Model 3

How Tesla Model 3 Performance stacks up against track legends in its class

Red Tesla Model 3 at the Fremont Factory test track [Credit: Tesla Owners Club BE]

This past weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the price and specifications of the Model 3 Performance with Dual-Motor AWD. According to Elon Musk, the Model 3 Performance will cost $78,000 with all options except Autopilot. The vehicle has a top speed of 155 mph, is capable of sprinting from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, and is capable of traveling 310 miles on a single charge.

With Autopilot and Full Self-Driving added, the cost of the Model 3 Performance shoots up to $86,000, and with the possibility of an upcoming Ludicrous Mode upgrade ($7,500 for the Model S P85D and $10,000 for the Model S P90D), the price of the vehicle would likely be dangerously close, or even surpass the $90,000 barrier. While these prices are a far departure from the car’s $35,000 base price, they are, nevertheless, reasonable.

One thing to note when looking at the Model 3 Performance is Tesla’s target demographic. The vehicle is being marketed to car enthusiasts who are looking for a high-performance vehicle that is quick off the line and nimble on the corners. A clue regarding this could be found on Elon Musk’s own statements on Twitter.

Musk’s specific mention of the Model 3 Performance’s capabilities on the track is particularly noteworthy. Tesla’s electric cars, such as the Model S P100D, after all, have largely been formidable in straight-line races, but not so much in extended track driving. As could be seen in instances of the Model 3 being driven on a track, however, this particular limitation does not seem to exist in Tesla’s newest vehicle.

Earlier this year, the Model 3 was taken to the Laguna Seca Raceway, where it completed nine laps without limiting its power. Last month, a Model 3 took on an Autocross course, where it performed equally well without any heating issues. Earlier this month, a Model 3 took on another course, showing off its acceleration and cornering in a quick lap. All these vehicles performed far better on the track than the Model S or Model X. None of them were specifically tuned for performance.

With the Model 3 Performance, Tesla is trying to breach into the track driving market. Musk’s tweet specifically mentioned the BMW M3 — a legend on the track — stating that the Model 3 Performance will be roughly 15% quicker. This places the Model 3 Performance in the same league as the Mercedes AMG C 63 S Coupe, Audi RS5, and of course, the BMW M3. Compared to the cost of the fully-loaded options for these vehicles, the compact electric car is actually more affordable.

Take the Mercedes AMG C 63 S Coupe, for example. A fully-loaded version of the car costs just slightly over $106,000. A fully-loaded BMW M3? $91,759. As for the Audi RS5, a fully-loaded version will set back owners $93,325. With this in mind, the Model 3 Performance’s $78,000 price is actually a pretty good steal. 

Specs-wise, the Mercedes AMG C 63 S Coupe is equipped with a twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V8 engine. The vehicle has a top speed of 180 mph and is capable of sprinting from 0-60 mph in 3.8 secs. The BMW M3, on the other hand, is equipped with a twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6 engine. This gives the BMW M3 a top speed of 163 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 4.0 seconds. As for the Audi RS5, the high-performance vehicle is fitted with a twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V6, which gives the car a top speed of 174 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds. 

When looking at the Model 3 Performance, it is pertinent to note that Tesla is not marketing the vehicle to the same demographic as the electric car’s $35,000 standard range version. The base Model 3 is designed to be an affordable electric car that is as stylish as it is capable. The Model 3 Performance is a vehicle designed to to be comparable to some of the best cars in its class. Apart from sharing the same frame and the same interior, the $35,000 base Model 3 and the $78,000 Model 3 Performance are two electric cars that could not be any more different. 

How Tesla Model 3 Performance stacks up against track legends in its class

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