After an exclusive presentation, we had the opportunity to briefly take the wheel of the new Tesla Model 3 to see if the improvements are paying off.
Firmly awaited by all enthusiasts of electric vehicles and more particularly of Tesla, the restyled Model 3 has just seen the light of day. Known in popular culture as the Highland project, the sedan gets a deep dusting for its mid-career update. On paper, the developments significantly improve comfort and the noise level on board. We just had to take the wheel for a first assessment.
Now in the light of day, the Tesla Model 3 makes it possible to better look at its cosmetic improvements. And this is particularly the case inside, where the new dashboard and new materials give the sedan a more refined atmosphere than before. A feeling underlined by the disappearance of the stalks on the steering column, replaced by touch buttons on the steering wheel. Admittedly, the ergonomics are not as natural as with traditional rods, but you quickly get the hang of it after some intellectual gymnastics. Fortunately, the family sedan, however, had the good idea not to take over the half-wheel of its big sister.
This marks the break with the previous version, just like the driving sensations from the first turns of the wheel. As on a Tesla Model S, the drive control is now located on the screen, which makes it possible to activate the desired direction of travel, but also the reversing cameras carried over from the old version.
More comfort on board
From the first wheel turns, the Tesla Model 3 is very quickly more comfortable than the previous version. And this is especially the case at the back, where the percussion in the lower back is less violent. Much less brittle on bad fittings, without being unreasonably flexible, the sedan therefore seems to find a good compromise between comfort and body support, without excessive body roll in turns. A behavior that is obvious when you go from the old version to this new vintage.
If Tesla did not specifically list the changes made to the springs and shock absorbers, the brand did indicate that the geometry settings have been reviewed. A technical choice no doubt motivated by the desire to make the Model 3 a little less demanding than before in terms of behavior. Above all wanted to be more stable and comfortable, the sedan now shows itself to be a little more understeered as soon as it is provoked. We bet, however, that these are situations rarely encountered by most drivers of this Long Range version.
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Less obvious acoustic evolutions
In terms of acoustic comfort, the new Tesla Model 3 blows hot and cold. Admittedly, it will be necessary to return to our usual roads to judge the efforts in terms of soundproofing at high speeds on the motorway, where rolling and aerodynamic noise are the most annoying. On the other hand, for the time being, we have not noticed any truly significant differences to the ear compared to the older generation. If this is a little more true at the front, it is much less at the rear, where the resonance of the Hankook tires (size 235/40 R19), yet equipped with Sound Absorber technology, is heard.
Nevertheless, preliminary measurements carried out with a calibrated sound level meter application have demonstrated improvements in numbers. Admittedly, the method used during this very quick presentation is rudimentary compared to our habits in the context of a Supertest, which forces us to express reservations about the absolute values. However, this made it possible to highlight a fairly significant difference of three points between the two vintages, on the same road and at a stabilized speed of 80 km/h. To give you an idea, this difference very generally corresponds to that which can be observed between 80 and 130 km/h in the same car.
In any case, regulars of the model will undoubtedly feel the differences, whether it is to chat on board, to make better quality phone calls or to let the children watch a Netflix program or a video. Youtube via the new rear screen, functional while driving. For those less used to it, the level might still seem a bit high.
Barely more autonomy
For the rest, the Tesla Model 3 Highland remains a benchmark in terms of efficiency and charging. Unfortunately, this short test did not allow us to make any significant consumption readings, or even a charging test. However, we noted an appetite revolving around 14 kWh/100 km despite our excesses. But, during a course at a much more peaceful pace, this figure approached 11 kWh/100 km. In short, whether in terms of autonomy or consumption, users will generally not have any surprises.
If the traction chain has not benefited from any evolution, the gains in terms of autonomy are due to the more favorable aerodynamics, and will therefore be observed on the motorway, at least above 80-90 km /h, threshold above which air resistance is preponderant. We will have the opportunity to verify this with precision when the car is available from us. In the meantime, remember that the electric sedan now announces a WLTP range of 629 km (+27 km) in this test configuration, with 19-inch rims. With the smaller mounts, the manufacturer estimates the range at 678 km (+52 km).
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The Tesla Model 3 Grande Autonomie still relies on a battery, with an estimated useful capacity of 75 kWh. On the charging side, it can always get a peak power of 250 kW, which makes it possible to perform the 10-80% in about thirty minutes. Charging with alternating current is always entrusted to an 11 kW charger.
An evolution in continuity
Much more qualitative and rigorous inside, the restyled Tesla Model 3 is closer to the standards found on board the latest generation of Model S, and even manages to give an old look to the previous version launched in 2017 The wagon is also gaining in maturity with better suspension comfort, now acceptable for a car in this category, while behavior is wiser. Proof of this is with the top speed now limited to 201 km/h. However, the sedan is still capable of cutting off passengers if the driver overdoes it: in addition to 0-100 km/h in 4.4 s, we measured 80-120 km/h in less than 2.5s in the most vivid mode.
Evolution rather than revolution, the Tesla Model 3 therefore corrects its main flaws. If our ears perceived a very fine gain in terms of sound level on board, nothing more, our first exclusive measurements highlighted more marked improvements. But it is in terms of comfort on board that the sedan, destined to chain the kilometers, evolves the most noticeably. It remains to be seen whether all these updates will be sufficient for the Model 3 in the rest of its career. If there is no doubt that the Tesla Model Y will continue to attract more drivers, the sedan could quickly be tickled by the competition, especially Chinese, which is coming more and more strongly. But Tesla has a serious head start in terms of image and price: this Tesla Model 3 Grande Autonomie is available from €50,990 (excluding bonuses), i.e. €1,000 than the previous version.
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