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Tesla Model 3 in the test: Impressive - despite some weaknesses

The Tesla Model 3 sets standards for electric cars in many ways, as two ADAC car tests show. Details have been improved for the 2021 model year. But there is also resentment

  • Top: Excellent drive, very good ranges

  • "Autopilot" lulls the driver into a false sense of security

  • Facelift: heat pump, new software, changed optics

  • China version (MIC) causes displeasure

The fight for the leading position in the electric car is entering the next stage. The major automobile manufacturers are currently trying to close the technological gaps to Tesla. Volkswagen brings the VW ID.4 with a range of up to over 500 kilometers as a competitor Tesla Model 3 in the middle class. BMW puts the powerful electric SUV iX3 against the Tesla Model X. Mercedes wants to contest the Tesla Model S with the luxury sedan EQS. Ford is sending the Mustang Mach-E into the race for electric SUVs with a 99 kWh battery and a competitive price of 55,000 euros. And these are just the most prominent model examples.

So it's no wonder that the Californian carmaker has decided to strengthen the Model 3 as well as the Model X and Model S with a series of model upgrade measures for the 2021 model year. And there is also a new addition: The Model Y will be available in Germany later this year.

Facelift 2021: This is what the Tesla Model 3 looks like now

The facelift can be recognized by the black door handles and window frames ∙ © Tesla

The Model 3 of model year 2021 In comparison to our test vehicles, the exterior can be recognized by the door handles and window frames, which are now black. Up until now, chrome trim was installed here Center console is now in instead of a piano lacquer look matt black plastic held - the shiny fingerprints and the conspicuously visible dust particles are a thing of the past. The permanently installed mat for the inductive charging of two smartphones. The most important technical change was made in Model 3 Heat pump a. There is also a Software updatethat optimizes engine control and battery management.

With the standard Range Plus version of the Model 3, Tesla gives an increase in the WLTP range by 18 kilometers - measured at an outside temperature of around 20 degrees, i.e. without the necessary heating power. But when it's cold in winter and in the transition period, the heat pump pays off: it can then significantly reduce the loss of energy for heating.

Instead of raising the price a bit for the facelift model, Tesla has the priceeven lowered. The cash payment for a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus is shown on the manufacturer's website at 40,970 euros, for the more powerful all-wheel drive version AWD Long Range 50,970 euros are due. The total includes the manufacturer's share of the environmental bonus, the processing fee and VAT. The cheapest model is therefore already for about after deducting the environmental premium 35,000 euros available. Preconfigured vehicles that can be ordered via the website have the advantage that they are also available at short notice.

Model 3 from China: Great displeasure with the battery

But there is also resentment about the new offers from Tesla. So a current buyer of a Model 3 does not find out whether he is a American-made vehicle with a proven lithium-ion battery or a Chinese-made vehicle. And that's an important difference.

The China model is delivered with a lithium iron phosphate battery (LFP battery), at least in the inexpensive basic version. And that obviously has pitfalls. There are a number of complaints in social media that the LFP batteries are weak in terms of range, that they now often only allow a very low charging power in winter or that they inexplicably lose a lot of energy if the Model 3 is parked for a few days. The ADAC engineers will try to find out exactly what is behind the problems as soon as possible.

Two versions in the ADAC autotest

The ADAC has tested two versions of the Model 3, produced in the USA: The versionModel 3 AWD Long Range - extremely powerful with a 75 kWh battery - and the versionModel 3 Standard Range Plus- the basic model for beginners. Both versions correspond to the test status from 2019. That means: software-related changes and facelift measures are not yet taken into account in the ADAC ratings

The tested one Tesla Model 3 AWD Long Range has an electric motor on the front and one on the rear axle, i.e. all-wheel drive with an enormous system performance340 kW/462 hp. The test car came with the extras and 19 percent VAT at a price of 67,230 euros.

TheTesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus At the time of the test, the basic version cost 45,770 euros, including extras it was 52,530 euros. The clear price difference is noticeable in several points: There is only one in the standard model a motor on the rear axle, the performance is limited to 225 kW/306 hp, the battery to 53 kWh of energy. And, according to Tesla, the range is "only" 430 kilometers.

