Nothing says success quite like a sequel, and in 2024, Tesla has done exactly that with arguably its most important car, the Tesla Model 3.   

The Model 3 popularised Tesla for the masses, after years of experimenting with lightning-quick sedans and SUVs with funky doors. Since launching in 2017, the Model 3 went on to dominate the BEV market. By 2020, it had secured its status as the benchmark for all electric vehicles, after toppling the Nissan Leaf to become the best-selling battery-electric vehicle. That happened only 6-months after it debuted in Australia and New Zealand.

Today, the Model 3 is no longer the best-selling BEV, having been outperformed by Tesla’s own Model Y – which shares about three-quarters of its parts. It’s also under assault from all angles with stiff competition from the established players and from Chinese newcomers.

So, has Tesla improved the new Model 3 where it counts? Can it still be considered the benchmark electric vehicle? 

What We Like and Dislike About The 2024 Tesla Model 3

There are three variants of the Tesla Model 3 available for New Zealand buyers.

ModelClaimed Range (WLTP)Starting Price
Tesla Model 3 (Rear Wheel Drive)513 kms$63,900
Tesla Model 3 Long Range629 kms$73,900
Tesla Model 3 Performance528 kms$84,900

Our test vehicle is the Model 3 Rear Wheel Drive that is considered the entry-level Model 3. It has a 60kWh battery and single electric motor driving the rear wheels, outputting 210kW of power and 420Nm of torque, and can achieve the 100km/h sprint in 6.1 seconds.

The Model 3 Long Range and the Model 3 Performance have a 78kWh battery along with two electric motors, one motor dedicated to each axle, providing all-wheel drive.

The Model 3 Long Range outputs 324kW of power and 493Nm of torque, achieving the 100km/h sprint in a claimed 4.4 seconds. The Model 3 Performance outputs 375kW of power and 741Nm of torque, achieving the 100km/h sprint in a claimed 3.1 seconds – with rollout subtracted.

For more information on the Tesla Model 3, visit the Tesla New Zealand website.

How Does The 2024 Tesla Model 3 Compare To Its Competition?

Make/ModelBattery capacity


Boot space
(excl CCP)
Hyundai Ioniq 6 (2WD)53111/350429401$79,990
Hyundai Ioniq 5 (RWD)58125/3508.5384527$79,990
Kia EV6 Air Long Range77.4168/3507.3528490$79,990
Nissan Leaf59160/340385405$72,990
Mini Cooper SE54160/3306.7402$66,990
MG 4 Long Range77180/3506.5530350$63,990
Tesla Model 3 (RWD)60220/4206.1513594$63,900
BYD Seal Dynamic61150/3107.5460400$62,990
Cupra Born82170/3107.0548385$59,990
BYD Dolphin Extended60150/3107427345$52,990
Peugeot 208-e50100/2608.1382311$49,990
Opel Corsa-e50100/2608.1383309$49,990
MG 4 Excite51125/2507.2350363$46,990

Please note that DriveLife does its best to ensure the information above is correct at the time of publication, however, prices, specifications and models can change over time. Please bear that in mind when comparing models in the comparison table.

First Impressions Of The 2024 Tesla Model 3 

To describe the refreshed exterior of the new Model 3, I can sum it up in two parts.

From the front: Yeah, okay.
From the back: Ooh, yeah, that looks good. 

Otherwise, the rest of it is pretty much the same. 

Granted, Tesla’s relatively minor nip-and-tuck does amount to a fairly substantial difference when parked next to its predecessor. The new Model 3 appears sharper, more modern and has cleaner lines compared with the old car, which now almost appears blobby by comparison. 

The new optional 19” “Nova” alloys complete the look and are a must-have in my view. Between the alloys, and optioning any colour (other than white), the new Model 3 appears far less generic, and perhaps even, a little bit handsome.

What’s The Interior Like In The 2024 Tesla Model 3?

Much like the outside, the inside of the new Model 3 follows the ‘same, but different’ approach. 

The sameness will be apparent to anyone who has sat, or even peered through the window of a Model 3. The layout, the design, and above all, the giant command screen whacked in the middle – it’s all a familiar recipe. Of course, there are a few obvious design and material changes.  

In the front, the Model 3 has binned the Beachwood in favour of soft-grey textiles, which dress the vent shroud and the door panels. The centre console has new trims, with recessing lids for the storage cubbies that make a satisfying clink when closed. The switch gear has also been ‘switched up’ (heh), introducing more matte textures and a haptic look (but they’re not actually haptic, thank goodness). More notably, there’s a new steering wheel that has deleted the indicator and drive selector stalks.

