Tesla Confirms Model S Superiority Over Newcomer Model 3 With Specs Showdown

tesla model 3
The Model 3 might be the latest electric vehicle in the works from Tesla, but the company is going out of its way to let you know that it isn’t the “greatest”. The Model S went into production in June 2012, and has since become the poster-child for the company’s advances in EV and autonomous driving development. But the “3” in the designation Model 3 is leading some people to believe that this a next-generation vehicle that will be more advanced than its five-year-old sibling.

“Model S is our flagship, premium sedan with more range, acceleration, displays and customization options,” writes Tesla on a new page that pits the two siblings head-to-head. “Model 3 is designed and built as a mass market, affordable electric vehicle. Although it will be our newest vehicle, Model 3 is not ‘Version 3’ or the most advanced Tesla. Like Model S, it is designed to be the safest car in its class.”

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Tesla Model 3

As the entry point for those looking to step into the Tesla EV family, the Model 3 is roughly a foot shorter than the flagship Model S. And while the Model S driving range is rated for 249 miles to 335 miles depending on options, Tesla will only say that the Model 3 is rated at over 215 miles of all-electric range. While the pavement pounding Model S P100D will dash to 60 mph in a stomach pummeling 2.3 seconds in Ludicrous Mode, the Model 3 will take a “leisurely” trip to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds -- who are we kidding, sub six seconds is still good for a $35,000 vehicle.

Given that Model 3 is supposed to be a mainstream model, reaching a much lower price point ($35,000 compared to $68,000), the vehicle loses out on many of the features that Model S owners take for granted. You won’t find a fully automatic rear trunk (Model 3 peasants will have to slam the trunk lid by hand), auto-sensing and retracting door handles are absent, the vehicle seats up to five people instead of a maximum of seven, and you’ll find just one centrally-mounted LCD display panel on the dash instead of two. The Model 3 also has half the cargo capacity of the Model S spread between its front-trunk (frunk) and its rear trunk.

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Tesla Model S

Tesla does indicate that the Model 3 can be optioned with up to 19-inch wheels, which should fill out the wheel wells nicely on the smaller vehicle (the optional 21-inch wheels on the Model S would likely look comical on the Model 3). It will also have optional full self-driving capabilities via Autopilot and will be available with a glass roof.

Even if the feature downgrades don’t steer you away from plunking down your hard-earned cash on the Model 3, you should keep this in mind. If you place an order for Model 3 today, you won’t receive your vehicle for at least a year. However, Model S orders placed today will arrive in 30 days or less.