“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.”
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.
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.