Top Gear’s Take On The Tesla Model 3 Performance With Track Mode

SEP 19 2018 BY EVANNEX 32


Tesla’s vehicles have earned rave reviews from just about every major automotive authority. However, there are plenty of car guys (and, presumably, gals) out there who still haven’t warmed up to a Tesla, or any electric vehicle. Some petrol-heads of this persuasion are to be found at Top Gear, the UK car guys that famously fought it out in the courtroom with Tesla back in 2008 (as told in a certain book). “As much as we admire BEVs, not one has yet landed that genuinely stirs the emotions like our old friend internal combustion,” writes Top Gear’s Jason Barlow in a recent article.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: Tesla’s Model 3 graced the cover of Top Gear last year (Image: Magzter)

However, if any EV is going to win these blokes over, it might just be the new Dual Motor Performance Model 3. Three versions of Model 3 are currently available in the US: Long Range Rear Wheel, Long Range Dual Motor and Performance. The latter features an AC induction motor in the front and a partially permanent magnet motor with silicon carbide inverters in the rear. One of the motors is there for performance, and the other is there primarily to extend range. According to Tesla, the Performance version “creates a more aggressive and playful driving experience, both on the road and on the track.”

Top Gear was recently chosen to take a Model 3 Performance to Monterey Car Week (a sure sign that past disagreements are long forgotten). In this “ocean of automotive pulchritude,” where Bugattis, Ferraris, Porsches and McLarens were thick on the ground, “the Model 3 felt great, perfectly at home.”

Surprisingly, the traditionalists of Top Gear praised Model 3’s touchscreen paradigm: “Once you’ve acclimatised to the minimalist interior, you can’t help wondering why all cars aren’t designed this way. Whatever in-car feng shui is called, the Model 3 has it…The touchscreen is now a doddle to use, with the key functions located closer to the driver on the screen, and the connectivity is instant, in California at least. The whole effect is enlightening and positively therapeutic.”

Above: A look at the all-white interior available with the Tesla Model 3 Performance variant (Image: Tesla)

Here’s a sure sign that Tesla is making progress on its much-publicized build quality issues. “The Model 3 feels perfectly well put together,” says Top Gear. “Still some way shy of an Audi, BMW, Mercedes or Lexus, but way better than expected. I dislike the pop-out exterior door handles, and the doors themselves don’t shut with a Teutonic thump, but overall quality is good. Certainly good enough. Hmm. Maybe Tesla is hand-building its test cars like some Italian supercar companies are rumoured to do.”

But of course, we know what the lads at Top Gear really care about. Here’s what they had to say about the performance of the Performance: “It’ll do 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Power output is equivalent to approximately 450 bhp (versus 271 for the standard car and 346 for the Dual Motor), with 471 torques. In the US, Tesla claims a 310-mile range (EPA). The suspension has been lowered by 10 mm, but the bump stops are engaged earlier to protect the ride. Tesla has also been working hard on its Vehicle Dynamics Controller (VDC), to refine the integration sweet spot between powertrain and traction and stability controls. The regenerative braking set-up is largely unchanged but Tesla can do more with the regen harvest as the car’s potential is further exploited.”

“As ever, given the instantaneous torque whump you get in an EV, its acceleration from a standing start is awesome,” Mr. Barlow continues. “Stamp on the fast pedal, and the interior atmosphere suddenly becomes rather less therapeutic. But the big story here is the way it handles. One of Tesla’s engineers described the Model 3 to me as being effectively mid-engined, with the resultant lower polar moment of inertia. Its centre of gravity is pretty good, too. So you really can hustle it, its body control is fine (despite its 1,800 kg-plus weight), its steering feels good enough and arguably superior to a lot of electric set-ups. Look, it’s not as much fun [as a gas-burner] in absolute terms simply because changing gear – even via software-attenuated flappy paddles – is still core to the fun. Then there’s the issue of sound, of which the Model 3 makes little beyond the customary whir, overlaid by wind rush and tyre thrum as you gather momentum. Altogether, though, this is a satisfying way to get around. Deeply satisfying, in fact, when you include the zero emissions hygiene factor, and the promise of regular ‘over-the-air’ updates.”

Above: The exterior styling of Tesla’s Model 3 Performance variant includes red calipers and a carbon fiber spoiler (Image: Tesla)

Barlow and his boys didn’t just cruise the strip in the Model 3, admiring its high-tech gadgets – they took it to the track to test out the new Track Mode. At Pebble Beach, they drove the new EV on a course specially designed to show off its handling. “We’re talking sudden high-speed lane changes, slaloms, hard braking, and yes, drifting.”

“No one ever bought a Tesla for pure driving kicks,” writes Barlow. “Not until now, anyway. The Model 3 isn’t just the Tesla that turns the company into a genuine volume player…it’s also the one that aims to stick it to the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class for driving dynamics, which is where the new Track Mode comes in.”

