Tesla Model 3 Performance Gets Track Tested By Road & Track


Gives insight into Track Mode

The Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor Performance is not really a track car, yet it has a “Track Mode” and is pure joy to whip around a circuit. And, it won’t overheat while doing it. Sort of. These statements may not make a lot of sense unless you’ve read the latest (and greatest, so far) review of the car, which would be the fresh prose dripping from the servers over at Road & Track. We recommend it.

The buff publication just spent a day with two examples of the hottest Model 3 variant in delicious multi-coat red at Lime Rock Park. While others have had seat time in the P3D, none have so thoroughly put it through its paces and wrung answers from both its chassis and those responsible for making the electric revelation happen. We don’t want to spoil everything, but let’s look at some of the highlights.

First things first. Track Mode is magic and owners should get it soon. It doesn’t work by disabling traction and stability controls. Rather, it changes how those systems interact with other aspects of the car, like regenerative braking. Let’s hear how R&T‘s talented Bob Sorokanich describe the magic in making a turn:

When you lift in a corner, the regen tosses all the weight forward, loading up the front axle. The rear tires, now regenerating under much less weight, break loose. The stability control looks the other way.

Ok, so it handles the track crazy well, but how does it handle the heat of being pushed to 10/10ths for miles. According to R&T, it happily gives you the full beans for about 3 laps or so on the 1.5-mile Lime Rock Park circuit. After that, protective systems kick in. They don’t put you in the penalty box per se, but they will impact your lap time by a couple seconds. To counter overheating, output may be slightly lowered and the system detects which particular component — the battery pack, motor/inverter, what have you — is in need, and sends more cooling to that part, allowing you keep driving but with just slightly less punch.

To its credit, R&T points out that any number of other sports cars suffer similar problems with heat. The Model 3’s solution allows you to stay on track without worry of damage and still lets you have lots of fun.

Now, we can’t help but think the aftermarket could probably come up with a cooling solution to counter this.  Although we said at the top the P3D is not really a track car, the ability to drain the battery in anger without punishment would go a long way toward establishing some impressive credentials.

Overall, it’s no understatement the R&T crew was impressed by the baby Tesla. They finished up the review (which, by the way, is peppered with brilliant photography) with the statement that the California company has created the “world’s first electric sport sedan with bona fide race track chops.” Indeed.

Source: Road & Track

Categories: Tesla

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85 Comments on "Tesla Model 3 Performance Gets Track Tested By Road & Track"

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Necessity is the mother of invention. The battery cooling issue will be figured out, just like battery storage and range. Tesla’s in the 2nd inning of a 9-inning game, and they’re already this good. It’s interesting how folks are betting so hard against their long-term success after seeing how good their cars and concepts are in such a short existence. Imagine what we will see 5-10 years from now!

In 5-10 will be another chemistry. The car is already fun. 80’s passenger track cars frequently meant <200hp and 2,800lbs, or so. Power climbed, but there didn't seem to be a shortage of people at the track. To have a 450HP Model 3, that weighs a couple hundred more than BMW M-series, and drops incrementally, instead of by clips of ~200hp, will be a great thing.

I look forward to tracking electric because its cleaner, and just like I had fun in 944s and older less powerful 911s, there's no question a car like this would be a blast.

I can't believe Tesla put ~6 60amp units, at Lime Rock. You can almost get away with a full battery and the 30amp camper units, and still get four 20 minute sessions. These chargers will put club events much more easily in reach of electric car track drivers (not to mention, get you on your way sooner). If a Model S loads at 58 miles/hour, I'd expect Model 3 to grab 70-80, or so.

Model 3 LR maxes at 48 amps, which Tesla claims will recharge at a rate of 45 miles per hour.

Oh no, the Model 3P overheats too? Thats sad for a performance car, may not be able to make it around the Nurburgring without limping as this was a little 1.5Mile track without the elevation and high speed Nurburgring.

That’s not what the article said. The impact was only a few seconds a lap and it sustained that not-limp level indefinitely. Also the car doesn’t overheat.

A few seconds might as well be 30 seconds on a 1.5Mile track… It just sucks, they were also driving the car in the rain, on a hot and dry day (days most people track their cars) the problem will be worse…

There is something that sucks here, all right… and it’s not anything from Tesla!

