WSJ Offers Up World’s First Review Of Tesla Model 3 Performance


Calls it a rainbow-farting spaceship.

We were wrong. We had thought that Marques Brownlee was the first outside of Tesla staff to get their hands on the Dual Motor Performance version of the Model 3, but a newly published review of the mid-sized sedan appears to prove us wrong.

The resident automotive wordsmith at the Wall Street Journal, Dan Neil, has had the opportunity to flog the car mercilessly take it for a “leisurely” spin and tour the Fremont factory where it was pieced together.

In his considered opinion the spicy version of Tesla’s latest offering is “…magnificent, a little rainbow-farting space ship, so obviously representative of the next step in the history of autos.” That’s pretty high praise. But noting that it exits corners faster than a BMW M4, “out-punches” a Porsche Boxster, and out-clouds a Rolls-Royce (we admit we’re not sure what he’s getting at here, since the ride is definitely engineered towards the stiff side). He also lets slip that, despite its glass roof, it has a five-star rollover crash rating. While we can’t confirm this is an official rating yet, we do note that it performed quite well in the only actual roll-over accident we are aware of.

While Neil does melodiously sing the car’s praises, he also has some criticisms. The A-pillar that no doubt has something to do with its rollover crash performance is too thick for his apex-hunting preferences. The tires on his $78,000 loaner, a set of  Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, aren’t as grippy as he’d like. He’s also not a fan of how the 15-inch screen breaks up the dash, calling it, “the broken flower pot on Mona Lisa’s head.”

One thing he doesn’t criticize are the panel gaps, which he says straight and consistent, unlike even the show car that had been on display at the Los Angeles Motor Show. Apparently, some of that those manufacturing problems have been worked out, according to engineers he talked to, though.

Speaking of production, Neil, who has been through many auto manufacturing operations over the years, wasn’t especially impressed by the Fremont facility. He calls it “the Kobe beef of lean production,” which is to say not especially lean at all. Its lighting leaves something to be desired and parts are piled high. The robots hanging from the ceiling seem to give him pause for safety concerns.

Overall, it’s clear that Neil is on the bullish side, and thinks that despite the recent sub-optimal controversy surrounding  CEO Elon Musk, the car is a winner, and one that appears to have improved in a number of ways since it first started being produced.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Categories: Tesla, Test Drives

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77 Comments on "WSJ Offers Up World’s First Review Of Tesla Model 3 Performance"

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The petrolhead OPEC lover echo chamber is being pierced. And evidenced by the comments section of the WSJ the dodos are not very happy about it.

Robb Stark said: “The petrolhead OPEC lover echo chamber is being pierced…”

There becomes a point when repeating an increasingly obvious false narrative starts to damage one’s own credibility… the WSJ has reached that point and this WSJ article is likely a transition article allowing WSJ to abandon their general anti-Tesla stance.

It would be about time. I abandoned the WSJ years ago due to how blatantly slanted their stories and opinion pieces very consistently were toward the right. I expected some of that, but when it got into the “frequently impacting the quality of the science and climate news” level, that was too much for me.

(I have NO PROBLEM with folks who express healthy skepticism of the merits of EV’s, until it is a constant stream of reality-defying drivel. I have the same problem with super greens who claim that all oil production is going away, real soon now, as though physical constraints, economics, and scale aren’t issues.)

Note: “Real soon now” implying months or a few years vs. decades — likely several decades for a full transition to be largely complete.

This wasn’t Neil’s typical “Pulitzer” quality work, either. Opposite WSJ commenters, it almost reeked of service to Musk (who quickly thanked him, on Twitter like he did MT). So, it cuts both ways. Thumbs up for Domenick Y., for reviewing the review, and getting to the “inside”. My take-aways: “450HP” from “north and south” may be the combined “motor power” capacity rating, not horsepower. As with Tesla’s history of defining horsepower (??), this continues a question. Musk, himself, verbalized during “the announcement” how P85D had “692HP motor power”. Problem was, Tesla eventually listed system power as 4XX, after max motor power had more limited available battery power disclosed. Tesla should release a system HP spec, where traction is not limited (guessing 30-35mph). I bet it’s close, but 450hp? Of course, it would be nice to know at what speed max HP is reached, and whether different reduction gears smooth it out, in front and back. A single-geared automobile reaches the system peak once, versus (coming?) two-geared options. -Fair questions, from a performance perspective. No ax. This was the first A-pillar complaint I’ve read about. This was a leading cause to move away from GM, for us. In its case, especially… Read more »

You’re stuck in ICE mindset, where those inflexible power plants deliver no power at all at 0rpm, and peak power only at one tiny range of revs right up in the antisocial rev range.

