Tesla Model 3 “Release Candidate” Caught In High-Res, In Blue Too

Tesla Model 3


A “release candidate” Tesla Model 3 oh wait a second here, do we spy a blue one too! 

A couple of Tesla Model 3 “release candidates” have finally been caught in Tesla’s backyard in high-resolution thanks to our spy photographers.

We we’re getting rather annoyed by the low-res videos and poor images of the 3 sightings in recent days, so we sent a pro photog out to capture the Model 3 in all its glory.

The result is the crisper, cleaner images what you see here…

Tesla Model 3 Spy Photo (click to enlarge)

As we’ve recently learned, the Tesla Model 3 will come with up to 10 cameras for Autopilot.

There was some speculation that the trunk opening on the newer Model 3s has been altered to allow for larger items to fit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in these photos.

To our eyes, the pair of 3s seen here look incredibly similar to the prototypes from the reveal. Yes, there are a few slight alterations, like those cameras here and there and possibly some slight front-end tweaking, but not much else appears to have changed from prototype to what we see here.

Tesla Model 3 Spy Photo

Additionally, the first Model 3s to be delivered will all be rear-wheel-drive examples. The dual-motor, AWD 3s might just make it into the hands of buyers by the end of 2017.

As for range, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a few recent comments on that topic as well. According to Musk, the maximum battery capacity for the Model 3 will be 75 kWh. That pack will provide the 3 with more electric range than the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt.

Tesla Model 3 Spy Photo

There’s been some recent, rather heated discussion on topic of HUD and a central-to-driver speedometer in the Model 3 too.

The Tesla Model 3 is expected to enter production this July with volume deliveries coming perhaps as soon as September.

Full pricing details should be announced on or around June 2, which is our guesstimate date for Part 3 of the Model 3 reveal.

Tesla Model 3 Spy Photo

After the Model 3, Tesla focus will turn to the Model Y electric crossover based on the same platform as the 3. But it’s the Model 3 that is of utmost importance right now and Tesla’s success or failure almost surely hinges on the automaker’s promise to deliver the 3 on time at or around the $35,000 price point promised by Elon Musk some years back.

Image Credit – Brian Williams – SpiedBilde

Categories: Spy Photos, Tesla

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

135 Comments on "Tesla Model 3 “Release Candidate” Caught In High-Res, In Blue Too"

newest oldest most voted

What a great, timeless and yet recognizable design! European in essence, but with world flavour.

What is European about that? That’s pure American design. It’s curvaceous, muscular, and has chrome.

It’s more of a worldly design.
Most american designed cars are unfeasable for the rest of the world…;-)
Look at the Ford Fusion, sold in Europe as Mondeo, also not a typical american design, but working well.

Basically, if you like it is non-American.

And if you dislike it then it is American?

He means the BMW next to it, and not the fish without a mouth

Normally when people talk about European cars, or world-market cars, they are talking about small hatchbacks. They might also be referring to conservative German sedans. I’m not sure I see the connection. I think this might be a case of an American labeling something “Euro” because they think it sounds sophisticated. It does not.

The front end does have a Porsche-type feel to it.

Go on, then. What previous US made car does it resemble (even in the *slightest*)?

The Tesla Model S?

Dodge Dart

European it is, essentially, it’d better have a range 275-345 miles. It would also be great if city perimeter power towers gain traction in Europe, as it is being considered in the States.

Love the style, just wish they would do something with the front, (a little plain for me).

The whole car is pretty plain. I’m not sure if I like how far out the lip in the back sticks out. It’s not like that on the Model S.

See how much more subtle & blended it is in the Model S.

Yes, the Model S is longer.LOL Which gives it sexier proportions.

Doing that with a compact length Model 3 would seriously compromise interior volume.

Still orders of magnitude sexier than the Bolt EV.

I’m talking about just the spoiler. On the model S its more like a subtle crease. On the Model 3 is a big fin that sticks out and has a 90 degree on the bottom side. Not nearly as good looking IMO and I don’t know if they did this because (1) they thought it looked good (2) for aerodynamics (3) for cost.

