Has there ever been so much fuss about a car that’s still three or four years away from the hitting the road?
We’re struggling to think of many machines that have come close to the hype surrounding Tesla’s ‘breakthrough’ model, the affordable ‘Model 3’ that’s scheduled for a 2017 launch, complete with a 200-mile electric and a $35,000 price tag.
We’re starting to get an accurate picture of what kind of car the Model 3 will be, except, ironically, when it comes to design. We’re in the dark in that regards, but that hasn’t stopped a host of photoshop enthusiasts from attempting to read chief designer Franz von Holzhausen’s mind.
Here are some of the best visions of a car that promises to change the automotive landscape, tell us your favorite design in the comments.
The Model S is an attractive, if understated, car, so it’s to be expected that most Model 3 visions lean heavily on the design of Tesla’s existing sedan.
Remco Meulendijk’s interpretation (above) of the 2017 Model 3 shows a more compact version of the Model S with sporty overtones. Large wheels and aerodynamic bodywork will attract the kind of drivers Tesla is going after: those who currently own a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4.
All of these cars retain Tesla’s iconic false grill, a feature originally intended to hint at the car’s zero emissions hardware while appealing to buyers’ traditional idea of what a car should look like. Garrett Bradford’s Model 3 features a steep rake and powerful haunches, giving the car a little more presence than the Model S. The render remains true, however, to Tesla’s current front graphic.
‘Automotive manipulator’ Theophilus Chin has conjured up several Teslas over time – including a lust-worthy Model S station wagon – but his latest shows perhaps a more realistic vision of what an affordable electric sedan should look like.
The wheels (below) are smaller than other renders but stylish, while a low belt-line will improve visibility and help give a feeling of space in a car that CEO Elon Musk has confirmed will be 20 percent smaller than the Model S. A cramped interior would be at odds with the car’s clean, pure powertrain, so it’s important for Tesla to get the Model 3’s interior dimensions right.
Chin’s render is based on a Pininfarina concept from the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, and follows the design of a typical sedan. Again, it borrows the face of the Model S, which is unlikely to happen in reality as Von Holzhausen has said that he doesn’t want to simply scale up, or down, one design as Audi famously does.
There may also be something in Chin’s earlier vision of a crossover designed to rival the Nissan LEAF. With a 200-mile range, such a car may steal sales from premium rivals like the new Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X3. The raised ride height and increased cargo space are features likely to make the upcoming Model X SUV a strong seller, and with the crossover segment set to grow, the Model 3 may not be a sedan at all.
Dejan Hristov’s vision for a ‘Model C’ (below) is much more avant-garde, but Tesla has continually proven its willingness to push boundaries. The C is a city car, much smaller than the Model S, and equipped with sliding doors. Such a car would represent a departure from the relatively safe design language Von Holzhauzen has so far employed for the company’s cars, and the aggressive bodywork wouldn’t come cheap.
Musk will want to present something that’s a clear step on from what BMW, Audi, and Mercedes are doing, however, so don’t rule anything out yet.
Aware of another convincing Model E vision? Let us know in the comments below.