Top Gear Tesla Model 3 Performance Review: It’s Combat Ready

Tesla Model 3 Performance


Top Gear asks … is the Tesla Model 3 Performance a BMW M3/C63 rival?

The publication loved the non-performance Model 3, so it only makes sense that it would be even happier with the dual-motor all-wheel-drive performance variant. However, what makes this car “combat ready,” at least from Top Gear’s perspective?

First of all, reviewer Jason Barlow admits that he’d really like to call this car an “M” 3, but we all know that’s not acceptable. He also says that there has yet to be a BEV that “genuinely stirs the emotions like our old friend internal combustion.” Interestingly, Barlow mentions the Jaguar I-Pace as coming close the whole stirring emotions part. While we agree, InsideEVs wonders … what about the Model S?

Top Gear had access to a Model 3 Performance ($78,000 as tested) throughout Monterey Week. On the drive out, they followed a Ferrari 250 GT California Spider and were in company with two LaFerraris, two Porsche 918 Spyders, and many McLarens. Nonetheless, Top Gear says the Model 3 felt at home.

Notable takeaways:


  • All cars should be designed with this minimalistic interior
  • Touch screen is easy to use and well laid out
  • Connectivity is instantaneous
  • Despite “well-publicized” negative press, the car is well built
  • Overall quality is good
  • Awesome acceleration/Instant torque
  • Good center of gravity
  • Body control is fine
  • Superior steering feel compared to many electric cars
  • Satisfying overall


  • Dislike pop-out door handles
  • Seats lack support
  • “It ain’t cheap”

In conclusion, Top Gear writes:

Are you converted?

Pretty much. The Model 3 Performance is a blast. Whether you’re a Tesla – and Elon – fanboy or girl, this thing makes a major case for itself on its own merits. Sure, there are still significant infrastructural issues in the UK, and we could do with more superchargers (there are just over 8,500 in 1,100 locations worldwide). Unlike the Model S and X, you also have to pay as you charge: it’s not part of the package. Install a domestic wall box, and you can juice up at a rate of 16.5kW, equivalent to 51 miles per hour. Here’s the thing, though: while we waited to collect the car, we watched a big screen relay live updates on global stats: Tesla has ‘enabled’ 1.474 billion miles and saved 67 million gallons of gasoline, amongst other things. During the next 12 months and beyond, the big automotive OEMs will be unleashing their pure-EV rivals. The Model 3 is combat-ready.

To read the article in its entirety, follow the link below.

Source: Top Gear


Tesla Model 3 Performance - Dual Motor Badge
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Tesla Model 3 Performance Tesla Model 3 Performance Tesla Model 3 Performance Tesla Model 3 Performance - Midnight Silver Tarmac Motion (wallpaper 2,560x – click to enlarge) Tesla Model 3 Performance - White Interior - Wide Tesla Model 3 Performance - White Interior - Touchscreen

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116 Comments on "Top Gear Tesla Model 3 Performance Review: It’s Combat Ready"

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Having Driven the Model 3P, I agree on most points… My one disagreement was the interior and UI for me still do not match the price, but I am old.. OK 48, younger folks may love it.

I am 59 and I have grown to love the interface. My Volt has 82 buttons, knobs and switches for the driver. The Model 3 boils this down into an intuitive easy to access UI. And my wife is 60 and what car is she driving? The Model 3

55 yo and ride motorcycles . A good user interface needs to be intuitive and address critical functions via motor memory or excellent voice control. It would be great if Tesla could invest more resources into a top-notch AI voice control system so the screen can serve only secondary needs.

It will come … remember the Tesla cars can improve while you own them.

You mean a Tesla can get nicer wood trim, and doors that do not rattle over time? Wow, Thats cool…

There’s the old, cynical Tesla-hatin’ David Green we’ve all come to know and mock. We were starting to wonder what happened to you.

I hear the iPace has the most expensive wood and will drive squeak and rattle free for at least 1,000,000 miles. I also hear that the seats will actually improve your spine as you age.

