In-depth reviews

Tesla Model 3 review - Interior, design and technology

An inoffensive exterior is contrasted by a show-stopping interior, packed with tech.

Externally, the Tesla Model 3 looks much like a shrunken Model S thanks to simple, unfussy lines, curvy bodywork and a grille-free front end. It’s a design that manages to look upmarket without appearing overly flashy. In fact, those who don’t know cars probably won’t take a second look. The car features a short bonnet that’s facilitated by its ‘skateboard’ chassis – the drivetrain and its batteries are mounted as low as possible in the car, creating more interior space and decent storage areas both front and rear.

Step inside and the Model 3’s conservative exterior is brought into sharp contrast by a futuristically minimalist interior. It’s almost entirely dominated by a central 15-inch infotainment screen that controls all major (and minor) functions, while even the air vents are tucked away neatly behind an otherwise plain dashboard. The only physical buttons are those for the windows and on the steering wheel, with the latter two being used to control much of the functions displayed on-screen.

Limited trim options keep things simple in what seems to be a well built interior filled with decent-quality materials. Its simplicity also bodes well for longevity too – squeaks and rattles shouldn’t be an issue. 

The Model 3 benefitted from a light refresh in 2020, with updated interior/exterior trim, new wheel designs and more efficient tyres. However, the most notable change is the introduction of the Model Y heat pump HVAC system to the latest Model 3 - helping increase efficiency, particularly in colder weather.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

There’s a bit of a learning curve for users of the Model 3’s all-encompassing infotainment system, especially if you’re used to more conventional cars. We found the system largely intuitive but changing some settings proved fiddly – especially those that would have separate physical controls in other cars. The climate control system takes some getting used to in this respect but we quickly got used to its unique style of operation.

The 15-inch screen is standard on all Model 3s, as are four USB ports and charging mats for two smartphones. Two additional USB-C ports for high-speed device charging are also included, along with an additional USB-A port in the glove compartment.

The screen is sharp, clear and amongst the very best we’ve ever tested. Clever features include an internet browser, sophisticated car information readouts and Tesla’s tongue-in-cheek features such as games, a virtual fireplace and even a simulated whoopie cushion (yes, really).

There's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support, with Tesla preferring to use its own method of smartphone integration. We had no problems with Tesla's on-board system, while the sat-nav system is particularly impressive.

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