Tesla Model 3 Performance test drive

Tesla Model 3 Performance test drive

It’s a given by now that any performance EV is fast, especially one from Tesla. But speed is addictive, and so when I was offered the chance to try the new Tesla Model 3 Performance for an hour, I took it.

This was a run-and-gun affair, so after quickly taking photos and videos, I found a quiet stretch of road to see if the new Model 3 Performance felt any quicker than the long-range version I test drove earlier. It did.

Let’s recap some figures. Tesla claims this new version of the Model 3 will get from a standstill to 100km/h in just 3.1 seconds. That’s faster than most Porsche 911s. Power is now 620hp (according to road tax figures, a whopping S$6,698 by the way) and the claimed WLTP range is a decent 528km. I can attest to the ferocity of the power. Whenever you stamp on the accelerator the Model 3 Performance takes off. It’s impressive but then this description can be applied to any other high-performance EV.

Power and speed are just one part of the Performance equation. To allow owners to take full advantage of all that grunt, the Model 3 Performance also comes with a host of hardware improvements and tweaks including a 10mm lower ride height thanks to upgraded active suspension, larger 20-inch wheels to accommodate beefier brakes, more supportive sports seats, and a staggered wheel setup consisting of 20-inch forged wheels, 235 section fronts and 275 section rears with Tesla-specific Pirelli P Zero 4 tyres.

There are software enhancements too, the most significant being Track Mode V3, a feature in the infotainment system that lets you calibrate the powertrain, stability assist (traction control), damping, and even the amount of regenerative braking. It also lets you monitor the car’s batteries, motors, and brake temperatures – which should be handy on a track.

Because I only had an hour with the Model 3 Performance, it’s difficult to say if these changes made a big change to the way it handles. However, my biggest takeaways were that the steering felt light and accurate and that the way it handled was quite remarkable. Body movements were well controlled even when I took a couple of bends at speed, but the ride hasn’t deteriorated much, if at all. I wasn’t really aware at all that it had larger wheels and stiffer suspension.

The rest of the car is standard Model 3 Long Range fare. Like that car, the Performance variant has double-glazed glass for better noise insulation and a rocking 17-speaker sound system. So despite the “Performance” badge, it’s a perfectly comfortable and civilised cruiser.

I’m going to need more time with the car to come up with a more definite verdict, but my first impressions are largely positive. Yes, Tesla’s various quirks remain (you can read more about them in my earlier test drive of the updated Model 3) and I think most people will need some time to come to terms with them. But, this Performance version is mostly an absurdly quick car that’s no less comfortable and refined than the slower Rear-Wheel Drive or Long Range variants. In other words, it’s a Model 3 for well-heeled individuals who wants the best possible Model 3 that Tesla has to offer.

Availability and pricing

The Tesla Model 3 Performance is available now and prices start at S$145,829 excluding COE. If you take into account COE prices at the time of publishing, the Model 3 Performance will cost around S$248,000. You can find out more at Tesla’s website.

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