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Published on September 23rd, 2018 | by Zachary Shahan


Tesla Model 3 Performance Is A Freakin’ Race Car — Unbeatable

September 23rd, 2018 by  

The top-of-the-line Tesla Model S is quicker than the top-of-the-line Tesla Model 3, zipping from 0–60 mph in a cool & easy 2.5 seconds rather than the Model 3 Performance’s 3.5 seconds. However, as I’ve emphasized many times when comparing various cars, numbers on a screen only tell you so much.

Now, before I go further, let me make it clear that I’ve never flown a spaceship or driven a race car (in case you somehow thought I had). That said, my brain apparently thinks that it knows a bit about such experiences. Driving the Model S, I repeatedly felt like I was flying a spaceship. Driving the Tesla Model 3 RWD and the Tesla Model 3 AWD, due to the smaller size, I had more fun even though they were slower than the Model S. But that didn’t quite prepare me for the experience of driving a Tesla Model 3 Performance (the grey one in the photo below).

Initially, driving the 3P, I could tell that it had a bit more power than in the non-performance Model 3s, and it was thus a nudge more fun to drive. At the beginning, it was more or less what I expected — a slightly better Model 3. But during the second half of the drive, the Tesla sales advisor was keen to have me experience the real deal — full acceleration from a full stop. I got my turn at a stop sign and was eager to experience the power, but I was also somewhat thinking that I basically knew what was coming. I had driven many powerful Teslas, after all.

Boom! Zip! Bam! Pow!

Okay, those weren’t actually the sounds — the car was mostly silent and I didn’t run into any other cars or robots on the road. But the feeling did blow me away. This is the first time I was driving a car and thought, “Wow, this feels like a race car!” (Again, I’ll admit that I don’t know what an actual race car feels like. Maybe I should drop Leilani a note and ask if she wants to do a comparison review for us.)

Naturally, the handling was also superb and that’s part of why the car felt like a race car. I already knew the handling was awesome thanks to a previous test drive of the Model 3 AWD, but the extra powpowpower of the Model 3 heightened the experience of the superb handling. Despite the quicker acceleration, the car felt just as solid and comfortable around the curves.

We were not allowed to record videos of the test drive, so I don’t have visual candy to go with the one below, but I actually think that might make it better. Click play to hear the sounds of accelerating from 0 mph to fast as hell and the human responses.

Could the car be better? I’m sure it could — throwing in some rocket thrusters would surely make the car an ounce or two more fun. (Shame on Elon for not doing more, eh?) However, I have never driven a more fun car for my tastes.

Not to slam other automakers, but to offer some perspective that might help you readers, here are a few notes on what I think some other cars feel like compared to the Model 3 Performance:

  • BMW i3 — a golf cart
  • Nissan LEAF — a marshmallow boat in the middle of a lake
  • Mercedes C-Class — a comfy little wagon pulled by some farting donkeys
  • BMW 2/3/4 Series — a tractor in a nicer case
  • Volvo S60 — a tractor with an engine problem
  • Toyota Prius — ugh
  • Tesla Model 3 RWD — Tesla Model 3 Performance’s slightly slower brother

Well, enough with the fun. As I discovered the first time I drove a Model S P85D, no amount of reading or watching YouTube videos can prep you for the experience. Just go to your local Tesla store or book a test drive if you want to experience it. (Note, however, that doing so is a little bit dangerous if you aren’t a millionaire.)

For those of you interested in reading a bit more from an overgrown kid’s experience of this car, I can write a few more things. More or less, though, the Model 3 Performance drives like the Model 3 AWD, which is not dramatically different from the Model 3 RWD, both of which I’ve written reviews about. In other words, I’d say there’s less difference between the three of them than there is between the Model 3 RWD and any other car I’ve driven.

The handling is as solid and as impressive as it gets for a car that costs under $100,000, or possibly even for a car under $1 million until the next-gen Roadster arrives. Overall, the Model 3 Performance just feels like a solid, powerful machine that is playing Peter Parker by day but eager to bust out as Spider Man at night.

Palm trees not included.

The white vegan leather interior is pretty beautiful, as long as bleach white doesn’t turn you off. The red calipers are a nice accent to highlight the car in a somewhat subtle yet sharp way. I particularly like them on red cars, which I sort of feel like you have to get when you get the Performance Model 3 — though, I’d probably choose the white myself. (I have no problem breaking my own rules.)

When it comes down to it, I think the general story is as follows:

If you want a car and $70,000–80,000 isn’t a thing for you, the best option on the market (imho) is the Tesla Model 3 Performance.

If you want a car and $60,000–70,000 isn’t a thing for you, the best option on the market (imho) is the Tesla Model 3 AWD.

If you want a car and $50,000–60,000 isn’t a thing for you, the best option on the market (imho) is the Tesla Model 3 RWD.

If you want a car and $35,000–50,000 isn’t a thing for you, the best option on the market (imho) is going to be the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range.

What else really needs to be blogged?

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the CEO of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he offers no investment advice and does not recommend investing in Tesla or any other company.

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