According to Tesla, Track Mode brings a bit of Roadster handling to the Model 3. “Since the introduction of the Tesla Roadster, we’ve exploited the immediate availability of motor power and torque to achieve unprecedented straight-line performance, making the car’s forward acceleration a pure extension of the driver,” says Tesla. “With Track Mode, our goal was simple: use that same motor power and torque to make cornering feel just as natural as forward acceleration.”

Above: Cornering in a Tesla Model 3 (Image: Tesla)

The Top Gear lads were keen to check it out: “Yes, the supercar-shaming, instant-torque jowl-flapping acceleration the Model S in Ludicrous mode delivers is one hell of a party trick. But we like going round corners quickly, too, and the S and X are frankly a bit lumpen. So Tesla’s engineers have been beavering away on vectoring the dual motors’ torque and using brake force to sharpen the Model 3’s cornering. It’s nothing new, but what is interesting is that they’ve developed their own Vehicle Dynamics Controller, and all the software is in-house. Virtually every other car maker uses systems developed by a Tier 1 supplier, and then tweaks the software accordingly. Even Ferrari. Tesla didn’t think it could achieve the level of integration it wanted, so it’s a lone wolf. Well if anyone can write their own code, it’s these guys, right?”

Top Gear is famous for pushing performance cars to (or even past) their limits, and that’s just what they did. “Delve into the touchscreen menus and engage Track Mode. That’s it. The VDC monitors all driver inputs and the vehicle’s state, and divvies up the torque front to rear. As with any fast car, it takes time to dial into it, and the slip angles are in direct proportion to the size of your cojones, but it’s worth reiterating: Track Mode allows you to do it. Give it the berries on the way out of one corner and into another, and yep, we’re sideways. On the next run we’re drifting. Towards the end, you can even get it rotating with a Scandinavian flick. Track Mode also increases the amount of regenerative braking. Tesla says it improves the endurance of the system, sends more energy back into the battery, and helps it unleash the maximum amount of power. The VDC also uses it to temper rotation when you come off the brake pedal.”

While Barlow and the Top Gear team may not be ready to abandon petroleum just yet, it sounds like Model 3’s Track Mode has them feeling a lot better about the coming transition to electrons. “Me, I miss the noise, and changing gear, as ancient a concept as it might seem, is still key to the experience,” Barlow concludes. “But hey, it’s 2018, and the world is moving on.”


Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Top Gear

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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32 Comments on "Top Gear’s Take On The Tesla Model 3 Performance With Track Mode"

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Hmmm… yet another glowing independent review of the Model 3? Where’s my nay-sayers to come refute and tell us all how bad the Model 3 still sucks?

Just wait until they drive the Roadster 2.0…

Hey, here is this car that makes your show redundant. “Top Gear” It only has one. No longer do you get to serenade the countryside with throaty engine noise. No longer do you disgust people with noxious fumes coming from your tailpipe as you spew your disregard for the environment and those who live within it. It’s such a sad time to see that people will try to find anyway to slow an inevitable and positive progress, by continuing to embrace a dying, horrific, technology, when they possibly could be of some help by telling the truth, that says that ice, diesel, personal transportation is a Dead End, and the time of the EV has arrived. No more talking about spooling, dumping the clutch, rod travel, pistons compression ratios, or other jargon referring specific to ICE cars. They’re dead meat, even against the 2nd echelon of Tesla vehicles, the Model 3. Though the performance is at the top of that class. Btw damn, this steak is undercooked. I should burnt, just like me. (JC) Why not talk about the fact that anyone who has the money and can get the Model 3 should get one, or any other competitive ev,… Read more »

I have been having similar thoughts for two years. I enjoyed those three guys (original show, now on Amazon) whilst loathing their agenda. I am not a car guy at all, but every time I see them get excited about some absurd performance car- I think to my self …. my car (s) can do that. I was sitting in a friends brand new Porsche (911???- I guess$$ as he displayed its might, and bit my lip as I kept thinking that it felt sluggish. Basically by the time the 3 sells the cheaper version, by the time the Y, come out…. ALL OTHER CARS WILL BECOME POINTLESS

TOP GEAR…= Liars Cheats & Thieves.. Trying Kiss Up After Getting Caught Cheating on the Roadster Scripted Test Fiasco.

Top Gear is an entertainment show, I have never taken their car commentary seriously. The story on the roadster was a plausible one, even if it didn’t actually happen.

The i3 Rex story on Grand Tour was similar too, it was a plausible situation, but a small amount of planning could have eliminated any issue.

TOP GEAR! They’re a Bunch of JERKS! Nothing But “TOTAL BULL SH!T” and Scripted Misleading information . They Have No Business Broadcasting their Garbage to Pollute the Minds of the Public… I would avoid these idiots Like The Plague, “BAN THEM” for ever & Not give them the time of day.

@amt said: “TOP GEAR…= Liars Cheats & Thieves.. ”

The Tesla Roadster dead battery incident was nearly a decade ago… sometimes it’s healthy to hit the reset button.

