A buyer's guide to a new Tesla MS MY and M3 and their options

Updated 19 Sept 2020

This guide talks you through the choices when buying a new Tesla. Like this whole site, it tries to give an unbiased view rather than just repeat what Tesla’s own web site publishes. We also have a short guide buying a used Tesla which may be preferable if that is what you are planning to do.

It's important to know that Tesla rarely build to order. They build batches of cars and match customer orders to what they have built. As a result, you can be waiting for a particular specification car for some time while other buyers can order and take delivery fairly quickly. Tesla also appear to match production to orders manually, and as cars are listed for public sale almost as soon as they arrive in country, it is even possible that new buyers get inventory before custom orders as they order an inventory car before it has been matched to an existing order. Consequently we would advocate buying an inventory car over custom order, just check the options and how long the car has been available to ensure you are buying the latest stock and spec. We provide all these details in our extensive inventory listings, including some Tesla stock not yet on their main listings page. Access to the listings are available from the top of this page, and for most countries we also offer a free email notification service for when new cars appear.

Which model?

Tesla currently have 4 models available to order, the MS, a large executive hatch, the MX, a large SUV, the Model 3, the entry level compact saloon and the MY, the compact SUV. For detailed side by side comparison of features check differences between the S3XY models. Which is right for you will of course depend on your requirements and budget, but we set out the main factors below.

Tesla Model Range

Selecting options for your car

Because Tesla rarely build to order they have reduced the number of models and options considerably. The choices today largely boil down to interior and exterior colour and choice of wheels, other options are typically software enabled.

Exterior

The exterior looks have remained pretty much unchanged since 2016 when the MS was face-lifted and the MX launched. The Model 3 adopts many of the brand design features and its fairly clear they all come from the same family.

Colour and wheels are the only options now and its certainly an area where the look of a car can change considerably depending on the chosen options. Dark large wheels can make it look menacing, smaller silver wheels can almost make the cars look like a toy. The previous options of sunroof on the Model S have gone, so there's now little in the way of options to select when buying new after you've picked the colour. We'd advise against the coloured wheel options as you can buy the standard wheels and get them repainted for much less money.

Interior

While the basic interior has changed little since 2017. The material choice is has varied with leather, fake leather, 'vegan' and cloth seats all been available over the years. When buying however there is really just a choice of one of the interior packs, a combination of material colour, trim and headlining.

The various cabin components have all been tweaked over time to give a better finish, there is now a centre console (introduced during 2016) and rear cup holders, and while it's no premium German car some like its more minimalist styling. The MS rear is good and 3 can sit comfortably in the back. The MX has a range of rear seating options but some report the individual seats on the 6 seat option to be a little tight, as is the 3rd row. The M3 is the smallest and as you'd expect, rear seats have less room than in the larger cars.

Technology

The fabled high tech cars are actually a mixture of quite old technology and fantastic innovation.

Autopilot boils down to 3 choices for new owners; Not to buy it (although it can be enabled later), Autopilot (AP) or Full Self Driving (FSD). In 2019 they changed the feature fix between AP and FSD in part because nothing was really available on FSD and in part to lower the entry price or allow AP to be bundled into the car price. AP now offers adaptive cruise and lane keeping, but you need to go to FSD for the summon, lane change under AP and navigate on autopilot. FSD is very much personal choice although we feel the enhanced features above the basic AP are still not implemented very well and it will be a long time before they are truly beneficial features at which point they can be purchased. FSD is therefore best left to those enjoying the beta test days.

The other good stuff includes over the air software updates which as mentioned above can be variable, but it does benefit the car in terms of feature improvements over time.

It's worth pointing out what the car doesn't have. It currently doesn't have surround car view, head up display, Apple Car play or android auto. Some new owners have been surprised at some of these omissions. Even some safety features are missing like flashing rear brake lights in the event of an emergency stop, although Tesla is planning to release this in the future.

Performance models and Ludicrous

There are Performance options on all the cars. The M3 Performance is the best drivers car and the MS is the best rapid executive car. We could debate whether the performance models of the MY and MX are worth having especially as the M3 LR now has a performance upgrade option closing the gap.

We'd also be slightly wary about the M3 Performance. This doesn't have a ludicrous option, and is currently slower to accelerate than both the MX and MS Performance cars with ludicrous. We suspect that at some point Tesla will boost the performance of the M3 performance making the current model depreciate significantly.

Battery

The battery choice is now largely a question of range. The shortest range is the M3 SR+ and we'd advise buying the Long Range if possible as we believe a comfortable 200 mile range in winter will be the minimum future drivers will look for and residual values may fall most as a result. As mentioned above, performance models are a consideration for the M3 and MS, but otherwise the Long Range cars are in our opinion the smart choice.

Buying well and depreciation

It is often said that Tesla do not discount. We would clarify this and say Tesla do not negotiate the proce on a given car, but they do discount from time to time and out Guide to saving money when buying a Tesla talks about the best timne of year to buy and how to find the best prices.

Depreciation is also a common question as the cost to buy the car is often less important than the cost to own the car including depreciation. Depreciation has been historically quite varied with long periods of time where a car seems to hold its value and then an event may cause a significant drop in price. We're currently seeing quite low depreciation on the M3 and MY however a significant announcement or launch of a new model, either by Tesla or a competitor could change things over night.

Which to buy?

Our brief thoughts on the cars to buy and why:

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