Here's how the Tesla Model 3's interior stacks up against the benchmark Mercedes-Benz A220 (TSLA)


Tesla Model 3

  • The Tesla Model 3 has the most radical interior in the auto industry, a study in minimalism.
  • The Mercedes-Benz A220 must translate the carmaker’s superb upscale interiors to an entry-level package.
  • But the Model 3 and the A220 are successful at delivering interiors that lives up to expectations — and even exceeds them.
  • I prefer the Mercedes A220’s interior, but the Tesla Model 3’s is more influential.
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We love to ooh and ahh about auto exteriors. But we actually spend far more time interacting with interiors.

In the car business, Tesla has pushed the interior-design envelope, most recently with the radically minimalist Model 3.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz offers the most beautiful interiors, across its lineup, in the industry. With the entry-level A220 sedan, it has generously place a primo interior in a car that has a budget price.

Here’s how these differing attitudes compare:

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We’ll begin the the Model 3, Tesla’s best-selling vehicle. It’s a sort of mash-up of a midsize and compact semi-luxury car, and it starts at $40,000.

Read the review.

The Model 3’s most groundbreaking aspect is its ultra-minimalist interior. There’s no instrument cluster, just a central touchscreen, plus a pair of multifunction thumb-wheels on the steering wheel. That long strip of wood lends a Scandinavian flavor to the Model 3.

Tesla designs and builds its own seats, and they’re quite comfy. The Model 3 also enjoys a massive glass roof that floods the cabin with light.

Nearly all vehicle controls are accessed via the touchscreen, from climate to audio to the Autopilot semi-self-driving feature. The left-hand third of the screen takes the place of a traditional instrument cluster.

No inductive wireless charging, but a nicely designed smartphone cradle that takes advantage of the Model 3’s open, airy interior.

AND the whole interior can be spec’d in white, seen here in a performance trim level of the Model 3. For many buyers, this is THE interior to have.

On to the Mercedes-Benz A220, a compact four-door that starts at about $32,000. My test car was a well-equipped $46,000.

Read the review.

The A220’s interior is anything but minimalist. But it has a different responsibility: it has to live up to Merc’s reputation for having the best and most upscale interiors in the business.

And in that respect, the A220 doesn’t disappoint. Not a large car, but every single aspect of the interior feels plush and well-considered.

The Merc’s seats are quite a step up from the Model 3’s, in terms of both comfort and supportiveness.

The A220 has Mercedes’ new instrument-cluster-and-infotainment layout, consisting of a large screen that runs across the dash and renders everything with stunning resolution.

The controls are more spread out, obviously, but the visual impact is rather breathtaking.

The A220 is more my thing, so I’d have to pick its interior as the better of the two. But I’m not going to argue that the Model 3’s isn’t influential.

In the Model 3, as with the rest of the car, you have a welter of ideas and a pioneering attitude toward the auto interior of the future. 

With the A220, you have an entry-level rendering of the best interior in the business, without having to pay an E-Class or S-Class price.

Different strokes for different folks. In my experience, Model 3 fans and Tesla enthusiasts in general don’t crave traditional luxury; rather, they want an interior that comes off as high-tech and minimalist.

But Mercedes customers are another story: They’re paying for proper luxury. What’s wonderful about the A220 is how accessible Mercedes has made that brand value.