What it feels like to drive an EV for the first time


Can getting behind the steering wheel of an electric car for the first time sway the opinion of a self-confessed petrolhead? 

Tesla Model 3 on the road.

If there was one word I’d use to describe my first EV experience it would be ‘wow’.

That might sound cheesy, but if you’ve ever driven an electric car, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Traditionally I’m a bit of a petrol-head – I’ve always been into my utes and turbos.

I was also a bit of an EV sceptic.

To really test the EV waters, I wanted to do more than just take one for a 30-minute test drive, so I reached out to SIXT who have Australia’s largest EV rental fleet.

I got to choose between the Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y, Hyundai Ioniq EV, Hyundai Kona EV and BMW iX3. They will have BYD ATTO 3s available to rent from 1 May.

I went with the Tesla Model 3 for a week, picking it up from SIXT’s Brisbane Airport office.

I won’t lie, heading into the week-long test drive I was nervous.

One of the biggest concerns I had was range anxiety. How long can one charge last and where on Earth was I going to recharge?

Tesla rental car.

Before I could even ask those questions, Michael from SIXT, who was staffing the office, handed me a Chargefox swipe card and told me to download the Chargefox app on my phone.

He went on to explain that all SIXT EV rentals come with free recharging at any Chargefox station.

Immediately I felt at peace.

There are actually quite a few Chargefox stations dotted across south east Queensland which were really easy to find using the map on the app.

I also noticed lots of shopping centres and supermarkets with their own chargers installed; even if they weren’t Chargefox, at least I knew I could get to a charger nearby.

Before I set off, Michael ran me through all the quirky Tesla features and there are a lot.

Firstly, the key is actually a swipe card, similar to what you would get in a hotel to access your room.

To unlock and lock the car, I had to tap the key card on the side of the door on what looked like a small, embedded camera.'

Tesla swipe card.

Once inside the Model 3, I had to tap the card on the middle console to take the car out of park.

There were no ‘on’ or ‘off’ buttons and the gearstick was on the right-hand side of the steering wheel, where the blinker usually sits.

Another quirky feature was the dual wireless phone charging dock which definitely came in handy.

Michael sat down in the car with me to explain how to work the digital touch display which basically controlled everything.

If you wanted to watch Netflix or put on a fake fireplace while in park, you could do that on the display.

If you wanted to change the song or turn up the aircon, you would use the display.

The screen also had all of your vehicle data.

The car felt nothing short of a computer on wheels and after spending a good 15 minutes getting the lowdown from Michael, I was ready to take the wheel.

RACQ members receive discounted daily rates from SIXT^

The first thing I noticed was the acceleration; it took my breath away – so much more impressive than anything I have felt in a petrol car.

It went from 0–60km/h in about two or three seconds.

The car also braked for me. As soon as I took my foot off the accelerator the car pulled back. It felt similar to going downhill in a low gear.

The overall handling was much better. Possibly because the majority of the car’s weight was at the base in the battery.

The boot space was huge. It had a large trunk that could fit around three suitcases and a ‘frunk’ or front truck that could fit a smaller bag. And this was supposed to be the smallest Tesla model.

On the display screen, I could basically see everything around me.

The car’s cameras picked up people, speed signs, traffic lights, motorcycles, trucks, other cars and painted a picture of the outside world on the touch display.

Tesla Model 3 gear stick.

The traffic lights were even their correct colour and when they changed to green, the Tesla gave me a little ‘bing’ to let me know.

If you’re considering an EV or Tesla, consider hiring from SIXT for a few days. 

Hiring, instead of test driving, gave me much more time to get an in-depth feel for the car and bust the EV myths that were holding me back from making the leap to electric.

^Terms and conditions apply. Visit racq.com.au/sixt for details.

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The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.