The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
To keep the dashboard looking as minimalistic as a Scandinavian studio apartment, everything from the wipers to the headlights is controlled via the central touchscreen. Even adjusting the door mirrors and steering wheel requires you to delve into the touchscreen and then fiddle around with buttons on the steering wheel; it's a real faff and not advisable while you’re driving.
The same screen even hosts the speedo but, thankfully, as the MPH readout is positioned on the right-hand edge of the screen, you only have to turn your head a little to read it. Still, we much prefer the Polestar 2's more conventional layout, with buttons to operate the mirrors, and digital instruments sat where you expect them – in front of the driver.
Aside from those questionable ergonomics, though, the Model 3's driving position is otherwise good. You sit perched relatively high up by conventional executive saloon standards (although still much lower than you do in the Polestar 2) and the seat, steering wheel and pedals all line up neatly. The seat could do with a bit more lower back support, though – even with the adjustable lumbar support in its most extreme setting. Side support is also lacking, especially considering the astonishing cornering forces the Model 3 can generate.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The front windscreen pillars are exceedingly thick and are angled in such a way that they can badly hamper your view out at junctions. Just how badly will depend on your height and driving position, and it's fair to say that the Polestar 2 is no better.
More positively, the view out of the back is pretty good and all versions come with parking sensors at the front and the rear of the car, along with a rear-view camera. There's no birds-eye-view camera, though.
LED headlights are standard and illuminate very well, but they don't have the adaptive lighting that you can have with an Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series, which can keep the main beams on without blinding cars in front.
Sat nav and infotainment
You get essentially the same touchscreen infotainment system that features in Tesla’s larger models, although the Model 3’s screen is slightly smaller (15in) and is in landscape, rather than portrait, layout. There are quite a few small icons that can be distracting to hit accurately while you’re driving, though, and, given the large size of the screen, we don’t see why Tesla couldn’t have made some of the icons a bit bigger.
It's still very slick to use, though, with loads of useful features (Google Maps navigation, for example), welcome additions (such as Netflix and web browsing) and the ridiculous (there are driving games controlled from the steering wheel and the ability to make whoopee cushion noises to amuse your passengers). Overall it's a better system than the Android-based Polestar 2's.
There’s no Apple Carplay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring, though, and it’s worth noting that you’ll need to go for the Long Range or Performance version if you want live traffic updates, the internet browser and in-car internet music streaming. Go for one of those versions and you’ll also get the more powerful 14-speaker sound system with a subwoofer, which sounds really very good.
Build quality is definitely the best we’ve seen yet from the US brand, but it’s still unlikely to worry the likes of Audi and BMW, and it's one area where the Polestar one has the Model 3 licked.
There are some smart finishes in the Model 3’s interior, and nothing that feels overly flimsy, but, equally, the faux-leather on the seats and steering wheel lacks a real premium feel, while the gloss black finish on the lower central part of the dashboard marks easily.
Close the doors of the bootlid and you don’t get that soft ‘thud’ that you’d normally associate with the best German rivals, either.
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