Monthly Archives: June 2017

The production Tesla Model 3

Elon Musk has officially unveiled the production Tesla Model 3, delivering on his promise to develop an affordable EV for the masses. With more than 200 mi (354 km) of range in base form, a pared back interior and the cool factor associated with buying a Tesla, the Model 3 looks good on paper. But hitting the promised US$35,000 price is going to take some restraint.

When he announced plans to build the Model 3, Elon Musk promised to deliver an EV with usable range for $35,000. Turns out Chevrolet had the same idea and beat Tesla to the punch with the Bolt, but we’ll leave that aside for now. Credit where it’s due, Musk has delivered a 200-mile electric sedan for $35,000 – but you’ll need to show restraint to drive away with a car for that price.

The base car takes less than two hours to fully charge on a Supercharger, while range replenishes at around 30 mi (42 km) per hour when hooked up to a 240V, 32A home plug. Thankfully, the car accelerates faster than it charges, hitting 60 mph (97 km/h) in just 5.7 seconds from standstill.

People regularly covering longer distances will likely want to tick the box for the Extended Range package, which adds $9k to the list price, but boosts range from 220 to 310 mi (499 km). It also cuts the 60 mph (97 km/h) sprint to 5.1 seconds, and slightly improves charge times. Few owners are likely to care, but top speed jumps from 130 to 140 mph (209 to 225 km/h).

Regardless of what battery is under the floor, the Model 3 interior looks absolutely brilliant. Telsa has dropped the digital instrument binnacle and vertical touchscreen combination of the Model S and X, replacing them with a freestanding central touchscreen responsible for giving the driver information about essentials like speed, along with infotainment. We’ll be interested to see if this layout is easy to use, or whether it proves distracting.

Land Rover Discovery review

In a nutshell, the 2017 Land Rover Discovery is rugged, capable, and much more like last year’s Discovery Sport model in terms of handling and fuel economy. Improvements have been made on several fronts, not the least of which in how the Discovery now handles itself on around town.

The Land Rover Discovery was formerly known in the US as the LR4. Whatever the reason for the change from the world-known Discovery name to the ambiguous letter-letter-number thing, Rover has realized its mistake and made a much better SUV to go with the return to its globally-recognized moniker.

Throughout the modern era, the Land Rover name has been ubiquitous with off-pavement capability and robust “gettin there” possibilities. Where the US had “Jeep”, the British empire had “Rover.” Seen continually in safari magazines, on film, and in documentary series, the Land Rover Discovery became a staple of adventure and rugged capability. Alongside the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Discovery was co-owner of offroad adventure around the world. The Wrangler, meanwhile, stayed largely within US borders where it would become the most iconized and accessorized consumer vehicle on the planet.

As time progressed, most of vehicles in the Discovery’s class began to show upgrades to their interiors to match the new expectations of sport utility buyers. Rugged capability is still expected today, but in a softer, more family-friendly (and family-toting) way. These days you’re less likely to see the roof-mounted luggage baskets, snorkels, and huge “roo bars” (deer guards) across the grille. Instead there’s three rows of comfortable seating, climate control for everybody, wireless headphones, rear seat television sets, and attention to detail like sensibly positioned smartphone sockets.

Things we had like to see in Formula E

Since launching in 2014, Formula E has developed into a high-voltage showcase for what battery-powered cars can do. The third season came to a close on the weekend, with Lucas Di Grassi snatching the driver title in dramatic circumstances. Races in big cities, plenty of drama and growing support from big brands have made the category a growing force, but it’s far from perfect. Here are three things we’d like to see for more engaging racing in Formula E … and one thing we’d like to keep.

This seems like an obvious one for any type of racing, but hear us out here. Cars produce around 200 kW (270 hp) of power in qualifying trim, and hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in just under three seconds. They’re dialled back to just 172 kW (230 hp) in race trim. Faraday Future says its 880 kg (1940 lb) car tops out at 241 km/h (150 mph), although there aren’t many straights on the Formula E catalogue long enough to reach that lofty pace.

Formula 1 and World Endurance Championship cars run on specially designed slicks in the dry and wets in the, er, wet. On the other hand, Formula E cars are forced to run with all-weather Michelin tires that are directly related to the ones you can buy at the local Tire Rack. This is supposedly designed to make the sport more relevant to the real world, but we’d suggest it may have a bit more to do with the better battery range offered by their low rolling resistance.

Although it’s nice to see the cars slithering around on track, this series is designed to act as a showcase for what electric cars can do. Rather than artificially limiting the cars with road tires, we’d love to see them let loose with proper racing rubber. Let’s see just how hard cars with batteries can really go.