This car, I like it. Another! - 2023 Tesla Model 3
Not quite a deja vu, but close.
The lease on my previous Model 3 is slowly coming to a close, and knowing this, this summer I sat down and took a long look at the current EV market in search of a new daily. Annoyingly, I found nothing more interesting than another Model 3 - despite all its shortcomings, for me it’s still the best daily driver out there. Others are slowly getting there, stuff like the Polestar 2 or the EV6 are very close - but ultimately, nothing beats the 3 when looking at factors important to me. So another one it is, for the next 3-4 years until something more interesting finally comes along (looking at you, Polestar - make the 6 at the Model 3 Performance cost/performance level, and we’re in business).
Originally posted on FinalGear Forums
Now you may note one thing - this one has a color! Amazing, I know. Back when I picked white for the other car it was actually a conscious choice, black was the default back then and I really liked how the white looked. Apparently so did everybody else though, enough that they made it the default color a couple months later, and every single Tesla on the road became white.
This time I wanted something different, speficially I said to myself that I want an actual color on the car, not from the black-and-white palette. This left red and blue as options. And red, while very nice, is imho more fitting on the higher-specced Performance cars or the Model Y like Joe got. The blue is not as brash, but still rather nice, so I went for it.
Also, as indirectly stated above, this is not a Performance like the old car. In fact, this is a bog standard “Model 3 RWD” formerly known as the SR+, with the color being the only option ticked - everything else is base spec. What does this mean speficically compared to my old car?
- Less power. Old car had dual motor AWD with about 490 PS of total power, this is single motor RWD with “only” 280 PS. Which is still plenty to move along just fine. 0-100 was 3.4s on the old car, new one is quoted at 6.1s, I will at some point measure this properly - some say it’s actually a bit faster at real 5.7-5.8s. Definitely not slow by any means.
- Less battery. Old car had a 75 kWh NMC pack, this has a 60 kWh LFP. This saves a bit of weight, a lot of cost, is apparently even less likely to go up in flames if I crash it horribly, but has the disadvantage of a slightly slower peak charge rate (170kW vs 250 on the old car) and an overall lower charge curve, especially when cold. Also technically the rated range is a bit lower, 490km WLTP vs 530km - but in practice the car is so much more efficient, that the real-world range is pretty much the same as the old car. Especially since the LFP pack wants/needs to be charged to 100% regularly, while the old NMC pack usually maxed out at 90%, with 100% charges reserved for “immediately before going on a long drive” situations, since sitting at above 90% stressed the cells or something.
- Smaller wheels - I opted for the base 18" with Aero covers, as opposed to the 20" Performance wheels I had before. The old ones looked nicer, no contest there. But the new ones are a) more efficient b) lighter c) have cheaper tires and d) with much higher sidewall, the ride is improved drastically. So for a daily driver, the 18" wheels win hands down in my opinion.
- No spoiler on the tailgate. Also comes with a limited top speed, this will top out at 225km/h, while the old car kept going until 262. Irrelevant, tbh.
- “Partial premium” interior. Which in practice means no subwoofer in the audio system (actually audible in comparison, a bit annoying but I’ll survive), no ambient lights (meh), and no front fog lights (don’t ask what this has to do with the interior, I don’t know either. Meh, I used them like 3 times maybe over 4 years with the old car).
- Only base-spec Autopilot, no “Extended AP” and no “FSD” options. Those cost me very little last time and were fun to play around with, but at current cost and with barely any features even remotely usable in Europe, no way I’m paying out of my pocket for this. Maybe once FSD Beta actually arrives here I’ll splurge on a couple monthly subs to try it out… maybe. Base AP (ACC + very good lane keeping) is all I actually use every day, and that is base spec, so that’s what I got here.
2023 model year improvements
Those are the differences from the lower spec I went for. But there are more, that stem from the fact that this is a 2023 Model 3 as opposed to a 2019 one. It looks the same, but underneath there are a lot of small but important differences, such as:
- Heated steering wheel! Holy shit I wanted this so bad and it is so good.
- Heat pump instead of the old resistive heater. Apparently it is much less effective in extreme cold, but this country doesn’t know what that is anymore in the last decade or so. But the efficiency at “normal German winter” temperatures of 0-10°C is in a completely different league from the old car, which would just send some (significant) amps through a resistor to heat up air and dump it in the interior.
