Tesla Model 3 2022: the details that make the difference – Test drive

The Tesla Model 3, this model which was to make the electric car accessible to the people, has clearly succeeded in its mission. It was the most popular electric car in Quebec in 2021 and for the first two quarters of 2022, ahead of other cheaper models. That’s how much this car attracts consumers. And after driving the RWD Model 3 for more than 2,000 km, I understand why.

Anonymous is the right word

The Tesla Model 3 arrived in Canada during 2018. Already four years have passed since the arrival of this model. Over time, it has undergone some aesthetic improvements, in particular with the window belt which has changed from chrome to satin black and the wheels with a reworked design. The manufacturer has also made some changes to the paint application, in particular by spraying the bottom of the body with a thicker and more resistant paint, to reduce one of the defects that the first models had.

Despite these improvements, the Tesla Model 3 remains fairly anonymous in terms of design. On the other hand, it does not fail to fascinate passers-by, who ask questions about the efficiency and performance of the vehicle.

Covered in “Midnight Silver Metallic” paint, which is protected by a satin film, and fitted with 18-inch base wheels, it had everything to go unnoticed. Considering this color is not priced, and the car had no other options, the price was $61,980, which you have to add $255 to get the mobile charger… Really, there’s no than Tesla to offer the charger as an option. Remember that the Model 3 is now only eligible for the $7,000 provincial rebate.

Cabin as unique as ever

The interior has also undergone changes. This is notably the case for the door panels and the console, which now houses two induction chargers for smart phones, as well as several well thought-out storage spaces.

Everything else is the same or nearly the same as it looked at launch. The 15-inch screen is pretty much the only thing worth mentioning; that’s where it all happens. It’s easy to read, easy to understand, and has graphics quality unmatched in the automotive industry. There is no user delay and the controls are placed, for the most part, ergonomically. However, I regret that you have to go to the submenus to reach, for example, the energy consumption, whereas previously it was placed at the bottom left of the screen.

Be aware, however, if you are not familiar with Tesla’s interface, that it may change over time depending on the updates that are done automatically. A current defect may be corrected in the future, or vice versa. It’s really great as a feature and it improves the experience on board. In fact, more and more automakers are following Tesla’s path in this regard.

The front seats are very comfortable. There are multiple adjustments and, although they are placed quite low in the cabin, they allow for an excellent driving position. The material that covers them seems to be of quality, just like the assembly on board which does not lend itself to criticism. It’s an improvement on what it was before and it highlights the very clean and serene atmosphere on board which is, in my opinion, a strength of this model.

In the back, the space is surprising, as much for the legs as for the shoulders and the head. The panoramic glass roof certainly helps in this regard, but be aware that the small opening of the doors makes it more difficult to get on board. After all, the Model 3 is a compact. Rearward visibility is also downright hampered by the car’s design, making maneuvering difficult.

Finally, a good point for the cargo spaces, which are bulky both in the rear and in the front. Too bad the rear trunk lid doesn’t open wide enough to adequately clear your head.

New LFP battery

One of the most reworked aspects of the Model 3 (rear-drive) is the engine. The motor is still reluctance while the battery employs brand new technology. This is a 60 kilowatt-hour LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) type battery from the CATL company which replaces the previous one (NCA) which used, among other things, cobalt and nickel.

It’s a battery that’s easier and cheaper to produce while offering better long-term durability. Also, it allows the consumer to always recharge it to 100%, even in daily use, without a faster degradation being expected, unlike NCA batteries.

The downside, however, is the lower energy density, which translates to lower range, at least in theory. Although Tesla corrected the situation, initially the Model 3 with LFP battery offered 407 km of autonomy, a drop compared to the NCA battery. However, at the time of this writing, the LFP battery offers a fully-charged homologated range of 438 km, which is competitive with the Polestar 2 Single Motor.

Autonomy and charging

Let us elucidate the history of consumption. Over more than 2,000 km with the rear-wheel-drive Model 3 that took me to Toronto and then to the Outaouais, I obtained an average consumption of 14.3 kWh/100 km. This is particularly impressive given the fact that I did not reduce my traffic speed, nor did I bother using the air conditioning or the driving assistance. It’s really impressive as a balance sheet and it makes it one of the most energy-efficient electric cars on the market.

On the road to Toronto, I took advantage of the Tesla’s navigation system. Simply enter the final destination and the vehicle calculates the optimal route by strategically planning stops at superchargers to limit downtime. Along the way, if the situation changes due to deteriorating weather or other conditions, the vehicle recalculates to make sure you have enough energy to get there. Very easy to use, it is one of the most user-friendly systems of its kind, especially since it preconditions the battery for fast charging.

It’s simple, to go to Toronto, I totaled about 30 minutes of recharging spread over 4 refills. Each time, the charging power was more than 130 kilowatts, which makes it possible to limit the time at the terminal. In addition, everything is done automatically for payment, just plug in the vehicle and it’s settled. A simple and quick process that is frankly an advantage for anyone traveling with their vehicle.

However, Model 3 compatibility with other charging networks is lacking. It is possible to connect it to a CHAdeMO or CCS Combo socket, but you need an adapter which costs a few hundred dollars and which is, in both cases, not readily available at the moment. Too bad, since the car is already quite expensive.

A sports car

The Tesla Model 3 is downright serious car when it comes to handling. The suspension is firm but never uncomfortable and the steering is quick rarely seen in a motor vehicle. It is agile, easy to handle and above all very fun, no matter the circumstances. The only thing that limits the driver’s enthusiasm are the Michelin Primacy MXV4 tires whose grip struggles to contain the immediacy of the electric motor and the liveliness of the chassis.

Speaking of motorization, this LFP battery came with a slight decrease in acceleration performance. It’s more progressive than what we experienced with the previous battery and, sometimes, in recovery, the slowness of the power delivery disappointed me, especially considering the price paid for the vehicle and the refinement of the motorization . I can’t fault the regenerative braking and one-pedal steering that’s easy to master and becomes almost addictive as the miles pile on.

Hard not to like it

The overall performance of the rear-wheel-drive Tesla Model 3 during this week-long test is hard to fault. In terms of energy consumption, it dominates, just as in terms of general performance where it does not disappoint. This is all the more true if you regularly travel with your vehicle using the brand’s Supercharger network.

Considering the fact that the LFP battery has been sold in Canada for less than a year, we prefer to wait a little to validate its reliability and performance before deciding on a recommendation for the vehicles that use it.

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