Track Mode engaged!

It's an admittedly odd Devils Triangle, the Tesla Model 3 Performance gets matched up with the Jaguar I-Pace and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, which Motor Trend introduces as the "best classical internal combustion sport sedan in the world right now." The Big battery-powered Cat is, of course, a crossover that has some performance credentials but seems a little out of place among the two lither sedans. The mid-sized cars make more sense but are obvious opposites in terms of drivetrains. Which of these three wins in a comparo? Well, that all depends on what you value, among other things.

MT brought the unlikely trio to the technical asphalt of the Streets of Willow Springs course: a 1.6-mile track at the Willow Springs racing complex that comes complete with a skid pad. Here, they let them all loose with racecar driver Randy Pobst and let the chips fall where they may to declare a winner. Like life, not everything is that cut and dry, though.

We first take a look at some standard performance numbers. Of course, the Jaguar isn't shaped to beat out its new friends here, so the emphasis falls to the Tesla and Alfa. The Italian claims 55 more horses than its American competitor and edges it out on the skidpad .98 to .95 g's. The Model 3 can somehow brake (just a little) better, though no numbers are given. In the figure eight they are equals at 24.2 seconds each, while the Dual Motor setup of the electric allows it to punch the rear-drive Quadrifoglio in the face, 3.8 seconds to 3.3. On the track, it's a bit of a different story.

Boiling down a well-told narrative — bookmark this if you enjoy fine automotive prose and additional, informative details — the spicy Italian, which starts at $73,700, walks away with its pride intact. It managed to make its way around the course in as little as 1:22.78. The California car, which pencils out at $69 K with the Performance package, and which had the benefit of the pre-public version of Track Mode, finished a full 1.12 seconds behind with a respectable 1:23.90. MT allows that this is a shade better than the Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack 2. The $80,500 I-Pace HSE acquitted itself quite well with a Subaru WRX STI-beating 1:27.00.

So, it's clear that the Alfa is the superior vehicle here, right? For now, it is, though the price of admission to the top step of the podium was a set of high-end Pirelli front tires. Apparently, these were destroyed in just a few laps, while the Michelins on the Model 3 emerged merely scuffed. It is also worth noting that Track Mode is in its infancy and will likely see improvements both before it's released to owners in an over-the-air (OTA) update, and afterward, in subsequent OTAs. Indeed, while the track-machine crown sits on the Alfa's head, it does so uneasily.

For most buyers though, this result isn't everything. If you like your high performance with the ride height of a crossover and with solid off-road chops, the Jaguar I-Pace is your only choice among these three. Want a vehicle that can hang with the big dogs and which will only get better features and improved performance over time, than the Tesla is your only choice here. If you want the pinnacle in 20th Century drivetrain technology, and don't give a fig about the negative consequences of burning gasoline, well, there's something here for you too, we guess. Before you consider buying the Giulia, though, you owe it to yourself to take the future for a little test drive.

 

Source: Motor Trend