I would have though 2 and 3. I am expecting a torrent of discussion around the S being better than the 3 when we start to get the first drives. I’m not suggesting that is unreasonable but I think even for a model as important as the 3 is to Tesla there will have to be some significant downgrades compared to the S.

The spoiler does look a bit like a cheap fix to an areo problem. I would also expect there to be less space in the back, more road noise, fewer cup holders and less new car smell.

Fewer cup holders than the Model S?

The MS is notorious for having only two awkwardly placed cup holders for the front seat, and none at all for the rear unless you order the optional rear center seat pull-down.

It seems reasonable to guess that one way in which the M3 will be superior to the MS is in cupholders. It would be hard to be worse unless the M3 omits them entirely!

If they think a speedo is not needed, why would you need cup holders?????

Elon will tweet, “When your car self drives you can always hold your mocha latte”.

I am still left wanting a relatively affordable EV SUV or truck. I also am saving all my doll hairs for a Mission E me thinks. 800 V!

I’m really digging the duck-tail spoiler.

What you are seeing is a trick of lighting. The spoiler is actually more subtle like the Model S.

I couldn’t care less about slight aesthetics comparisons like that, if they did it to reduce drag.

Functionality rules.

It is sleek and smooth – which looks better in person, and as we see more EV’s, we’ll wonder why having a gaping maw was ever considered good.

Why build a car with this shape and not make it a hatchback. The car looks like a hatchback. And to the person calling this a timeless design, you are mistaken. This car will age quickly IMO.

Because they designed good aerodynamics wirh the rear roof line, but wanted to offer enough head room for rear passengers. There is no structural beam between the B pillar and the lower edge of rear window, thus thin roof, actually even glass roof and more head room. And the second thought is, that Tesla is focused on US market with their design. If the opening in the rear is really big some European customers might accept it, otherwise they will wait for the model Y.

Most excellent reply.

“Why build a car with this shape and not make it a hatchback.”

I believe it is because the glass roof comes back so far. The glass roof allows more headroom.

Right – the glass is needed for more headroom, and that requires a structural cross member at the lower edge of the glass.

I wonder how much headroom the steel roof will have since it’s standard?

Doesn’t matter. The version with the steel roof still has a huge rear window, and thus the same headroom. Even Model 3’s with a steel roof will have a huge “panoramic” front window and another huge rear window. Going by previous pictures, the metal roof will cover probably less than 1/3 of the top of the cabin.

Yep, that’s been my assessment, as well – ever since the reveal videos.

Hatchbacks cost more to build. It’s cheaper to build in structural rigidity without a giant whole in the backside.

As the entire point of the Model 3 is to bring the price point down to an accessible level a hatch probably wasn’t in the cards. There will be the Model Y at some point in the future for those who want an Model 3 with more cargo area.

Bigg charge port? CCS for the european model? (It would be bacwards compatibal with SC)

I think that’s extremely unlikely. Wish they did it, but my guess is they’ll rather sell adapters…

Being able to just roll into any fast charger or super charger and not fuss with extensions is probably more important.

You are talking about that company that banned the start-stop button because it was too bothersome.

It gets better. Now when you walk up it knows yours from your wife’s key, and begins adjusting the seat with no further input.

“Rather sell adapters”, is the correct answer, until you see how much they are, and how few are actually purchased.

Don’t forget how little they are needed…

More likely we’ll just see 3rd party DC chargers adding tesla compatible handles.

it opens up a market of >200k users without them first having to spend on what would probably be a $500 adapter.

Already chargepoint was teasing this at a recent show. Hopefully they do this as having an alternative to the supercharger network will really help as it becomes more overcrowded.

I believe it’s a 99% chance. Supercharger, CCS combo and AC three phase all via the one port. Makes the vehicle even more useful. Might even have a port on both sides for convinience.

