And ... the floodgates are open. Motor Trend publishes the first official instrumented test of the Tesla Model 3.

We can promise that nothing in this review will be taken down like some in the past.

It comes as no surprise that Motor Trend is the first major outlet to publish an official, documented test of the Model 3. Back in July, prior to the handover event, Motor Trend was the one and only publication to get a Model 3 first drive (in Franz von Holzhausen's personal vehicle). But even prior to that, some two years ago, in fact, Motor Trend drove a Model 3.

Inside the Tesla Model 3

Inside the Tesla Model 3

Forward to current times.

As we recently reported, the Model 3 is officially in the running for Motor Trend Car of the Year. This means, without a doubt, the automotive website staff has a car on hand for testing. And now, we have the first results.

Update: We should note that the Model 3 did not win the award when announced today (November 28th), nor did any other plug-in, the Alpha Romeo Giulia took it home. However, the Model 3, along with two other cars, took top honors and received first-place votes from individual judges.

The first step of Motor Trend's testing process for its Car of the Year competition takes place at the Hyundai-Kia proving grounds in Mojave, California. It consists of a week of testing, which narrows the list of candidates down to eight. Let's have a look at what Motor Trend shared.

Motor Trend's test vehicle:

  • 2017 Tesla Model 3 (Long Range)
  • Rear-motor, RWD
  • 75 kWh battery pack
Road test editor, Chris Walton, took the car out first to check acceleration. It's noted that these initial tests were conducted with motor cool and battery fully charged. Motor Trend writes:

"Pressed to the road by its tail-heavy (48/52) weight distribution, the Tesla surfs away on a steep, 307-lb-ft wave of torque. A 4.8 second 0–60-mph time pops on the screen, then the acceleration rate slightly fades as aerodynamics reel back against the motor’s 271 hp and Walton flashes past the quarter mile: 13.4 seconds and 104.9 mph."

Tesla Model 3 at the July 2017 handover event

Tesla Model 3 at the July 2017 handover event

Motor Trend admits that this is "better than expected." It's better than the single motor Model S 60 that was previously tested. In terms of braking, the Model 3 pulls off 119 feet, which nearly mirrors that of the Model S. This seems strange since the S is much heavier, however, MT doesn't dwell on it (click here for the 20 best fast brake results ever recorded by Motor Trend).

Walton commented briefly on the experience:

"The torque is certainly impressive, but I wonder if its acceleration seems exaggerated by the absence of engine noise to distract you from it.”

Moving on to the figure-eight, on which MT notes many sports cars commonly spin out, the Model 3 fares well. Braking is precise and steering is quick to respond. The low center of gravity from the battery pack helps minimize body roll, though there's a sense of "mild understeer."

So, what car is best for a realistic comparison to the Model 3?

MT believes that car is the BMW 330i. The review shares:

"The iconic BMW 330i—everybody’s favorite yardstick (actually, about 2 inches shorter, 1.5 inches narrower, and 0.5 inch lower)—is similarly priced to this full-boat, glass-roof, every-feature Model 3 Long Range (after deducting its tax incentives). In the nearby comparison chart, the Tesla betters the Bimmer in several metrics."

The Model 3 is quicker, stops sooner, tackles the figure-eight faster, has more horsepower and torque, steers quicker, and uses a quarter of the energy (it's important to note that MT measured 103.7 combined mpg-e while the EPA says 126). However, it's a touch more expensive than the BMW (even when considering the highest rebates; federal EV rebate + California EV rebate) and it has less cargo space.

Follow the link below to have a look at MT's official charts, comparisons, and photos.

Source: Motor Trend