Top Gear Tests Unplugged Tesla Model 3


Mods make a difference

The Tesla Model 3, according to the many, many reviews out there, is a pretty great car to drive. But what happens if you throw some modifications at it? Can the experience be improved upon, or is the Model 3 aftermarket a waste of cash? To explore this question, Top Gear tried out a pair of the mid-size sedans as modified by Unplugged Performance, an outfit that provides “premium performance upgrades” for Tesla vehicles. We’ve seen some of their work with the car before.

The first modded Model 3 they try out is a rear-wheel-drive version (this, after they drove an unmolested example to help make any differences more apparent). Fitted with a coilover suspension, carbon ceramic brakes, and a set of lightweight forged wheels (among other smaller details) — EV customizers are not yet able to toy with things like power output — they find it “sharper and more focused,” and go on to say:

There’s clarity and communication in the steering, much quicker reactions into corners and a tangibly lower centre of gravity. It feels tauter and more honed, and right up there with a 3 Series for agility.

That’s pretty high praise, though they do caution that the car’s stability control system pulls the plug if the shenanigans get even slightly out of hand. They also note that the suspension, using parts from the Ohlins catalog, doesn’t sacrifice ride quality with the lowered ride and offers some 24 levels of adjustment.

Sliding behind the wheel of the next kitted-out Model 3, this one an all-wheel-drive variant, expectations are somewhat different. While it might not have that feel drivers love when a vehicle is propelled solely from the back axle, it does have a bunch more power, lowering the zero-to-sixty time considerably.

Though they don’t give an in-depth review of this car, they do mention that the extra weight of the second motor seems apparent to them and call out the carbon ceramic brakes as being very welcome here. Indeed, they mention it took some amount of effort for Unplugged Performance to get the car’s sensors to play nice with the grippier brakes. Five months worth, to be exact.

Overall, they say the modifications help propel the car into the same handling zip code as the BMW M3, Mercedes C63, and Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio, at least until the wick is turned up. A good place to spend time, we imagine, though we think with its constant software upgrades, along with its green and quiet approach, it’s already in a class of its own.

Source: Top Gear

Categories: Tesla

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

18 Comments on "Top Gear Tests Unplugged Tesla Model 3"

newest oldest most voted

What? They don’t have Track Mode software? Until performance reviews use that software all is irrelevant.

Track mode is supposed to be only used on the track, so reviews like this for street driving shouldn’t use it.

Nonsense, lots of fast cars have traction/stability systems that can be set to Race or Track mode. They are tested that way all the time.

I share their love for RWD. Too bad there’s no Performance RWD offered or I would have gone with that without a second thought. Every time I lower a car I regret it, only to do it again when I get a new car to regret it again. That picture makes me want to do the suspension mods. It looks so good. The only thing that has kept me from doing so, is that I know I’ll probably regret it.

Tesla can’t do performance with just 2 powered tires and 1 motor. There is a limit to the traction and power that can be delivered without tearing the tires apart. Its like running a foot race while hopping on one foot.

Tell that to the Model S P85 RWD with significantly more power @ 318kW. Are you saying that the type of electricity that the Model 3 uses make tires explode? Are you saying that Tesla is incapable of designing cars the handle lots of power to two wheels even though Porsche, Ford, Chevy, and Dodge can? I’ve had AWD cars up until recently, and it was refreshing to canyon carve with a RWD once again.

No Lawrence, put down the conspiracy Koolaid. Its simple physics that 4 tires of power is twice the surface area and potentially twice the acceleration than two tires. If someone manages to totally hack the control system and shut off all safeguards, they could make the car tear up the tires or suspension, the way Elon Musk did around 2001 when he bought a MacLaren F1 and floored it, with no safeguards. He tore off tires and sent it airborne. (This won’t happen unless a Tesla is hacked into, to be unsafe, so relax, okay? Only car hackers could do this).

How can you tout an M.S. and not understand that 461kw in an F1 is significantly more than 318kw and that tire technology has greatly advanced in the last 20 years (and the impact that would have on traction). The Koolaid is in thinking that AWD makes for a car that drives better and makes for a car safer.

If you know where you’ll skid the bottom, on the bumps in your driving life, going slow seems to cause little more than scratches. The bottom has I-channel skid zones well layed out. Also, by virtue of a shorter wheel base, M3 is probably less prone to bottom than MS.

I, too, like RWD, but M3P has the ~same power front/back. Partly why PXXD Model S cars feel nicer, is the rear 350KW unit. That assumes the extra weight, and you aren’t auto-X’ing, or tracking for endurance. Most AWD cars have far less power up front, to stabilize the car and allow being full throttle, right off the apex.

Not having track mode released yet helps Tesla’s detractors judge against them. Enough videos are already out there, showing the car is for nannies 😉

100% to the rear wheels + additional power to the front is the way most performance AWD do it. When I drove the P3D, it had a lot of understeer induced from the front motor. Similar to ICE cars in its price range, which suffer the same issue. You are right that they needed a bigger rear motor and smaller front. 25% front 75% max would be ideal not to induce understeer.

Isn’t the rear motor actually quite a bit more powerful than the front motor in the Model 3 Performance?… (Though maybe not “enough” 🙂 )

Track mode addresses the power difference between front/rear

Top Gear , The Original Tesla FUDsters !..Are Back ?.. 🙁

I understand they are under new management. Apparently the old management’s heads exploded when forced to deal with the concept that a car might be in top gear and bottom gear at the same time. 😉

So they didn’t upgrade a performance model! What was the point?

Seeing whether third-party upgrades actually make any difference? Makes sense IMHO…

Of course third party upgrades make a difference.. Hello!!
Pointless exercise not upgrading the performance model or testing it with track mode. This whole report is a total waste of time.

The Model 3 offers the same for more than half the price of the X and S. What a bargin, has or electric.