Tesla Model 3: interior, dashboard & infotainment
The Model 3’s interior does feel pretty plush in places and boasts the latest tech, but ultimately feels a little ‘form over function’
Just as simplistic as its exterior, the Tesla Model 3’s cabin takes minimalism to a new level. Everything centres around a giant centre touchscreen – more on that in a moment – with plenty of clean, uninterrupted lines. Material quality is pretty strong, with all cars being dressed in vegan leather and plenty of soft-touch plastics. Build quality, while once a sticking point for Tesla models, is by-and-by pretty solid nowadays, although not quite up to the standard of German rivals.
Tesla Model 3 dashboard
Tesla is famed for its minimalist car interiors, and this is all for the better and the worse. While it certainly looks futuristic, the Model 3’s single-screen setup can be quite annoying; sure, your speed readout is positioned at the right-hand side of the display in order to make it easy to read while driving, but this still isn’t directly in your eyeline. The result of this is that it’s easy to stray over or under the speed limit all too often – we feel a head-up display would be an ideal addition as this would preserve the Model 3’s clean look.
Almost all of the controls are located within the touchscreen – including those for the air conditioning, radio presets and even the gear selector. The Model 3 now incorporates a stalkless steering wheel, which can be a pain; the wheel-mounted indicator buttons almost need their own what3words code as they are nigh-impossible to find whenever you turn the wheel at a junction or roundabout.
Equipment, options & accessories
The Model 3 comes with much of the equipment you’d want as standard, including a keyless entry system that can automatically recognise your phone as the key (you get a credit-card-style key as backup and for valet parking etc). On top of that, there's a tinted glass roof, heated front-and-rear seats, with 12-way electric adjustability and ventilation for those in the front, a 15.4-inch touchscreen, an eight-inch rear touchscreen, four USB ports, wireless docking for two smartphones and a powered bootlid.
Standard and Long Range cars both get 18-inch wheels, though 19-inch wheels can be specified as an option. Pearl White paint is the only standard exterior finish across the board, with four other colours to choose from at extra cost. These all cost over £1,000, which is probably why so many Model 3s are white.
While the Model 3 does get an impressive array of safety aids as standard and fared extremely well in crash tests, the semi-autonomous ‘Autopilot’ driving mode that Tesla is famous for is an expensive option. If you do add it, Tesla says an even more advanced city-driving autonomous system (which claims to read traffic signs and respond to them automatically) will be available soon. It’s worth noting, though, that even the top-of-the-line ‘Full Self Driving’ package is a bit of a misnomer; you have to keep an eye on the road at all times, with both hands on the wheel in order to make occasional inputs.
Infotainment, apps & sat nav
The 15.4-inch touchscreen is mounted in a landscape orientation in the Model 3, rather than the portrait layout of the pre-facelift Model S and Model X. The crystal-clear graphics look great and the screen itself responds just as quickly as your smartphone – a sore point given Tesla’s system isn’t compatible with either Apple CarPlay, nor Android Auto.
It does take a bit of getting used to given how many functions there are, from opening the charging port or changing the air vents, through to the sat nav, internet browser and (of course) the trademark Tesla ‘Easter Eggs’: these include several big-name video games like Cuphead, Stardew Valley and even a racing game in which you drive a miniaturised version of the Model 3 using the actual steering wheel and pedals. That’s not even mentioning the fact you can also watch streaming services like YouTube and Netflix – when safely parked, of course.
As alluded to earlier, rear passengers are no longer excluded from the fun; the recent facelift also brought with it a standard-fit eight-inch touchscreen mounted on the back of the centre console. This enables rear passengers to play games (provided they connect a wireless Bluetooth controller) as well as consume their own choice of audio and video content.
The Model 3 will update with new features and improved software via ‘over-the-air’ updates that Tesla has always championed, so the system is – as much as possible – future-proof. It's also important to mention that many of these cool features – notably the live traffic visualisation, satellite-view maps and content streaming – are all part of a Premium Connectivity subscription. This is free for the first 30 days and then costs around £10 a month – not a huge additional cost if you're already subscribed to monthly PCP or lease payments, but notable nonetheless.
In This Review
- 1VerdictA recent facelift has cemented the Model 3’s position at the top of its class, with the baby Tesla offering everything you could possibly need from an electric family car
- 2Range, battery & chargingNot only does the Tesla Model 3 offer superb range, but full access to the amazing Supercharger network
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe Model 3 is generally affordable to buy and run, but it’ll cost an arm and a leg to insure
- 4Performance, motor & driveAside from point and squirt performance, the Model 3 offers little in the way of driver engagement
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfort - currently readingThe Model 3’s interior does feel pretty plush in places and boasts the latest tech, but ultimately feels a little ‘form over function’
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThough spacious for a small saloon, we wish the Model 3 had a hatchback bootlid – the Model Y is even roomier
- 7Reliability & safety ratingIt may be one of the safest EVs you can buy, but Tesla’s reliability record leaves a lot to be desired