As for US cars, I beleive there is a 50% chance of a CCS Combo type 1 port on the right hand side.

Looks like Musk will deliver on the Model 3 on schedule.

Looks like the 1 screen dash setup is also set in stone.

I hope not. The fact that it appears the same as the first reveal and Elon said the final version would be something different for driving gauges leaves me thinking something will still change. It would make sense that if they have them driving around in public that they would disable/remove whatever that unannounced thing is.

I wouldn’t buy a car without a gauge cluster in front of the driver or HUD. If that were the only thing keeping me from buying this I’d get an aftermarket HUD from Amazon or something.

Just Velcro an iPad Mini or Samsung tablet directly in front of you and pay $5 for the premium Torque bluetooth app and a $15 data port insert. Nice gauge cluster on that thing among other things.

In some ways having everything go into what is basically a tablet computer, Tesla is simplifying the wiring and increasing reliability.

Tom great idea, I think Brian might be a little autistic lol and can’t get past changes lol…I just hope interest rates are low for model 3 financing.

Preferring a display behind the steering wheel/HUD makes you autistic? Really? Maybe you need to look in the mirror.

You think everyone who prefers an ergonomic design, or a user-friendly interface, is autistic?

Tell you what, why don’t you start driving an early Ford Model T for your daily driver; one of those with a crank starter. Wouldn’t want anyone to think you’re “autistic” for using an electric starter, now would you!

Now your talking, where can I get one lol

I want to retrofit a Ford crank-start onto the front of an electric car….



And put a hole in the hood to allow a turbocharger to stick out! Don’t forget big chrome exhaust pipes, either.

Missed opportunity for an April 1 article: “How to Convert Your EV into a Ricer”.

😀 😀 😀


Tom said:

“Just Velcro an iPad Mini or Samsung tablet directly in front of you and pay $5 for the premium Torque bluetooth app and a $15 data port insert. Nice gauge cluster on that thing among other things.”

What a great idea! I think we’ll see a lot of people doing this.

This is the 21st century, for heaven’s sake! Technology should be adapted to the needs of people, not vice versa.

Google glass plus a bluetooth data coupler. Thats a “heads on” display. Moves with your head, too.

Brian I agree with you, at least have a speedo to look at. No speedo in front of my face, & not to my side. No deal for me. Over all I like the outer look of the car so far. I believe though the press will make a big deal on no frontal speedo in turn it will hurt their sales. This will bite them in the ass.

The centre console needs to be flush and the dash needs to be in front of the driver.. the tacky tablet on a stick would be a regrettable deal-breaker for many including myself.

That is making me a little nervous. I was hoping they would fit the screen into the dash instead of floating. Just worried my kids will grab it by a corner and try to pull with all their might to use the “iPad”. Sigh, kids are like drunk people.

Like drunk people using your ID, so you have to pay for everything they damage….


I’m not sure that will be a big problem. We have had a couple of Renaults with center mounted display and it only took half an hour or so to get used to.

Can you dial down the watermarking? Makes it look like you’re paranoid, at the cost of photo quality to your viewers.

I disagree that the statement that the trunk hasn’t been altered.

In the blue photo you can clearly see the split in the taillights indicating that trunk opens up further down than the original.

I don’t see any difference from the reveal prototypes..

You would be correct, in that it has been altered.

Overall, this is a GREAT looking car.

Minor notes:

That Spoiler looks bigger then the prototypes, to me at least. I like it.

Front view images seem to be the downside to this car’s good looks.

Front end is a smidgen short.

Good job Tesla, please take my money.

I hope they keep the kill switch in the interior photo at least as an option. 🙂


“As we’ve recently learned, the Tesla Model 3 will come with up to 10 cameras for Autopilot.”

Is that the same as gen 2 AP Hardware in X and S???

“There was some speculation that the trunk opening on the newer Model 3s has been altered to allow for larger items to fit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in these photos.”

It looks more like half of a hatch to me….better than I remembered it.