Tesla has also attempted to blend interior lines and edges together, to introduce a ‘wrap-round’ style to the cockpit. This is mainly achieved through redesigned door panels and form a continuous strip of colour-adjustable LED lights bordering the cabin. Altogether, these relatively minor tweaks do freshen up the cabin, while retaining that sense of minimalism, or the “Apple store” aesthetic of the previous Model 3.

The rest of the cabin, otherwise, is virtually unchanged – which means the praises and the criticisms are also much the same. I’ll begin with some praise, shall I?

First, the Model 3’s exterior visibility is excellent, owing to the design of its glasshouse. You almost have early 2000’s vehicle era visibility from the front seats, meaning you needn’t use one of the Tesla’s many exterior cameras if you’re not inclined. 

Speaking of glass, the Model 3’s moonroof allows plenty of light into the cabin making it feel airy and spacious. It’s also a good distraction – not for the driver – but generally for children in the back seats that’ll spend their time marvelling out it. That said, the Moonroof can quickly turn the cabin in a sauna on a hot day. Good thing the Tesla App allows you to crack the windows or precondition the cabin before you get in.  

On the subject of good distractions, Tesla has added a new 8’’ touchscreen for passengers in the back. This allows rear seat passengers to control their own climate control, change the audio and use the ‘Toybox’ functions found in the central infotainment system. Passengers can also connect their own headphones to it via Bluetooth, which should reduce driver distractions from any gaming antics.

The seats are carried over from the previous Model 3. The front seats are amply padded, that you’ll probably find yourself sinking a few inches as you put your weight into them. The seats are perfectly fine, but like the previous Model 3, they could benefit from being a tad more supportive in some areas. It’s a similar situation for rear-seat passengers, although Tesla has lifted the seat base a fraction, which provides more under-thigh support and should make it more comfortable for taller folk.

The seats are upholstered in Tesla’s vegan leather, which does feel quite synthetic and plasticky compared to some competitors. Conveniently, this brings us to the build and materials quality of the Model 3. This had been a sore point for Tesla since the inception of the Model 3. However, Tesla did improve the predecessor with each successive model year. The new car is assembled better, although it still feels built to a cost. The perceived quality of the cabin materials is mostly okay, but you definitely can find better for the price. 

Suffice to say, Tesla’s not going to win any awards for its tangible qualities, but arguably, it was never chasing those accolades. Instead, Tesla is all about the intangible, or rather, its technology. That brings us to the focal point of the interior, which is the Model 3’s massive central infotainment and command screen.

It’s the brain of the entire car and controls nearly everything. Need to adjust the wing mirrors or the position of the steering wheel? It’s on the screen. Adjust the regenerative braking levels? On the screen. Climate controls and heated seats? Screen.

Of course, the screen doesn’t include the doors, window switches and some seat controls, but the screen does nearly everything else. Even the speedometer, and now even the gear selector is on the screen, but more on this later. Personally, I reckon the Model 3 would benefit from a dedicated screen or a heads-up display for its speedo.

From a software perspective, there isn’t much which is different about the infotainment compared to the previous model year.

In terms of hardware, the new Model 3’s screen has a thinner bezel and the audio system has been upgraded. The 17-speaker audio system is an improvement over the outgoing car and is actually quite a good sound system at this price point.

What’s The 2024 Tesla Model 3 Like To Drive?

Many have described Tesla as being a tech company instead of a car company. Even its own idiosyncratic chief executive has described the firm this way. Although in 2024, I would almost contend that Tesla is also a political entity.

Tesla is the face of electric vehicles in 2024, and electric vehicles are still somewhat of a polarising topic in the eye of the public.

Like anything political, or anything on the internet, it can be challenging to find a balanced view of Tesla.

You can’t ask a Tesla owner, because many have unwavering loyalty to the brand. They’re the sort that will tell you it’s the best car they’ve ever owned, only to find out their last car was a decade-old Ford Mondeo which they’d bought used and for a quarter of the price.  

Any criticism is often deflected with some performative enviro-do-goodism, or some equally tiresome waffle that’ll soon make you regret the conversation. 

On the other hand, there’s the anti-Tesla types. They’re the sorts that are probably partial to a turbo-diesel Ute. They’ll harp on continuously about panel gaps, build quality, there being too few public chargers, or electric vehicle fires taking days to extinguish. A few may even try to convince you the whole car would fall apart or even self-combust, as you drive it down the road – an obvious falsehood, of course.

I’ll cut through the noise for you. The Tesla Model 3 is a good car, and the new Model 3 has been mostly changed for the better (okay, settle down fanboys).

So, how has the new Model 3 been changed for the better?

The most tangible changes are to the suspension. Tesla has virtually given the Model 3’s suspension an entire overhaul, providing new dampeners, bushings, geometries, and even some rear subframe tweaks, all with the intention of providing improved ride comfort and better handling.

