There’s a perception out there that electric car owners are on a mission to save the planet. Some might be, but that’s not me.
I bought a Tesla Model 3 Performance because I like cars that go fast and make noise. I was willing to sacrifice one of those things. Zero emissions is a side benefit I’m happy to live with as well.
A few years back I had the chance to drive a Tesla Model 3 from Los Angeles to Las Vegas (and back again) for SEMA and fell in love with the car. It was fast, loaded with technology, and had a killer sound system. Most importantly, it was fun to drive.
After convincing my wife she’d love it, we bought a Model 3 Performance in the same colour and spec as the car I drove in the US.
This story will be updated in a blog format quarterly with any changes to the ownership experience. I’ll also try and engage in the comments with any questions you have as regularly as possible.
Unlike most other manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t do discounts and doesn’t allow customers to negotiate on prices.
In my opinion, this model is better than the traditional model. With most other brands you can secure a discount based on the dealer’s stock levels, the time of the month or year, or even because you know somebody at the dealership.
That adds stress to the buying process and is an intimidating part of the purchase. I’m a terrible haggler (the inner Eastern European in me defaults to yelling at the salesman) and prefer knowing the next guy in line paid the same price I did.
When I purchased the car I had a reservation in place and when it came time to convert the reservation into an order I ticked the box for the performance upgrade and the white interior.
At the time of buying, the Model 3 Performance could be had without the performance upgrade, which deleted the high performance brake option, larger alloy wheels, lowered suspension and a few other bits and pieces.
I also wanted the white interior because it looked good in the test car we drove, and I was keen to test out how clean it was stay during ownership.
This is a more detailed breakdown of how much I paid, including all on-road costs for Victoria.
|2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance|
|Options||Performance upgrade ($5636.36), white interior ($1272.73)|
|Additional fees||Delivery fee ($795.45), registration ($238), CTP ($532), personalised plate transfer fee ($128)|
|Luxury Car Tax||$5384|
This was a bit of a mixed bag. I’ll run you through the positives and negatives of the buying process.
The buying and ordering process is a piece of cake. My original $1500 reservation was done online in May 2019. It was fully refundable and secured my place in the queue for an order.
I discovered later this was pointless because Tesla didn’t take orders based on reservations.
On the 2nd of June my wife and I placed our order for a Midnight Silver Model 3 Performance with the black interior.
Yes, I know I said we wanted the same car I drove in the US, but it originally wasn’t available. That included an additional $3000 deposit, bringing the total deposit amount to $4500.
On the 26th of July Tesla made the white interior available so we decided to switch our Model 3 paint colour to white and then selected the white interior and the estimated delivery date was August.
That change was free, and at any point up to allocation of a car the order can be cancelled and fully refunded.
From there the experience started going a bit pear-shaped. By September 30 (almost four months after placing an order and customers receiving vehicles in Australia) I still hadn’t heard anything about allocation or anything beyond my order being confirmed.
I sent an email to Tesla in Australia and heard nothing. I waited a week and sent another email and still heard nothing.
In late October I finally found a helpful Tesla representative in Melbourne that was able to confirm a delivery date in mid-November and I was allocated a VIN and an invoice was generated for payment prior to collection.
At the same time we were doing a story on the Geelong Revival and I thought it’d be the perfect chance to ‘run in’ the Tesla with a run down the (almost) quarter-mile at the event on the 23rd of November.
But it all came to a crashing halt when I was told the team had discovered some paint imperfections they needed to sort out.
That added another week delay to delivery while the car was taken away to a panel shop for pre-delivery repair.
On delivery day everything went smoothly. Again, unlike other manufacturers, I needed to book a 30 minute collection window in for the car.
Tesla was delivering four cars at a time out of the delivery bay and during peak end-of-quarter periods they even get other support staff to help with deliveries.
The handover process itself was super simple. I was shown the (fully-charged) car, looked over it, signed an iPad, and then drove away. I made it home (about 10 minutes away from the Tesla showroom) and discovered I had a flat tyre.
So as part of the whole delivery process I had the chance to also test out their service provider. Given the car doesn’t have a spare tyre or a repair kit, you need to call for a matching wheel and tyre to be put onto the vehicle while yours is fixed.
The guy turned up at my house about 30 minutes after calling, jacked the car up, put a spare tyre on and I went back to Tesla two days later to swap the loan tyre for a puncture-free tyre. Very simple.
Overall the buying experience was a bit hit and miss. I’d love the ability to track my car build or even get a proper estimate for when it’s due.
The lack of quality control that requires vehicles to be fixed in Australia before delivery is also incredibly poor.
I’ve kept the car ‘stock’. The only thing I added was HomeLink. It’s the remote garage door opener built into the bonnet that is activated from within the cabin or via geocaching as you approach your garage door.
It was included in the purchase price and was added by the mobile serviceman at our office. It took about 30 minutes to do and was all straightforward.
The concept was to use the garage door opener when driving in and out of our apartment.
