Pro Driver Provides His Take On Tesla Model 3 After Putting It Through The Paces

Red Tesla Model 3 driving


Tesla Model 3

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

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

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

Categories: Tesla

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54 Comments on "Pro Driver Provides His Take On Tesla Model 3 After Putting It Through The Paces"

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But what are his thoughts on the sunvisor material?


Game changer, didn’t want to like it (owns 5 BMWs including an E46 BMW M3), yet able to satisfy this avid BMW fan.

How about them apples!

It’s a good thing for the rest of the industry that Tesla isn’t able to produce many Model 3s yet.

They may have already dropped US auto sales as people wait.

Tesla reached M3 1K/week at the end of 2017. It took over 3 years for Model S to each 1K/week and Model 3 did it in only 6 months..

the model 3 did not reach 1k a week it reached a burst speed when extrapolated to a week would be 1k a week. Just in case you didnt understand just because you made 200 a day doesnt mean you can make 1000 in 5 days

While that might be ‘Technically’ correct, it is not in any way proof that they won’t have made 1,000 Model 3’s on the Production Line THIS WEEK, The first Full Week, post the Christmas and New Years Holidays!

Nor is it, by itself Proof that it was a ‘Fluke’, or ‘A Lucky Day’, either.

It is more ‘Representative’ of a day by day increasing rate of production, with a situation like day 4 and day 5 producing more than day 1 and day 2, such that in the course of the last week, there was a definite ramp up of the pace, overall! And that by the last days they had exceeded a ‘Pro-Rated’ Production pace of 1,000 units per week!

It also shows high probability of continuing production increases at a steady pace in January, at the least, and each week going forward, for the next 6 months, in the likelihood!

Personally, I’d rather be Tesla, who could easily sell a half a million Model 3s in a year but just can’t produce them, than be Chevy, who could easily produce a half a million Bolts in a year, but just can’t sell them.

The Bolt is selling as fast as they are making them right now.

That only means GM is good at maintaining inventory. I think we will see Bolt sales to continue rising and GM will increase production to match sales. I think the Volt’s main problem is low roof line for rear passengers and the Bolt needs better seats. The seats should be an easy problem to fix and I don’t understand why Chevy hasn’t already addressed this.

The Bolt will probably decline in sales, not increase.

I’m sure they will see the same Jan. dip just like pretty much every EV car makers typically sees every Jan. ICE car sales dip in Jan too, but not as much as EV sales. Jan numbers will be about the most meaningless numbers ever, with Tesla still mid-rampup, and the traditional Jan sales freeze kneecapping the rest of the EV market.

Every year in Feb. the internet gets a rash of dumb anti-EV stories about sales crashing and other meaningless sales stats. I never look forward to this part of the year……

However, it would seem that this won’t be the case for the Model 3, this January, or even maybe Next January!

Model S & X will still follow their typical low Month one and a Month two pattern with a jump up in Month 3 of each Quarter, in US Sales, until at least Tesla moves past their 200,000th US Sale!

It may shift a bit at that point, for the Model S & X, too! They might hold more for US Sales, while they are in the Time Limited fade out of the Federal Tax Credit.

Anybody with $40k to spend, is not cross shopping the Bolt and Model 3. Realistically, the Model 3 is a $50K+ car.

Though I could afford a Model 3, I won’t buy a Tesla until I could be convinced that their quality is up to par with other high volume car manufacturers.

I want my car to come off the line right the first time. Not parked in some side lot waiting for off-line repairs before it can be sold. I have a feeling that the percentage of Tesla cars requiring re-work is much higher than industry average. Of course, there is no way to know.

Love what I’m seeing about driving dynamics and performance. Not in love with the price or sketchy launch/quality record, lack of proper propulsion system validation, etc.

I’m fairly sure I’ve read that GM won’t be increasing production of the Bolt EV this year.

GM could quite easily sell more by exporting more to Canada, S. Korea, and Europe, if the price was right. The problem is that it’s not. I don’t think GM can make a profit selling the car outside the USA, or at least their lack of interest in foreign sales seems to indicate that. The European version, the Opel Ampera-e, received a $5500 markup. At least it’s not as absurdly overpriced as the Volt/Ampera was, but it appears Opel isn’t happy with the deal, so I dunno how long it will continue to be sold in Europe.

From Electrek: “Chevy Bolt EV (Ampera E) gets a $5,500 price increase in Europe because of GM, says Opel”

Chevy could put the seats from the Volt, into the Bolt EV, for an easy fix! Front seats, at least!

The point is they’re not making them fast on purpose. GM doesn’t want to sell too many because they’ll lose on CARB credits.