I’ve learned so much from you over these past months about how pitiful Teslas are and how the iPace will be the savior EV everyone has been waiting for. I’ve taken your advice and even though I like my Model 3 I’m preemptively selling it so as to avoid future rattles, battery failure, bankruptcy or other misadventures. I plan on buying 3 iPaces because they are sure to be collector cars well into the 22nd century.

philip d.
Ooops! You missed the “/S”

Good luck with interstate driving with the Jag.

Nobody is forcing you two to stay here and be abused. Poor little snowflakes.

Everybody, step back and make room for Mike! He is an environmentalist!
Here is the site you were looking for Mike:

Bon voyage!

meh. Baywatch is better. 🙂

I think they’re just very insecure.

65 and the UI was easy to get used to, actually like the off center speedo because I like the steering wheel low, blocks my view of the dash on many cars. The car is so customizable and user friendly and keeps getting better with the updates, I’m thrilled!

I don’t want 82 buttons, but I don’t mind if Model 3 has a few physical buttons, it makes the single interface UI even more user friendly with less switching screens

The single interface cuts down on clutter and costs,those Plastic and Chrome Jewelry adds up not to mention all the wiring harnesses that connects to it.Look for others to follow Tesla lead in 5-10 years ,Yes Old Auto is that far behind.When was the last time you used a Flip phone? or a rotary phone landline?

Let’s just say I’m “older than 48”, and I love the 3 interior layout.

PUP materials should be nicer, but that’s not the Tesla way.

For a +70K car, the Model 3P is cheaply done inside and out… But the drive, and running gear are terrific…

I might agree with you that the interior of the TM3 could be more luxurious.

What would you expect on the outside of the $70k car?
Don’t tell me about panel gaps, I own 2 TM3s and gaps are very small and even on both cars as far as I can tell.

what is cheaply done in your mind?

The myriad of buttons and Knobs count as luxury to David Green,he needs a Rolex to tell time. lol-LOL

I scrutinized a Mod 3 and the much talked about panel gaps didn’t exist , but my CRV had worse gaps, inside and outside, a vaunted over half a decade old company ,and Japanese at that.

Since you like the looks of the iPace, that automatically disqualifies your taste in vehicles. Sorry.

I am 61, but I am a programmer. The gravitation towards a touch screen to control everything has been coming for decades, really. My airplane works the same way. The two principles are: 1. Feed everything through the computer. All user actions, sensors, all input, go to the computer, and everything is controlled by the computer(s). Then all functionality can be changed by changing software. 2. Using the touchscreen, no fixed buttons appear anywhere. The “version 1” of this was to have buttons appear around the screen with programmable button labels on the screen next to them. But the touch screen makes this unnecessary. Does this UI take time to get used to? Yes, but that happens rapidly, and eventually you will be faster with a touchscreen than with individual fixed buttons. Its because you can focus on one screen and either find the programmable buttons in that fixed area or change modes (reprogram the contents of that screen) faster than you can hunt around for individual fixed buttons around the dash. Managing the modality of the screen is key to a good user interface. You could have a 20 inch display and present everything on that screen, or have… Read more »

I’m 55 (and a minimalist), so I love it.

Speak for yourself, punk! 🙂

56 here and I love the interface. My mind is as sharp as ever. I’m just not the physical dynamo I used to be.

Your stuck in the 19th and 20th century,still telling time with your Rolex while people check time with their smartphone,i haven’t had a wristwatch for over 2 decades

I have 30. Watches are used for style now not just telling time

Out of the three cons listed, I only agree with “it ain’t cheap”. The door handles are easy to get used to and they function well. The seat provides many adjustment options and I found the settings that fit me just fine. The only problem I have with the seats is the Vegan leather. I would prefer the real leather finish.

I suppose all manufacturers will move to Vinyl or Poly seating as it is more sustainable. I like leather too, but most leather today is so processed it might as well be synthetic.

We kill cows for meat, might as well use the skin for leather products.
I agree about the over-processed leather today, but still think the real leather feels much better than any synthetic substitute.

