Tesla Model 3 Electric Long Range AWD facelift review: New exterior design and upgraded cabin equipment

Tesla Model 3 Electric Long Range AWD facelift review: New exterior design and upgraded cabin equipment
PHOTO: sgCarMart

It's interesting to look back on the nearly two-and-a-half years that have passed since we first got out hands on our very first Tesla.

Back then, the idea of getting behind the wheel of a new electric car from a brand that stirred so much controversy seemed like such a heady prospect. But come back to the present day and the introduction of new all-electric options is now commonplace.

And these products are coming from firms that aren't afraid of posting big performance figures or stirring a bit of their own controversy either. Take, for example, the fact that the new Porsche Taycan is set to get a performance variant that has set a blistering lap time around the Nurburgring, or the fact that Polestar recently launched its Polestar Truth Bot, designed to combat climate misinformation on the very social media platform that Elon Musk helms.

There's clearly now no shortage of competition, both on the showroom floor and for the headlines of publications everywhere, for this updated Tesla Model 3. So, does it have still what it takes to stand out from the crowd?

New looks

Tesla's CEO may have little difficulty hogging up the headlines these days, but it looks like the designers of this Model 3 have decided to err on the conservative side.

The outgoing iteration of the car was commonly bemoaned for its bloated, frog-like design and while this new iteration has only received minor cosmetic changes (which include new lights front and back), they give the car a much-needed dose of sleekness.

And the new car is much sleeker at cutting through the air as well. Its redesigned front has brought its drag coefficient to a low of 0.219 (from the 0.23 of the previous car).

New features

But I think most potential owners will be better swayed by what's now on offer in the cabin. Headline change for the cabin of the Tesla Model 3 here is the addition of a new 8.0-inch screen for the rear passengers, which can be used to set the air-conditioning settings, watch their favourite videos on YouTube and Netflix, or even to play a few games while the car is being charged up. It's a welcome addition, sure, although I think many will find the screen positioned too low for a truly comfortable viewing experience.

And up at the front, there's another new feature that annoys: The removal of the indicator stalk. Operating the indicators is now done via buttons on the steering wheel, which isn't much of a hassle, until that is, you need to signal when moving out of a tight corner or work your way though a congested Newton Circus and find them located away from their 9 o'clock position. At least the apparent build quality here feels much improved compared our first experience with the Model 3.

A new drive

Tesla's pursuit of a minimalist cabin for the Model 3 may have brought about new usability issues, but thankfully, the car is now a genuinely excellent car to drive.

Tesla states that this iteration of the Model 3 has received a completely revised suspension, and its apparent behind the wheel from the moment you move off. The ride of the Model 3 feels a touch firmer, and now lets on so much more of what is happening on the road. The car's steering, meanwhile, practically mute in the previous iteration, now also offers a decent bit of feedback.

Eager drivers will also find in the Tesla Model 3 an eagerness to change direction, although, as in the previous Model 3, give the accelerator pedal a good stomp and it always manages to speed off in a completely undramatic fashion.

And for those that will drive the car at a more sensible turn of speed, you'll be pleased to note that while there's no option to change the level of regenerative braking utilised here, the car does a pretty good job of guessing just how much should be applied whether you're on the highway or in bumper-to-bumper traffic. And its markedly quieter than what I recall of the Tesla Model Y we drove back in May 2023.

Still a compelling option

At $120,867 before COE, this 'long range' variant of the Model 3 undercuts rivals including the 'long range dual motor' variant of the Polestar 2, which can be yours from $315,000, or the more powerful BMW i4 M50, which can be had from $441,888 (all prices as of press time, inclusive of COE). For those who are smitten by all which the Tesla brand represents, this fact will probably be but added assurance that they have already made the right choice in opting for the Model 3.

But for those still more hesitant to try a product from a new brand that has been helmed by someone so eager to occupy the headlines, this discount, coupled with the car's much improved exterior design and its convincing drive, should put it in good stead to win fans at the showroom.

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This article was first published in sgCarMart.

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