UPDATE: Results From First Documented Test Of Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3


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.

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

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

Categories: Tesla

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115 Comments on "UPDATE: Results From First Documented Test Of Tesla Model 3"

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Hey, real Model 3 data. Nice!
When can we expect the base Model 3 numbers now?

I’m just spitballing here, but probably after they start producing the base Model 3 * winkyface *

Personally, I’m holding out for the dual-motor option, not only because I live in snowyville, but for an obvious but rarely mentioned benefit: redundancy. Even if the rear motor gives you trouble, you’ll still have the front motor to at least get you off the highway, and most likely even home and/or to a service center.

Still not sure if I’ll actually use my reservation, or stick with my S 70D.

Overtime there will be less and less snow days, Denver was 81 degrees yesterday LOL

It is rarely mentioned for a reason. The motor is probably the least likely part of an EV to break, ever. There is no point to waste time considering such an event..

But it CAN happen:

The rear motor died on me…but my car looks amazing on the back of the truck

I think I broke it (2016 Model S P90D)

(I think those are from the same person)
And as you can see in the second shot, you get “power reduced” as opposed to “paperweight.” I imagine Tesla wouldn’t want you to drive it all the way to a service center if it were 45 mi away (like mine is), but at least you could safely exit the highway until the flatbed comes with your loaner and collects it.

…I opened up the Reddit source page and read through the thread. In that case, per the owner, it let him continue driving at reduced power (no faster than 35mph) until he got off the highway and parked. Then it wouldn’t let him drive it again. My guess is the front motor could have gone over 35mph, but they restricted it to mitigate the damage of continuing to drive on what appears to be pothole-related physical damage to the motor (as opposed to a simple power system failure).

Yeah, no Tesla has ever had problems with the drive train…

Tesla fans will NEVER report any problems on their cars.

Apparently they do, or else CR wouldn’t have been able to report the below average reliability. They survey owners to get that data.

Not on Teslas.

CR’s car was on it’s 4th motor, right?

My colleague is on his 3rd motor.

And I’m sure my neighbor whose Model S was making grinding noises as it drove by is definitely not on it’s first motor anymore.

When it starts shipping. They haven’t made any yet (not publicly anyway). Maybe Q1 2018?

You need more Model S and X friends. A buddy of mine who is not an employee or close, personal friend of the company has a delivery date next month. I am expecting over 2000 delivered for December.

I was referring to the base model that Bro was asking about.

Does anybody think the Koch bros. et al will influence Motor Trend’s decision?

Did they influence last year’s vote?

Well as I imagine as Big Oil sees it you can’t have 2 EV’s win two years in a row.

Looks like it was in fact an ICE that won for 2018.


bro1999 (Improved version)

Great! Go Tesla!


LOL! Were you the ‘bro’ appearing on the Tesla Motors Club forum NOT being spiteful and disingenuous?

Difficult to improve on perfection.

The Borg


Does this mean that Motor Trend got a M3 from Tesla for reviewing?

Can we call it a Model 3? I imagine they would get the trademarked M3 from BMW.

Nope, I will call it M3 🙂

Nope. Around here there is only one M3, and it’s not from Bavaria! 🙂

I’m using the abbreviation “TM3” for the Tesla Model 3, to avoid confusion with the BMW M3.

I hope others will do the same.

Another Euro point of view

So it is confirmed, Tesla is good at making expensive & enjoyable cars. 🙂

A lot of people are waiting for the entry-level-priced Model III at $35,000 before any government incentives. Which makes it cheaper than the Bolt EV (and yet profitable, which GM has clearly not attained without ZEV math).

$35k version with incentive is not likely going to be available to someone who is not an employee or a current owner.

They’ll be out of rebates by the time they get around to making them for the general public.

Likely the rebate will be reduced to half, but it won’t entirely disappear for… what is it, a year? It goes to half, then to quarter, then disappears.

Seeing that their priority is to sell profitable models before bothering with the base Model 3, it could very well be a year before a non-owner and employee gets their car.

