Tesla founder Elon Musk finally delivered on his promise to bring an affordable version of his electric car to the masses by putting the first owners of the car into Model 3 vehicles on Friday.
But along with those first owners, the media got a hold of the vehicle, too. And the general consensus is that this car just may change the entire game for electric cars in general. Beyond predictions, the most consistent comments are around just how premium and well-designed the Model 3 is, despite being far less expensive than its predecessors, the Roadster, the Model X, and the Model S.
Mashable‘s Lance Ulanoff got to take the car for a spin, but was particularly blown away by its interior: “If the gorgeous Model 3 exterior is only subtly different from your average sedan, the Model 3 interior is like a cockpit from the future. Tesla reps had warned that the interior is minimalist, and they were not kidding. I entered the car (despite a low center of gravity, I did not feel like I was climbing down into it) and immediately marveled at the comfort.”
Kim Reynolds and William Walker over at Motor Trend gave the Model 3 the highest praise possible after putting the car through its paces.
Have I ever driven a more startling small sedan? I haven’t. At speed, it gains a laser-alertness I haven’t encountered before. By happenstance, associate road test editor Erick Ayapana had penciled me into a 2.0-liter Alfa Romeo Giulia to get here, and it feels like a wet sponge by comparison. Technological fascination? Besides what I’ve already described, the Tesla Model 3 is available with Enhanced Autopilot ($5,000) and for another $3,000 what’s called “Full Self-Driving Capability” in the future. A lot of money, sure—but how many $35,000 cars offer that?
At TopGear, Charlie Turner was enthralled by the vehicle’s automated driving features that offer just a small preview of what many will begin to experience over the coming years as Tesla begins to enable the self-driving functions in its new vehicles.
Our brief excursion also allowed us to test the Autopilot, a system that still feels like witchcraft. The levels at which the car is capable of processing information are staggering and if we’re honest it’s clearly concentrating a lot harder than most of us after a hard day at the office. One day the legislative world will catch up with the brains trust developing these systems and we’ll be able to experience the full capability of what Autopilot can deliver. For now though it will happily allow you to take your hands off for as long as it knows what’s going on and can read the road, if it doesn’t it warns you to place your hands back on so it knows you’re not asleep.
Mattew Debord from Business Insider got behind the wheel of the Model 3 and came away believing that this might be the real beginning of the electric car era.
I’ve driven pretty much every other all-electric car you can buy, and I can safely say that the Model 3 has no competition. But it’s more than that. Even though it’s a small four-door and the market is moving away from this type of vehicle to embrace crossover and SUVs, there isn’t anybody who’s going to sit in the driver’s seat of this car and not want it, if only briefly. The Model 3 stokes immediate desire, and the lust lingers. That truly changes everything.
And while tech sites are generally conservative when it comes to handing out kudos when a product is still so new and unproven, Engadget‘s Andrew Tarantola had similar thoughts.
While the Roadster put Tesla on the map, the Model 3 really feels like the car that will bring electric vehicles as a whole into the mainstream.
But the biggest question among existing Tesla fans, who are accustomed to the luxury of the higher-priced models, is: will the Model 3 be a huge step down in quality? According to USA Today‘s Marco della Cava, the answer is a resounding “no.”
After a short drive in this spartan yet spritely vehicle on roads surrounding the company’s massive factory here Friday, it’s clear the Model 3 has inherited a lot of its family DNA from those machines while cutting back on enough bells and whistles to bring the starting price down to $35,000.
Finally, the old school chronicler of tech, Wired, weighed in with its own assessment, and Jack Stewart was no less glowing in his admiration and predictions of what the Model 3 might mean for electric cars in general.
If you’ve lusted after that expensive Model S, you’ll likely be satisfied with the Model 3 too. This car feels like an automotive tipping point, a sign that electric vehicles—and hopefully, the infrastructure that supports them.
It’s fairly rare for new devices — I mean, that’s what the Tesla is at this point — to receive such unanimous plaudits from such a diverse sampling of the media (unless you’re Apple).
Does this mean the Model 3 will be a hit? Hardly. But if the public decides to trust what they’re hearing from the early reviews, we may indeed be looking at the moment that electric cars truly arrived at their mainstream moment.