For a number of years I’ve been trying to get a Tesla for a test drive, but their media people have been AWOL – even when I had their actual email address, I was ignored. So how did we get this test drive? Patience really. I signed up on their website for a Tesla Test Drive Event – where they actually come to you – or close to you, and let you get behind the wheel of the vehicle of your choice for 30 minutes or so. Since I’m an Auto Journalist, I took the opportunity and asked to drive both the 3 and the Y so I could write an article, and they were happy to oblige!
Click HERE to sign up and hopefully you too can get some seat time.
So what can you expect when you get the email inviting you to the Test Drive Event? Since I couldn’t find anything written about it online, I’ve decided to include those details here as well.
When I received my email invitation there was a simple button to click if I wanted to confirm a time/day to attend the event. It took me to a Tesla page where I could choose either a Saturday, Sunday or Monday along with which model I wanted to drive and what timeslot I wanted. After selecting my timeslot/day, that was it. I got a phone call about 30 minutes later to confirm the booking and I received a text message with a link to the information page and a link to videos to watch before the day of the event. I was also required to send a picture of my driver’s license and sign a release form at a link they texted me. Over the next couple of days, I received a number of emails confirming the booking and on the day of the test, I received a reminder email.
As instructed, we got to the Tesla Supercharge location 15 minutes before our scheduled time.
Everything was very hands-off thanks to the pandemic, but it went smoothly. Michael introduced himself to us and we both had to show our driver’s license. My wife had to sign the release form on a tablet since she wanted to drive and wasn’t already registered, and that was it. We jumped into a freshly “Covid-cleaned” Model Y first, and after a very brief introduction on how to start the car (just press the brake pedal) and how to use the transmission shifter along with the steering and mirror adjustments, we were left to go for our drive.
If you’ve never driven an electric vehicle before – this is when you start to grin. The power arrives instantly – around the same time your eyes widen and you smile ear to ear. There is nothing like the rush and silence from an EV – even in the parking lot, you know this is going to be a different type of test drive. The regenerative braking is quite pronounced on the Tesla, but you get used to one-pedal driving quickly.
We found the large control panel very informative and quite easy to use. It’s odd not having a speedometer directly in front of you – in fact there’s nothing in front of you but the steering wheel and the open road. The window is large and expansive, with plenty of light coming into the cabin thanks to the glass roof. The steering wheel is the perfect size and you can adjust its feedback from luxury, regular and sport – we chose Sport, obviously. The steering is very sharp and offers plenty of feedback. In the Model 3 we chose luxury/soft setting and it was better than your average feedback, just a little bit less communitive than in Sport mode. During our somewhat brief 20-minute drive we had plenty of opportunities to test both vehicles on semi-smooth residential streets as well as potholed, poorly laid asphalt, bumpy and basically third-world country tarmac that makes up Ontario’s lovely backroads.
After days of nice warmish weather, we ended up doing our test on a day that was windy, cold and in the middle of white-out conditions during our actual drive in both Tesla’s. Both vehicles were a joy to drive – the bum warmers were superb as was the heating system that blows hot air along the strip just under the windshield – we both commented that a heated steering wheel would be ideal in Canada. The HVAC is easy to use, once you get used to using the giant tablet instead of traditional buttons and dials. Because the roads were wet and unfamiliar, neither of us had the opportunity to really push the vehicles, but we certainly got a good feel for the handling and we got to floor the throttle a few times to feel the rush of instant power without doing anything crazy.
Interior space in both vehicles was excellent, with the Model Y obviously the winner between the two for our lifestyle – thanks to the hatchback and the options it obviously brings with that configuration. It feels bigger and roomier along with nice touches like plenty of foot space in the rear for the unfortunate person seated in the middle row. The view out the rear is surprisingly limited – it’s more of a gun slit than anything else, and my wife really didn’t care for that. The A-pillar is quite big and MAY be a bit of a blind-spot issue, but a longer drive on city roads would either confirm or deny that it’s an issue or not. The wing mirrors are smaller than we would have liked and that would take a bit of getting used to. The Model 3 was a different story when it came to the rearview – the structural support runs through the middle of the roof glass, leaving a completely unobstructed upper view out the rear window – this too seemed to throw my wife off, but she said it was better than the Y, though overall the Y was the Tesla for her.
The seats in both vehicles are extremely comfortable and offer a lumbar adjustment not only for in and out, but also up and down – something you rarely see in any car at any price. Another unique feature is when you come to an intersection, the traffic lights come up on the screen – you actually see them. When the light turns from red to green, if you don’t move there’s a little beep to get your attention – very cool. Same thing with stop signs – they show up clearly on the giant tablet. You’d think something like that would distract you and take your eyes off the road, but in actual fact it, it helps and isn’t the slightest bit distracting!
Upon returning to the Tesla Supercharge location we were asked if we had any questions. There was no pressure to buy or commit to anything. If we needed any additional information we were encouraged to reach out to them by phone or email in the future. We were told we’d get a follow-up email in a day or so just to see how things went – it was actually in my email when I got home – again, no high-pressure sales pitch. How refreshing! A couple of days later I got an email asking me to fill out an online survey that took all of 2 minutes.
For me, the Model 3 is the one I’d choose. It’s more like a sports car and it feels just-right. The downside for us is, that it’s a traditional car with a trunk instead of a hatchback, but we’re the exception to the rule in that department. Would we buy one? Based on our however brief drive, I’m definitely sold and yes I’d buy one – but I’d want to have more seat time before parting with my money. My wife enjoyed both vehicles, would take the Y over the 3, but is on the fence at the moment about parting with that kind of cash for our needs.
There are so many new EV’s coming out in the next couple of years it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to even contemplate buying an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle – other than the price disparage that’s presently there. As soon as the prices become comparable, I think people will stampede to EV’s, but getting them behind the wheel may be the hardest part of all. Tesla broke through and made everyone aware of the benefits of owning and driving EV’s and having Tesla Demonstration Drives is the perfect way to get people some seat time to really appreciate the benefits – without the high-pressure sales pitch you’re going to get from traditional car manufacturers. Well done Tesla – setting the bar high and showing others how it’s done!
If you want to sign up for your own Tesla Test Drive, either at a test drive event location or at their sales centre, sign up HERE and they will contact you when there’s an event in your area.
By The Numbers…
Model 3 – Three models to choose from
Standard Plus: RWD // Range: 423 km (est.) // Supercharging Max: 170 kW // 0-100 km/h – 5.6 secs
Long Range: Dual Motor AWD // Range: 568 km (est.) // Supercharging Max: 250 kW // 0-100 km/h – 4.4 secs
Performance: Dual Motor AWD // Range: 507 km (est.) // Supercharging Max: 250 kW // 0-100 km/h – 3.3 secs
Model Y – Two models to choose from
Long Range AWD: Dual Motor AWD // Range: 525 km (est.) // 0-100 km/h – 5.0 secs
Performance: Dual Motor AWD // Range: 488 km (est.) // 0-100 km/h – 3.7 secs
Warranty Basic Vehicle – 4 years or 80,000 km, whichever comes first
Battery & Drive Unit – 8 years or 192,000 km, whichever comes first
Copyright © 2021 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain/Gail Shankland / Tesla