Loaded up Model 3 for employees
Loaded Up Model 3 for current owners
Loaded Up Model 3 for reservation holders
AWD Model 3 for employees
Base Model 3 for employees
AWD Model 3 for current owners
AWD Model 3 for reservation holders
*my guess is that they offer leases here to drum up more sales of Loaded up M3 and AWD)*
Base Model 3 for current owners
Base Model 3 for reservation holders

Tesla doesn’t seem concerned about the expiration of the fed tax credit these days. Why else would they remain silent about the GOP’s attempt at killing the credit prematurely at the end of this year? While GM, Nissan, etc…have stated they are for preserving the credit, with GM stating they will actively work to preserve it. Where’s Tesla’s voice in all this?

Well MadBro, why is it that GM is lobbying against raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards because Tesla is not???

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Because Musk has always said they do not need the Fed Incentive and that it’s bad for the industry.
GM needs it to sell their cars so they can get CARB credits to sell OPEC swallowers.

Just because Musk says something doesn’t make it true. He’s not right about everything.

He doesn’t need it now because Tesla is almost at 200k sold.

But Tesla isn’t against all incentives, obviously. He’s just against this particular incentive due to the limit. Manufacturers get little benefit whether they help EVs production ramp up now or just trickle them out from 2020 to 2030.

Elon Musk has stated several times publicly that he doesn’t like EV incentives and that they do more harm than good!
What part of that don’t you understand douchebag?

You do realize that when they start that build, the car will be available to ANY reservation holders? So NO, not only employees.

Where did they say that?

Remember that the employees were able to log in months ago and decide whether to get the first build or wait for the base car. When they clicked on wait, guess where they ended up in line? At the front.

Gm has been making a profit on the Chevy Bolt EV because it is the top under $40,000 EV on sale in every state, and there is a 2018 MY available now.

I’m not sure how you arrived at that conclusion, but speculate away.

Why is it then that GM just raised the price of the European bolt (ampera) $5,000? Likely because demand exceeded supply and they didn’t want to take the loss on additional cars.

Because GM doesn’t sell Ampera es anymore. Opel/PSA does. They have to pay GM their profit on the car and so they have to raise the price to the consumer to cover their losses. You did hear that Opel no longer belongs to GM, right?

Ni Sir.
Simply: No.

How would we know the base Model 3 is profitable? We have literally nothing to go about on that at this point.

What’s more: it’s confirmed that Tesla is better than BMW in making expensive and enjoyable cars.

That’s got to hurt over in good old Bavaria…

What would give you that idea?
“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”…

Another Euro point of view

That’s good too, it will hopefully make old Bavaria move a bit forward.

The writing on the wall is not lost on BMW. It already sells more plug-ins than any other western car maker. Looking forward to that BMW Model 3 competitor.

What if Tesla is producing model 3’s and just stock piling them in secret locations to take advantage of federal tax credit sunset rule? Once the 200,000 milestone is reached they have a quarter to sell as many Teslas as possible with the full $7500 credit.

Elon Musk has already stated they’d play that game, but I can’t imagine them stockpiling so many in advance unless we were much closer to the 200k mark than we thought. (It would make sense for them to leave a small buffer so by all accounting they don’t accidentally overshoot and hit the mark early.) And why stockpile when they could just ship them to other markets outside the US? It would frustrate some ‘Muricans who feel entitled to get the Model 3 first, but in the long run more people would be happy.

Chris I think it would behoove tesla to stockpile the base model 3 black and offer it as a $28500 car as soon as the 200,000 milestone is reached it would make many reservation holders happy

If stockpiling, I volunteer my garage for a grey one. If he doesn’t mind storing in my yard, I’ll even mow the lawn, freeing up enough space for several hundred Tesla 3. All for free as long as I can “store” the grey one for 5 to 10 years!

They still have a ways to go. Vracer on the forums figured out Tesla has sold just over 160,000 vehicles so far and is on track to hit 200,000 in April, which is the first month of the quarter and maximizes the number of people who get tax credits. No need to stockpile now.

That seems about right.

