Tesla invited Zapmap along to its Bristol showroom to take a look around the new Model 3, allowing us to see what the forthcoming entry-level model from the American manufacturer is like in the metal.
There were no driving opportunities available, as this car – and one other – are carrying out a UK tour of Tesla dealerships, and both are US-spec, left-hand drive cars.
However, the chance to take a seat, use the touchscreen, and check out the load space was a good one, particularly as the Model S and Model X were sitting side-by-side for direct comparison.
Early impressions are very good. Having seen an early example at the Geneva Motor Show last year – albeit not an official Tesla entry – the build quality looked patchy to say the least. Reports that this was a test model owned by a different firm look bang on, since the production version of the Model 3 is far better.
The interior is a lovely place in which to sit, with a wide and exceptionally minimalist dashboard stretching full width of the car. Only the large touchscreen system and steering wheel break the vista, and practically all controls are included within the landscape touchscreen, which sits proud of the dash, rather than integrated in the Model S & X.
It’s a design that sits better with current design trends and looks good, emphasising the feeling that the cabin has been sketched out using the principles of Swedish interior design.
Interior space is very good for a car with the footprint of the Model S, since the packaging benefits of using electric motors on each axle, and the battery fitted in the floor free up cabin space. Those long of leg in the rear may find their knees up against the seats in front, though it would take an exceptionally tall passenger to have their head brushing the panoramic glass sunroof.
Boot space is not as easy to access as the hatchback Model S, since the Model 3 is a saloon with a smaller opening. The boot goes a long way back to the rear seats though, reminiscent of a larger saloon than the Tesla actually is. There is a large under-floor storage bin in the rear, and a good-sized load space under the bonnet too.
Charging in the UK and Europe will be via Tesla’s Type 2 connector, standard Type 2’s, and CCS rapid points. The model viewed had a US-Tesla inlet, so no first-hand experience as to how it sits could be seen. The charge flap is large enough to deal with a CCS port though. Charging on non-Tesla rapids will be at the same speed as Supercharger speeds – 120 kW.
Tesla is rolling-out the addition of CCS connectors to its Supercharger units in Europe, and is focusing on those markets where Model 3’s are already on the road. UK Supercharger sites will start seeing increasing numbers of converted units as the Model 3 gets closer to on-sale date.