Contrast EVs which can deliver full maximum torque from 0mph (without slaughtering a clutch or spinning all the power into a torque converter), all the way up to the point where they reach full power*, maybe around 30mph (for e.g. Model S), and then sustain full maximum power all the way beyond the speed limit**. ICE simply can’t do this.

* no vehicle can deploy full power off the line because physics.
** ok maybe not EVs without any performance pretense!

Tesla keeps solving the problems bears cite – panel gaps, production rate, limp mode halfway throughout the first lap, quarterly losses, etc. Good show!

Those are not problems bears cite. They are problems that customers cite.

This review is incredibly exuberant. It definitely makes me want to try the performance version.

Hey Seven fake electrics. It is mostly trolls like you who complain about the model 3. The people who actually own them tend to love them.

Not sure why he got down votes on that. Who cares about “the bears”?

Three of those things is something I am happy about as a customer. Good build quality, production rate and a performance car that works on a track. That’s what I want.

Investors might be more concerned about quarterly losses, which Tesla hasn’t solved (yet). But to me as a customer Tesla can spend other people’s money as long as they want, as long as they never go bankrupt.

And investors don’t need to care about track performance, or build quality. As long as Tesla keeps growing and sells their cars at a profit. The Model 3 could be a crap car, as long as enough people spend lots of money on it, they will be happy.

To me, I don’t care if I’m the only Model 3 customer, as long as I can get it quickly and it’s good. And it seems to be, so I’m happy. I couldn’t care less, if you lost money on your long position, or someone else on their short position.

EVq: I disagree. If Tesla is selling “crap” in quality, durability, or performance for the money spent — it is going to come back to bit them, and therefore their investors. And if it hurts Tesla’s reputation, HOW would that not matter to investors?

I was rather surprised to see how well the Model 3 (normal long range version) seemed to do on the track in Youtube videos, once better brakes and tires, compatible with the stress of being tracked, were used. Motor heating, for example, didn’t seem to be a meaningful issue in a bunch of multi-lap, casual track tests.

@Seven Electrics said: “…This review is incredibly exuberant. It definitely makes me want to try the performance version…”

In your case, a Tesla Model 3P test drive may result in mental whiplash… I’d advise against it. This INSIDEEVs’ comment section would not be the same without your daily anti-Tesla humorous pokes.

Gave you an up vote…

Customers buy, bears don’t.. they DO make a lot of noise tho. I prefer Tesla listen to customers, and they do… unlike other companies these days. Another exception is Nissan LEAF people who took DIYer suggestions and incorporated them in to next gen LEAFs with acknowledgement to that community.

WSJ has been roundly anti-EV and especially anti-Tesla. However, one thing about the WSJ is when it comes to printing the opposite opinion to what they have traditionally printed, they find a new author who is unbiased to do it. It doesn’t mean that much to the base opinion of the paper, they printed a very negative opinion piece about Tesla and EVs very recently.

I have rebutted the WSJ a couple of times, including their use of selected facts (like claiming range and charge times that were the worst possible, the old leaf range and 110v charging). They have occasionally printed my rebuts (in one case even repeating it on TV). I stopped doing that after I saw them radically change one of my letters sent to the editor’s column, not just clipping parts, but actually making up new sentences and inserting them.

I wonder if you could sue them for that.

Though some contributors to the WSJ have been decidedly anti-EV, Dan Neil has been an auto writer for them for years and is definitely in the pro-EV camp.