I wonder how that floating screen fares in crash testing. Or, if the government ‘safetynistas’ have any say about it.

It should fair better than an OEM Takata air bag. That should keep the masses safe and sound!

I’m sure NOBODY at Tesla could have though about that ahead of time.

I wonder if those cameras can serve (at times) as security feature while the car is parked, taking stills of approaching vehicles or people?


That rather portly BMW is looking a little sad-faced there. Likely remembering the days when it was svelte and young too!

I really thought Tesla was gonna kill it with the design of the Model 3, but looking at this release candidate next to the BMW 3-Series makes me not regret my decision to go with the 330e at all. I’m sure the Model 3 will be a fine car, but it looks sooo utterly boring and the interior is far too sparse. Unless there’s something really special Tesla is hiding, I’ll probably cancel my model 3 reservation.

Before the fanboys step in, there is a reason they’re testing it against “the ultimate driving machine”. Electric range and a cool panoramic roof window aren’t enough, the performance, material/ build quality, technology, ergonomics and practicality will still matter to many buyers. The Model 3 may drive itself, but my 330e makes me want to drive it.

BMW fan complains about the interior of another car…now I’ve seen everything!

I’m sure there will be more to “see”, as we inch closer to the Model 3 Main Event!

Have you sat in a 330e with the premium package? The sport seats hug you, the leather is supple and comes in a wide variety of colors. The steering wheel is perfectly ergonomic, with all the buttons placed within reach. iDrive is by far the most ergonomic in-car operating system, and certainly much easier than mashing your fingers at a tablet stuck to the middle of the dash. There’s a HUD that shows everything a driver might need seemlessly integrated into their line of sight, including navigation. BMW also spent years perfecting the right hue of red as not to negatively affect driver vision during night time driving. It’s clear BMW cares about ergonomics and considers the design their vehicles around the people who drive them.

All these points I agree with. It’s just too bad it’s ruined by a gas engine and automatic transmission.

Hardly ruined.. The automatic transmission you speak of is the ZF 8hp and considered one of the best single clutch automatics ever made, there’s always a gear available and changes are lightning fast.

The engine, another award winner, is lovely. Although most days I don’t use the gas engine, because around 75% of the 12,000 I’ve driven have been electric, the times I do are a blast. Highway trips require no stopping to charge and overall I still maintain over 100mpg in my drive cycle.

“most days I don’t use the gas engine, because around 75% of the 12,000 I’ve driven have been electric”

That is about the same as the median Volt owner is getting. This is a very good example of why Your Mileage WILL Vary when it comes to PHEV’s. It sounds like you have the right car for your needs, even if other people consider it too short of range for their needs.

Congrats on the gas savings.

The 330e starts at $10K more than the Model 3.

Pricing not to be announced til June 2.

It is impossible to do an apples-to-apples price comparison until you know the standard features and options. You would have to option-up them to be similarly optioned.

That is how the car magazines typically do their comparisons.

Even BMW knows that the iDrive system is outdated and has tried to update it with a tiny trackpad in the knob or by flailing your hands around in front of the screen.

I drove a 3 Series for a decade and drive a BMW i3 now.

I recently had the latest 3 Series while my car was at the dealer and the *last* thing I thought was “this is fun to drive”. The gas engine and transmission just kill the entire experience when up against the endlessly smooth and sublime electric torque.

The 330e has some torque from the battery, but unfortunately still has the same old slushbox lag same as any gas car.

Now if BMW made a BEV 3 Series…I’d be listening! I still prefer BMW looks and materials over Tesla.

Obviously I hope BMW moves forward with a BEV 3 series, it appears likely with the CLAR architecture used in the next generation and,now I intend for it to be my next car.

With that said, the 3 series loaner you had most likely was not the 2016 refresh. Earlier models of the F30 did have a 6 speed auto, that frankly was terrible, although that car still has a 0-60 ~1.5 seconds quicker than your i3.. Did you try sport mode? Gear shifts are made automatically quicker and if it had the 8 speed, you should have had paddle shifters.

