Autocar says the Tesla Model 3 Performance is "startling" and proves that legacy OEMs have serious catching up to do.
As far as Autocar is concerned, Tesla is in a class of its own when it comes to premium EVs that sell like crazy, despite the fact that it has yet to bring the promised $35,000 Model 3 to market. Any competitor hoping to top the Model 3 Performance will have to manufacture an incredible car.
The publication says that Tesla is seemingly working backwards from what people may have expected. Rather than releasing a less expensive, mass-market EV, it's touting the much more expensive variants, and especially the top-of-the-line, dual-motor, all-wheel drive Performance trim.
The Model 3 Performance relies on an 80.5-kWh battery pack, churns out 450 horsepower, and boasts a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.5 seconds or less. Autocar's test drive took place in Michigan of all locations. You can't buy a Tesla in Michigan and it's the last place we'd assume on overseas publication would visit to check out the Model 3. The vehicle as tested included the Performance Upgrades Package, with 20-inch wheels, Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, and a lowered suspension. It's capable of a 155-mph top speed, which is 10 mph faster than the same car without the upgrade package.
What's the car like according to Autocar?
In a word, startling. I drove the Model 3 Performance just after experiencing the Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye for the first time and can honestly report that the acceleration of the Tesla is only fractionally less impressive than that of a supercharged 800hp muscle car. But while the Dodge does its thing to a furious soundtrack, the 3 delivers its organ sloshing longitudinal G-forces without drama or apparent effort. The chassis can digest even stamped throttle starts without squeaking or slithering, and with no more noise than the whine of the electric motors.
The review goes on to say that the instant torque and incredible throttle response are surely not the Model 3's only assets, though they're something that you must experience to understand. In addition, the car has a well-engineered chassis that will astound the driver whether they're pushing the car to it limits or driving casually.
When traveling Michigan's backcountry, the Model 3 fared well through corners and felt quite agile. However, there's no mistaking that it's a heavy car. Nonetheless, unless the car hit a large bump while rounding a bend, the Model 3 maintained its composure well.
Autocar calls the Model 3 interior minimalistic. Surprised? Getting used to that reality and the fact that the touch screen controls everything requires a bit of a learning curve. However, this is how Tesla does things and it seems the automaker's customers appreciate it. It may just take some time to get the more traditional crowd to buy in.