Ahead of Tesla’s Model 3 handover event, I got to drive one – a black version with the Premium Upgrade Package. Not for long mind you: I drove it around Tesla’s Fremont factory in an extended loop on city streets, but I still got to test its mettle on some relatively long, unbroken stretches of road, push the accelerator and throw it around corners.
Again, this is just first impressions – but It’s definitely the most fun I’ve ever had driving a car in this price range.
A car’s interior is a weird place to start when it comes to driving impressions, but the Model 3’s is so unique that it actually contributes a lot to the overall effect of being behind the wheel. The minimalism and restraint used in coming up with the design is apparent everywhere – the center-mounted 15-inch display is basically the only eye-catching feature of the entire dash, which was otherwise broken up only by the wheel.
Tesla has done away with the traditional instrument panel behind the steering wheel, moving everything in terms of information, climate controls and other input mechanisms to the touchscreen. The exception is the shift column mounted just behind the wheel, and two directional scroll wheels that are inset in the wheel itself for controlling various features, including steering wheel depth and mirror position.
All of this is a long way around of saying that there’s basically very little between the driver and the expansive view of the road, which takes up most of your field of view thanks to the broad, uninterrupted windshield. It’s something that says “Just. Drive.” and it’s a very pleasant experience if you even enjoy driving a little bit.