June 21, 2024

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Officially unveiling the Tesla Model 3 Highland, with a new design and more features

Officially unveiling the Tesla Model 3 Highland, with a new design and more features

Just hours after images of the upcoming Tesla Model 3 update, codenamed “Project Highland” leaked, Tesla has officially revealed the long-awaited facelift in Europe.

The update includes an “improved” front design and internal changes such as more screen space (including a new rear display) and increased range. Tesla says the update replaces more than half of the parts in the car, though we’re not quite sure how that measures.

Obviously, the most striking change is the new design, which maintains the same look as the current Model 3, but changes the front fascia to look sleeker, removing the somewhat bulging bump on the front end of the current Model 3.

We saw this front end in a leaked image back in April, and it looks like it was real all along. Now we have real photos of Tesla, so you can see the changes in their full glory.

These images show the new “Ultra Red” color, which replaces the current multi-red layer. But this color may only be available in Europe, and we’ll have to wait for more words from Tesla about this color.

The headlights have also become narrower and more aggressive, in line with the overall changes to make the front end look sleeker.

Tesla says the updated Model 3 will have a longer range, at 344 miles WLTP for the SR RWD version, and 421 miles WLTP for the LR, both with 18-inch pneumatic wheels. These numbers represent an 11-12% improvement over the current Model 3’s WLTP ratings.

Note, however, that these are WLTP numbers, so they are larger than the US Environmental Protection Agency’s numbers when they were released. If we expect a similar 11-12% improvement, you will see approximately EPA range of approximately 300 miles on the SR and approximately 370 miles on the LR.

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This increased range comes largely from improvements in aerodynamics, with a lower front end bulge, channeling air around the car more effectively. This resulted in a CD of 0.219, Tesla’s lowest yet (down from 0.225 in the current Model 3), improving the range by 5-8% on its own.

Another improvement is the new wheel cover inserts that strike a compromise between consumers’ desires for larger-looking wheels with greater range. Aerodynamic wheel inserts can increase range a lot, but many think the wheels look better without the flaps (personally, I don’t agree with that, but whatever floats your boat).

There’s a big list of internal changes, too:

  • A new 8-inch rear touchscreen allows rear seat passengers to control climate control and entertainment
  • Deleted stems on the steering column, as on the S and X models, with the gear selector now on the touchscreen and the turn signal buttons on the left side of the steering wheel
  • Ventilated front seats, which can be controlled from outside the car via the Tesla mobile app, and heated or cooled before getting into the car
  • More comfortable rear seats (now perforated, but not ventilated like the front seats)
  • The sound system has been increased to 17 speakers (from 14)
  • Improved bluetooth microphone performance
  • Improved Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for better connectivity with routers and switches
  • A quieter interior than the original Model 3, due to several changes to the aerodynamics and materials
  • Customizable interior ambient lighting
  • Larger boot, up to 594 liters from 561

changes are Now live on European Tesla websitesThe updated Model 3 is now available to order.

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Deliveries begin in October (right after Tesla’s brazen FSD transmission plan ends) in left-hand drive markets in Europe and the Middle East. Tesla has yet to announce when deliveries to North America (or to RHD markets like the UK) will begin. We don’t have pricing for North America yet, but in Norway for example, the SR version is the same base price as before, and the LR version is NOK 10,000 (about $941) more expensive. So far, a high-performance Highland version has not been announced.

Take Electric

We’ve been anticipating this update for a long time, but now that we’ve seen it, it’s more comprehensive than we ever imagined.

The changes to the front end have been well documented, but the big overhaul on the inside is much more than we thought.

Personally, I like most of the changes, but I’m not a fan of the new steering wheel. Although I haven’t tried this particular wheel, the “coupled” wheel on the Model S wasn’t fun to use. I’m sure it will be fine after getting used to it, but the turn signal stems are very comfortable and familiar, and I don’t like changing to buttons.

Same for using the screen to select gear, which seems cheesy – although this command isn’t used as often as the turn signals, so it’s not offensive to me personally.

And lest you think I’m just a weirdo, remember that in our original review of the Model 3, I talked about just about everything about this car, including changes that many considered odd. It was and still is an exceptional vehicle, and altitude changes don’t change that overall.

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We’ll have to wait and see if changing 50% of the parts in the car will lead to some bugs here and there in the early models, but Tesla has gotten a lot better at manufacturing since the early days, so hopefully it won’t be too bad. Even my early Model 3 (VIN ~2500) was mostly problem-free (except for the smelly air conditioning issue – it remains to be seen if Tesla finally solves this problem with the Highland, but we sure hope they do).

What do you think of the new Project Highland Model 3 update? Let us know in the comments below.

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