Well if you want a significant stockpile of base black model 3s for April now is the time to stockpile for the rush in April, and it can be offered as a $28500 car with federal credit.

“What if Tesla is producing model 3’s and just stock piling them in secret locations to take advantage of federal tax credit sunset rule?”

Then Tesla would have to pay tax on all that unused inventory, in addition to the cost of interest on borrowing the money they need/needed for ramping up TM3 production, all without getting any income from those stockpiled cars.

There also doesn’t seem to be much point in stockpiling them in “secret” locations, since they’d have to report the numbers in their SEC filing anyway. (Of course, Tesla haters want us to believe that Tesla has been faking its SEC filings for years, so…)

A far better strategy for Tesla would be to promote overseas sales while cutting back on domestic sales until they hit the 200,000 domestic sale limit. After that, the strategy would switch to maximizing domestic sales until the rebate entirely disappears.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

….Tinfoil hat on…..

They’re storing them in the hangars at Area51 and Area52.

Heavily guarded of course…….lol

(╯°□°)–︻╦╤─ – – –

To maximize domestic sales you have to have a significant stockpile of base model 3s prior to reaching 200,000 sales. As for paying taxes and interest that can be a business expense. Will not negatively hurt Tesla, but just imagine the joy in the faces of model 3 reservation holders that will be able to order and receive base model 3 in a matter of days. HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE BABY JESUS

MT states power as 271 HP, but Tesla manual states 220 HP. What gives?

Torque is 303 ft-lb calculation from gear ratio and wheel torque from manual, and 307 from MT, similar. Either way, SparkEV’s 327 ft-lb beats Tesla 3 in motor torque!

Looking at acceleration curve, it seems 271 HP is closer to actual power, taper starting about 45 MPH rather than 34 MPH if 220 HP.

I noticed that, too.

Is it possible the Long Range car has 271 HP, and the Short Range car has 220 HP? I don’t remember Tesla promising they’d have the same motor.

The Short Range is supposed to be a bit slower, and maybe it makes do with less motor and less weight to haul around.

Here’s more info about the HP rating:


I think it’s possible the LR and SR have different motors.

If so, then the assertion that Tesla is charging $9000 just for another 25 kWh of battery, for the Long Range Tesla Model 3, is flat wrong. Perhaps that $9000 includes a more powerful motor, possibly a more powerful inverter, and maybe other upgrades as well.

I hope Tesla will clarify this issue.

It’s more likely that Tesla simply uses different power limits than use a different motor. Probably because the smaller pack can’t deliver as much power, but perhaps also to differentiate the two cars more.

I think you have it right. Tesla manual is like their fit and finish.

Bigger batteries, more power, goes faster.
Same motor.

Motor torque doesn’t mean much – it is the final axle-torque after the motor power has been transmitted through the reduction gear-box to the drive axle that determines launch acceleration.

The Model 3 gear box has 9:1 reduction ratio. Published axle torque = 2729 ft-lbs. Note that if you multiply Tesla’s stated 307 ft-lb motor torque by the axle ratio, the calculated axle torque comes out about 1% higher than published. The difference is probably the frictional losses in the reduction gear box.

That seems likely.

You think this is good? Just wait for the all-wheel drive version

Can’t wait for the review of te LR M3 without the AP option. 😀
Wonder if it would still kick the BMW 330i’s ass as it is the same price even without any incentives 😀


Is the 14,6 ft^3 of luggage space with or without frunk?

Tesla’s website says: “15 cu ft
Front & Rear Trunk Cargo Volume”.

My biggest concern with the Model 3 continues to revolve around “ride quality”. Every article Motor Trend has published mentions the firm ride. Firm rides tend to be fun from a handling perspective, but can get OLD really FAST in day-to-day commuting…especially over less than perfect road surfaces.

Yeah, I read with alarm Motor Trend’s “First Drive” review, where the reviewer kept gushing about how firm the ride was.

I guess all the MT reviewers are sports car lovers. Me, I happen to think such things as springs and shock absorbers are a Good Thing. The MT reviewer says “firm ride”, I think “rough and bumpy ride”.

