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, creating more interior space and decent storage areas both front and rear. Tesla introduced some minor cosmetic tweaks for the 3 model in 2020, replacing external chrome accents with satin black trim and gloss black materials in the cabin changed to a matte black finish.
The refresh also included 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.
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.
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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.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Tesla often has the feel of a tech firm first and a car company second, and the Model 3’s infotainment set-up is at the cutting edge of what you’ll find in any modern car.
The 15-inch touchscreen has the processing power to match its hi-res graphics. Loading times when plotting a route are rapid, and there’s minimal latency when responding to touches, pinches and swipes. Its precision with those inputs is impressive, too.
Roughly a third of the screen is reserved for driving information. Some will prefer to have a read-out in front of them on a separate screen, but the numbers are large, so they’re not that hard to spot out of the corner of your eye.
Keeping the physical controls to a bare minimum has its irritations. The glovebox can only be opened via the touchscreen, and there aren’t any physical controls for the heated rear seats – those in the back will have to ask someone up front to adjust them through the display.
There's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support, with Tesla preferring to use its own method of smartphone integration, although an app should be available soon that is able to link up with Android smartphones. We had no problems with Tesla's on-board system, however, while the sat-nav system is particularly impressive.
In this review
- 1Tesla Model 3 reviewSignificant new rivals are circling, but the technology-packed Tesla Model 3 is one of the best electric cars around
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Model 3 is one of the best EVs around to drive – it’s fast, fun and refined
- 3Range, charging & running costsImpressive range, fast charging times and zero emissions all bode well; residuals should be good, too
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingAn inoffensive exterior is contrasted by a show-stopping interior, packed with tech
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceWith lots of room for passengers and two luggage areas, the Model 3 a practical proposition
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Tesla Model 3 achieves full marks for safety, with strong customer feedback in our Driver Power survey