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Tesla made a rare car show appearance at the biennial Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA), the largest car show in Europe, to showcase the Tesla Model 3 refresh, known as Project Highland. While reports indicate that Tesla devoted few resources to its booth at the show, people appreciated the changes to the improved Model 3 to garner enough attention anyway. Let’s look at how the Model 3 Highland is closing the gap between it and the Model S.

The Tesla Model 3 Project Highland updates: performance and features

Reviewers from Electrek enjoyed a first-hand look at the newly refreshed Tesla Model Project Highland at the IAA in Munich in September. While they didn’t get much time with the car, they liked the new, more aggressive front facia and more efficient tire and wheel package that doesn’t sacrifice style for aerodynamics. The video review shows a larger rear trunk opening than the old Model 3, with an estimated 24 liters (0.85 cubic feet) more cargo storage.

Inside the updated cabin, you’ll find perforated seats, customizable LED ambient lighting, and a rear touchscreen at the back of the center console between the front seatbacks. While the rear screen works well to control rear seat functions, it’s too tiny to stream entertainment for rear seat passengers. The most significant “love it or hate it” feature comes from the absence of steering column stalks. Instead, steering-wheel buttons control turn signals, and the center screen provides a gear selection menu.

Tesla Oracle says there’s little exterior dimension difference between the old and new Model 3, with the overall length of the Highland version about one inch longer and overall height a smidge lower, primarily due to its 0.1-inch lower ground clearance. The most significant change is the increased weight of the Model 3 Highland, coming in about 343 pounds heavier for the Standard and 216 pounds for the Long Range AWD variant. While it’s speculated that new components and reinforced side panels to meet more stringing side-impact test requirements account for some of that weight, a larger battery pack with increased range is also expected.

Is the Tesla Model S still relevant?

While the newly refreshed Tesla Model 3 Highland closes the gap, at least in the United States, the Model S remains relevant because the Highland is only available in European and Asian markets. Is the Model S doomed once the Model 3 Highland becomes available worldwide?

Tesla lists the Model S’s cargo capacity at 28 cubic feet compared to the U.S. Model 3’s 23 cubic feet. Even with the Model 3 Highland’s presumably larger trunk, the Model S provides about 15 percent more cargo capacity and increased interior passenger space thanks to its 198-inch overall length. However, is the expanded interior and cargo space of the Model S worth its $20K-$30K higher price?

Will U.S. consumers pay the Tesla Model S’s higher price after the Tesla Model 3 refresh becomes available here?

Of course, some consumers will continue to opt for the more expensive Model S over the Model 3 Highland when it becomes available. Even if the Highland matches its range estimates, the Model S still provides a larger cabin, more cargo storage capacity, and better acceleration. However, we’ll likely see an updated Model S with improved interior style and materials to justify its higher price as opposed to it fading into oblivion. 


3 of the Biggest Changes to the New Tesla Model 3