If a TM3 buyer gets the aero suspension, hopefully that can be set for a softer ride?

Another Euro point of view

I agree with that, this fashion of firm shock absorbers with 19 inches wheels is IMO plain stupid. People pay extra for the privilege of having an uncomfortable ride & extensive to replace tires. I wonder why but why people need Nurburgring handling performances for eventually driving very defensively in heavy traffic.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“for eventually driving very defensively in heavy traffic.”

…..and slooooow highway traffic.

Yeah, IMHO makes no sense. Give me a soft comfortable ride in SoCal bu11%$it traffic.
What’s all that power going to do for you then?

My own experience test driving Model Ses with the standard coil and air suspensions back to back was that the air suspension was smoother (and was what drove me to get a car with air). It is important to note, the air suspension does not include adaptive dampers (i.e. no comfort, sport, race type modes) – it is only adjustable for “height”.

19 inch tires are probably worse than the 18 inch tires

I’m not sure this is a valid comparison. The Tesla is a full 10,000$ more.

The fair comparison is against the base level 3 which will be slower.

Well, it doesn’t seem fair that Motor Trend uses “sticker price” without mentioning that AutoPilot was $5k and not availble on the BMW.

Price should be stated as $52,500 + $5000 AutoPilot. A breakdown of the sticker would be even better:

Base: $35,000
Long Range: $9000
Premium Interior: $5000
Paint: $1000
Wheels: $1500
AutoPilot: $5000
Destination: $1000

Total: $57,500

I went to BMW.com and configured a 4.8 sec 0-60mph car which turned out to be the 340i 6 cylinder car. After adding all the cruise control “safety” options to match the Tesla Model 3, the car was $56,995. Pretty close to what the Model 3 costs.


What did you calculate for operating costs, and over how many years did you calculate operating costs?

If you drive a BMW 340i at speeds and acceleration rates that match the EPA test cycle, you will spend another $10K on gas over the first 5 years of ownership. More if you drive it aggressively.

Let’s be honest about the elephant in the room, EV’s are more expensive than mid-range and lower priced ICE cars at this point, just half a decade into EV sales.

And as we see in the MT analysis of “value”, that people outside the EV bubble absolutely don’t put any value on EV fuel savings over the long term. They judge value on purchase price only, with no regard to operation cost.

Places like MT are never going to dip their toes into stuff like operation cost. It is too hard for them to quantify, and it is too variable. MT has set the bar for EV’s. Beating ICE cars on operating cost isn’t enough. They have to also beat on up-front price.

EVs don’t have beat them (ICE) on price if EVs dominate their ICE competitors on performance like MT review just showed.

In the lower priced segment, the buyers may not willing to pay premium for those extra performance, but at premium class, they do. That is why Tesla is smart to aim at those class first and then try to trickle down to lower priced class.

But I agree that it will be hard to compete on the lower priced class. That is why Elon has no intention to make a Tesla cheaper than $35K Model3.

Yeah the guys at MT “love” sports cars, but that’s not too hard since they get to drive then without paying for them. At upwards of $50,000 this Model 3 version is hardly affordable anymore.

More expensive than 3-Series…not the 210 miles version. Guess it depends which version makes for the fairest comparison but that would depends on the sort of use the customer intends to make of it.

From Motor Trend review:

“There’s just it [Tesla Model 3], us, our instruments, and these asphalt surfaces… The iconic BMW 330i—everybody’s favorite yardstick…the Tesla [Model 3] betters the Bimmer in several metrics.”

It’s getting real for BMW…

Expect BMW to further crank up their EV concept cars marketing… proudly showcasing what BMW may have available in 3-5 years to compete against Tesla Model 3.

I think the M3 will take it. I mean after all they gave it to the Bolt last year, and the M3 is superior in almost every way.

I don’t know. Jonny Lieberman’s a big BMW fan and complained mightily about the premium Tesla’s price, even though the base model is due soon. I think the Model 3 is going to get the thumbs down from some, because it’s stepping into sacred(costs, looks, driving dynamics, tech)gas car territory.

Model 3 did not win, see my comment below. The results were released the same time as this Model 3 test review.

