Wednesday 19 June 2019

Is this Tesla Performance a powerhouse game-changer?

TESLA press presentation Model 3
TESLA press presentation Model 3
TESLA press presentation Model 3 interior

Cathal Doyle

Electric vehicles (EVs) are increasingly accepted as a cost-efficient, ecologically friendly replacements for the internal combustion engine.

But as powerhouse rivals for the current, conventional performance cars? Not so much, I think you'd agree.

Yet the latter is a market Tesla is hoping to tap into with its new Model 3.

As already reported in Independent Motors, Tesla's most affordable car to date is due by the end of summer.

TESLA press presentation Model 3 interior
TESLA press presentation Model 3 interior

And it is expected the entry level model (Standard Range Plus) will cost under €50,000.

You can add approximately €10,000 and €20,000 respectively for the Long Range AWD and Performance models.

Tesla believes the Performance version is the one to tempt petrol heads away from traditional track-derived road cars. These would include the likes of the prestigious BMW M3 and Audi RS4.

After an exclusive test drive in the Tesla Model 3 Performance in the south of France - including putting it though its paces on the Paul Ricard race circuit - I'm inclined to agree.

Simply put: the Tesla Model 3 Performance is a whole lot of fun.

On road, the five-seater saloon is as comfortable and smooth as you'd expect, with excellent visibility. That's thanks to the central mounted 15ins touchscreen that controls every function in the car - including adjustment of the wing mirrors.

It can cover as many as 529km on one charge, according to Tesla. That should eliminate range anxiety for most people.

Like the Long Range AWD version, the Performance model comes with dual-motor all-wheel-drive (AWD) but it has an upgraded rear inverter for higher torque and power.

It has a maximum speed of 260kmh. And a 0-100kmh time of 3.2 seconds. Yes, 3.2 seconds.

That is 0.2 of a second faster than the company was claiming only a couple of weeks ago.

It's due to an over-the-air (OTA) software update that increased the maximum revs.

Such regular OTA updates ensure even older Tesla models are fully modernised.

Now we all know that electric cars are quick off the mark.

But accelerating from 0-100kmh in 3.2 seconds is neck-snappingly fast - believe me.

That is particularly the case if you are a passenger because, there is no build-up of engine noise so there's no audible warning of the ferocious acceleration about to be unleashed. And let's put that acceleration in perspective: A modern Formula One car takes around 2.5/3 secs to reach 100kmh.

The other special feature on the Model 3 Performance I drove was a Track Mode setting.

It actively adjusted power front to rear, increased regenerative braking and could simultaneously apply brake and motor torque to simulate a limited slip differential.

It also had additional aggressive cooling for longer running without overheating.

Its aim, a Tesla engineer told me, is to make a reasonably competent driver feel like a great one.

That's something I could only concur with as I maintained a perfectly balanced power slide.

On the track it was a whole lot of fun -and exceptionally fast.

The steering was beautifully weighted, brakes powerful and progressive.

The low centre of gravity combined with 48:52 weight distribution made it feel like a mid-engined sports-car.

Due to lack of engine noise, I could clearly hear when the tyres were reaching their cornering limits.

It's no one-lap wonder either: we pounded away, lap after lap, without any slowdown in performance.

Independent comparison tests suggest the Model 3 Performance version also laps quicker than established benchmark track cars.

Most buyers will opt for the entry-level rear-wheel-drive Model 3.

But the Performance version is probably the first EV that might tempt hard-core drivers. It could well be a game-changer in the inexorable move towards electric motoring.

Indo Motoring

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