2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD review

2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD

Toby Hagon

Posted January 22, 2024

It’s officially a facelift, but the 2024 version of the Tesla Model 3 goes further than the typical updates that can freshen a model mid-way through its life.

The new 2024 Tesla Model 3 sedan evolves a successful formula rather than starting from a clean sheet.

But the changes are significant compared to the previous version of the Model 3.

While the overall shape and basic body remains – the roof and window openings are unchanged – there’s a new bonnet, new doors and double glazing added to the rear windows to match those up front. Tesla has also quietened the cabin, enlisted new seat and door finishes, added some equipment and revised the suspension to improve comfort and driving manners.

The 2024 Tesla Model 3 is still available as a single motor Rear-Wheel drive – which is what we’ve tested here – and a dual-motor Long Range with a bigger battery and more performance.

Later in 2024, Tesla will also start offering a Model 3 Performance, which will go a lot further than just added straight line speed. Tesla has previously said the new Model 3 Performance will be far more special for those keen on driving excitement.

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2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD pricing and models

The Tesla Model 3 kicks off in Rear-Wheel Drive guise priced at $61,900 plus on-road costs.

For that you get a panoramic sunroof, electrically adjustable front seats, heated steering wheel, powered tailgate, an above-average sound system and heated seats front and rear. There’s also now adjustable ambient lighting just below the window line and white footwell lighting up front as well as ventilation for the front seats.

Plus those in the rear get an 8-inch infotainment screen.

There’s the occasional omission compared with the previous model; no parking sensors, for example, with the 2024 Tesla Model 3 instead relying on cameras to judge distances to obstacles. Plus, whereas there was previously seat heating for all five seats, the person in the centre rear now misses out.

And, of course, Teslas these days do without any charging hardware, so you’ll have to make sure you’ve got home charging sorted before you park it in the driveway.

Step up to the 2024 Tesla Model 3 Long Range and the ask is $71,900 plus on-road costs. It brings a bigger battery and front motor to deliver all-wheel drive functionality and swifter acceleration.

The only equipment difference with the Model 3 Long Range is a better sound system, with a pumping 17-speaker system setting a new standard for the brand.

The 2024 Tesla Model 3 is covered by a sub-standard four-year, 80,000km warranty, although it’s likely Australian Consumer Law (ACL) will step in for any major defects after that time. The high-voltage battery is covered by a separate eight-year, 160,000km warranty.

In terms of rivals, the most serious is arguably the Toyota Camry because of its broad appeal. But the Tesla Model 3 also competes with luxury offerings such as the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4.

On the EV front, the Model 3 (which is closely related to the Model Y SUV) lines up against the Polestar 2Hyundai Ioniq 6 and even the new BYD Seal.


2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD parked on street

The 2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD's changes are significant. Image: Supplied


2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD safety equipment

The new Tesla Model 3 no longer gets a five-star ANCAP safety rating from the previous model.

Tesla says it made with this latest model, however.

Chief among them is better side impact protection courtesy of redesigned doors that now include a hook on the bottom edge of the doors to slot into a groove on each door sill, something designed to better hold the door in place in a crash.

The 2024 Model 3 has also picked up a pedestrian warning system as part of the under-bonnet speaker that doubles as the horn. There’s also a speaker in the rear of the car for the rear pedestrian warning system.

Dual front airbags, front side airbags and side curtain airbags also help give the Tesla Model 3 a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Of course, there’s also autonomous emergency braking – now triggered via dual forward-facing cameras rather than with the addition of a radar – as well as blind spot warning.

The 2024 Tesla Model 3 also gets an in-cabin camera facing its occupants to monitor the driver. Functionality will also be added to that camera in future to allow for child presence detection, something that is part of the future ANCAP roadmap.


2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD being driven on road

The Tesla Model 3 RWD has a five-star ANCAP rating. Image: Supplied


2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD interiors and design

Tesla cabins have long been an acquired taste and the 2024 Model 3 is no different – although it has stepped up the ambience and comfort.

As before, there’s a 15-inch touchscreen that dominates the dash. While it looks unchanged it’s actually marginally thinner and is claimed to be faster reacting and brighter.

As well as maps and audio the screen controls many features of the car, from the windscreen wipers and drive modes to the steering feel and ventilation. You even open the glovebox from the screen.