You’re always bragging about the I-Pace’s track performance, David “Green”. Well, let’s apply a little logic and math here, hmmm?

The Tesla Model 3 P has a top speed of 155 MPH. Three seconds off that in 1.5 miles would be ~142 MPH.

Still far faster than the top speed limit of the I-Pace, 125 MPH, which you keep bragging about!

Tell us again how you’re “really a fan of Tesla” and really an EV supporter, Mr. “Green”. For some odd reason, when we keep seeing Tesla hater B.S. like this from you, we keep forgetting. 🙄

PuPu, Do you think on this 1.5 mile track speeds ever get near 155? Wow, you really are a racing rookie… On the Nurburgring, speeds should get that high, as there are long straight runs, but on this little track at lime rock, will not be close.

On the I-Pace running on the Algarve International Circuit, only on the front straight got anywhere near top speed of 125 mph, and could have used 5-10 more MPH to pull the best possible laps.

The Model 3P should be able to annihilate the I-Pace on a track, as it is a much smaller interior space, and less off road capable vehicle, with more power, and less mass… Luxury crossovers, usually do not run as fast as sports sedans on the track. But the I-Pace ran lap after lap in hot weather, with no power reduction, or protection mode, one tester ran the I-Pace 12 laps, which is over 30 miles at speed…

If you don’t reach the top speed, a little less than peak power should not matter. Is it?

“PuPu, Do you think on this 1.5 mile track speeds ever get near 155? Wow, you really are a racing rookie…”

So then, you’ve applied some critical thinking and observed that the three-second drop in speed likely indicates a maximum loss of ~12 MPH, as my figures show, but that the real-world loss is very likely less, since as you say the car is unlikely to be making maximum speed around the entire track.

Congratulations! I wondered if any reader here would notice that. Thanks for pointing that out! You get a cookie for shooting your own argument down. 🙂

“…the I-Pace ran lap after lap in hot weather, with no power reduction, or protection mode…”

Yeah, the I-Pace is limited to a lower top speed. It’s just hilarious how you obstinately keep insisting that this means Jaguar has better EV engineering! This article makes it pretty clear that if you can run the Tesla Model 3P even faster than the I-Pace’s top speed without overheating.

But you go ahead and obstinately continue to ignore the obvious, even in the fact of clear evidence like this.. A Tesla Death Cult troll’s gotta do what a troll’s gotta do!
😆 😆 😆

“much smaller interior space”

Jaguar I-PACE
Passenger volume 96 cubic feet
Headroom F/R 39.9 / 38.1 (inches)
Legroom F/R 40.9 / 35.0
Shoulder F/R 57.6 / 54.6

Tesla Model 3
Passenger volume 97 cubic feet
Headroom F/R 40.3 / 37.7
Legroom F/R 42.7 / 35.2
Shoulder F/R 56.3 / 54.0

Jaguar I-PACE has more cargo room, as it should given the larger exterior dimensions and the hatch.

A critical loss of critical thinking ability!

Just one more sign from this serial anti-Tesla FUDster that choosing to become a die-hard Tesla basher is like getting a lobotomy. 🙄

P.S.: BEVs don’t care how high the elevation of a race track is. You’re locked into the gear-head mentality too much; not too surprising from someone who was bragging the other day about being part of a pit crew for gasmobile race cars.

BEV, very much care about climbing elevation, as consumptions goes up creating more heat in the components and reaching limp mode sooner… Rookie…

Referred to as grade. Like that is a steep grade.
Also I think maybe PUPM is using elevation as just an indication of relation to sea level.
Grade is change in elevation, up or down, not just elevation itself.

Right. He said elevation, not grade. My response was based on what he actually said. Silly me, huh? 🙄

P.S. — If you’d rather not use my preferred diminutive, “Pushy”, then at least use PMPU… not PUPM. (Yeah, I know… it was just a typo. But “Pushy” is easier to remember, innit?) 😉

Oh sorry, typo.