“I think the M3 will take it”

Wrong, as usual..

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

I read “floodgates” and thought they started spewing higher production numbers………but nope.

From what I see over on TMC forums, they are.

This article should probably get updated to say that the Model 3 did not with MTCOTY. It was the only plug in final four. Alpha Giulia, Civic Type R, and Kia Stinger were the others in the final 4 with the Alpha Giulia winning.

Sounds like high price and no $35k version available kept Model 3 from winning based on this article, http://www.motortrend.com/news/behind-the-scenes-2018-car-of-the-year/

It is kind of funny that Motor Trend did the test comparison to a BMW 330i and not the Giulia that was just crowned COTY.

Tesla would have been much better off waiting until next year to have Model 3 in the competition. There is not another plug-in car launching next year that could have a shot at winning based on the review criteria.

Enter the AWD Model 3 next year?


So while the Bolt blew away the competition last year and won MTCOTY handily, the Model 3 was beaten out by a FCA product no less. Ouch.

MT didn’t like the rear seats or cheap materials in the interior.
“Among other factors that kept it (the Model 3) from winning were rather tight back seats and cheap-seeming interior materials.”

It’s alright Model 3 fanboys, the Bolt set a very high bar last year, so no shame in the Model 3 not being able to match it. 😉

Hey bro you mad because no one in their right mind would compare the bolt to a 3 series. It is more of a competition for the i miev. Also it is almost laughable that you are talking about the interior when every reviewer and just about every owner says how poor, cheap and plasticy the bolts interior is. Don’t even get me started on how many complaints there are for the bolts narrow and uncomfortable seats are.

2017 Motor Trend COTY – Chevy Bolt EV
2018 Motor Trend COTY – Not Model 3. Lol

Probably no complaints for M3 because they are not out yet so nobody, other than select few, have ever sat in one!

Have you REALLY sat in a Chevy Bolt EV? “bro1999” is a Bolt EV owner and he very happy with it.

That’s because he’s a GM apologist, of course he’s happy with it.

Of course, the Bolt is a fine car (albeit expensive for an econobox)…why he goes so far out of his way to post negative things about Tesla everywhere he can find is probably a question only a psychiatrist can answer.


That’s a hot one. BOLT won, yet M3 lost because MT didn’t like the seats….. HAHAHAHA!

Seriously, in view of the numbers of people who have problems with BOLT seating, M3 couldn’t be any worse, or rather I’d be surprised if they were worse.

The reasons Bolt haters criticize the Bolt are the reasons Motor trend KO’d the Model 3 (cheap interior, uncomfortable seats). The irony is amazing. Lol

I agree that must hurt those Tesla fan boi egos…

But to be fair, the competition also changes from year to year. Model 3 does seem to have a “stiffer” competition this year compared with last year.

Bolt won because it was the first 200 mile + EV. Even though the LR has longer range still, it’s not as special at this point. I think GM just beat them to the punch.

I can believe the rear seats in the Bolt might be more comfortable, and definitely more spacious. The problem people tend to have with the Bolt are the front seats.

I’m going to call BS on this MT official numbers.

It read like a paid advertisement. To date, there are no legitimate reviews of the Model 3. All we have are promotional reviews posted by businesses that produce and sell aftermarket accessories and parts for Teslas and reviews from folks with large stakes in Tesla stock. And of course they aren’t going to badmouth Tesla.

And the employees signed NDAs that forbid them from saying anything negative or they would be fired. SOooo.. yea.. no real reviews.

Not to mention there’s inside info indicating Musk lied out his ass about claiming the batteries were the cause of M3 delays. The insider confirmed it’s the welding.

And guess who supplanted Elon as MT Person of the Year for 2018? 😀


Congrats to Barra. Well deserved.

Still – is the most important thing the acceleration (0-60 and 1/4 mile times)? Is the primary benchmark the competition needing to make the acceleration to impress the market?

I’m surprised. But the Guila sounds like a great car. When they make an EV version of it, maybe I’ll,take a serious look. But I’m never buying an ICE again.