From what I gather, leather is processed with so many harmful chemicals, that it’s likely way less sustainable than synthetics, regardless of where the hide itself comes from.

I think though the comment was more geared at the fact that real cattle breeding is likely to be replaced by lab-grown meat in the coming decades, because of the heavy environmental impact.

Once we can grow meat in the lab, we should have the technology that allows us to process leather without harming the environment.
I agree that producing leather today is very chemical-intensive and creates a lot of pollution. There are no modern conveniences that are entirely “green” and have no negative effects on the environment.

Once there is a good affordable lab grown meat, I will eagerly abandon real meat. I hope that day comes soon. In the meantime, I’ve slashed my meat consumption. But for health reasons….and because it tastes so damn good, I just can’t give up meat completely now. Old habits die hard.

As long as we agree that chicken and fish are vegetables, I’m a fully committed vegetarian.

I’ve done that diet several times. I rationalized it as my mammal solidarity diet. Poultry? Fvck those dinosaurs!

Mammal Solidarity Diet, LOL. I like that, starting today I’m on MSD.

If it Drives, Dives, or Flies, then I’m a committed “EVegetarian” as well. 🤥

Seinfeld? “I only eat animals that don’t eat meat!”??

Fish eat meat

I don’t miss having to pick thru bones when eating, things you might have to do when eating fish and chicken.

Already technology for lab-grown hide to create leather.

Soulent green

Agreed as long as leather is a byproduct it needs to and will be used. However, leather demand shouldn’t drive animal poaching, which tends to happen for exotic leathers.

Entirely agree, animal poaching is despicable.

Depends were you live. Here in Arizona cause of high heat and dry air, leather dries and crack if your not on it like fly on S—.

That’s a false argument. Leather is not a byproduct, and it isn’t produced in efforts to minimize waste. It’s produced because it is a highly profitable and lucrative business. A cow’s skin is approximately 10 percent of her total value, making it the most profitable part of her body. Surprisingly, leather actually makes the meat industry more sustainable — as selling skins is very profitable, while meat isn’t always so — not the other way around.

Additionally in China, millions of cats and dogs are killed and made into leather which makes it way into various products sold around the world.

As a member of PETA I agree. Not the famous PETA mind you my organization is for” People Eating Tasty Animals “

If we are to save the planet for our children and their children we have to lessen impact on the environment and go vegan where possible , I have been mostly vegan most of my life and feel a lot better and sure am a lot healthier than my meat eating classmmates ,many who have passed away due to heart attacks.

I’ve had leather seats on every car as long as I remember which include Audi’s and Porsches. They all looked great for the first 50k miles then the bolsters and seats look bad. You couldn’t even feel the leather anyhow since they are all coated with polyurethane and the like. It’s in the mind because the synthetic feels every bit as good and is far more durable. I’ve seen Teslas with 50k miles where the seats look better than traditional leather did at 50k miles.

Ok, I’ll have to take your word for it. My personal experience is quite the opposite. The leather seats age well with some minimum care.

Most airlines use leather for that reason

Eventually, it may become all lab-grown leather. No cow needed.

Hopefully you’re not too old to learn new things? Try these facts on for a change, followed by Dr. Joy’s TEDx talk, to get you up to speed on the lies your parents told you, and how they put our planet at even greater risk:


Dude, lighten up. I do a lot more than an average person to support a sustainable environment. Take your message to US Cattlemen’s Association

I wonder if top gear is still around in 20 years, all cars being produced at that point should be BEV and kids won’t know what the term “top gear” would even mean since BEV’s don’t have gears. parents will have to explain ICE cars are for enthusiasts and hobbyists that still want to feel that engine

The term “top gear” is meaningful only with the manual transmission. With automatic, you wouldn’t know what gear you are in. Better yet, with the VRT or CVT there are really no top gears to shift to.
Driving a stick shift is becoming a lost art.

‘lost art’?

Who’s longing for the days when adjusting your ignition timing was an ‘art’?

Once cars drive themselves and becomes appliances, the car magazines will die out slowly and there won’t be any need for any kind of “reviews”…

Consumer Reports and their reviews of washers and dryers beg to defer.