I am with you in this regard, climbing a steep grade and my Clarity PHEV started the engine after supplying about 100 hp from battery for a few minutes. I was hoping to use all electric up the hill. It doesn’t really matter, but was surprised how quickly it cut power from the battery under a high load.

By that logic the Pike’s Peak climb by an electric car was not possible.

Yeah, it’s weird. I think the shorts were caught completely by surprise.
Their short thesis lies in gooey tatters on the basement floor like the remains of your homework after the proverbial dog had eaten it, and barfed it back up.
I think it warns us of the vagaries of group think, and not to invest by memes.

Yeah, pretty sad..

So I’ll take the Performance Model 3 and eat your BMW’s lunch every day of the week and twice on Sundays in 95% of all driving aspects- all while doing it on sunbeams from my solar panels, while you drop $40-$50 at every fill-up. And then you can have Nurburging honors. Sounds like a fair trade to me!

By the way, don’t you drive a full-size ICE SUV? What kind of EV do you drive again?

Haha! We are going to find out soon if Tesla met Elon’s promises on Model 3P, said it would beat any comparable car on the track… I assume he meant before it overheats? Is Elon still working on Model 3 brakes? He said Tesla will not rest until they are best in class, well they still have a long ways to go…

When did it ever overheat? Never. The thermal management kept it from overheating. “the cooling system reaches a steady state. You’re more than welcome to continue in this condition until you’ve drained the batteries”

Not sure where your braking comment is coming from. The articles says the 3 is at least as good as the M3 with optional carbon ceramics.

BMW M3 with standard brakes stops in 99′ from 60mph, Cadillac ATS-V in 97′ from 60mph, Lets wait and see how the Model 3P does in testing, I am guessing 115′ with the upgraded brakes

You never did answer my question on your daily driver.

He’s answered that question before. He has 2 of GM’s biggest gas guzzlers since the Hummer, a GM full size pickup truck with a big V8, and a Cadillac CTS-V.

That was in the same thread where he admitted that he chooses which of the many EV sites to post on based upon where he can attack Tesla supporters, and admitting to being a longtime ICE car industry/GM insider working in the ICE automotive industry.

Thanks, Nix. So then, maybe David “Green” really isn’t a TSLA shorter, just as he keeps claiming. Odd that he seems so obsessed with the minutiae of Tesla’s finances, then.

I assumed that he did own a big-arse pickup, since you said he also posted favorably about coal-rolling on other forums.

What relation does that have to this blog… I am not asking for your personal info… you should concern yourself a bit less with mine.

People at car forums talk about the cars they drive. I’ve heard many people share the cars they drive at this site, because we share information. I’ve been one of those myself. I had heard you mention proudly before that you drive a Denali I believe? And was curious if you have any EV’s in your stable, and if you didn’t, I’m curious why you’d hang out at one dedicated to EV’s, especially how negative you always appear to be. Especially regarding one company in particular. You don’t have to answer (obviously).

For the record, I talk about many different thing to people who take the time to go out of their way to respond to my comments and engage me in conversation. If you don’t like my questions, you can always skip engaging me. That’s always an option.

Have a nice night.

Hows the denali on Nurburging?

That’s a really great point- someone who drives an ICE pig daily splitting hairs over a few seconds of time on the track..

Do us all a favor and stop posting your DA diarrhea based anti-Tesla slime that wastes everyone’s time.

Honestly, I don’t think the Model 3’s track results would matter to you unless they failed miserably. If the car DOES measure up to Elon’s promise(s), the bar of failure would simply be moved again. That’s how it works for folks with confirmation bias toward seeking only one pre-selected narrative.

I always said… if the Model 3P can beat the BMW M3 around the Nurburgring, and stop in less then 99 feet I would congratulate Tesla on a job well done… Does not look like that is going to happen… either one of those.

And my point was the Model 3 already beats the BMW for the VAST majority of the only driving both cars’ drivers will ever see, regardless if it doesn’t take home track honors.


Or buy a new Porsche GT3 RS and sell it with a profit in 5 years ?