There are also arcade games, a dashcam recorder and some gimmicky extras, including a camping mode that displays a crackling fire. Dog Mode is more useful, able to keep your pooch in cool comfort while displaying a message to passers-by letting them know the cabin is being ventilated.

All of this can be monitored from the Tesla app, which also allows remote activation of the ventilation and locks. It’s part of the over-the-air functionality that feeds updated software to the car; sometimes that software will improve functionality but it could also introduce new features.

Elsewhere, the cabin has stepped up in terms of its presentation. The seats are still covered in fake leather but perforations and a fresh design means it looks closer to the real thing.

Up front, the ventilation also makes for better cooling on a hot day, although plenty of heat still radiates through the glass roof.

New materials on the doors and dash also look more upmarket, although it’s unlikely to frighten any of the traditional luxury brands.

While it’s a four-door sedan, the Tesla Model 3’s interior space is generous courtesy of its layout that doesn’t have to account for a chunky gearbox and engine.

A flat floor makes for great rear seat foot space and headroom throughout is good.

The boot has a small opening but useful space that includes an underfloor component, as well as a 60/40 split-folding back seat for longer items. A storage box under the bonnet – or ‘frunk’ – is handy for valuables or charging cables.


2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD interior

The 2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD's interior boasts an infotainment screen up front and back for both front and rear driver and passengers. Image: Supplied


2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD battery power, charging and efficiency

The Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive gets a different battery to others in the 2024 Tesla Model 3 range.

Its chemistry is lithium ferrous phosphate (LFP) versus the more common nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) that has a higher energy density.

The big advantage with LFP batteries is that they’re cheaper to manufacture – they do without cobalt and nickel, for a start – and they can be regularly topped up to 100 per cent state of charge, something NMC batteries recommend against.

While Tesla doesn’t quote the capacity of the battery, it’s about 60kWh, which is modest by prestige EV standards.

But the efficiency of the car – which has improved with this new model due to better aerodynamics and more energy efficient tyres – means it has a claimed driving range of 513km (according to the WLTP standard).

Home and AC charging can be done at up to 11kW using a three-phase connection. Stick to the more common 7.4kW single phase charger and a full charge takes about six hours. A regular home powerpoint is more like 30 hours.

Public DC charging can be done at up to 170kW, which Tesla says can add 282km of range in as little as 15 minutes.


2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD frunk

The absence of an engine under the Tesla Model 3 RWD's hood leaves room for a 'frunk' (front trunk). Image: Supplied


2024 Tesla Model 3 RWD performance and handling

The new Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive has undergone major changes to its suspension, starting with a stiffening of the vehicle structure, something that allows the springs and dampers to better do their job.

The dampers have also been replaced with Frequency Selective Damper technology (FSD). As the name suggests, the shock absorbers can adjust their damping force depending on the frequency of the bump they’re driving over. A short, sharp jolt, for example, might get a lower damping force to help absorb the shock. But for gentler bumps and speed humps it may stiffen things slightly to maintain body control and reduce body movement.

The result is a far more compliant ride than anything from Tesla previously.

The car has a lot more composure over jittery suburban bumps and deals more assertively with larger hits.

The trademark direct steering remains and makes for an athletic and engaging four-door.

One area the 2024 Tesla Model 3 has gone backwards is in grip. New tyres were chosen to reduce road noise and overall comfort. Those new tyres also mean Tesla had to wind back the car’s top speed – from an academic 225km/h to an equally academic 201km/h – while also forgoing outright grip.

For everyday motoring, though, the benefits far outweigh the minor compromise.

Getting the new Tesla Model 3 moving is different to any other car.

Gone are the stalks around the steering wheel that previously engaged Drive or Reverse and activated the blinkers.

Now the indicators are activated by push buttons on the steering wheel, something that generally works fine but requires additional focus if you’ve got the wheel turned.

Selecting Drive or Reverse is now done with a virtual slider control that appears when you put your foot on the brake. It quickly becomes second nature.

Tesla doesn’t quote motor outputs in its marketing material, but the Tesla Model 3 overseas owner’s manual suggests the Rear-Wheel Drive makes 194kW and 340Nm.

It translates to 0-100km/h acceleration of 6.1 seconds, which is above average for an entry level car – and brisker than many more expensive luxury rivals.

It’s delivered in that delicious EV surge that makes suburban traffic a snip and leaves plenty in reserve for freeway driving.


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