THE Model 3 is Tesla’s least expensive car to date, and it competes in the executive sedan segment, which includes best-sellers such as the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
With there still being a lack of charging options for high-rise dwellers here, the Model 3 won’t be disturbing the Germans on best-seller charts any time soon. Yet if you have the means, and space, and are curious about owning a battery electric vehicle (BEV), the Model 3 is utterly convincing.
Tesla isn’t here in an official capacity. The car we tested was a grey import from Hong Seh Motors, a regional distributor for Geometry, an upcoming BEV brand from China’s Geely.
“We believe in the electrification of vehicles, and that Tesla is ahead of the curve, so we want to introduce this experience to more people,” Edward Tan, the company’s executive director, told The Business Times.
Pricing starts at S$276,000 with COE for the standard plus model, which has a 283 horsepower motor and 54 kilowatt-hour battery. We drove the most powerful, most expensive version instead.
The Dual Motor Performance has two motors with a combined 473hp, a larger 75kWh battery, plus optimised suspension and brakes. Range anxiety isn’t a problem: Tesla quotes a range of more than 500km, and our own test shows it’ll easily do 400km in Singapore traffic.
Stamp on the accelerator and the Model 3 is frankly, quite shocking. The instant and violent acceleration of the electric motors give plenty of veracity to the claimed 0-100km/h time of 3.4 seconds, more than enough to leave many supercars in the dust.
But staggering as the performance is, the real talent of the Model 3 is how it deals with the mundane in a uniquely Tesla way.
The Zen-like cockpit has almost no buttons. Instead, all functions are controlled via the massive, 15-inch touchscreen system – everything from the direction of the air con vents, and even the steering wheel adjustment.
That in itself is not a huge surprise, with many luxury cars moving to touchscreen-everything as well, though not to this extent. What sets the Model 3 apart is that it seems designed with the key purpose of making life easier.
Don’t feel like dealing with bad traffic? Let the Autopilot assist system steer, brake and accelerate for you (under your supervision). Worried someone might key your car? Activate Sentry mode. Want to leave Fido in the car while you bag a kopi? There’s a Dog Mode, which keeps the air-con running. Amazing what you can do with batteries.
Then there’s the basic tranquility of electric drive (when you’re not exploiting the terrifying acceleration, that is). The Tesla is more like a smart device that just happens to have a car attached to it, and if there’s a drawback, it’s that it simply be too alien for people used to conventional cars.
There’s isn’t a single “Oh!” moment where that all snaps into place. Instead, it’s the countless small touches that make the Model 3 a fascinating proposition.
Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor Performance
Electric Motor Dual motors 473hp, 640Nm combined
Battery / Capacity Lithium ion, 75kWh
Charge Time / Type 7-9 hours / Wallbox
Electric Range 530km (estimated)
Top speed 260km/h
0-100kmh 3.4 seconds
Price S$345,000 with COE
Agent Hong Seh Motors