From the article:
“Is this a limitation? Sure. But it’s one we’ve experienced in plenty of internal-combustion cars. At our Performance Car of the Year testing last year in summertime heat, our particular Honda Civic Type R could only hold on for two laps of NCM Motorsports Park before overheating and going into limp-home mode. An Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio that our man Sam Smith tested at Gingerman Raceway fell on its face on its first full-speed lap, multiple times. (Alfa Romeo later explained that the car we tested was missing some crucial software updates.) A new Mustang GT with Performance Package 2 will start to overheat its differential after a handful of laps at a typical circuit. Ford figures if you wanted a track car, you’d have gone with the GT350. And remember the well-documented track day overheating problems of the Corvette Z06?”

that’s a good point the article makes, but in every case, those problems are fixable ( in the aftermarket or with manufacturer upgrades and fixes) A bigger or better radiator helps in most cases.

Is there an equivalent fix for the model3? Maybe the less power is the fix? For most people, a slower lap time probably wont be a big deal now that I think about it.

That’s the point that David “Green” very stubbornly chooses to ignore, as part of his serial Tesla bashing. All you have to do is drive the Model 3P a bit slower, and it won’t go into limited power mode. Yet he keeps claiming the I-Pace is “better” because it doesn’t overheat when driven on a track at its top speed of 125 MPH.

Well, according to the figures given in this article, 3 seconds off the TM3P’s top speed of 155 MPH on a 1.5 mile lap, that’s ~142 MPH. Still beats the I-Pace’s track speed handily!

Not that I personally think that makes the I-Pace any less compelling, or less of a real competitor to Tesla’s cars in many ways. I welcome the I-Pace to the EV market!

But the I-Pace is not evidence that Jaguar’s EV tech is “better” than Tesla’s, as David “Green” keeps claiming.

Bridge-to-Gantry on the Nürburgring Nordschleife (the only route the public can actually do a lap on an open track day) is 19.1KM. Based on this story, thermal management would cost 10-15 seconds over the entire route. To put that in perspective, that is the gap between a BMW M4 and an M5:

7:27.88 BMW M4 GTS
7:38.92 BMW M5 (F90)

and less than the gap between different versions of the C63 AMG:
7:46 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series
8:13 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG (W204)


In other words, the thermal management is the difference between damn fast and still pretty damn fast. Unless you claim the M5 and C63 AMG are slow cars?

I have a feeling that the Performance 3’s cooling system will be a bit more robust in a year or two. Regardless, I would like to see what a professional driver could do with the current Dual Motor Performance 3 at the ‘Ring now. I would bet it would be a rather good time despite the overheating late in the lap. It kind of seems like being able to handle hot laps for 10 minutes would be just about right, since it would allow Tesla to take the 3 to the Nurburgring and to get a very good time without heat fading impacting the time.

Right now the power cut is purely a software override, to keep overheating from ever happening. It is a preemptive system. I would actually expect a system like this to improve with OTA updates as they figure out how to be less conservative with their slight power reductions, even before they have to do any hardware changes.

Lets get it out on a nice hot day, with a hot track and see how things go…

David, I have to admit that your FUD makes me laugh. The 3 Performance is a good, not great, track car. And it will get better nearly every year. The software over ride is a well engineered response to a slight problem that occurs fairly infrequently. And the FUD’sters will try to make it sound more important than it really is.

It might overheat on an extremely hot day at the track. Just like plenty of BMW M3 owners have had to deal with on the track for decades:

“BMW track day it runs over that dot and warning lights come on”

“10 laps (on a course that’s roughly 3km long) my engine temps start to rise”

The difference is that the TM3 just cuts power and protects itself. Where the BMW M3 will blow head gaskets and score the pistons/block. You pretend to have been involved with racing. Are you just finding out now that ICE cars overheat on the track, with disastrous consequences?


Why do you come to this website to insult tesla owners?

You won’t get a response for that question.

It didn’t overheat. We’ll have to wait for track times to know the difference between full power and the indefinate maintainable power after running a few laps.

For example if the Model 3P outpaces an M3 around the track by a couple seconds under full power for the first couple laps then it doesn’t matter as much if it loses a little power and is able to match the M3 for as many laps as it has a charge for after that.

It didn’t kick in until after 3 laps – please put your hands down and read before typing.

they claim it can keep 360 bhp of the initial 450… Not so bad , but the “toaster” with claimed 400 km/h will be another story !