He has spoken before at more than a few EV promotional EVents in the past. I consider him an EV advocate, but in the Pro-EV camp, it might be wise to sleep with one eye open, with the rest of WSJ contributors, waiting in the outskirts.

“…I saw them radically change one of my letters sent to the editor’s column, not just clipping parts, but actually making up new sentences and inserting them.”

🙁 🙁 🙁

Just another sign, along with completely made-up stories in the NYT a few years back, that standards of journalism aren’t what they used to be.

What Tesla did as of last year was add James Murdoch onto board of directors. So while the WSJ will pull their punches, they will most likely be more cautious about it moving forward. Even Fox has been somewhat “tame” compared to before in the last few months.

the murdoch strategy is paying off. If there is one family Governments and Media fear most – it is the Murdoch’s. Tesla and Murdoch business share a powerful thing in common: Vertical Integration.

So nice to see others stopped reading WSJ and Seeking Alpha due to attitudes. I really appreciate Neil’s reviews over the years.

Gorgeous in red.

Yep, I don’t care about the tripe stereotypes… Tesla red isn’t bright and annoying, it’s bloody fierce.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

There’s no such thing as Rainbow Farts.

It’s that shining “Pot O’ Gold” at the end of the Rainbow. On Wall Street and the WSJ, they refer to them as “Farts”.

Dang! And here I was thinking “sheer poetic license”

Rainbow farts? Good to know …

Maybe they should speak to their readers and not amongst themselves.

If we could only generate electricity from a rainbow…

Rain > Rainbow … Rain > Hydro Electric Power! OK … Not “Rainbows”, but the root source of them!

Actually, rainbow = rain + sun… So both solar *and* hydro! 😉

Clearly you have never ridden a Unicorn…. *grin*

This is a common phrase for unicorns – they fart rainbows, but better since musk runs space x, this unicorn – mythical beast is also a spaceship. Why a unicorn? Because so many said you couldn’t do it. Make something efficient, with batteries, and range, that is truely engaging to drive. I think he is making fun of the EV – haters.

Darn it! Doesn’t Tesla realize how heavy these goalposts are?!
*Sigh* I’ll grab this end.

Ooops sorry, dropped my end! Come back tomorrow, after I eat my Weaties!

Come on guys. Rolls Royce Silver Cloud- very high praise. As for the rainbow farting. I’d like the point out why Musk and crew liked that silly picture was that Musk has often right talked about smoking tail pipe or breathing off the tail pipe in front of you on the free way.

No air suspension on the performance version yet and a lower ride so maybe it is strange to say rides well?

Those who love sports cars apparently say “rides well” when they mean “the suspension is so stiff you can feel every pebble on the road”.

The “First Driver” reviewer at Car and Driver practically went into paroxysms of ecstasy over how stiff the ride was in an early production Model 3:

Tesla has reportedly softened the suspension a bit since then, to appeal more to the average driver. But I wonder if they stiffened it back up for the Performance version.

Or they could have tuned it to be firm but compliant. We do know that the suspension is different than the LR version. It is amazing what they can do with suspension these days when they throw more money at it. More expensive suspension can manage to feel less jarring, and still resist lean in the corners.

I’m no expert, but variable spring rates, whereby the first 1-2 cm are very compliant, and then it stiffens up quite a bit for real handling.

Turning up the heat on the German OEMs(at least in the US) by going after their bread and butter sedan lineups AND their performance divisions simultaneously. Mercedes and VW appear to ‘get it’ and are responding with what seems to be a solid upcoming EV lineup. BMW, started out well, but seems to be dragging their feet.

BMW lost its “Ultimate Driving Machine” mojo long time ago ,now it’s SUVs and profits,even Porsche SUVs are the money makers for the co.

Amidst all the negative white noise, its nice to see a bit of success from Tesla. At the end of the day, it’s an American company employing many thousands of fellow Americans. Oh, and also changing the direction of the world’s transportation as we know it. It’s unfortunate at this site some of us sometimes get lost comparing one EV against another, and falling into the trap of wishing for failure simply because we don’t choose a particular product. But we’re still on the same team and success in the EV world benefits all of us. Ultimately, that’s why I do pull for Tesla, because honestly, the only reason I drive a Volt is because of them.

