Top Gear Gushes Over The Tesla Model 3 In Its First Full Review
The petrolheads at Top Gear have bashed Tesla from day one, constructing tests designed to expose its inherent weaknesses. Its sentiment seems to have shifted, though, if its latest review of the Model 3 Performance is any indication.
“This could be the 21st century’s most important car yet,” Top Gear host Chris Harris said. “Because the Model 3 wants to be the first electric car you want to buy, not because you want an electric car, but because it makes more sense in every way than buying a car with an engine. This is the car that wants to make electric mainstream.” That’s a solid start, but after a few minutes of city driving, he admitted that the Top Gear team had more in store for the Model 3 than gliding through a few stop lights in the city center.
It should come as no surprise that the Top Gear team was not simply driving around a Model 3 Standard Range (SR). Instead, it was driving a stealth left-hand-drive Tesla Model 3 Performance.
The Model 3 SR competes with the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4, and the Mercedes C-Class in accoutrements and price. To date, it has done more than compete, as it disrupted the entire segment in the US in recent quarters. The same is starting to happen in Europe and China as well, as Tesla get the kinks worked out of its global delivery chain. “Does the Model 3 offer enough to tempt someone out of a 3 series or a C-Class or an A4?,” Harris asks. If sales to date are any indication, the answer is a resounding yes.
The Model 3 Performance raises the bar further and competes with the performance darlings in these very same segments. To see if it could truly hold its own on the track, Top Gear constructed two tests against the best in breed vehicles from BMW, Mercedes, and Alfa Romeo. The first test put the cherry red Tesla Model 3 Performance up against the BMW M3, an Alfa Romeo Giulia, and a white Mercedes C63S.
Top Gear must have already known that combustion vehicles of yesteryear wouldn’t have stood a chance in a traditional quarter mile race, so they extended the race to a half-mile sprint down the track. The extension of the drag race distance was made specifically to test the weakness of the Model 3. The Model 3 Performance was also put onto the line with its battery at just 54% charged, which directly cuts into the top-end power output, shown well by tests performed by Mountain Pass Performance.
Even with these handicaps, the Model 3 Performance held its own. It dominated the first 80% of the sprint, leaving the burners to fight for scraps. Near the end, the Mercedes C63S caught up and edged out the Model 3 a mere 20 feet before the finish line.
Photo: Tesla Model 3 Performance by Zach Shahan, CleanTechnica
Next up was a run at the hastily assembled Top Gear handling circuit. Harris pitted the Model 3 against the impressive Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio to see which would navigate the course of cones the fastest. The incumbent Giulia managed an impressive 1:04.8 seconds while the Model 3 Performance crossed the line in 1:04.3 seconds. “It’s ugly, not as controlled as the Alfa, but then when you get into the acceleration zone, immediately it fires out,” Harris said of the race. “It’s all because it just squirts out of the corners.”
Harris may not be a fan of the Model 3’s looks or its non-traditional handing through the cone course, but the results speak for themselves. “Ultimately, a car that looks like a very fast fridge is quicker than the Alfa that’s supposed to be the performance car,” he said. “The world’s gone mad!”
Perhaps even louder than the results from the track is Harris’s own views of the Model 3 that come out after the cameras are put away and the lights are turned off. Just a few days after his adventures in the Tesla Model 3 Performance, he took to Twitter to inform the world that he was considering buying a Model 3. The man who drives the most exciting cars in the world for a living said, “I think I’ll be buying a Tesla Model 3 quite soon.”
So, I think I’ll be buying a Tesla Model 3 quite soon. Thought it was so impressive. Nothing like as enjoyable as an M3, but as my first toe-dip into the leccy world, it should work until they figure out how to make EVs more fun and desirable.
— chris harris (@harrismonkey) June 24, 2019