And that is only reviews left which is part of the overall CR’s review portfolio.

Are they “wash and dryer” only review magazine left? That is what is going to happen, once it becomes appliance, it will just becomes a section among the appliance reviews. CR also review cars today… but those “cars only” review magzines such as Car and Drive, Motortrend, Road and Track, Motor Week, Autoline etc will be all gone…

Were there any “Washer and Dryer” magazines before? That must have been a hoot to read!

The point is that CR is a comprehensive review company that basically reviews all things, cars included. So, that won’t change if cars becomes appliances. But most car magazines are car enthusiast orientated which means that once they are appliance like, the market for those kind of reviews will be gone…

*sigh*. I already spent too much time explaining it…

Yes, communicating clearly is hard. I think I got it, thank you.

I cried all day when “Home Laundry Digest” went out of print.

Here, here, I feel your pain!

It’s going to be hard to find out who makes the best laundry soap. lol

EVs do have gears….but they are fixed gears. What they don’t have is a transmission used to switch between different gearing ratios. And getting rid of that complex, costly, and eventually prone to break transmission system is a huge often underappreciated advantage of EVs.

That’s right, EVs have a fixed “top gear” config.

If there is no gear switching, the term “top gear” has no meaning…

Having said that, *some* EVs do actually have two (and rarely, even more) gears.

Good point. I focused on the “gear” part and ignored the “top” part. I stand corrected.

Just to clarify, a fixed gear transmission is still a transmission. A transmission is a device used to transmit power from the motor to the wheels. My i3 has a single speed gear reduction transmission. The only reason I point this out is some go around saying EV’s don’t have transmissions. They do, but most are not shiftable transmissions.

Meh…this is semantics. The term “transmission” in cars generally refers to the system for switching between different gear ratios. People ask about “manual transmission or automatic transmission” clearly referring to the system used to switch between gear ratios.

CVT is still transmission…

By definition, transmission is a “gear box”. Whether it is 1 speed, 4 speed, 6 speed, 8speed or 10 speeds is just another detail…

They have gears, but there is only one drive ratio.


One of the Cons is the door handles? I love the aerodynamic door handles. They removed the unnecessary complexity and cost of the pop-out door handles on the Model S/X but retained the aerodynamics.

Tesla remains the only company to “get” EVs. Others are getting closer but still miss on big things. For example, the Bolt EV is probably the best non-Tesla EV…but the maximum charge rate of 54KW makes it impractical for long-distance driving. (Porsche & BMW are addressing this in their future models but the Model S has been able to handle >100KW for a decade now.)

I-Pace is pretty clearly the best non-Tesla BEV right now.

I classify that as a future model. It’s not on the scorecard yet. But I guess it is coming pretty soon and I agree that its better than the Bolt EV…although it probably costs more than 2X as much so I sure hope so! 🙂

I think the Chevy Bolt reference, pertains to its wide availability, in being able to be purchased or leased, in a majority of US Stealerships today.

Yes, but that’s like being No. 2 search engine to Google.

You mean you don’t like Yahoo Search?

You mean AltaVista? *grin*


what is Yahoo?/sarc.

A decade? You are off by half 🙂 The Model S hit the streets in 2012; and early Superchargers weren’t >100 kW. (Though fairly close.)

Thanks for the correction.

Roadster !

Roadster only had AC charging with the onboard charger. But (if my calculations are correct) it did charge at an impressive 17KW or so which is pretty good for AC charging.

Agree with you on the handles. Every time I walk by my Model S (with fob in pocket) the door handles all pop out. Makes me a little frustrated at the unnecessary movement x hundreds, speeding the inevitable failure. I wish there was a way to set the Model S unlock so only the driver door pops out upon approach.

(There may be a setting for it that I’ve missed and now I’m gonna look like an idiot)

There is that setting. I’m not sitting in my car right now, so I can’t guide you to it, but it’s there.

And apparently LED headlamps are not available, even as an option on the Bolt; I would think any sort of power-saving feature would have a place on a BEV, if only in an option package.