The Volt launched two years before the Model S; could you elaborate?

Bob Lutz credited the original Tesla Roadster with pushing GM to release the Volt.

The Tesla Roadster appears to have been a large part of the rationale behind GM deciding to build the Volt.

I’m not surprised that nothing I (or anyone else for that matter) say resonates with you- regardless of how courteous, constructive, and respectful. You ask me to elaborate, meaning explain how Lutz makes this comment back in 2008:

Lutz is the man in charge of developing GM’s new products, and he says he owes Tesla and its Roadster a debt of gratitude. “If a small Silicon Valley start up believes that they can do a commercially viable electric car, are we going to sit here at General Motors and say, ‘Well, a guy in California can do it, but we can’t?’ Well, that didn’t sound very good.”

Seven Electrics, you constantly act like the smartest person in the room, but your confirmation bias is so painfully obvious, why do you even bother? Time for you to go dark now and move on to the next Tesla conversation.

And while Honda has eclipsed the Volt in quality and room and luxury with the Clarity for similar price and Honda quality, the 2nd gen. Volt has gotten bad reviews re reliability by Consumer Reports. Being early only gets you so far.

Lots of non-American car makers use plenty of US employees to build and design fine cars. Why such a big deal that the company is “American” as long as American workers are benefitting?

Examples: Toyota building world class Camry’s (re reliability) in Georgetown, KY.

Or Nissan designing and building cars in the US.

Given that they’re not failing and expecting the taxpayer to bail them out AND reneging on what they promised to be bailed out — unlike the hapless GM — I’m not convinced we “need” US car companies to any great extent.

(Comparative advantage is a thing. US companies design and build lots of things just fine).


Ron Swanson's Mustache

What if I’m not an Earthling?

Is it ok to sleep in, then?

The Wall Street Journal heaping praise on a Tesla car? Did hell just freeze over? 😉

I wish I could believe this is a sign of change at the bastion of conservative thought and opposition to the “green” movement, but much more likely this is just a momentary aberration on their part.

Conservatives don’t uniformly hate electric cars. Gov Perry of Texas has been an ardent supporter of wind and BEV’s. The GOP was onboard for the Energy Security Act of 2007 that W pushed for and signed into law. Remember the articles about W being “The Father of the Modern Electric Car”? There were several articles that had that headline.
Conservatives are not all a part of an echo chamber.

As a mostly conservative, there are a few opposing pulls. First – reduction of government interference in the market. Obviously the tax credit etc is not popular. It is rare to find the conservative who actually favors this in all areas. They tend to like to pick and choose. Like subsidies for other industries – but the tax credit is new and straightforward – easy to pick on. Second – The tendency for conservatives to overlap with nationalists. Electricity is nearly entirely produced in the US. That reduces power of Russia and the Middle East (etc). Trump is obviously very confused here since America first would mean EVs. We do make enough oil now that it gets muddied. The last and perhaps most powerful is that conservatives tend to be science deniers. There is this whole argument that climate change is a farce brought on by liberal globalists who want to see a world government. I still don’t get this but it plays with religion. If your belief system is based on a history of persecution – then you believe that someone is trying to get you out there. Whether it be the Romans, the Egyptians, the Chinese or the… Read more »

Hogwash on the science denier issue and religion. The issue with Global warning is the lack of credible science from the Left and the bullying tactics used against anyone who disagrees with them. The claim that the science is settled is silly and the outlandish predictions of tipping points etc. have proven to be wrong. One should not be called a denier or have their reputation ruined simply because they want to hold other scientist to traditional scientific methods and code validation standards before the science can be called settled.

Wrong. Name a single reputable scientific institute that agrees with your OPINION.

He can’t, and he won’t, because the vast majority of the scientific data collected to date, doesn’t support his purported claim.

@ nuclearboy,

Is that you Andrew Wheeler?