I’ve owned a 428i and a 330e, the 4 may have been marginally quicker, but damn is the 330e smooth. In Max eDrive it feels like there’s a single speed transmission.

Right. It’s like they ticked all the boxes except the most important one.

Yep, most logical and important box that was left untucked!

Intrepid said:

“Unless there’s something really special Tesla is hiding, I’ll probably cancel my model 3 reservation.”

No car is going to appeal to everyone, including this one. And it was inevitable that some would cancel their Model 3 reservations, especially since that was sight unseen for many reservation holders. We Tesla fanboys shouldn’t regard cancellations as disappointments, but rather an inevitable part of business.

Glad you’re enjoying your alternative choice of a plug-in EV, the BMW 330e PHEV. However, with only 14 miles of EPA rated electric range, I presume you’re still burning a lot of gasoline. I hope you’ll consider something with considerably better all-electric range for your next car.

These “clear” images looks like crappy mobile phone shots. Definitely not a real camera..

Are you unaware that you can click on each image to see a higher-res version, or are you just trolling?

The first image expands to 1280 x 721 pixels. How big an image do you think you need to see?

Looks great!

I wonder what the Cd is? The raised trailing edge is the biggest change as far as I can see.

Love it — can’t wait until it is in my Garage every night!

Not normally a huge fan of Blue but I do like the color!

Looks not like 10 cameras. There were some speculations about cameras in the C pillar. But seeing these pictures I don’t really see a camera there. It will be the normal AP2 Hardware. The thing I’m curious about is how they managed to increase the trunk opening. I guess we’ll have to wait a little longer…

Brian Williams Tesla Stalker Extrodinaire! Keep the pics posting, I can’t get enough of the high res images!

That blue is looking Hot!

That would be an affirmative, Captain.


Model 3 the poor man’s porsche?

Or an expensive EV version of a Chrysler 200.

Very Close! Which actually was my nick name in HS track, ‘Legs Very-Close’. Because I ran with my legs very close together.

Our rental car while our Leaf is in the body shop is that 200, and the aero is great! I’ve seen39mpg on on the freeway, and 22 in the city. The best I can say about this particular car is that the multi-speed transmission is a blessing and a curse. It takes four shifts just to get across an intersection, if I wanted to kill the car I would be driving in our rolling hills with the cruise control on. Spoiled by our Leaf.

… but better!


Tesla managed to make the interior dash design a deal killer for me.

I agree. I don’t want to drive a spaceship or sit passively in the front left seat.

Here’s a fun experiment for the “no instrument cluster” fans: try driving your current car with your right eye closed. The Model 3: not for one-eyed Jacks.

Ya, pass. I’m sorry but that just looks horrible.

But hey, what do I know I would actually drive the car. Wait, so will everyone actually until they become fully autonomous!

The only light I can see down this dark tunnel is Elon having us aspire to the Model S, which suggests a regular dash display is desirable. We can dream he’ll still feel this way through the ‘S’ refresh, anyway.

If one thing had to be done to prevent “Who needs Model S”, this may have been it. Now, more will.

So you think people are gonna spend an extra $30k to get a speedo gauge?

Personally I think it’ll turn people off as I know it does me. All it does to me is show his arrogance which admittedly some people line up and fall over in awe of while others can’t stand that kind of crap.

I hope all 3 of you had reservations and are now cancelling…3 more spots is better than nothing.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Going against the grain here……

The blue looks better than the black.

…this is incorrect


I’m joining Trollnonymous in his heresy of preferring blue to black.

Sorry, Jay! 😛

+1. Argh! Another mutinous dog, reporting in.

Yep, you count me in on the Blu- Cru, Pu-Pu!

