As an example of how the principles of minimalism can be applied to the field of automotive interior design, you needn’t look much further than the Model 3. So extreme are the lengths to which Tesla’s designers have gone to remove as much switchgear from its cabin as possible that you can count the number of physical controls on one hand.
The Model 3’s interior has been upgraded as part of the latest facelift, mostly to make it feel more upmarket.
You can now personalise the top panel of the dashboard with inserts in a different colour or material, such as a grey textured fabric. The cupholders have gained a sliding lid, while a strip of ambient lighting runs along the upper section of the doors and continues along the top of the dashboard.
Elsewhere, oddments storage is plentiful and a combined luggage space of 542 litres (split between a small compartment at the front and a traditional rear boot) is certainly usable enough and more than the 480 litres you get from a combustion-powered BMW 3 Series.
Two adults will fit in the second row in reasonable comfort, too. Vegan leather and glossy piano black trim do a convincing job of lifting the Model 3’s material appeal, but there’s still work to be done to truly match the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
The enormous, 15.0in touchscreen slap-bang in the middle of the pared-back, slimline dashboard is used to control and adjust practically every aspect of the Model 3. From the wing mirrors, to the steering wheel position, to the sat-nav, headlights, cruise control and windscreen wipers – all are operated through screen, steering wheel nipple and column stalk. There’s no instrument binnacle, either. That job has also been given to the touchscreen.
Such an approach to cabin architecture does take some getting used to. But once you’ve learned your way around the various sub-menus and figured out what everything does, it works well enough – if not perfectly. By using the screen not only as a means of controlling most of the car’s features but also as a medium for displaying important driving information, there is inevitably a heightened need to remove your eyes from the road that isn’t always comfortable.
As you’d expect from a Tesla, its infotainment system feels as though it has been lifted straight out of Silicon Valley. The 15.0in screen may seem almost comically large, but credit where it’s due: it’s difficult not to be impressed by the quality of its graphics and the slick manner in which it operates.
That said, its sheer size can make the job of actually using it a bit tricky, which isn’t great when you consider that it’s used to operate everything from the windscreen wipers to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
At least it isn’t short on toys, though. In addition to features such as sat-nav, Bluetooth and DAB radio – the sort of things you’d expect from a circa-£40,000 compact saloon – there are some more, let’s say surprising, features. Such as a digital whoopee cushion and a full suite of arcade-style games. At least you can’t accuse Tesla of having no sense of humour.