It’s all about cost savings and efficiency. People complain about the task lighting in the Bolt being incandescent, but think when is the last time you changed a task light bulb in a car and given how little they are on they don’t effect range and they are cheap. The same goes for headlights. LEDS add cost, but don’t really provide a huge range boost to justify their cost. There’s a reason there is no $35k+destination charges Model 3.

Designing a cars to fit a given price point is an art. Also unlike Tesla if GM was going to make a care with LED, ACC, sporty, etc… they would use one of their other brands were the price would make more sense. Buick appears to be a darling right now.

I think the main reason there are no TM3 at $35k is simple economics. It makes more sense to sell $50k versions as long as the market will support it. Profit matters.

The door handles stink. It takes a person that has never used them a while to figure out

If they didn’t list any cons they would have gotten attacked for it. Pros are very good for EVs. a decade ago if anybody said any EV were direct M3 and C63 AMG competitors even EV Fans would have laughed.

Yes, it does seem they were struggling to find anything negative about the TM3.

Did they put the M3P on the track? Why are they reviewing the door handles but not the pedals? With the demise of manual transmissions maybe they can call their magazine/show Top Door Handles.

The Road/Show’s Review of the Model 3 Performance, with the package:
Excuse me sir is this your package?
Why yes I believe that it is.
Just as we thought.

Petrol is sticky, I’ll give that. I wonder if you ever drove a Tesla.

Or, still break from petrol and buy a used Tesla Model S for $40k?

It’s not the price that’s the problem here….

You know you can buy the normal version for $49K, right?

I test drove the 3P, and it was superb though out of my budget and I ended up ordering the dual motor. The 3 is extremely capable, and only supercars will be able to match the 0-speed limit rips you’ll be pulling from stop signs and stop lights.

“Good center of gravity” – I’m guessing most EV’s centre of gravity is low. This is like saying BMW weight distribution is good at 50:50?

“Body control is fine” – “Fine” doesn’t really sound like it’s a pro.

“Superior steering feel compared to many electric cars” – How does it compare to ICE performance cars? If you want to compare the Model 3 to M3 and AMG cars, then your comments must be compared to those cars. That’s like saying “M3 acceleration is awesome compared to other ICE cars” , but “ok” compared to Tesla.

Tell us how you feel about electric cars.

TM3X2 Chris, If I were to buy an EV, I would buy a BMW 330e. It does not scream “I drive an EV!” However, I own too many cars to drive one car enough to justify the added cost of EV to offset the very small savings in fuel costs.

For example, I might put 5000 miles on a car every year. The fuel cost savings is a few hundred dollars, while the car costs thousands more than a similarly equipped 328i.

I am currently undecided/inconclusive regarding the environmental impact of EVs. What happens during the manufacturing and disposal of the batteries? Not sure.

Top Gear drove a Model 3P for a week 15 miles away from Laguna Seca and phoned in this review. How hard would it be to sneak the car on the track, put Sam Posey in a Stig suit and record a hot lap on the same track that the I-Pace just broke the EV lap record. Something doesn’t add up. Either Tesla is preventing or they are hiding the fact that it’s way faster or both.

How would Tesla prevent it? It’s your car, you can jump over railroads and crash into trees if you like.

Top Gear’s car may have been loner so maybe it came with stipulations. I’m really ust giving them the benefit of doubt.

It was car week in Monterey, there may not have been any track time available.

78K was the price as tested including options. You can get into one for around $65K.

Huh? What’s this “we could do with more superchargers (there are just over 8,500 in 1,100 locations worldwide).”? Nearly 11,000 Superchargers Worldwide now!

On I see “1,353 Locations”; and “10,948 Stalls” on stats Tab!

I think TG needs an OTA update. lol

Problem with those rivals is they don’t have the Tesla allure , north America Super charger stations ,battery supply factory volume, and Teslas OTA

You can get a P3D for $65,000 but that model doesn’t have ‘track mode’.

The BMW M3 has been around along time. For Tesla to come out with their first year version that is so competitive, is amazing.