Overall I thought it was a fair Top Gear review of the Tesla Model 3P all things considered. Certainly you can tell these guys are very impressed with Model 3 and believe the car represents the future of automotive.

Tesla is not only starting to win over the skeptics but converting them to question why other cars are not more like a aTesla:

Top Gear: “…Once you’ve acclimatised to the minimalist [Tesla Model 3] interior, you can’t help wondering why all cars aren’t designed this way…”

CDAVIS , They are Bold Face Liars . They are Dead to Me I wouldn’t give them 1 second of my time & Others Should Do The Same!.. That was a Merciless Brutal & Mortal Attack TO STOP, KILL, and BURY TESLA . So TOP GEAR Can Go to Hell & Burn Forever with the Demons that they Are! As far as I am Concerned . I HAVE “LESS THAN ZER0” DESIRE and even MUCH LESS USE FOR THEIR BOGUS DESTRUCTIVE REPORTING !

@amt said: “CDAVIS , They [Top Gear] are Bold Face Liars . They are Dead to Me…”

It’s more productive to convert an former adversary to your ally than to collect enemies.

The review that Top Gear did for the Tesla Model 3P was geared (pun intended) towards an ICE audience… as such the review served to let that audience known that the Model 3 is a serious performance track capable car not to be dismissed… that’s progress… progress is good.

I Understand what you say & It is benevalant , However,. Dead To me , Means that for me they No longer exist .. I Harber No Ongoing Ill Feelings towards them, I will not waste any of my energy to Hate Them ..I had my Rant & now it’s over.. They are, in my Mind ,Forgotten & I will forever avoid their Evil Agendas .I can Forgive ., But Never Forget..

Correlation is NOT Causation.

It wasn’t Top Gear, the magazine, that had a problem with Tesla, it was Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear the TV show.

Clarkson recently did a review of the Model X on Grand Tour and gave it very positive comments.

I can’t stand the sight of that Rotten Trash for what he did to TESLA ! ..

And he doesn’t even work there anymore.

How much separation is there between the TV show and the magazine? Are those two separate companies, or just two divisions of the same company?

Or, more to the point, how much separation was there back when the TV show did a “hit piece” dishonestly bashing the original Tesla Roadster?

They should have Gotten Rid Of that Garbage Human & Issued an Apology & Re Do the “Truthful Report” ..THAT WAS BEYOND DIRTY . How Low Can One Go !

I hate top gear

And no one Cares.

Don’t Be So Sure About That !

They tried to KILL Tesla right from the start…. I hate them More ! ….lol…Seriously ..

I suppose this is as close to unbiased enthusiastic praise for an EV as we can ever expect to get from gearheads. Overall, the praise is pretty effusive, so even as a dyed-in-the-wool Tesla cultist fanboy I shouldn’t object.

But then, I don’t expect Top Gear to ever again go out of its way to present a false report with the intention of making a Tesla car look bad, as they did with the original Tesla Roadster back in the day. I think their reputation took a big hit from the backlash to that, so they are no doubt at pains to avoid a repeat.

They Gotta Tell it like it is, They Have No Choice Now , The Product Speaks for itself , They’ve Been Caught in their BOLD FACE Lies and Defeated. ..BAN THEM !

Apparently the censor-bot here doesn’t like me calling myself a “fanb0y”? (Obviously I can’t spell that correctly, or this comment would also be censored.)

You are 100% OK ! They’re either Shorts or Just Envious …

“Look, it’s not as much fun [as a gas-burner] in absolute terms simply because changing gear – even via software-attenuated flappy paddles – is still core to the fun. Then there’s the issue of sound, of which the Model 3 makes little beyond the customary whir, overlaid by wind rush and tyre thrum as you gather momentum/”

Dinosaur ICE-age thinking. But one I hear alot from EV naysayers. “Where’s the sound!?!? Where’s the shifting gears?!?!?”

But as EVs improve and start kicking their butts on the track and at the stop lights, they will start singing a different tune. Not there yet, but the P3D gets us closer.

“But hey ,it’s 2018, the word is moving on,” and I guess Jeremy Clarkson and his buddies have moved on too.

rey,, They’ve Moved on to Hell , I hope !… If they could of had their Way ., Tesla Would have Been Long Dead .

Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear has some cool quotes in his repertoire like “” Koenigseggs is now said to be more comfortable — more comfortable than what ? being stabbed ? “” .

Best if Franz v. Holzhausen gets Jeremy Clarkson beside him in the Roadster-2 and use him as ‘crash test dummy’ like Jay Leno and accelerate towards a brick wall and closed factory gate, to convince him about acceleration performance.

YEA! So Funny ! OK I’LL Take it ! ! …

Time to attack top gear on Twitter until they delete their account! It’s a horrible car that falls apart and nobody wants one which is why they cannot make enough!!!

wow – a whole different breed of troll just popped out of the woodwork – chill out, people.