Tesla Model S vs Tesla Model 3

As the Tesla Model 3 entered production and became available to the mass-market, comparisons between the ‘entry level’ Model 3 and the larger and more expensive Model S abound all over.

Tesla’s Comparison

In early 2019, Tesla produced their own comparison page at Tesla.com

Model S is our flagship, premium sedan with more range, acceleration, displays and customization options.
Model 3 is designed and built as a mass market, affordable electric vehicle. Although it is our newest vehicle, Model 3 is not “Version 3” or the most advanced Tesla. Like Model S, it is designed to be the safest car in its class.

Tesla Model S Tesla Model 3
0-60 mph in 2.4 to 4.2 seconds depending on model 0-60mph in 3.2 to 5.6 seconds depending on model
270 to 335 miles of range 220 to 325 miles of range
30 cubic ft of cargo 15 cubic ft of cargo
Digital driver display and 17″ touchscreen 15″ digital center display
1500 different configurations available Less than 100 configurations available
Full Self-Driving Capability
Aluminum Body
Smart Air Suspension
Glass Roof
19″ or 21″ Performance Wheels
HEPA Filtration System
Auto-Presenting Door Handles
Full Self-Driving Capability
Aluminum and Steel Body
Coil Suspension
Optional Glass Roof
18″ Aero, 19″ Sport or 20″ Performance Wheels

Other differences between the Model 3 and Model S

As Tesla officially states (above), the Model S is their flagship sedan. However, at the same time, the Model 3 has some improvements so that, even though the cost is much less, being a new and improved design, gives the cheaper mass-market Model 3 some advantages over the Model S.

It’s likely that things such as sound deadening, smoothness of ride, even fit and finish may be better on the Model S, but this is all speculative. Tesla hasn’t specifically said what makes the Model S more premium, except for the customization and longer range. This hints at the fact that if you don’t need maximum range, and you are looking at base models, the Model 3 could definitely be a better choice

Cost difference between the Model 3 and the Model S

The Model S is basically twice the cost of the Model 3, but as options are added, pricing differences can change. Plus, if you’re looking for a feature that only the Model S provides, than a cheaper Model 3 does you no good.

As for upkeep costs, insurance will likely be cheaper for the Model 3 (as replacement cost is less), and also the more-efficient watts per mile rating on the Model 3 makes it cheaper to operate.

Battery and Range Comparison

The long-range Model 3 comes with a 75 kWh batter pack which has been tested and actually has 78.3 kWh of usable battery. The Model S 75D (no longer available) came with a 75 kWh battery pack that only had 72.6 kWh of usable battery capacity.

The Model 3 is also more efficient than the Model S due to many factors including decreased weight, more efficient electric motor (see below) etc. That means the long range Model 3 has comparable EPA range rating to the Model S 100D (no longer available)

Electric Motor Differences between the Model 3 and Model S

The Model S uses an induction motor because it was cheaper to build. Since the release of the Model S and the Model 3, the cost of production of permanent magnet motors has decreased enough that Tesla decided to use permanent magnet motors in the Model 3.

Permanent magnet motors (thus the Model 3) have many advantages over the induction style motors (the Model S) including:

  • lighter thus reducing overall vehicle weight and improving handling
  • more efficient over a wide range of RPMs
  • more efficient at recapturing energy during braking at low speeds

Interior Space Comparisons

Based on some tests, the Model 3 actually has more headroom than the Model S in the front and rear seat because of the shape of the curve of the roof.

Legroom is the same in the front, and in the rear, the Model 3 has only a fraction of an inch less legroom than the Model S.

Updated on April 16, 2019

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