The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Keeping the dashboard looking as minimalistic as a Scandanavian studio apartment, everything from the wipers to the headlights are 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, which is a real faff and not advisable while you’re driving.
The same screen even hosts the speedo but, thankfully, its position on the right hand edge means you only have to turn your head a little to read it.
Aside from those questionable ergonomics, though, the driving position is otherwise very good. You sit relatively high up by conventional executive saloon standards (although still much lower than you do in a Jaguar I-Pace) 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.
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.
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.
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.
The operating system is pretty simple to get your head around, even if there are quite a few small icons that can be distracting to hit accurately while you’re driving; given the large size of the screen, we don’t see why Tesla couldn’t have made some of the icons a bit bigger.
There’s also no Apple Carplay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring, and it’s worth noting that you’ll need to go for the Long Range or Performance version if you want live traffic updates, an internet browser and in-car internet music streaming. Go for one of those versions and you’ll also get a more powerful 14-speaker sound system with a subwoofer.
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. 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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