Some of you may have seen the marketing for the new dampers, which Tesla has named their “frequency-response suspension”. However, the dampers are still a fixed spring, passive set-up – or more simply put, they’re not adaptive dampers. 

Despite Tesla’s tendency to make somewhat grandiose representations (e.g. “Autopilot”), all these suspension adjustments have markedly improved the Model 3’s ride quality.

The new Model 3 manages bumps and uneven sections of road far better than before. The Model 3’s ride is still relatively firm by default, but unlike the previous car, the dampening of the new shocks is better. 

Another major improvement comes from more generous provisioning of cabin insulation, along with acoustic cabin glass, which has markedly reduced the amount of cabin noise when driving.  It’s a significant improvement over its predecessor, for sure. 

Handling has also been improved, but the difference isn’t as noteworthy. For those without the experience, the Model 3 has some inherently good dynamics, mainly from its low centre of gravity (from batteries being mounted low in the chassis) and being rear-driven (on this ‘entry’ level model). Compared to the used Mondeo, the Model 3 will feel like a fairly sporty offering.

In a broader context though, the Model 3 isn’t a sports car. It’s neither particularly sharp nor entertaining in the bends. If anything, it feels rather inert, but many electric cars feel similar.   

It’s partially due to its weight. Even though the Model 3 is one of the lightest EV’s among its competitors, it’s still an absolute lump. This Model 3 tips the scales at 1761 kg. If anything, its relative lightness pays a greater dividend in efficiency – more on this later. 

All that said, the Model 3 still grips the road competently feeling both safe and stable on twisty roads. Just don’t believe the fanboys comments, is all. 

Of course, sporty driving was never the Model 3’s M.O. but if you’ve never driven a Model 3, you’ll find the straight-line performance to be rather impressive. Even in this base-spec Model 3, the 0-100 kph sprint is still performed in a little over 6 seconds. It’s the same as the outgoing car but is objectively quite quick for an otherwise ordinary family saloon. 

Not all changes to the new Model 3 have been good, however. In the pursuit of aggressive minimalism, Tesla has eliminated stalks from the steering column. The indicators are now a button on the steering wheel, and the ‘gear’ selector integrated into the command screen, or as a backup, are selectable from a panel on the ceiling.

Bluntly, both changes are a pain in the ass. BMW drivers were once stereotyped for not using their indicators, but Tesla may acquire this unfortunate reputation in 2024. Basically, the indicator is never in the same spot when turning the wheel. The moment you think you’re adjusting to it, a roundabout, or two quick successive and opposite turns, will make you hate it again.

The ‘swipe-to-drive’ gear selector is also irritating, particularly when three-point turns are involved.  The fact that Tesla has already pre-engineered an obvious alternative on the ceiling already tells you it’s an acquired taste.   

Aside from these introduced irritations, the new Model 3 still leaves a good impression for its changes and for the qualities it did well originally. If anything, some of the Model 3’s most impressive qualities are, or almost are, unchanged in the new car.    

For example, the Model 3’s battery and motors are essentially unchanged. Tesla has managed to eke out some efficiency gains from some minor motor tweaks and from the revised bodywork, which contributes to a 0.219 CD drag coefficient (the outgoing car was 0.225 CD).

During our test, we achieved an average energy consumption figure of 14.4kWh per 100kms, providing a theoretical range of 432 kms. Even with the variance from its claimed range of 513 kms (which is expected for all EVs), the Model 3 is still one of the most energy-efficient electric vehicles which I’ve tested. 

Efficiency does matter, because better efficiency can mean a smaller battery, and a smaller battery can (generally) be charged quicker. Another advantage of efficiency can be shown by way of an example; the Model 3’s usable battery size is roughly 59kWh and has a claimed range of 513 kms, whereas the BMW i5 M60 – which is the last EV which I drove – has a 79kWh battery and a claimed range between 445-505kms. 

The Model 3’s technology packaging is also broadly unchanged (ignoring the rolling updates, that is), and that technology is what has made the Model 3 so easy to live with.

Tesla were among the first to experiment with the tech eco-system with app-based smartphone integration. In other words, the Tesla App controls a lot of the car. The Tesla app connects your smartphone as a soft key, meaning that you walk up to your car, phone in hand (or pocket), and the car will unlock and it’ll drive. It’s dead simple, really.

The Tesla app also provides access to a litany of features including, opening tailgate, opening the windows, remote starting, checking the tyre pressures, and honking the horn, amongst others. There’s also the Tesla store, allowing you the option to purchase software upgrades or buy physical accessories from the App.  

The car is also recognised at a Tesla Supercharger, meaning all you need to do is roll up, plug in, and begin to charge. The Tesla app stores payment information, billing your bank card directly for the charging session.