“fresh prose dripping from servers.” Nice!


Quoting from the original article at Road & Track:

Moravy told me that, before we arrived at Lime Rock Park, his team had run simulations to see how Track Mode would perform at this particular circuit. The data predicted that, after roughly three full-speed, perfect laps, the car would gradually start pulling power, hitting equilibrium at a pace about two to three seconds off the absolute quickest lap times the car is capable of. To him, that’s not a devastating loss of performance. “Two, three seconds, that’s equivalent to driver error,” he points out.

R&T spent some several thousand words in a rather long article without ever telling us just what the top speed of the TM3P was after it had heated up from a top-speed track run! From the quote above it sounds like the drop was only a handful of MPH down from its top speed of 155 MPH, but it would be nice to know the exact figure.

Driver error will account for 1/2 second delay not 2 or 3 seconds for such a short track. More practise needed for so many errors at turns or braking….

Depends if the top speed is power limited or not, and I doubt it is. Might still have enough power to reach top speed even after some is pulled out.

I highly doubt that they actually hit the max speed at any point during the run on the track since it’s not straight.

So…yet another overheating toy car…I’m disappointed.

Another over zealous inaccurate comment from you. I’m not surprised.
Take your arguments back to 2015, where they cam from, but not 1915
where you came from.

So, a gearhead comes over to an EV form to troll.

Your dad is disappointed in you.

I smell sarcasm?

Should I also get off the lawn? 😉

Dad – Yet another trolling comment from a serial anti-EV poster. Really, why do you come here and twist the truth?

Because he is insecure and feels threatened by Tesla’s success and/or stands to lose money.

Same as David “Green” and the other serial anti-Tesla trolls, shills, shorters and haters like pretend 7E and mental MadBro.

Lord knows what Tesla has created when the Roadster2 comes and is delivered,historic names like Ferarri ,Lamborghini and Mclaren will be relegated to the dustbins of history

Good summary of the article Domenick.

Here’s a quote from the R&T article:
“This linked approach to thermal management means that, unlike previous Teslas, track driving won’t lead to a total performance shutdown”

So M3 cools it’s battery better than Model S. Just as Keith and I expected.

“The motors and battery use cooling circuits that are independent but linked”

Model S has series mode and parallel mode. in series mode the 2 circuits are linked together in series with the motor downstream of the battery. Sounds like they now can mix the two modes? ….or like they now can run the two loops separate but still have A/C working in both loops.

We’ll have to think about this.

Anyway we have an article finished that explains why the M3 cools its battery better than Model S. AShould be out in the next couple days.

PS just thought of one of the other thing. It would be really cool if you could run a Model S p100d against the model 3 on the same track at the same time. Then we could really see how much better they model 3 cooling system is.

In addition I’m very anxious to see what the Porsche taycan can do on the same track at the same time.

We still don’t know the details of the taycans cooling system but Porsche talks it up all the time and says it will be track ready. So let’s put all three vehicles on the track together

I’m thinking that Porsche will run the air conditioning refrigerant directly in the pack. This will give them another order of magnitude of cooling capability over the old glycol system.

But of course all that comes with a price.

We are looking into putting together some races using non-standard formats (I think there are plenty of straight drag racing videos out there), but we don’t have access to a Model 3 Performance. Yet. This could be one thing to test out.

Any further suggestions are appreciated.

That’s what the BMW i3 does, doesn’t it? Runs refrigerant directly into the battery pack for cooling? (citation below)

Better for heat transfer, but WOW! the energy efficiency must be horrible. Using a compressor instead of a simple water pump to circulate the coolant!


The efficiency defined as amount of heat removed per energy consumed for cooling might not be any worse for he i3’s refrigerant battery pack cooling system compared with a glycol coolant. The i3’s A/C compressor would not have to circulate as much cold refrigerant as a glycol coolant pump to remove the same amount of heat. However, in extreme conditions, the i3’s refrigerant battery pack cooling system might be able to keep a battery pack cooler than a glycol cooling system.

All of this depends on details of each system that might be difficult for us regular folks to determine.

reason that direct cooling with refrigerant is more efficient is as follows. Basically you have eliminated one cooling Loop.

