Today we hope to provide you with a comprehensive Tesla Model 3 ride height overview. We discussed the game-changer that the Tesla Model S was to the automotive industry earlier this week. If the Model S can be classified as a game-changer, the Model 3 is a world-changer. Since it burst onto the scene in 2017, the Model 3 has become the best-selling electric car worldwide. It is now the ninth best-selling car in the world (electric or otherwise), selling almost four times as many units as it’s closest competitor, the Nissan Leaf.

A Few Issues…

While the Model 3 has been an unprecedented success, it has not been without controversy. In 2018, Consumer Reports issued a review in which they criticized the car’s braking system and its responsiveness. In 2019, Car and Driver reported that a Model 3 they were using for long term testing blew an inverter after only 5000 miles of use. Since then, Tesla has updated its software for improved braking and fixed the car with the busted inverter. Tesla has also been criticized for abandoning its plans to add a “Smart Air Suspension”option to its Model 3 line, a feature available for Model S and Model X owners.

Tesla describes this feature in the following way:

“Add the ability for your Tesla to adjust vehicle height for better handling, efficiency, and ride comfort. Using the touchscreen, you can raise or lower your vehicle when entering a steep driveway, navigating snow, or unloading passengers and belongings. Using GPS location detection, your Tesla will remember and reapply settings automatically.” 

That sounds awesome!

What Happened?

In August of 2017 Elon Musk replied to a user on Twitter asking about the “Smart Air Suspension” feature and whether or not it will be available for future Model 3 drivers to opt for. As you can see, Musk clearly responds in the affirmative:

Fast forward to August of 2019 and everyone’s favorite genius from South Africa seems to be singing a different tune:

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not like the trolls in the above Twitter thread who like to criticize literally everything Musk does. I wasn’t being facetious when I called him a genius. I think he is using that genius for good, and that Tesla is the future of automobiles.  That being said, this was a pretty big reversal and no real reason was given for the change of plans.

Electrek’s Fred Lambert shared his thoughts on the matter in August of 2019 when he stated the following:

“I believe this is a way for Tesla to keep some differentiating features between the flagship Model S and Model X versus the less expensive Model 3. There are disadvantages to an air suspension. For example, there are more moving parts and therefore, more chances for something to break, and if something does break, it’s going to be more expensive to fix. However, it could be very useful for aerodynamic performance to lower the car at higher speeds, and it could also protect the car by rising the suspension on dirt roads and such. I am sure that there would be many buyers willing to pay ~$2,000 more for the feature on Model 3, but it looks like Tesla is prioritizing streamlining production by reducing the number of options on the car.”

I’m inclined to agree with you, Fred.

Without Further Adieu

So, that brings us to the $64,000 question. What exactly is the exact Tesla Model 3 ride height? The Model 3 stands at a height of 4 feet 8.8 inches or 56.8 inches. This provides the vehicle with a ground clearance level of 5.5 inches. While this may seem exceptionally low, I haven’t seen to many complaints among the various Tesla forums that I frequent about scraping. Users on this Reddit thread remark that ride height can be adjusted by inflating/deflating the tires (which stands to reason), although not by much. Several of them also remarked that you can also buy aftermarket wheels to change the ride height.

Most Model 3 owners that I could find believed that the Tesla Model 3 ride height was too high for their taste. A user on this Reddit thread claimed to have bought a coilover kit which allowed him to drop ground clearance by a little over an inch. While this seems exceptionally low to me, it is still much higher than several offerings that Mercedes and Porsche have put out over the years.

Zee Germans

They’re at it again!! Just kidding. These particular Germans however, did manage to lower ground clearance on a standard Model three by about 1.4 inches. What they found was astounding: an increase of about 7% in efficiency after the modification! You can check this experiment out here:

Who would ever think to do this in the first place? As it turns out, this practice has been going on for years in the racing industry. Lowering the suspension of a vehicle optimizes road handling and reduces overall drag and turbulence.

According to the team at nextmove.com who conducted the experiment:

“In combination with a flat underbody, a pressure differential is generated by the different air speeds on top and bottom of the car. This “sucks” the vehicle to the road and increases the grip substantially. Regarding the flat underbody of the Tesla (no muffler, no gear tunnel), a similar effect on the Model 3 wouldn’t be surprising at all. We tested on 18″ wheels. On 19″ or even 20″ Performance wheels the cars would consume considerably more. Higher speed equals higher drag, and we tested at 150 kph. According to physics drag increases dramatically with speed. Therefore the savings should increase dramatically, too.”

I for one am really happy that there are nerds like this out there who seem to have unlimited time and resources at their disposal and can conduct experiments like this. Thank you for your service gentlemen!

What do our readers think about the Tesla Model 3 ride height? Is it too high? Too low? Just right? Would you ever consider raising or lowering your suspension? What product would you use to do so? Please leave us a comment below and let us know. We would love to hear from you!

Source | Images: Tesla.com

Source | Video: nextmove.com via Youtube