While it works with most systems, it’s not compatible with rolling code and complex external authentication systems without additional programming.
I wasn’t expecting the Model 3 to get as much attention as it does. Everywhere we drive people point and want to look inside the car.
It’s especially attention seeking when I’m parked waiting for my wife to wrap up her spray tan watching Netflix (or the great content on the CarExpert YouTube channel) and people stop to see what’s playing.
There’s also a strange camaraderie between other Tesla drivers – it’s a bit weird and I avoid trying to wave.
Oh, and the registration plates. Most people look at them and wonder what the hell they mean.
Because I’m an engineer, I wanted something nerdy to go with the car. So PEVI is an abbreviation for Ohm’s law for a DC circuit, it stands for P = V * I. Power equals Volts multiplied by Amps.
I was going to go for ‘NO.OIL’ or ‘ZERO.GAS’ or ‘OIL.LOL’, but I didn’t want to be that guy.
We get to drive new cars all the time and while I always treat a loan vehicle like it’s my own, it’s always a bit different when it’s your own car.
It looks, feels and drives just like the car I tested in the US, and to this day it still feels and drives the same way. I’ll have more updates on the period between purchasing it and now, but we’re almost 10,000km on and it feels exactly like it did on day one.
Maybe it’s because electric vehicles have less moving parts, but it’s still as tight as a drum and accelerates with blistering ferocity each time you hit the (not so) loud pedal.
My wife also loves driving it. She’s not a confident driver and if we were to have bought an M3 or C63 AMG instead of this, I don’t know that she would have felt as confident behind the wheel.
I’m also a big fan of the inbuilt dash camera that records out the front, back and sides of the car. It has recorded some strange stuff on the road and gives you added confidence when out on the road with other drivers.
Tesla has also refined the one-pedal driving setup. It’s so good that it’s rare I use the brake pedal. The car can progressively slow to a stop without touching the brake pedal and provides enough confidence to do it consistently without any hiccups.
While all of that stuff is great, I’m not a huge fan of Autopilot. On a few occasions it has phantom braked suddenly or forgotten its position within a lane in roadwork zones. It can just be a bit hit and miss, and it’s not something I’d trust anytime soon in a fully autonomous mode.
That’s also part of the reason we didn’t shell out $10,100 for the Full Self Driving package.
We love the interior of the Model 3. There’s heaps of storage space and the most recent cabin update has brought with it further refinements to connectivity including wireless phone charging and USB-C connectivity.
The big screen in the centre takes some time to get used to, but once you’ve mastered it, everything works seamlessly. Voice recognition fills any gaps in usability while you’re driving.
A recent update to the central display layout has made the speedometer smaller, which I think is a big miss – especially in Australia where speed limits are so strict.
We weren’t sure how well the white seats would fare. We don’t have any kids (yet), but use the car each day. The seats look exactly like they did on day one.
The material isn’t leather so it doesn’t get that stained, dirty look, you find on some cars with beige or lighter leather seats. It’s also easy to clean with a wet wipe.
The sound system is unbelievably good. Of all the cars we get to test, this is easily one of the best I’ve come across. It’s unbranded, but it’s our understanding Tesla hired a number of former Bang and Olufsen engineers to select speakers and design the car around the sound system.
In terms of things I don’t love – despite the roof being tinted, it gets damn hot in summer. I’d love the option of not having a glass roof or buying a cover that can stop heat radiating into the cabin.
Second to that, the climate control system sometimes has a mind of its own. It’s hard to get the perfect airflow and to satisfy the demands of cooling the cabin when it’s really hot outside.
Aside from the flat tyre after delivery (which was my fault for driving over a nail), the car needed a wheel alignment. Not sure if it was caused by the flat tyre replacement or whether it was always out of alignment, but not something you’d expect on a brand new car.
The second thing that went wrong was the headlight alignment. The lights were pointing slightly towards the ground. Even though they’re self-levelling, they need a calibrated point of reference.
The final issue was a piece of trim inside the cabin that came loose. All of these items were fixed in one service visit.
Speaking of which, the service experience is excellent. You basically drive into the service bay, a greeter comes down, you sign a piece of paper and head off. During the day updates are texted and if any paid items are required you’re sent an electronic quote for approval.
Once your car is ready to collect you turn up, unlock it with your phone and drive off. All of the items above were fixed free of charge under warranty.
Tesla doesn’t really have service intervals. Some items require a visual inspection at certain intervals, but for the most part items are preventatively replaced at recommended intervals and fluid levels are constantly monitored and flagged if they need attention.
After owning the car for over a year I haven’t taken it in for a service outside of the fixes above.
Stay tuned for more updates, this format has been designed to handle updates. I’ll flag any and all changes in a running blog style above.
If you have any questions about the ownership experience, shoot them through below.
If you’re buying a Tesla, feel free to use my referral code. It’ll give you (and me) 1500km of free supercharging. I generally don’t use superchargers and haven’t used any referral credits, but if you’re buying one, you may as well get some free juice! Click this link to initiate the purchase process.