2024 Tesla Model 3 Performance tested

In fact, you’ll have to spend far more than the $87,000 Tesla is asking for to beat its claimed 3.1-second 0-100 km/h time.

It’s faster than supercars like the Lamborghini Huracan, Porsche 911 GT3, Ferrari Roma and McLaren GT, which cost half a million dollars.

The Tesla beats high-performance electric cars like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N (3.4 seconds), Kia EV6 GT (3.5 seconds), Ford Mustang Mach-E GT (3.7 seconds), MG4 X-Power and BYD Seal Performance (3.8 seconds), and BMW i4 (3.9 seconds), which sprint to 100 km/h in under four seconds.

No car has to be that fast.

It presses you into the seat as if a giant were pressing his boot against your chest.

You feel your face briefly change shape as you accelerate, then return to its original shape and finally break into a grin.

Tesla is usually coy when it comes to numbers, but the Model 3 Performance claims to have 343 kW of power.

That’s less than most sporty electric cars, but it’s about 400kg lighter than Hyundai’s impressive Ioniq 5 N, so it can do more with less.

This Model 3 has much more to offer than just straight-line gliding.

The numerous changes include 20-inch forged wheels with fat Pirelli P-Zero tires. The brakes are larger, the seats have grippy side bolsters and there are aerodynamic tweaks to improve efficiency at high speeds.

A subtle carbon fiber spoiler and star badge on the trunk lid are complemented by carbon fiber interior trim and similar logos on the seats.

The suspension is lower and firmer, and there are new adaptive shock absorbers to help the car cope with the wider driving conditions faced by fast cars.

Tesla hardly offers its drivers the opportunity to individually adjust the driving behavior of their car.

This model changes that, however. It features a sliding scale that allows enthusiasts to choose whether they want a neutral driving balance or one that tends toward safe understeer or rear-heavy oversteer.

There are presets for track driving and drifting, and a multi-layered stability control system now has Reduced and Minimal modes in addition to the usual On and Off, but these features disappeared during a nightly software update during our loan.

The interior is largely similar to the regular Model 3 variants. You quickly get used to the lack of a gearshift lever, turn signal stalk and driver instruments, even if they would be a welcome addition in the stripped-down cabin.

Our China-built test sample was the best-built Model 3 we’ve ever experienced, with far better materials and features than the original U.S.-made models.

The 15.4-inch touchscreen and 17-speaker stereo are still impressive, as is the compact 8-inch video display on the back.

Traction tires reduce the Performance’s range to 528 kilometers, but with supercharger speeds of up to 250 kW, a range of up to 282 kilometers can be achieved in 15 minutes at fast-charging stations.

We picked up a test car with just 16 kilometers on the clock – so little that the cruise control and other safety systems only started working after half an hour of driving to help the car understand its surroundings.

The adaptive shock absorbers are great, they make the car more comfortable in everyday driving while also improving stability when you want to step on the gas.

The steering is quick to respond but lacks feel, and there is little feedback from the brake pedal.

We took the car to a Driving Solutions track at Sydney Motorsport Park – more for photography than to set lap times – and were initially shocked by its straight-line speed and then baffled by a brake temperature alarm that came on after just one lap.

I’ve tested more than 100 cars on race tracks, including some electric cars, and none have thrown up a warning so quickly. After experiencing a Tesla brake failure on the track at the launch of the original Model 3 Performance in 2019, I decided to play it safe and went home early, frustrated by a less than satisfying taste of the car’s potential.

TESLA MODEL 3 PERFORMANCE

PRICE: About $87,000 to take home

PERFOMANCE: Two electric motors, 343 kW

WARRANTY SERVICES: Four years/80,000 km, no price cap for maintenance

SECURITY: Five stars, eight airbags, automatic emergency braking, active cruise control, lane departure warning, piloted driving

RANGE: 528 kilometres

CHARGE: 682 liters

SPARE PART: Repair kit

VERDICT

The Tesla Model 3 Performance is extremely promising and offers breathtaking speed at an affordable price.

4 stars

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