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2024 Tesla Model 3 Review: Still the EV to Beat?


The global onslaught of cut-price electric vehicles has forced Tesla’s hand. What they’ve delivered in the face of increased competition is an updated Tesla Model 3 that marks the most significant vehicle lifecycle update in the brand’s history. More than 50 per cent of the car is new, with simplified components to streamline manufacturing, a new interior, increased technology, and changes to the suspension and chassis that have elevated this vehicle to European levels of comfort and precision.

Will the brand’s response to BYD, GWM, and MG help it successfully retain the crown as THE best value-for-money EV on the planet? Let’s take a closer look.

RELATED: MG 4 XPower Review: Face-Melting Performance Bargain.

2024 tesla model 3 side on
2024 Tesla Model 3 | Image: Tesla

How Much Does the Tesla Model 3 Cost?

The updated 2024 Tesla Model 3 is priced from AU$61,900 plus on-road costs for the base Rear-Wheel Drive model with 513km of WLTP range. We firmly believe this vehicle offers the best value for money in the line-up, however, if you feel the need for extra power, the Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive with Long Range battery is priced at $71,900 plus on-road costs.

Tesla Model 3 Pricing in Australia:

  • Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive: from AU$61,900 plus on-road costs.
  • Tesla Model 3 All-Wheel Drive Long Range: from AU$71,900 plus on-road costs.

If you place an order for the updated vehicle before January 1, 2024, you will be eligible for the NSW Government’s $3,000 rebate. This rebate only applies to the base Rear-Wheel Drive Tesla Model 3 as it falls under the $68,750 (including GST) requirement, however, the All-Wheel Drive variant is subject to a stamp duty exemption.

These Are the Options

Options for the Tesla Model 3 start with the colour selection, where it will cost you for anything other than refrigerator white.

Tesla Model 3 Colour Options in Australia:

  • Pearl White Multi-Coat (White): No cost
  • Solid Black: $1,500
  • Deep Blue Metallic: $1,500
  • Stealth Grey: $2,300
  • Ultra Red: $2,600

From there, you have a choice in wheel design where you can choose 19-inch Nova wheels ($1,800) over the standard 18-inch Photon wheels with the hub-cap design. We’d recommend the smaller wheels as they offer a comfier ride. Finally, there’s the option to add a ‘Black and White’ interior for $1,500 which looks like a complete nightmare for anyone with children. This changes the colour of the door cards, seats, and upper dashboard for a more spacious-feeling cabin.

Being a Tesla there are software options to add to your vehicle to enhance its capabilities. These are combined into two packages:

  • Enhanced Autopilot ($5,100): This includes features like automatic lane changing and automatic driving for highway on and off-ramps but also houses must-have features like traffic-aware cruise control with stopping and re-engagement and Autosteer. If you’re jumping out of a European vehicle or even a basic Volkswagen Golf you’ll also want Autopark which is included in this pack.
  • Full Self-Driving Capability ($10,100): Quite frankly, we wouldn’t waste our time with FSD in Australia.

These Are the Alternatives

The biggest competitor to the Tesla Model 3 is the BYD Seal which is priced from $49,888 plus on-roads. You can purchase the top-of-the-range BYD Seal Performance for $68,748 before on-roads which is a closer competitor to the All-Wheel Drive Long Range on paper, offering a 0-100km/h time of just 3.8 seconds.

Other competitors include the Hyundai Ioniq 6 (from $65,500) and the Polestar 2 (from $67,400). The latter of which offers a traditional car-like experience with a typical cabin design and retains touch buttons and dials.

2024 tesla model 3 interior
2024 Tesla Model 3 | Image: Tesla

What’s the Inside of the Tesla Model 3 Like?

There’s a driver’s seat, steering wheel, dashboard, rearview mirror, glass roof, two pedals, and a huge 15.4-inch screen. Seriously, the interior is so minimalist you could probably name all the features on two hands. If this is your first time in a Tesla you’ll be pretty shocked by the sheer lack of things to press, pull, and turn because everything is controlled through the screen.

These Are the Things We Like

The hardest thing about accessing and driving the Tesla Model 3 is walking to the car. Your phone pairs to the vehicle and unlocks it via new Ultra Wide Band (UWB) Bluetooth when you’re close, you get in the car and sit down (it knows you’re there and adjusts the seat and steering wheel), you put your foot on the brake pedal, the drive selector comes up on the screen, you slide it forward or back and you’re off.

There are two wireless phone charging spots perfectly angled on the centre console and a large 15.4-inch touchscreen which is intuitive to use. We spent four days in the car and at no point was it frustrating.

2024 tesla model 3 rear seats
2024 Tesla Model 3 | Image: Tesla

In the rear, there’s a new 8-inch touchscreen for watching videos, an epic glass roof that makes the cabin feel incredibly spacious, USB-C charging that can power two MacBooks at once, and the entire cabin is whisper-quiet thanks to new acoustic glass and an overall increase in the number of covered surfaces.

Every seat is comfortable to sit in, particularly the two front seats that are heated and cooled. Plenty of these will be used for Ubers and rideshare vehicles and while we cringe at the thought of riding around in a Model Y or previous generation Model 3, the updated vehicle adds cushioning.

What you can’t see is the new Telematics Control Unit that’s double the 5G Wi-Fi, offers 30% more range with cellular, and 50% better signal quality for downloading software updates.

