Tesla Model 3 Performance First Impressions (UK Right Hand Drive)
Wow! What a crazy month it has been! After almost 3 years of waiting, my dream came true and I took delivery of one of the first right hand drive Tesla Model 3s here in Scotland.
Watch the Tech Travel Geeks video I poured my soul into here:
It all started on the 29th of June, when I picked up Matteo in my 15 year-old Ford Fiesta on my way to pick the brand new ride. We arrived at the Tesla service centre and experienced a super smooth delivery - no waiting, no unnecessary sales pitches, no basic "here is the steering wheel, the pedals, and to open the glove compartment, you need to use the screen". My delivery specialist knew that I spent the last 3 years watching YouTube videos and doing research about the car, so we focused on my questions only. Matteo and I also got some time to film some footage for you at the Service Centre.
To take delivery of the vehicle, all it took was a single signature on a fruity tablet, the handing over of the two key cards, and off we went!
I spent the rest of the day enjoying the car with my close friends. We sure had some great fun. We drove around the hills and forest roads nearby, checked how much horsepower the car has, went to the beach and got the only fuel we needed that day - some fried chicken.
The configuration I picked was the 2019 dual motor all wheel drive Performance version, which is rated at crazy 3.2 seconds to 60 miles per hour, around 450 horsepower, and can go as fast as 162 miles per hour (according to Tesla). The acceleration is impossible to describe, but my friends compared the feeling to riding a roller coaster. It's definitely great fun.
But more importantly, it makes the car one of the safest on the road. Whenever something is happening and you need to quickly accelerate and fit somewhere, or you're overtaking and don't have much time to do it, you always have enough power to do it. With great power comes great responsibility though, and because it's easy to accelerate and the car is very quiet because of the super quiet electric motors, you need to be careful to avoid speeding.
The other major stand-out feature is self-driving. Some of the functionality is included with all new Tesla cars: adaptive cruise control adjusts the speed of the vehicle based on the situation on the road without controlling the direction, while Autosteer assists the steering of the car within the lane. It works great on highways and is truly impressive. This, just like all the other self-driving features at the moment, requires full attention of the driver, who has to keep the hands on the wheel and be able to take the steering back at any time. Still, I managed to use it even on a winding one-lane road here in Scotland - the clip you’re watching has the car on basic Autosteer controlling both the speed and turning. It’s not perfect though, as it can’t make some sharper turns, change lanes or direction.
This is where full self driving comes in. It uses Tesla’s 8 cameras, a front-facing radar, 12 ultrasonic sensors and image recognition assisted by artificial intelligence to allow the car to follow the navigation and enter or leave the highway, recommend changing lanes if the current one is too slow and navigate some interchanges. It currently doesn’t support roundabouts or bigger crossroads, and it doesn’t read signs or traffic lights just yet, so driving fully autonomously from A to B or freely within the city is still a future development. However, while Elon and his team are working on enabling those features, the car already takes care of almost all of the effort of driving on highways and longer road trips, which to me already feels like science-fiction.
I’m still learning how those features work, and I haven’t had a chance to test some other ones like auto parking and Summon, which basically changes the vehicle into a giant remote controlled car which you can park or summon without sitting in the car itself. If you’re interested in learning more about those features, let us know in the comments below.
As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I’m completely in love with the Tesla Model 3’s looks. I chose the Midnight Silver Metallic colour, and it looks just great. The front of the car might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but seeing it in person sold me completely, especially with the licence plate installed. I also love how the front lights look. Since it’s the Performance version, it comes with 20” Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, which look great, especially with the red Performance breaks and the Tesla logo.
The door handles require a bit of getting used to, as you need to open them using your thumb and then by pulling them towards you, but I got the hang of it quickly. On the back, there’s a carbon fibre spoiler installed on top of a surprisingly spacious boot. It also has an additional compartment for charging equipment or whatever else you need it for. Finally, storage space can get extended with the frunk at the front, which is very handy and is a bit of a shock if you aren’t prepared to see it there.
The minimalist interior
For the interior, I opted for the premium black and white finish, and it's just stunning. The white vegan leather seats look amazing and are very comfortable, and are fully adjustable - my cousin managed to take a decent nap on our road trip after he just got off a transatlantic flight. This is probably thanks to the comfy seats and how quiet the vehicle is while being driven. The tinted glass roof is just lovely, and I was told by my friends that it’s a must-have feature if you have kids, since it’s great to keep them busy. However, they quickly noticed that white leather might not be the best choice if the kids like chocolate. Oh well…
The interior design is very minimalist, with almost no knobs or buttons - just a single button for emergency lights and a few interior light buttons, two knobs on the wheel for controlling music, mirrors, autopilot etc, two sticks for indicators, drive modes and autopilot, and that's basically it. Everything else is controlled through the massive 15-inch screen in the middle, even climate control. The built-in satellite navigation is really good on such a massive screen and it supports voice control. The fact that you have to look to the side to see the current speed takes a bit of getting used to, but I feel like I’m quite used to this now.
The premium package I opted for also comes with a great sound system: it has 14 speakers, 1 sub-woofer, 2 amps, and immersive sound. Watch the video above to hear a quick sample (at 9m26s mark).
In the UK, you can now also use Spotify, in addition to TuneIn Radio, streaming from your phone or from a USB stick. The sound is fantastic, especially since the car is otherwise so quiet, so it’s just pure joy to crank the music up.
Some people have complained that the car has some issues, and sure, it’s not perfect. Opening the doors from both inside and outside is not the most intuitive, so each time someone new comes in, you have to explain how to do it. The centre console is a fingerprint magnet, etc. Still, even though this might not be the most luxurious car you can get, and there are a few quirks here and there, for what you pay and all the extra features no other cars have, I’m not going to complain, especially since I'm a fan of modern design.
When it comes to charging, I'm currently only using a normal outlet in my garage. It allows me to charge just 9 miles per hour, which adds up to more than 30 hours for a full charge, but since I don't drive much and can keep the car charging overnight, it's not a problem. The first few days added up to a bit of driving, but I never felt any range anxiety, and always knew that I can easily find a charging spot on the navigation. I'm currently looking into getting a proper wall charger installed, which should be around 5 times faster and allow me to go to full charge overnight. I haven't tested the Tesla Superchargers yet, but they can apparently charge your car to 80% in just 40 minutes, just enough time to play some Beach Buggy Racing 2 on the big screen.
Finally, the driving itself - it’s just pure joy. The instant acceleration and torque are something you can’t live without. The steering is very responsive and feels great. The low centre of gravity and the fact that the batteries are in the floor make the car stick to the road like the glue. I kept on finding myself just smiling to myself all the time while cruising around the Scottish shores.
At the time of preparing this article and Tech Travel Geeks video, I've owned the car for almost a month have and driven it in the city, on highways and on some winding roads in the Scottish Highlands. So far, it's been an absolute pleasure and joy, and there’s still a lot for me to discover about the vehicle and get acquainted with. I've never been a car person myself, but I've already been converted by Tesla. I couldn't recommend the car any more than I already do, so if you ever get a chance, I highly recommend trying one out.
Thanks for reading and watching the video. It's been an absolute joy making it, with the help of Matteo and some of my friends. If you enjoyed it, please leave a like and share with others, and if you want to see more similar content, please subscribe to Tech Travel Geeks on Youtube.