Check out this candid, personal account of a recent test drive in the Tesla Model 3 Performance.
The day finally arrived. Today, 16-AUG-18, 6pm at Aventura Mall, Florida. I had the pleasure to drive the future. Not that I haven’t already driven the Model S and X before, but the Model 3 Performance is beyond any expectation.
How was the set up:
I came down with my family: Wife, Son (6) and Daughter (3) to the showroom at the mall. I did the check-in and they sent me to drive the Red Dragon (that is what I’m calling it). Top of the line, smelling brand new. I put the child seat in the back on the left side and lock it on the anchors. On the center my wife and on the booster seat my son. Very tight, but not any different from our Nissan Altima. Besides, this configuration is not a daily thing, only when my mom comes by.
Interesting fact: As soon as my daughter was set she started to explore the buttons from the door and of course, she opened exactly when was about to leave. We engaged the child safety feature locking doors and windows.
White seats! Metal pedals! Smelling like new. I didn’t remember to check the odometer but I guarantee less than a 1000 mi. The journey takes only 5mi and the tests began a few days ago. Kids screaming in the back seat because they were crazy about the change of scenery while we were trying to talk in the front seat.
The inner road in the mall area 15 mph:
With bumpers all around, I didn’t feel them at all and the car was full! The turns were perfect as you can expect and the regen was a bit hard until we changed it to low. One drive only would be impossible to get used to it in the beginning. A few minutes later and I was ok with it having to brake only on stop signs.
The outer road in the mall area 30 mph:
Here I was able to drive a bit faster and have the first launch. I slowed down, no one around and just like Kirk would say “PUSH IT”! It was only to get the kids amazed. They’ve never had it before. And they loved it! Of course, they wanted more, but we got some traffic and then I had the autopilot engaged to show them the car driving by itself. My wife, that also never had the experience, though it was odd and started with her questions on how it does it, what else it can do, etc.
Causeway outside the mall area 55 mph:
We stopped at the light and my Tesla companion asked me to take the causeway so we could feel all the power. It was an on-ramp with a lot of traffic on the right lane that already left the causeway and was waiting to go through. I slowly took the left lane to get into the causeway and once again “PUSH IT” only this time I kept the foot down for a looooooooooooong time. A few feet later, I hadn’t even entered the causeway and I was at 74 mph. Everyone was glued to their seat. I was mesmerized. Amazed. Without words, just pure and raw awe by the power! I let the regen take control and the slope up were enough to bring it to 55 mph. From then on I was remembering the other feelings that I had: The sensation of both motors pushing the car instead of only the front one. No noise or loss of traction while accelerating. And the fact that my wife asked if this sort of thing, with that amount of power, could lead to an accident (The Tesla representative had to explain all the safety measures the car have to avoid it).
Jarvis, take the wheel:
We drove for a bit inside the parking garage and my Tesla representative showed me the supercharger. Then I asked about the self-parking. On the spot the “P” appeared, I pressed the start and it started the Vertical parking. Took a while but it got us there in an angle. It tried to correct itself but got lost and I had to take control. I was told it is still learning. It is way better on parallel parking though.
By the way, Aventura Mall has 35 stalls, excellent location, easy to find and with a lot to do while charging.
Back to the present:
I parked it on the designed spot and put it to charge. Took all my stuff out, thanked for the time and went back to our dinosaur, the 2017 Nissan Altima. It just feels outdated. One thing is to drive the X and S knowing that you won’t buy them. Another is to drive the car you will buy (of course it will be the base model 3) and the comparison is inevitable: The exterior size feels the same but I believe the Altima has more trunk length; the back seat has the same length, fits the same things. No changes over there. The roof clearance of Model 3 with glass roof feels bigger. But for me, as a driver, not having the center console on my knee is an amazing sensation.
That said, thank you, Tesla, for an amazing experience and incredible car.
Thank you for reading, I hope this review helps with your decision.
Take a test drive, enjoy the time, ask all the questions you want and change as soon as possible.
Rodrigo Henriques Negreiros Magalhaes
Twitter - @rhmagalhaes