After driving a Tesla Model 3 across the U.S. in a claimed record time for an electric vehicle, an editor-at-large for an auto-news website gave the car a rave review — but noted one major problem.
“The car is terrific,” Alex Roy, editor-at-large for The Drive, wrote on the website.
For the 50-hour across-America trip, which Roy claimed marked a record time for an electric vehicle, he teamed up with the owner of one of the first Model 3s to be delivered to customers, in late December.
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The Model 3 — Tesla’s bid for the mass market, with a $35,000 starting price — has been repeatedly delayed, and CEO Elon Musk recently announced a $619 million quarterly loss. But the vehicle’s performance bodes well for the car and the company, Roy suggested.
“For those gambling on the 3’s failure and Tesla’s collapse, don’t count on it. The Model 3 is delightful, odd, and brilliant,” he wrote.
However, Roy highlighted what he described as a serious flaw with the sedan’s semi-autonomous driving system, called “Autopilot.”
“The Model 3’s Autopilot implementation currently sucks,” Roy concluded. Roy listed several problems with the Autopilot user experience, including a need to “stab repeatedly” at the car’s control screen to reduce speed.
Aside from his issues with the Autopilot interface, Roy applauded most other aspects of the car and its performance.
On straight-line acceleration, he pronounced the Model 3 “fine,” writing that it produced “a bit more than enough linear electric torque to satisfy, making it feel slightly faster than it is.”
Go off the straight lines, and the Model 3 shows its character as an electric vehicle burdened with a heavy battery. Roy called the vehicle’s handling “excellent,” but said the car was “not necessarily fun — which is exactly what you’d expect from a 3,800-pound electric car with a very low center of gravity.”
While crossing the country, the Model 3 “ran perfectly,” though an airbag warning light came on three times in the first 20 minutes, then went off and never lit up again, Roy wrote. He added that he was surprised the car exhibited “zero squeaks or rattles, even after 2,860 wretched miles of altitude changes, rain, sleet and snow.”
The frigid environment he drove through appeared to penetrate the car from one area, he said. Whether in the driver’s or passenger’s seat, cold air swept over his legs “from a gap somewhere around the front edge of the front door,” he wrote.
“I followed up with Tesla about the draft,” he wrote. “They said they’d look into it.”
The car — a loaded, larger-battery version that cost $55,000 — was not as comfortable as an Audi of similar price, but comfort level was still “very good,” Roy wrote.
“The seats were lovely even after 50 hours. I slept reclined in the passenger seat like a baby, without a single ache or pain,” wrote Roy, who added that he’s six feet tall.
Photo: Tesla Motors unveils the new Model 3 sedan at the company’s design studio in Hawthorne, Calif., Thursday, March 31, 2016. (Justin Pritchard/Associated Press)
Tags: electric cars, electric vehicles, elon musk, green, Model 3, tesla, transportation