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 real estate (including a new rear screen) and increased range. Tesla says the update replaces more than half the parts in the car, though we’re not entirely sure how to measure that metric.

Obviously the most striking change is the new design, which keeps the same look as the current Model 3, but changes the front end to look sleeker, eliminating the somewhat bulbous 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 the Tesla, so you can see the changes in their full glory.

These images show the new “Ultra Red” color, which replaces the current Red Multicoat. 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.

But note that these are WLTP numbers, so they are larger than the US EPA numbers when they were released. If we expect a similar 11-12% improvement, you’ll see an EPA range of about 300 miles on the SR and about 370 miles on the LR.

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This increased range comes largely from improvements in aerodynamics, with a less bulging front end, directing air around the car more effectively. This resulted in a CD of 0.219, Tesla’s lowest yet (down from 0.225 on the current Model 3), which improves 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 and greater range. Aerodynamic wheel inserts can increase range a lot, but many believe the wheels look better without the covers (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 change and entertainment
  • Deleted stalks on the steering column, as on the S and
  • Ventilated front seats, which can be controlled from outside the car through the Tesla phone app, and heated or cooled before getting into the car
  • More comfortable rear seats (now perforated, but not as ventilated as the front seats)
  • The sound system has been increased to 17 speakers (up from 14)
  • Improved Bluetooth microphone performance
  • Improved Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to better connect to routers and phone switches
  • A quieter interior than the original Model 3, due to several changes to aerodynamics and materials
  • Customizable interior ambient lighting
  • The boot is larger, up to 594 liters from 561

The changes are Now live on Tesla’s European websiteswhere the updated Model 3 is now available to order.

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 will begin for North America (or for RHD markets like the UK). We don’t have prices for North America yet, but in Norway for example, the SR version is the same base price as before, and the LR version is 10,000 NOK (about US$941) more expensive. So far, a high-performance Highland version has not been announced.

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Take Electric

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

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

I personally 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 was not fun to use. I’m sure it will be fine after getting used to it, but the turn signal stalks are so comfortable and familiar, I don’t like changing to buttons.

Ditto for using the screen to select gear, which seems tacky – although this isn’t used as often as 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 pretty much everything about this car, including changes that many found strange. It was and remains an exceptional vehicle, and the changes in altitude don’t generally change that.

We’ll have to wait and see if changing 50% of the parts in the car will result in a few glitches here and there in early models, but Tesla has improved a lot in 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 issue with the Highland, but we certainly hope they do).

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

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