Overall, the Model 3 knows that Tesla fan base extremely enthusiastic. All over the world people post their selfies, stories and experiences. The internet is teeming with films with delivery campaigns and alleged scenes of autonomous driving with the Model 3. Even ex-Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg is involved - and lets himself depend on the Model 3 in the acceleration duel at the wheel of a racing Porsche, like him admits himself beaming with joy.

In view of this enthusiasm, however, one is also urgentFundamental question auf: Can such a powerful, sporty sedan as the Model 3 and ecological awareness be brought under one roof?

Realistic range: 425 and 305 kilometers

The first glance therefore falls on theEnvironmental assessment, to which the ADAC applies extremely strict standards: WhenADAC Ecotestnamely, the emissions that arise during electricity production at the power plant are also included. As a result, the electric car is no longer a zero-emission car, as the authorities see. And can be compared fairly with cars that are powered by an internal combustion engine of any type (diesel, gasoline, gas or hybrid).

The Range According to Tesla, for the long range in the WLTP is up to 580 kilometers, for the standard it is still 430 kilometers. But this information is more of a wish than reality. The result of the ADAC measurements: With a moderate driving style are with the Long-range version 425 kilometers Realistic range. The energy consumption of 20.9 kWh per 100 kilometers (including charging losses) is okay given the size of the vehicle and its performance. The energy efficiency of the Tesla is therefore rated with a good 45 out of a possible 60 points.

The weaker one Standard version is somewhat more economical with 19.5 kWh per 100 kilometers, its range is 305 kilometersBut even if the promised kilometers are actually not achieved: Compared to most electric cars available on the market, these values ​​were and are also first class.

In part B of the Environmental assessment - the pollutant analysis - the Model 3 Long Range AWD gets 35 out of 50 possible points, the Standard version gets 38 points due to the slightly lower consumption. The total of 80 and 86 points achieved result for both modelsfour stars in the ADAC Ecotest. For comparison: The Hyundai Ioniq Elektro has set the best mark so far with a consumption of 14.7 kWh / 100 km. There are 105 out of 110 possible points and the full five stars.

Electric car with the predicate outstanding

With his340 kW/462 hp the Model 3 AWD accelerates as fast as an arrow and more quietly than almost any other car. The intermediate sprint is particularly impressive: if you want to overtake a truck on the country road, all you need to do is step on the pedal - and the Tesla is over. With theGrade 0,8 in the test chapter "drive"The AWD version sets standards. But the standard version also scores an excellent 0.9, despite significantly less power and rear-wheel drive." Performance, smoothness and power delivery are outstanding, "the ADAC engineers agree.

This also meets the highest demandsDriving behavior of the Model 3. Advantage of the all-wheel drive version: Depending on where more drive power is needed, the electric motors on the front or rear axles can react variably and at lightning speed. Both versions master the evasive test by slightly understeering, but easily controllable by pushing them over the front axle. Thesuspension is sporty and tight here as there. Small deficits in suspension comfort are easy to forgive.

Thesteeringconvinces with a harmonious steering feel, good precision and clear centering. Drive influences are not an issue despite the enormous torque. Also atBrakes Model 3 has no weaknesses. A braking distance of 34.1 or 34.4 meters is sufficient to decelerate from 100 km / h to a standstill.

Ambiguous judgment about the service

When it comes to long-distance journeys, Tesla is also one step ahead of the electric competition. Becausenavigation-guided routes are automatically transferred to Tesla's own with stops and the required charging timeSuperchargers calculated. If there is no supercharger available on the route, it is possible to dock with the model at any CCS charging station from other operators.
The verdict on them is ambivalentservice which one likes to call "revolutionary"Except for the window lifters in the doors, the two control levers behind the steering wheel and the two rotating rollers in front of it, there are no longer any haptic controls. Everything that can still be operated in this car is done with the 38 centimeter touchscreen, which is larger than most tablet computers and at the same time acts as a virtual window into a comprehensive infotainment world.