Red and White will look even better

Impressed how much this is nearly the same as the prototype. No bait and switch here, thus far… That said, I miss the dark paint on the center hubs. They look cheaper and boring without the contrast. The cool, complex twisting design of the spokes, gets lost. Hmm. Miss the old style headlights. They carried the seams across the surface and looked more unified to the design. Now, I see floating chrome bits that don’t seem to have much relationship to the overall design. Not sure what the short rectangle at the bottoms are? A cost reduced “signature” or running light? No idea… The trunk opening looks exactly the same. The side taillight looks like it’s now hosting a panel for a charger, not part of the #TinyTrunk opening. Interesting that two new prototypes do not have this panel installed, but are blacked out. The lack of a functional hatchback the most disappointing issue for me. The new duck tail, looks huge… The plain interior, except for protective, rounded bevels on the screen, looks nearly the same. Felt ambivalent on the interior / CID screen, still feel that way now. Will have to test drive and inspect the cargo area… Read more »

” I miss the dark paint on the center hubs. ”

It looks like there aren’t any center hubs in the wheels of this car”

To me anyway

Other than the shark’s nose front, I think it’s a nice design. It doesn’t reach out and grab me like the original Model S (with the nosecone) did, but still I would be happy to be seen driving this car. IMHO it certainly looks nicer than the Model X. I’m not fond of the shark’s nose, but I understand the practical value it has in adding to the car’s efficiency, so I’d quite willingly put up with that. Some people value appearance over practicality, but I’m not one of them.

“There was some speculation that the trunk opening on the newer Model 3s has been altered to allow for larger items to fit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in these photos.”

That conclusion seems rather premature. Elon said they would enlarge the trunk opening, and I have little doubt they will. I think we need to see a clear photo of the rear with an open trunk lid on a production unit, or at least a “production prototype”, before passing any judgement on whether or not the opening has been enlarged.

I thought the snub nose on the front looked weird at first, but it has grown on me. Now I think I actually like it because it something that actually sets this car apart from the looks of most other sedans.


This looks much closer to a proper hatch rather than a liftback like Volt Gen-1 or Prius Gen-2 and this is very good because it will be more spacious.

Someone please tell me that it will have 5 doors.

Because the 5 door vehicles like Wagons, Crossovers, SUVs & Vans have more than 50% share in US market.

“Someone please tell me that it will have 5 doors.”

Sorry, but no. It’s a sedan with a normal trunk. You might prefer to wait for the Model Y, which will indeed be a “five door” car based on the same platform as the Model 3.

Really disappointed in the dash. The screen does not look integrated at all. I hope they are still going to surprise us with it, but if this is the production intent then it is pretty disappointing.

Maybe when cars are fully autonomous this will be great (except then you would have the screen right in front of you, no steering wheel). For current expectations, even a simplified instrument cluster would be desired, say something like the Nissan Leaf speedo binnacle with just that basic information.

I really think the Tesla Model 3 makes the Chevy Bolt look so butt ugly that everyone really is waiting for the Tesla model 3 so they can drive a car with respect.

The Chevy Bolt however looks like one of those cheapo Chevy spark cars.

Right — I need to graduate from my Leaf — and the Bolt ain’t it….

Bring me my TESLA!

Ford to go big, and not go home in China.
Of course that’s where they will build them too.

By 2025, 2026, 2027 or 2028 or 2030 lol ford and VW are both full of crap lol

Awesome looking car. I really hope they deliver on time.

If Tesla was smart, they would have a removable cover on that big dash expanse, and then have an after market device that plugs in to give “normal” people their instrument cluster. If you want the bare, plain look, take the car as is, but if you like a display right in front of you, attach the optional instrument cluster. For a tech company I hope this is something they have thought of, but I highly doubt it. As an alternative I can see tablet apps and ODB interfaces becoming popular, like they did with the Leaf.

Door handles still look flush. Compare them to the car behind and they don’t look like there is any way to grab them. Interesting to see how they work, certainly look nice.

The nose of the car is too small/short for the rest of the car. The proportion looks weird.

Looks like a Ford

To achieve a targeted 0.21 drag coefficient, Tesla Model 3, and every other car trying to compete in range or mpg, will have to have incredibly similar shapes.