Tesla minimalist design has created an opportunity to add something special to the driving experience.
We were impressed with the car, but it isn't without some radical departures from business-as-usual, particularly when it comes to user interface and information design.
For example, Tesla has eliminated the instrument cluster. This has bothered some reviewers.
But I'm of a different mindset.
This is a snazzy looking car. Tesla let us borrow it for a few hours, and we made the most of our time, escaping the concrete canyons and traffic of Manhattan for the bucolic sights and winding roads of Northern New Jersey.
Could it be that large central touchscreen, floating in the middle of the dash like an iPad suspended in space?
How about the almost button-free steering wheel?
Maybe the sleek piece of open-grain wood stretching from side-to-side?
The unadorned central stack? The clean lines of the seats?
The basic information about the car — whether it's in drive, park, or reverse — and the speedometer are displayed on the left-hand side of the screen.
Some reviewers have complained about this and said that the Model 3 should have a heads-up display projecting info in front of the driver, due to the lack of a traditional instrument cluster.
But I differ. In practice, gathering information from the touchscreen was easy for me to get used to. So I could then spend most of my time gazing serenely forward, looking at nothing but open road. This is a meditative, blissfully calming experience (not so much that I stopped paying attention, but still quite relaxing).
Can you call an unobstructed, distraction-free view a feature?
I think you can, and in the Model 3, it's my favorite.