For the quick access There are functions such as setting the interior temperature, volume or heated rear window own buttons at the bottom of the touch display. The flow of ventilation can be directed in any desired direction with the swipe of a finger. And wow effects of this kind can still be found in Model 3.

However, if you are interested in setting the Wiper intervals or the exterior mirror a submenu on screen has to visit, it is rather cumbersome. It also distracts the driver completely unnecessarily while driving.

Slide show: Tesla Model 3 in detail

Tesla Model Y: New Model 3-based SUV

The Tesla Model Y is to complement the model range of the electric car manufacturer from 2020. The compact SUV is based on Model 3. Price: from $ 39,000. First information, data and pictures.

Everything about the electric SUV from California

"Autopilot" is not yet fully developed

TheAssistance systems should actually be a parade discipline for Tesla. A radar sensor in the front bumper and eight cameras record the surrounding traffic and, in addition to the emergency braking function, also enable semi-autonomous driving, known by Tesla as "autopilot". The "autopilot" with basic functions (ACC, lane keeping) is standard, with extended features it costs extra. The last time the ADAC tested a vehicle with software version 9.0, the update to 10.0 came after the test.

With the "Autopilot"The Model 3 keeps the lane as well as the distance to the cars in front and can also change lanes automatically if you press the indicator and the car says that there is enough space in the neighboring lane.Autopilot"When set to a higher speed than you can drive in your own lane due to the traffic, the car makes suggestions for changing lanes.

However: the quality of the controls left a lot to be desired in the test. The shows that the system does not recognize any traffic signs and also overlooks obstaclesTechnological immaturity. And it is irresponsible that the car also allows the autopilot mode in the city, although, according to the manual, it only does its job on motorways and motorways.

It is therefore irresponsible that the Model 3 tempts unsuspecting customers to turn to other activities and no longer pay attention to what is happening on the road. What can happen as a result has been shown toAccidents shown: For example, a Model 3 drove uncontrollably under a semi-trailer truck in the USA at high speed. The driver died instantly. The American Road Safety Agency found it proven that the driver had relied on the autopilot. There have been quite a few accidents like this now, and not just in the United States.

Good space, poor workmanship

TheSpace are okay for a mid-range car: people up to two meters tall can sit comfortably in the front, while people up to 1.85 meters can sit comfortably in the back. According to the ADAC measurement method, the trunk holds 385 liters or six beverage crates. If you fold down the backrests and load up to the lower edge of the window, 720 liters fit.
Practical: there is one under the trunk floorsubjectwith a volume of about 58 liters, for examplefor charging cables or rarely used luggage. And a further 56 liters volume is available under the front hood.

As partly miserable presented itselfprocessing of the tested Model 3, especially with the body: strongly fluctuating gap dimensions, loveless edge seals with flaking paint and wavy door rubbers! A next test must show whether the processing of the latest models is better.

Tesla Model 3 in the crash test: five stars

The Tesla Model 3 reached full five stars and clearly exceeded the required number of points. The vehicle is equipped with belt force limiters, belt tensioners, head airbags as well as optical and acoustic seat belt warnings in the first and second row of seats. Side airbags are also installed for the front seats.

The Occupant protection is very good, the risk of injury for adults and children almost consistently low to very low. ISOFIX brackets are mounted on the outer rear seats with i-Size identification. The middle seat in the back is suitable for child seats with belts, the belted assembly on the front passenger seat is not critical. The front airbag on the passenger side can be deactivated.

The Model 3 comes with acomprehensive assistance package Equipped as standard with automatic emergency brake assist, very good active lane keeping system and system-integrated speed limiter. Euro NCAP criticizes the fact that the active safety systems do not cooperate enough when the driver corrects the steering, for example.

Here you can find the detailed results of the Euro NCAP crash test.

Tesla Model 3: Technical data *

ADAC measured values

ADAC test result

Here you can download the detailed test report of theTesla Model 3 AWD Long Range (May 2019) download as PDF.

Test report for the Tesla Model 3 AWD Long Range
View PDF

Here you can download the detailed test report of theTesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (October 2019) download as PDF.

Test report for the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus
View PDF

* As of the time of testing in 2019

You can find many more driving reports and car tests here.

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