If you’ve ever driven Tesla’s flagship vehicle–the $140,000 Model S P100D–you’ ve experienced an unparalleled version of driving power. Zero to 60 in 2.3 seconds punches you back in the seat while building the belly turning somersaults. Some people live for that sensation. I’m not one of them.
Sure, driving a fully loaded electric beast is as thrilling as the fiercest roller coaster–but not everyone wants their everyday commute to be the Kingda Ka. After taking one of the first drives of Tesla’s new Model 3 last week, I went away thinking that CEO Elon Musk has finally delivered an electric car for the everyday street tripper like me.
The Model 3 still has plenty of pickup, effortlessly jump-start from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds in the upgraded version I test drove, which gets a stunning 310 miles on a charge. It’s nimble, comfortable, and has tight steering that’ll retain you grinning. The seats embrace you in a gentle hug that feels a bit more geared for street trip than racetrack. It’s the Model S on a diet, building up in practicality what it loses in extravagance.
And I haven’t even gotten to the good material yet.
The fact that this car still appears, drives, and feels like a Tesla–at a starting cost of $35,000 — shows how far the Silicon Valley automaker has come. It’s still an expensive vehicle for many of Tesla’s biggest fans, and compelling alternatives packages will drag a lot of stretching spenders into uncomfortable province. But at current battery prices, Tesla is setting a new standard for value in an electric car–which of course was Musk’s plan all along.