CARB credits only make sense in CARB states which 3/4th’s of the US isn’t so that assertion makes no sense.

It makes perfect sense if you consider where they are selling around 90% in CARB states.
fred makes sense.

That only makes sense if Bolts in non CARB states are sold out and have waiting list. AFAIK, Bolts are sitting on dealer lots even in non CARB states, plenty of supply to go around.

Actually Bolt supply on dealer lots is way down after the Dec. sales push. There is less than a month’s supply of Bolts on dealer lots based upon numbers of approx 2,650 advertised units for sale. They actually need about twice that inventory nationwide to have enough stock so customers can choose between different model/option/color combinations when they go to their local dealership. Based upon Q4 2017 sales numbers, GM is currently outselling production, and has been since October/November. This matches what I’d been saying since spring/summer of 2017, that we wouldn’t know the true nationwide demand for Bolts until a minimum of 60 days after they had been on sale nationwide in every state. (this is due to the very nature of how dealer lot inventory sales work, and of the staged state-by-state rollout of the Bolt). All the sales numbers up until Q4 2017 were artificially low due to this, and didn’t reflect true nationwide demand. GM will likely use the Q1 yearly traditional EV sales slump to re-grow inventory as they prepare for the influx of buyers using their tax return checks to buy cars in Q2. Some people will wrongly claim that the increase in… Read more »

My point being that they are available even if it’s “only” 2500 or so. Demand is roughly matching supply. There’s no sense in making tons more Bolt just to keep excess inventory around, a strategy that Tesla employs well.

Don’t forget, we now have or first extension of “The CARB States”, in Canada, now! With Quebec. Setting up their version of ZEV Credits to be met to sell ICE Vehicles there!

If GM moved those 2,500 units to Canada (if they could sell them here) it might be only 1-2 Months before they sold them out! That is, mostly with only 3 Pro EV Provincial Governments!

Yes, GM is also selling at roughly about the same 1,000 unit per week rate that Tesla achieved at the end of December.


There are thousands of bolts sitting on dealers lots. So no they are not selling them as fast as they can make them. One bolt dealer alone has around 100 just sitting on his lot. As a matter of fact they had to shut the plant down an extra two weeks to let inventory catch up with demand.

Same goes for the egolf. In fact, sales are so strong Volkswagen had to begin a second shift.

Not exactly..

Nice article – great to hear the driving dynamics are closer to BMW M3 than Toyota Prius (BTW, breaking those old stereotypes is the number one benefit Tesla brings to the EV table – waaaaay more than actually selling cars).

As for the drivers statement:
“…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.”

Enjoy, those days are coming to an end 🙁

I own an i3 and I like it but I just have to point out the annoying bits about an EV are completely inexperienced in this article/test drive… Yes electric is fun and new and drives great but it takes hours to charge, you always need to plan ahead, and long distance trips are super annoying, none of that was addressed here.

You own an i3, that says it all. This was a Model 3 a completely different animal. Or a horse of a different color if you prefer.

The fact that they were not addressed is telling.

These issues are mostly what you imagine would be problems until you actually own a long range EV.

Tesla has gone to great lengths to address the “shortcomings” of which you speak.AFAIK BMW is yet to significantly contribute to a high speed charging network on long distance routes where it sells the i3. There are Tesla superchargers every 100 miles or so on most interstate routes in the US (see The network in Europe, Germany in particular, is looking even more dense.

In Europe BMW is actively part of a consortium to build out a network of 350+ kWh chargers. In the US they seem to be holding back to see what charging network VW builds out as part of their penalty for dieselgate. All the traditional car makers seem to be doing the same.

Our best hopes for a cohesive US network (besides Tesla) seem to be at the hands of VW at this point.

Point accepted. Still the Tesla network is already in place while the consortium is yet to have a significant build out. How many have they built so far? Long distance travel via the Tesla network was planned so that by the time the Model 3 hit it’s stride the network would largely exist already. Something tells me they are going to have to expand it significantly as Model 3 sales numbers increase.

The last I heard there has only been a handful of proof-of-concept 350 kW capable chargers opened in Europe and US. EVgo in the US, Porsche in Europe. I haven’t heard any new announcements over the last roughly year or so of any major buildout yet, and plans were all for 2018 and later that I read about.

But I could have missed some news.

I think Tesla’s Supercharger network will be a huge advantage for another few years still based upon what I’ve read. If the planned 350 kW chargers get installed, we will actually get to see competition between Tesla and other networks. It will certainly be interesting, but I think it will break Tesla’s current complete advantage where it comes to fast charging.

