I've owned my Model 3 Performance (M3P for this post) for 1 full year. I typically don't do reviews like this but I figured there has been so much talk about this car that it would be worth adding my point of view. For background this is my 18th car I've owned in the last 22 years. I've had an e46 M3, B8 Audi S4, a couple turbo Miata's, Chevy SS 6mt and most recently a '15 JGC SRT. I mention that because what I'm about to say needs some context. This is one of the best cars I've owned, and arguably my favorite!
The Model 3 isn't exactly spacious but it's a good size for a family of 4. I have a 4 year old daughter that rides behind my wife who's 5'-5", when I climb into her seat I still have room at 6 ft. even. The rear seats give an illusion of less than adequate headroom but the way the glass roof is constructed makes up for all that. The cargo space is large, every year we head to the beach with my family. I pack the car with a large cooler, bedding, towels, beach chairs, large stroller, suitcases, food for a week... it's a lot of $hit. In my past cars I've had to use a cargo top box for extra storage, this year with the 3 the only thing that went up there was the stroller. Between the frunk and the bottom level of the rear trunk, there's a TON of space.
The other part I wanted to mention in this category is Autopilot. Let me first start by saying the first mistake of Tesla was to call it that. It gives this illusion that you can sit in the car and it drives itself, that your attention is no longer required. This is what continues to get them in trouble recently. Cadillac calls theirs Super Cruise and somehow no one is picking on them. At this point many car manufacturers have the same basic functions as adaptive cruise and lane assist, they "drive themselves" similarly to Tesla's current setup. Enough of the rant, the fact is I purchased Autopilot and Full Self Driving during a sale, figured why not. So far I'm happy I did. My commute in the evenings is completely bumper to bumper for a good 10 miles. Autopilot makes easy work of it. I find my commute to be less stressful when I just let the car take over the stop and go side of the house. Autopilot itself still has it's faults but for me the functionality really helps on a daily basis.
Range and Efficiency
When I first bought this car I was always worried about mileage and state of charge, constantly looking for the next charger. I would start sweating if the battery dropped below 50%. The truth is I haven't REALLY had anything to worry about, no close calls to speak of. I have a 25 mile commute to work, chargers are usually available on campus, and a 25 mile trip home. I don't currently have a charger at home but on occasion I will use my dryer's electrical connection to charge the car (10-30 plug). Between lots of stop and go and many higher speed drives I'm averaging about 300 watts per mile. That's roughly a realistic range of 250 miles, which is a bummer. With that said, on the highway going 70 mph and climate on I'm averaging around 270 wh/mi which is roughly 280 miles of range, and what I've found is in my old age a stop every couple hours isn't the worst thing. Our longest road trip has been to Baltimore from central NJ, I had to stop on the way down at a supercharger so I could drive around on the weekend without worry. The experience was easy, the charger was at a rest stop on the highway, we parked, plugged in, used the bathroom, grabbed a drink and some snacks, and were on our way.
So for 1 full year I have spent roughly $340 on electricity to charge my car. That's a combination of charging at the ChargePoint stations at work ($0.25 an hour) charging at home ($0.16 kWh) or the occasional Supercharger. That equates to roughly 2.8 cents per mile. My last car (JGC SRT) was roughly 23 cents a mile. My "gas savings" for the year is about $2,400. I know, I know, other variables, spent money to save money, bla bla bla. I get it, just throwing out a real world data point.
This is what makes this car impressive to me. Yes, the acceleration is disgusting. Instant torque, no drivetrain lag, it's insane how easy it is to propel yourself forward. That's old news however, and to me, isn't the best part of the car. The combination of the steering and low center of gravity is what gets me. The car feels so nimble and quick to respond. You can toss it into a corner with ease. It's extremely predictable and crazy fun. My only complaint is how soft the spring rates are. There is a decent about of body roll still which they obviously did to maintain some comfort. With the lower CG you can get away with softer springs but I think they're just a little too soft. My other complaint is how heavy the wheel and tire package is and how skinny the tires are. I'm sure they did the skinnier tires to maintain efficiency but the 30lbs a piece wheels negate that. You could probably get a set of 275's on there with lower weight than the overall package is today.
I love my M3P. I am not a Tesla fanboi (and I quite frankly hate those people) and am getting a little tired of all the Elon tweets and Tesla hate in the media. This car should be seen for what it is, a great driving sports sedan. From a pure transportation perspective it's not revolutionary, it gets you from point A to point B. It's fun, it rides nice, it's f'ing quick, but it's still just a car. I miss those cold starts of my v8's but I do not miss stopping at the gas station and figuring how much each mile cost me to drive. The Tesla is a very easy car to own and drive, we take my car most of the time when we head out as a family and it just fits that need perfectly. It is one of the few cars I've owned that honestly felt like an extension of my own body while driving. I would absolutely recommend anyone who's looking within this price range for a car take a serious look at it. I'd also say that any true car enthusiast needs to take one for a test drive, it won't check all your boxes but if you don't get at least a little excited by it's driving dynamics I'd question your sanity.
Not the best pictures but really it's just a stock Tesla, I think we all know what those look like now.