Published on February 16th, 2019 | by Kyle Field0
The Tesla Model 3 Is Tons Of Fun In The Snow … With The Right Tires
February 16th, 2019 by Kyle Field
Equip Your Tesla For The Snow By Looking At These Three Parts Of The Car
The man in charge over at Engineering Explained, Jason Fenske, took to the mountains to put his Tesla Model 3 Performance to the test with a new set of winter tires in order to see how it handled in some real winter weather. He found that not only are there options out there for winter tires beyond those offered by Tesla, but that with a set of upgraded winter tires, the car actually handles extremely well in the snow.
Jason breaks down the handling of the Tesla Model 3 Performance build in very thorough detail in the 19 minute YouTube segment below. It is well worth the watch for those looking to winterize their Tesla Model 3.
To start, he breaks down winter handling into three categories, then proceeds to unpack each very thoroughly.
The first thing to know: winter vehicle handling starts with tires. Inside the car, all-wheel drive (AWD), like the Model 3 Performance has, gives the car more options for getting the car moving safely and maintaining control of the car in slippery conditions. Finally, ground clearance can come into play when navigating snowy conditions and he talks about why the Tesla Model 3 Performance build is worse off here than the rear-wheel drive (RWD) or the base AWD configuration.
First off: the tires. Tesla only offers one set of snow tires for the Model 3 Performance build and they come as a set of 20″ rims with Pirelli Winter Sottozero IIs. The package will set you back $4,000, which seems unnecessarily steep just to get a set of winter tires. Instead of selling organs to keep the car safe in the winter, Jason started digging around online for options.
What he found is that the Porsche Cayman GT4 has exactly the same tire size and Porsche spec’d out a winter tire specifically for its Canadian customers, the Michelin Pilot Alpin 4 235/35/R40. He went online and was able to get them shipped from Canada and then have them mounted and balanced on his factory rims at a local tire shop. The new tires still ran him $300 a pop, but $1,200 plus shipping feels like a bargain price compared to forking out $4,000 for a new set of rims and tires.
The Tesla Model 3 Performance comes with two motors, one up front and one in the rear. These two motors are locked to the tires on each axle, so the Model 3 uses the brakes to adjust the speed of one side or the other to maximize traction and minimize slippage. Jason put the system to the test with some time in deep snow, on icy roads, and on a snowy road at fairly high speed.
The all-wheel drive system in his Model 3 Performance worked flawlessly on the various conditions without even needing chains or studs. As a Californian who has lived in warmer climates for most of my life, the entire video looks like hair-raising, white-knuckle driving to me, but he is having so much fun that it almost makes me want to try it.
The height of the frame of the car becomes an issue when traveling through deeper snow, as it can leave the car high and dry if not taken into account when driving. Jason notes that while the Model 3 Performance exceeds the specs on the other configurations in just about every area, its ground clearance is 1 centimeter lower. That should not be an issue for most situations as a sporty electric luxury car, but it is worth making note for those living in areas where snow is more common.
He takes the car off the main road onto a shoulder with 4–5 inches of unpacked snow buildup and the car is able to effortlessly get into and out of the snow. On a side note, the bright red of his paint really pops against the white snow, making for some visually engaging footage as he talks through the nuances of the car’s performance.
The video really takes a turn for the better when he enables Slip Start and then Track Mode. Slip Start gives the car’s traction control system more leeway and lets the tires slip a bit more than it normally would as a means of getting out of loose sand, mud, or snow. In this case, Jason just has some fun with it and notes that it makes driving in the snow a bit looser, with the tires slipping just enough to keep the adrenaline going without being unnecessarily unsafe.
Track Mode looks like the most fun, though, as the car slips and slides from side to side on the snowy road in some sort of dreamy drifting playground. In Track Mode, the wheels cut loose at the slightest touch of the pedal, allowing the car to slip and slide around at the whim of the driver. The car then intelligently diverts power to the front wheels to pull out of a slide. It’s fun to watch and see how much fun he’s having playing with his Model 3 Performance in the snow.
If you haven’t already, have a look at the video and get out there to have some fun of your own.
Note: If you have a Model 3, Model S, or Model X on the way (and the order was in before February 2), but you didn’t use a referral code for 6 months of free Supercharging (or 9 months if you didn’t test drive the car), then you can still use my referral code (kyle623) on the Tesla webpage where you ordered the car.
If you’re in Europe and have already placed your order without a referral code, you can send an email to buildmy3EMEA@tesla.com with the word “Referral” in the subject line to get one added. Just put your name, contact information, reservation number (starts with RN), and the referral code you’d like to use in the body of the email. (Thanks to Paul for discovering that.)