Motor Trend: The first glimpse of Tesla Model 3 at the Gigafactory [Video + Photo Gallery]

We admit it, we're jealous. It was great to get an invite to the Tesla Model 3 launch event, but, Motor Trend* just got a super-exclusive invite to the off-limits Tesla Gigafactory for a first-hand look at the Tesla Model 3. Motor Trend Editor-in-Chief Edward Loh reported: "We’re honored to be the first media outlet of any kind to get time with the Model 3, especially at the much-talked-about Gigafactory. So we’ve pulled out all the stops." Indeed, the magazine got unfettered access to the two most prized sights in Tesla-land right now... yes, we're jealous. The insights are fascinating and photos are drop-dead gorgeous.

So, what is Motor Trend's impression of the Tesla Model 3? "Inside Tesla’s lobby, the [Model 3] lines have that family crispness to them, and I like the rear haunches. It has really good flow from front to back... [and] the glass roof is really quite impressive up close. As are the door handles, which are reminiscent of a GT-R or Aston Martin. They don’t pop out electronically to greet you, but flip out with light pressure and then trigger an automatic door popper." Video producer Travis Labella quipped, “My first impression? That I’m going to be seeing a lot of these on the road very soon. It’s the future. It’s my kind of future.”

“It looks much better in person; pictures don’t do it justice,” said Motor Trend staff photographer Robin Trajano, without one trace of irony. “The proportions don’t really work in picture but in person looks really good. I wouldn’t mind owning one.” His boss, Motor Trend’s visuals manager Brian Vance, went for specifics, “I can’t believe the entire roof is glass. It’s two pieces (three if you count the windshield) but in the right light, looks like one piece.” 

Motor Trend concludes that the Model 3 is a, “well-metered blend of classical automotive cues and future-car fantasies. The nose has attitude and its flanks are streaked with athletic, visual tendons — but it’s the tall greenhouse and glass-bubble roof that will define this car. This is not another slot-window sedan saying ‘Don’t see me.’ The Model 3’s square yards of glazing shatter that isolation, opening you to the whole, passing world. Taken together, its this new visual vocabulary for the modern electric car.”

Okay, the Tesla Model 3 looks beautiful, but, just how big was the Gigafactory in-person? The magazine reports: "It is every size superlative in the dictionary... For reference, we chatted with another employee who said that some Tesla workers exercise by running around the building, doing 'Giga laps.' A current Giga-lap measures 1.4 miles – but will be closer to a marathon when the project is complete."

Taking a ride down Electric Avenue (see above), the article explains: "it’s quite an amazing sight to see up close. In the metric system, giga means billion (1,000,000,000), which is the scale that comes to mind as you approach the security booth. Billions of dollars, billions of pounds of earth moved, steel assembled, and billions of feet of electric wiring. The Gigafactory is currently only about 14 percent complete, yet its footprint so far is about 800,000 square feet, with 1.9 million square feet of manufacturing space spread across four stories... When completed in 2020, the Gigafactory’s footprint will be 5.8 million square feet, or about the same area as 100 football fields."

Wow. We're as stunned as Motor Trend's Edward Loh taking a look across the roof (see above) of the massive, endless Gigafactory. I don't know which is more breathtaking... the beauty of the Model 3 or the enormity of the Gigafactory. Kudos to the Motor Trend team for giving all of us Tesla super-fans an exclusive sneak peek at both the Gigafactory and the Tesla Model 3. We can't wait to see more. But, in the meantime, here are a few videos from Motor Trend recapping their amazing day...


*Source: Motor Trend / motor.trend (on Snapchat) / Motor Trend (on Facebook) / motortrend (on Instagram)