Steering wheel badges
2024 Tesla Model 3 | Image: Tesla

These Are the Things We’d Change

Telsa went so far as to completely remove the stalks and put indicator buttons on the steering wheel. You’ll find these familiar if you daily drive a Ferrari or Lamborghini, but unlike either of those supercars, these buttons are stacked on top of each other which is nonsensical. It will take a week for you to learn your lefts and rights again (ups and downs), and don’t try to indicate while the wheel is turned.

In general, the cost-cutting is getting out of control and it’s sad really because it takes away from an otherwise great electric vehicle. For example, there’s a slider on the screen to go forward and backward, and because that’s not legal, they’ve added buttons on the roof for PRND. How is that cheaper than a stalk?

2024 tesla model 3 interior redesign
2024 Tesla Model 3 | Image: Tesla

You’ll also miss out on apps like Waze because there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. You can log in to pre-loaded apps like Spotify and Apple Music, however, you’ll have to pay an additional $9.99 per month for ‘Premium Connectivity’ which grants you the privilege of using the car’s internet to power these apps. This also includes music streaming, life traffic visualisation, video streaming, and more.

Finally, the base Model 3 we were testing for this review only receives a 9-speaker system (plus amplifier) vs. the 17-speaker system that comes as standard in the Long Range variant. While it’s a fair and mighty system, the premium sound system is one of the best in the industry and it’s sad not to see it added as an option.

2024 tesla model 3 review feature
2024 Tesla Model 3 | Image: Tesla

How Does the Tesla Model 3 Drive?

We spent four days testing the base Rear-Wheel Drive model and it blew us away with outstanding ride quality matched by brilliant steering feel, driving position, and overall engagement. It outperforms it’s price-tag on this end and embarrasses some more expensive petrol-powered vehicles from the European brands.

The brand doesn’t quote power figures for either model, but our single motor tester boasts a 0-100km/h time of 6.1 seconds which is quick enough.

If you’re hunting more power you can opt for the Dual Motor Long Range model that adds an extra motor at the front for a quicker 0-100km/h time of 4.4 seconds. There will be a Model 3 Performance model in Australia at the start of 2024, according to multiple reports.

You can charge the new Tesla Model 3 at up to 170kW using a DC charger and it’ll add 282km of range in 15 minutes. Most importantly, the maximum range figure has increased to 513km WLTP for the RWD and 629km for the Long Range thanks to an improved drag coefficient, now just 0.219Cd. For reference, the world record for a four-door vehicle is 0.19Cd (Mercedes Concept IAA) and the outgoing Model 3 was 0.22Cd.

Tesla model 3 front wheel
2024 Tesla Model 3 | Image: Tesla

Hit the road and the first thing that you’ll notice is the improvements in ride quality. Our Australian-delivered vehicles benefit from all-new bushings in the suspension-to-body mounts, but more importantly, frequency adjustment dampers that result in class-leading comfort without any ‘floatiness’. Some credit has to be given to the new 18-inch Michelin Primacy tyres too.

Push the car through a few corners, play around with the drive settings – from ‘Chill’ to ‘Standard’ for acceleration and ‘Standard’ to ‘Sport’ for steering – and you’ll find a noticeable difference in the way the car behaves. The model we’re testing is better left in Chill and Standard for everyday use as it’s simply a more relaxing drive.

Every input feels refined, from the steering to the one-pedal drive, it all just works. Combine this with a cabin that’s up to 30% quieter and you have a vehicle that drives, feels, and performs beyond it’s price-tag.

Tesla model 3 review
2024 Tesla Model 3 | Image: Tesla

Everything Else You Get With the 2024 Tesla Model 3

Warranty

The Tesla Model 3 is backed by Tesla Australia’s 4 year, 80,000km warranty. The battery and drive unit has its own warranty of 8 years, 160,000km. This ups to 8 years or 160,000km for the All-Wheel Drive Long Range.

Safety

This remains one of the safest vehicles money can buy with a full 5-star ANCAP safety rating obtained through the Euro NCAP testing system. The car scored 96% for adult occupant protection, 94% for safety assist, 87% for child occupant protection, and 74% for vulnerable road user protection.

These are the safety features you get as standard:

  • Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Lane keep assist

Servicing and Cost of Ownership

Like many electric vehicles, there’s no specified maintenance schedule for the Tesla Model 3, and as such, you’re going to save a fortune on servicing costs. You’ll have to change things like the air-conditioning and cabin filters every two years, check the specialist tyres, and rotate them every 20,000km but that’s about it.

Typical service items like brake pads, discs, and fluids don’t require annual servicing as the regenerative braking system does most of the work.

New headlight design
2024 Tesla Model 3 | Image: Tesla

Man of Many’s Verdict on the Tesla Model 3

Within 5 minutes of driving, we were sold on the updated Model 3. We expected the new vehicle to take a step backward and thought the obvious attempts to cut costs throughout the cabin would trickle into the ride and handling department, but they haven’t.

The strides the brand has taken in this area with the new dampers and local ride and handling adaptations have resulted in one of the comfiest vehicles we’ve driven south of $100,000. Combine this with the new seats, quieter cabin, and all-around improvements in tech, and you have the makings of a fantastic car.

It’s still an appliance, it has as much charm and character as a coatrack, but if this isn’t one of the best appliances on the road we’d be damned. Does this give Tesla a fighting chance against the onslaught of cheap EVs? Absolutely. They brought a bazooka to a gunfight.

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