When your side of the isle in D.C., finally gets around to deciding when the “science can be called settled”, let’s hope that Ocean Acidification, from all of the Coal that is burned, between now and your future “settled” “science” moment, is not irreversible, and without catastrophic consequences for all of humanity.

Sigh. Yes. Let’s pretend the entire field of climate science is bogus because it interferes with deniers’ personal ignorant beliefs. You aren’t saying anything valid or new.

Yup. Just look at how Texas has built out their wind power. No one can just lump all of ANY large group of people into one simple bucket, and presume to be objective or accurate.

It’s Dan Neil! Amazing journalist! He’s always been an EV supporter. He’s also pretty Tesla-positive, and if he weren’t, it would be because there was an honest problem that he wouldn’t hide. I’m glad Dan got to write the first review.

Hopefully Dan Neil can safely reopen his Twitter account sometime later.

It has been posted elsewhere that he allegedly had to shut his account down, due to abuse from the Tesla short community, and quite possibly, those foaming faithful followers of Jim Chanos.

No surprise there. He stopped tweeting and posting his stories on facebook awhile back. We wondered why we hadn’t heard much from him, but he’s always been really EV and Tesla-friendly. This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard he was being harassed, especially since WSJ as a whole doesn’t share Dan’s opinions.

I would not call that heaping praise, he did not like the interior UI design (screen), said the performance car lacked grip, and said the factory is a mess… Remember this is a first look review (which always tend to be positive), wait until they have time to really test car, get it on the stopwatches, and real measurements…

David “Green” — Go back to the showers. You still have rainbow fart residue all over your face.

“the Kobe beef of lean production”

That is great!

“The document you requested either no longer exists or is not currently available.”

That’s what WSJ serves me when I try to follow your link. It could maybe matter that I’m in Norway, but usually those cases tend to be presented with a more informative “not available in your country/region” kind of message.

It works now. There’s a paywall, but the link seems to be ok.

You might try opening in an “incognito” or “private” window. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t.



Is that the car for the masses Musk once promised?

The great thing is there are many wealthy Tesla owners who will now trade up. Look for some great Model 3’s to show up on the Used Car Market.

You must not follow EVs. And once Tesla is selling 500k/year, it is definitely a car for the masses (by definition), no matter the price.

They are producing high-priced, and by extension high-profit-margin products first. Once the total production rate is high enough(probably 10,000/week with burst rates of 12,000/week), that will raise profit margins enough that Tesla can produce the base $35k Model 3 without losing money. Remember Tesla’s largest goal right now is to be profitable in Q4…

Has ANYONE credible claimed the performance version is a car “for the masses”? No, they haven’t.

Now, IF Tesla doesn’t mass produce a sub-$40,000 Model 3 by 2020, THEN it is legit to claim the “for the masses” claim looks false. I currently think it is fair to now claim it is late, and I have doubts about the latest target date to produce it — but that’s a completely different kettle of fish than making stuff up about the $78K PM being for the masses.

BTW, it’s for profit margins, which is something Tesla badly needs in order to be able to expand as planned.

From now on they should come with a badge “rainbow farter”.

No disrespect to Dan Neil, but some alternative rainbows, in the PC community, prefer their Tesla Model 3 Performance badge, to use the more suitable term, “flatulent rainbow”.

Dual rainbow air tuliper?

No doubt a guy that has been in auto manufacturing plants before can see that Fremont is not running smoothly. “Kobe beef of lean production” is about as insulting thing as he could say. From someone that eats A5 Waygu (Kobe Beef) as often as possible, I can say, that is fat fat fat.

The last ditch efforts of the short community have failed. The narrative from Tesla is increasingly positive:
1) First company to reach the 200,000 FTC point (everyone thought GM would get there first).
2) Solar and battery storage is ramping
3) Model 3 has hit a burst rate of 5,000 units per week and sustaining 4,000+
4) The bad news was in Q2

Mainstream media/press are beginning to frame their comments in light of the good news and NOT the loudest bears in the room. Model 3 owners are on the whole delighted with the car as are most test articles and the WSJ article agrees with the consensus. Being the first Model 3 Performance test car it would be perfect.