the car within inches of a specified spot, never crossing the yellow line, and achieving notable driving feats in random conditions and situations.

The excursion required filming all day in various locations and even had wardrobe requirements. Alex made it clear that he was talking about aerial shots, drive-bys, vehicle-to-vehicle footage, landscape shooting, twisty mountain driving, sunsets scenes, and the like. Let's summarize his takeaways from the experience:

Tesla Model 3 Autopilot

Tesla Model 3 Autopilot

  • The controls were simple and intuitive; nearly all functions and information were accessed and displayed through a central screen
  •  ... speaking of torque, there was enough on tap to power a Washington D.C. Metro train
  • ... delightfully crisp and direct steering
  • I was nearly flummoxed by the lack of an actual headlight switch on this car; the lights were easily accessed via a menu on the center screen
  • The hazard switch was more difficult to find; it was located in the overhead panel
  • The silence of the moment was piercing, unbroken by the normal ticking of petrol-engine components cooling after a spirited drive
  • This car is a game-changer ... I really didn’t want to like it, but I found little to complain about ... it was clear that I was staring at the future
  • ... it was even able to satisfy the driving bias of an old-school BMW-lover like me
So, we see the good and the bad with these Tesla vehicles. We have to deal with people that love and hate the technology. We have to deal with people that love and hate Tesla. We have to deal with so much bias ... Tesla fanboys, Tesla shorters, Big Oil and all of its pawns, the Big Three and European automakers ... legacy outfits. Not to mention global warming deniers and the Flat Earth Society. Take it as it comes and take it as you see it. Our job here is simply to share subjectively and without favoritism.

Source: BMW CCA