With the glycol system you are transferring heat between the refrigeration cycle loop and the glycol loop and then the battery cells. So that is two transfers of heat.

In the direct cooling system you eliminate the glycol Loop so you only transfer heat between two loops. Equals more efficient.

You are just transferring heat from the cells right to the refrigerant Loop.

Yes I 3!

Why should a direct refrigerant cooling plate be significantly more effective? Does the extra heat exchanger between a glycol loop and refrigerant loop really make that much of a difference?…

If you tracked the Model 3 P, you should use Motorsport brake pads, brake fluids, coolant and oil(for oil cooler). Stock ones are not meant for track use. Also, good sticky track tires on 18 inch wheels not 20 inchers!.

Sounds pretty damn good for Tesla’s very first, fresh out of development Track Mode, before they even release a Ludicrous mode version. Pretty damn nice for a performance version based on a 4 door midsize family sedan! The actual designed from the ground up for the track upcoming 2-door Roadster is going to be amazing with this track mode!

The crazy thing is this is just Tesla’s FIRST entry of the Model 3 into the performance world. And what we learned from the Model S is that performance bumps keep coming and coming after the first performance version. BMW vs. Audi performance battles have literally been going on for decades as they fine tune generation after generation. And Tesla is just getting started with the TM3 and already getting great reviews.

Like you, I am more than a bit surprised (and pleased) that Tesla has done so well at its first attempt at a “track mode”, especially in a car that’s not even a sports car! Tesla certainly deserves some kudos here.

Go Tesla!

How about using track mode for fast charging? Tesla can implement this cooling solution for faster charging at higher SOC.

It should be possible to engineer the TM3 for that, but it would be bad for battery life. Overheating battery packs is bad; charging them while overheated is even worse.

I’m wondering if the heat issues could be eliminated altogether by upgrading cooling capacity via things like a larger radiator, higher CFM fans, high flow pump, etc.

That sounds a lot like what ICE owners owner do to their BMW M3’s for heavy track use.


“If you are prepping an E9X M3 V8 for regular track or race use, this package is a key to decreased running temps as well as race-worth durability and longevity over the failure prone factory coolers. This is the Ultimate in cooling packages for tracked E9X M3.

While you can certainly purchase each of these components, we are confident this money-saving bundle will ultimately save you both time and money by doing the job right the first time and at an attractive discounted price.

Bundle Includes the following:

(1) 7059 CSF E9X M3 Triple-Pass Radiator
(1) 8025 CSF E9X M3 Oil Cooler
(1) 8041 CSF E9X M3 Power Steering Cooler
(1) 8042 CSF E9X M3 Transmission Cooler”

You don’t realize how good the P3D is until you drive it. After test driving one I changed my order from dual motor non performance to performance.

@Icebreaka your comment here intrigues me. I too am waiting for a dual motor non performance. Just cant see spending so much more money for a ~ 1 second increase from 0-60 and the few other improvements. That, and as I understand it, would have to still spend more for the tires that take more advantage. What specifically was it about the test drive that convinced you the P model is so much better? I noticed that free supercharging is part of that now, but don’t see myself using that very often.

It was when I took corners, the car had 0 roll. It felt like a Porsche 911. 15 thousand extra is a bargain when you compare it to cars built for the track. Also going from 4’s to 3’s sounds small, but it’s a huge difference.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Nobody gives a $h1t here in the US about Nürburgring.
The Douchebag’s here in the US with a small hardon for Nürburgring probably have never driven their own daily driver on Nürburgring……lol, morons.

Amen. Vast majority of folks who throw around the name Nurburgring couldn’t find it on a map without Googling it.

I think the performance for the price point is great. It is not a $200k super car anyway. What is lacking right now is some visual pizzas. The car looks identical to regular Model 3 LR and probably to the mythical $35k Model 3 SR.

Nobody expects an electric car to be fully comparable to an ICE just yet. Just look at Formula E vs F1, we are still a major breakthrough away from that point.

I would like to know how cold you can set the battery pack to be before tracking it in order to stave off battery pack getting too hot. I know the pack being cold will increase internal resistance reducing performance but it will race longer.