Renting a Tesla Model 3 for a last-minute trip to Las Vegas for SEMA was a terrible idea. It’s not because this dual-motor performance model I rented is a bad car, as it actually surprised me in a lot of ways. It’s because it was so good that it actually depressed me a little bit at the same time.
I rented this car using an app called Turo that helps strangers rent cars to other strangers, and in the case of this Model 3, I also had to borrow their phone. This Tesla has no key, just a phone app to get inside and drive away. I was actually locked out of the car for a minute until I realized the phone had to be unlocked for the Tesla to unlock. The future is now.
Being a heavily optioned, dual-motor performance model, this Tesla was far away from being a price point that’s accessible to the masses. Its $71,000 MSRP could buy you a well-equipped Mercedes-Benz E-Class or a BMW 5 Series, but instead, people are lining up to buy these, which really don’t impress on the surface. The party tricks found in the Model S, such as the retractable door handles and the giant touch screen, don’t exist with the Model 3, nor does it drive as well. I think my 2005 Toyota Prius has less road noise, and it certainly has more comfortable seats than the Model 3, but none of that really matters.
With the Model 3, much like the Model S in 2012, Tesla puts us in a time machine to see what cars will be like in 5 to 10 years. The acceleration is the most impressive part, with its almost painful throttle response. The 3.5 second 0-to-60 number is a figure the Ferrari Enzo could barely reach a decade ago, and this Tesla can do it all day long, or at least as long as the battery lasts. With the all-wheel drive, I could actually accelerate at insane velocities in the corners, as well, leaving my foot to the floor and allowing the traction control to do all the thinking for me. Normal driving is pretty thoughtless, too, since a double click on the bottom of the gear selector engages Autopilot, which enables the Tesla to nearly drive itself right up the Las Vegas strip.
The Tesla’s proximity-detection system gives a readout of objects, representing them as formless grey blobs of various sizes. The car will avoid these grey blobs whether Autopilot is enabled or not, making this ridiculously performing car ridiculously safe as well. I also think Tesla is predicting the future with these blobs representing cars, too, and after viewing all the displays for aftermarket performance accessories at SEMA, I was kind of depressed.
In the future, we’ll all have cars accelerate faster than a Bugatti Veyron, but we won’t care because everybody will have one. There’s no exhaust or intake to modify on a Tesla for extra performance — no superchargers, turbos or nitrous kits either. Even installing an aftermarket stereo would be impossible, since the stock ones are integrated with vital systems like the speedometer and the windshield wipers. I guess you could still install aftermarket wheels and graphics, but that would be just as silly as someone doing the same to a V6 Mustang today. If the future is cars like this Model 3, the SEMA of 20 years into the future will be filled with battery seminars and software engineers.
I’m sure there will be plenty of people clutching the keys to their gasoline-powered cars to the grave — including me. At the same time, I certainly wouldn’t be bored daily driving this crazy Model 3 as well. So, like the future of cars, I’m pretty confused right now.
Editor’s Note: Tyler Hoover mentions Super Cruise in the video above. This was an error — the technology is actually called Autopilot.
MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Video | Here’s Why I’ve Already Spent $28,000 on My 2005 Ford GT
This Chrysler PT Cruiser Looks Like a London Taxi
Autotrader Find: Never-Titled 1997 Plymouth Prowler With Matching Prowler Trailer