At Tesla Motors they do things a little bit more the ‘unconventional’ way we have noticed over the past few years. For months we didn’t hear anything about the upcoming Model 3, and all of a sudden we are presented a set of spy shots where it’s completely undisguised.

The Model 3 in these photos looks slightly different from the version that was shown last year and it’s important to note that it’s a ‘release candidate’. Nothing is set in stone until the curtain drops at one of these Silicon Valley style tech presentation events.

Judging from the pictures we see a clear resemblance to the Tesla Model S, but obviously on a much smaller scale. The sideview mirrors and chrome-stripped window frame are definitely taken out of the production’s standard recipe. Similar to the Model S, the shiny door handles also fold into the doors for optimal air flow.

The headlights are quite different and extend more upwards, while the rest of the front apron looks quite familiar. At the rear the future 3-Series rival sports a short overhang and a distinctive spoiler lip that significantly extends outwards. Looking at it from the side, it really just looks like a baby Model S.

The ‘more affordable’ Model 3 is really going to be a major tipping point in Tesla’s short history. If an affordable alternative to the rather steep-priced Model S and Model X models with similar capabilities doesn’t hit the market soon, the EV market may continue to exist as more of a niche market for the coming few years. This would mean a further halt to the revolution Elon Musk so resolutely started, with fewer incentives for incumbent manufacturers to jack up their investments into electric mobility.

Moreover it’s important for Tesla Motors to make good on the range of the electric car that’s going to help set the norm. For now a range of 215 miles is expected for the base version of the Model 3, which is likely to be further extended in a later stage to 300 miles and beyond. All-wheel drive options and performance models with ludicrous mode should arrive at a later stage as well.

The long-awaited Model 3, for which hundreds of thousands of eagerly waiting customers have already put down a deposit for as early as a year ago, is due to be revealed in its final production spec later this year.

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