- Improved cabin insulation, with much better damming mats all around and double glazing in the front doors. It is much quieter at speed inside, and I suppose it also helps with heat efficiency.
- Electric tailgate. Not something I terribly needed, but nice to have.
- New infotainment computer - old one ran on a 2016-spec Intel Atom, new one is a 2021 AMD Ryzen. Not extremely noticeable in normal UI, menus and such - those are amazingly smooth on the old system too, much better than pretty much any other car infotainment I used. However, in heavyweight apps such as the browser (full-blown Chromium, used for Youtube and other video services as well as normal browsing if you’re so inclined) or games, it’s extremely noticeable. The Autopilot visualization is also smoother, seems like it’s running at smooth constant 60FPS as opposed to sturrering 20-40 tops on the old system.
- Slightly refreshed interior - the seats are a bit different (redesigned side supports), redesigned center console (no more piano black bullshit! and wireless charging in the phone holder, nice), nicer door cards with a continuation of the wood panel that goes across the dash, several USB-C ports for extra power instead of A, and some other minor improvements.
- External speaker. It makes noises when reversing (boo), but I can fart at people (…hehehehehe).
- Better lights. Front LEDs are matrix now (albeit not actually working as proper matrix headlights yet… software will come later^tm. But they are already substantially better, with a clearer-defined brighter beam), and rears have much bigger brake light and indicator sections, as well as twin reversing and rear fog lights.
Another notable difference that doesn’t fall in the above categories - old car was made in Fremont, CA, this one is from the Shanghai factory. As many online are saying, made-in-China Teslas appear to have better build quality - I think I can confirm so far. Feels very solidly put together, I examined it quite closely at delivery but failed to find any issues worth mentioning. The overall feel is also very good - heavier double-glazed doors have more heft to them, new interior materials without the stupid piano black feel better, it’s just… solid.
All in all, I think this is a better daily driver than the old car. Maybe a bit less fun at the extreme, but a more well-rounded vehicle overall. And it’s significantly cheaper! :)
To-do list for the immediate future:
- Tires. It sits on Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summers, and I want to move it to good all-seasons asap, since we’re in the middle of winter and all that. The coming couple weeks seem to be ok weather-wise for these tires, but this is something I should not put off for long.
- Minor stuff for the interior - some trays for the storage compartments that are different from the old interior, some charging cables for the USB-C ports, etc.
- … that’s it, really. Drive and enjoy.
Got the first important things dealt with. Some storage inserts came quickly from Amazon, went for ones made by Spigen - I’ve known the brand for a while from phone cases and accessories, and the quality is similar. One sliding tray for the main center console storage bin, and one “hidden” storage box that goes on the underside of the arm rest. Both fit perfectly, very useful.
Also got the summer tires off and all-seasons on the car. With the winters being as mild as they’ve been the last 5-10 years in Germany, imho dedicated winter tires make little sense anymore, unless you live in a mountainous area or somewhere else where snowfall is more common. But rolling on summers in 0-5°C is also definitely not a great idea, so all-seasons it is - for a daily driver at least, I think, a sensible choice.
Researched the current all-season offerings for a while. Initially wanted to get Michelin CrossClimates. However, the good “old” generation isn’t made anymore, and the newer CrossClimate 2 have apparently been made a fair bit worse - most tests agree they are really good in the dry and exceptional on snow, but useless in the wet, and they wear much quicker than Michelins usually do. With that out of the way, I looked at the other “premium” offerings available currently, and ended up deciding between the Continental AllSeasonContact and the GoodYear Vector 4Seasons Gen3. The Contis are optimized for lower rolling resistance, which is neat and would yield even better efficiency, but they pay for that with slightly worse overall performance, and their wear ratings aren’t great. GoodYears seem very well-rounded altogether, so ultimately my choice went to them. One local shop actually had a set in store in the Model 3 size, so that got dealt with surprisingly quickly. I’ll hold on to the OEM Michelin PS4 set for a little while, and will likely sell them closer to the beginning of next year’s summer tire season, which will make the swap not at all expensive in the end.