When Elon Musk first announced the specs of the Tesla Model 3 Performance, he noted that the electric car would beat anything on its class inside a closed circuit. With its dual motors that produced a combined 450 hp and 471 lb-ft of torque, its 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds, and its top speed of 155 mph, Musk noted that the top variant of the Model 3 would cost roughly the same as a BMW M3, but be “15% quicker and with better handling.”
It should be noted that Musk mentioned the Model 3 Performance’s comparison with the BMW M3 at a time when Tesla was yet to reveal that it was developing a dedicated Track Mode for the electric sedan. With Track Mode, which optimizes the car for intensive closed circuit driving, the Model 3 Performance becomes a very formidable car on the racetrack. Over the past months, videos of the Model 3 Performance that have been shared online have mostly featured the vehicle competing in drag races or going around race tracks on its own. Rarely has there been a test of the car competing on a closed circuit against other high-performance vehicles.
That is, until recently, when Chinese auto group Know the Car (credit to Tesla community member JayinShanghai for sharing the video) opted to test the Model 3 Performance against several notable competitors. The group selected three groups of vehicles that would compete against the electric car — Chinese-made EVs, the NIO ES8 and the BYD唐DM; high-performance sedans, the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-AMG C63; and supercars, the Nissan GT-R and the Ferrari 488 GTB.
The tests were conducted at the Goldenport Park Circuit in Beijing, China in -5°C (23°F) weather. In its first test, the group opted to test the Model 3 Performance’s acceleration. Thanks to the instant torque from its dual electric motors, the electric sedan soundly dominated its competitors. After beating the competition on the straight line test, the group opted to call a professional driver to see just how well the Model 3 Performance stacked up against the six other vehicles on the track.
It should be noted that Beijing’s Goldenport Park Circuit is a location that is known to favor cornering and technical driving over high-speed, straight-line acceleration. Thus, during the tests, the Model 3 Performance, with its Track Mode enabled, was driven hard from one corner to the other. When the track times of the six vehicles were compared, it became evident that Elon Musk’s words about the electric car were accurate.
At the bottom of the rankings were the two Chinese-made EVs, which is understandable considering that the NIO ES8 and the BYD唐DM were SUVs. Immediately following the two EVs was the BMW M3, which was able to complete a lap around the track in 01:22.67. The Mercedes-AMG C 63 fared better than the M3, finishing a lap in 01:20.23. True to Elon Musk’s words, the Tesla Model 3 Performance dominated its class, with its lap time of 01:18.62.
Only two vehicles proved faster than the Model 3 Performance around the track — the Ferrari 488 GTB, which finished a lap in 01:16.31, and the Nissan GT-R, which completed a lap in 01:15.23. As noted by the group that conducted the test, the Model 3 Performance was ultimately outgunned only by vehicles that are beyond its class and its price range (credit to David Jao for the translation).
“The data doesn’t lie. China’s new electric entrants compared to the Model 3 are still far behind. The cars that we previously worshipped as high-end sedans, regretfully defeated. Only the supercars, costing 3-5 times the Model 3 remain to defend the honor of the internal combustion engine (ICE). So the appearance of the Model 3 brings forth a new kind of performance — cheaper, quieter, and even faster.”
The group’s statement about the prices of the Model 3’s rivals in the Chinese market is no exaggeration. Tesla lists the Model 3 Performance with a price of 560,000 RMB (around $81,000) for the Chinese market. While higher than its $64,000 price in the United States, the Model 3 Performance is still considerably more affordable than its rival high-performance sedans in the country. The BMW M3, for one, sells for 998,000 RMB ($162,000), while the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupe costs 1,198,000 RMB ($173,623). With its price in the Chinese market, Tesla all but made the Model 3 Performance as the ultimate bang-for-your-buck high-performance sedan — quicker, cleaner, and cheaper than the competition.
Watch the Tesla Model 3 Performance battle local high-performance sedans and supercars on the track in the video below.