Keep in mind that Tesla is part of the consortium behind the 350 kW charger specifications, so there is no reason why Tesla’s wouldn’t be able to charge on both networks in the future.

As the fact that Tesla joined the CCS team, gives them an inside look a plans, specs, timing, and realities, beyond what users might get, or read about, also bodes well for Tesla knowing when they will need to have vehicles ready to take Added advantage of this new network! And they will still have the Superchargers to use, which might be upgraded, too!

What where the running specs of this Tesla 3?

Model: 2017 Tesla Model 3
MSRP: $44,000
MPGe: 131 city / 120 highway
Horsepower: 271 hp
Engine: Electric RWD
Battery: 75 kWh 350 V lithium-ion
Curb weight: 3,838 lbs
Dimensions: 185″ L x 73″ W x 57″ H

Other notable price data:

+5K for premium interior
+1K for paint besides black
+1.5K for performance wheel upgrade
+5K Autopilot
+3K Pre-purchase future self-driving capability
+1K Delivery and Doc fee (replaces both the transit fee charged by traditional car makers, and the Doc/addnl profit fees charged by dealerships).

So what is the track time such as Laguna Seca?

Can it beat Subaru WRX or VW Golf R?

The AWD performance version of the Model 3 isn’t out yet. Once they release that, I’m sure somebody will put it up against the AWD performance versions of Subaru and VW’s economy cars. But I’m betting it will be put up against BMW and Audi performance versions of their entry level luxury cars by most car magazines.

AWD has pros and cons but overall, AWD cars are not faster than RWD in track. If this is not ture, could you explain why the world’s fastest car F1 is all RWD?

Anyway, I’m curious if this 3 can beat MX5 or FRX which is almost half the price.

Where in F1’s “formula” is AWD allowed? Remember what Audi’s Quattros did, in IMSA, and all the weight they had to add to make things competitive again?

Anyway, I know now one will read this but Model 3, like all EVs right now, will be competitive until it over-heats. So, maybe 4-5 laps of LS. No all-battery car will compete for an hour on a technical race course. That doesn’t bother me. I just hope they get to the 20 minutes, the Pike’s Peak, and the FTD’s that compete with cars at the common tracks.

The ‘BMW CCA’ link is dead. Interesting.

It’s common sense that RWD is faster in the track with the same HP engine than AWD. There is weight disadvantage due to AWD system, and AWD doesn’t contribute at all to the lateral acceleration.
Let us see if AWD model 3 can beat similar priced M3 which has around 1:40 lap time. It will be ridiculous to see it.

The best attribute of the Tesla Model 3 is the car’s driving dynamics!

That alone has put it on par with the ICE competition. Not that the rest of the car isn’t cool. But the fact that the driving dynamic is an upgrade rather than a downgrade (like the Prius/LEAF) is what draws many buyers to Tesla.

Bolt and Volt got decent performance as well. But I wish the rest of the EV makers would upgrade their EV offering as well since it doesn’t cost much to give a better performance. I am glad the new LEAF is much quicker and match typical family sedan in acceleration.

It depends on what you’re comparing to. The driving dynamcs of the Leaf are definitely an upgrade compared to say a Honda Civic. The Prius probably is about on par with a Civic.

People seem to forget that there are plenty of mediocre A to B gas cars. There’s no point comparing every car to a BMW. It’s not even what most buyers are probably even looking for.

From the article:

“The hazard switch was more difficult to find; it was located in the overhead panel”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of the Model 3’s overhead panel. Searching at Google images… still don’t see any. 🙁

You will see it in some of the videos on youtube. The button is where the SOS button is on most other cars.

Not having seen such a point shown yet, either, and it seems the same for most, maybe including such a photo in this article would have added ‘Clarity’, as well!

Is it up by the base of the Mirror, where we usually find the switch for front cabin lights, then?

“The button is where the SOS button is on most other cars.”

I’m guessing that’s what I’d call the “flashers” button. Never heard it called the “SOS” button. Perhaps the “.ca” on your screen name means you’re a Canuck?

Every car I can remember seeing that in, had it somewhere on the dash. Not overhead.

FWIW, throughout my years in tech, I have found that when anyone says something “is the future” after trying it, it more often then not means:

I know I should like this and I have found no reason not to like it, but my gut says I don’t like it *yet*.

Sounds like this driver needs more exposure and time to digest what he experienced.

I also see that when people have dedicated their entire life to something, and they aren’t quite ready to let go.

| Not to mention global warming believers…

Surely you meant deniers Steven?

Empirical facts require no belief, they exist whatever one might think. It’s makes as much sense to say one has belief in gravity or plate tectonics.

Good catch, sir. Thank you. Fixed.