It’s a seamless process when compared with other public charging stations, which have their own dedicated apps and other payment modalities. The only downside is the lack of infrastructure in New Zealand, with there being only 24 Supercharger locations nationwide. Still, this is an improvement over the 13 locations which were available when we tested the Model Y in late 2022. 

Even though the rest of the car industry is starting to catch up with its App integration, Tesla’s App remains one of the best.

Another area where Tesla remains on the podium is with its driver’s assistance technology, otherwise known as “Autopilot”. Essentially, “Autopilot” is the packaged term for Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Centring Assistance, functions that many new cars have in 2024.   

Tesla ruled the roost with “Autopilot” when it first launched, but other automakers have caught up and some have arguably bettered them. Still, Tesla’s “Autopilot” is excellent and vastly better than anything offered by BYD or MG. The Adaptive Cruise Control is progressive and linear, and the Lane Centring Assistance is consistent and virtually locks you into the centre of the lane. 

All Teslas come with “Autopilot” as standard, but there are additions such as “enhanced Autopilot” for an extra $5,700, which offers auto lane-changing, navigation on “Autopilot” and auto-parking. It also offers a promise of future features like “smart summon”, which supposedly is meant to drive the car to you from its car park.

For an extra $11,400, Tesla will sell you their “FSD” or “Full Self-Driving” software, which is enhanced Autopilot, plus traffic light and stop sign control, along with the promise of having Auto-steer on city streets in the future (i.e. self-driving).  

I have an axe to grind with Tesla for this. Basically, “Full Self-Driving” doesn’t exist, but it’s an expensive promise from Tesla that you’ll have it later.  I’m not sure how Tesla has managed to get away with this name in the interim, because at this stage it’s about as “Full Self-Driving ” as a baby would be considered a “fully responsible adult”. Tesla’s even drawn allegations of false advertising from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles for both “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving ” names. 

According to SAE International, there are six levels of autonomous driving capability. Starting at ‘0’ which is completely manual like your old Hillman Imp, climbing to ‘5’ which is fully autonomous or the Audi RSQ from the movie, iRobot. Tesla’s Autopilot is considered level 2 and few other car companies have achieved level 3. In other words, full self-driving doesn’t exist in 2024. 

Still, Tesla has promised to give you “FSD” once they’ve developed it. When (or if) that happens, and whether that works with existing hardware is another question.

2024 Tesla Model 3 – Specifications

Vehicle Type4-door saloon EV
Starting Price$63,900
Price as Tested$70,824
Engine60kWh battery with single electric motor
Power, Torque
TransmissionSingle speed fixed gear
Spare WheelTyre repair kit
Kerb Weight (Kg)1,761
Length x Width x Height
4720 x 1850 x 1441
Boot Space / Cargo Capacity
594 (+88 Front Trunk)
Energy Economy
Advertised Spec – Combined – Not available
Real-World Test – Combined – 14.4

Low Usage: 6-10 / Medium Usage 11-19 / High Usage 19+
Towing Capacity
(Kg, unbraked/braked)
Turning circle

Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty4 years/80,000 km Basic Vehicle warranty
8 years/160,000 km Battery & Drive Unit 
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 5 stars – 5 Stars – QFC137 

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Alistair Weekes
A millennial who prefers driving cars to having avocado on toast.
2024-tesla-model-3-electric-car-reviewI consider many electric vehicles as being better viewed as a tech product, instead of the more mechanical view you’d take for a conventional internal combustion vehicle. By this metric, the Model 3 is basically the automotive equivalent of an iPhone. It’s objectively good, and there are people that will swear by it, probably forever. <br><br> Of course, the less opinionated types aren’t so locked into it. So, is there any reason for them to buy the new Model 3? <br><br> Yes, and no. <br><br> The new Model 3 has been improved in crucial areas, specifically in its ride, build quality and in overall quietness. Its refreshed exterior has breathed new life into its design, making the previous Model 3 look quite blobby and dated. <br><br> Its technology, energy efficiency and range, along with the Tesla eco-system remain amongst the best in the industry and makes the Model 3 an incredibly easy-to-live-with commodity. As a pure transportation appliance, the Model 3 is excellent. <br><br> Naturally, there are still a few criticisms. The Model 3 still feels like it’s built to a price point, and its driving experience is best described as sterile. It’s also gone backwards in a few areas, particularly with those ridiculous indicators. Shortcomings aside, the new Model 3 is objectively a good car. But, so is an MG 4, as is the BYD Seal. You get the idea. So, it may have lost some lustre amongst new competitors, and I wouldn’t consider it the default EV choice anymore. <br><br> Despite this, the updated Model 3 is an excellent product, and it keeps its status as the benchmark electric vehicle in my head. <br><br>


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