Just ahead of the initial Tesla Model 3 handover event last summer, Motor Trend was the first to get its grimy mitts on the all-electric mid-sized sedan and alert the world to its wonders. Now, with the release of the Performance version of the car, wheel-and-pen guy Kim Reynolds again has wrangled some time in the driver’s seat. He seems as enthusiastic as ever.
In that first review, Reynolds dubbed the Model 3 “the most important vehicle of the century.” Now, blessed with a year’s worth of software updates, an extra motor for more might and traction, and the tires to help make the most of its new-found muscle, he says of this spicy version, “…a high-performance hierarchy has been rattled. The European marques perennially atop the sport sedan podium are about to have trapdoors release beneath them.” That’s not faint praise.
Renolds only had 45 minutes with the car this time, and that was with a number of passengers and un-ideal traffic situations. Still, the man has, he says, driven more than 7,000 different vehicles over his career and so we think his judgment is worth listening to. Besides his personal observations, he notes that acceleration-wise, the latest Tesla is a good bit quicker than some of its noblest competitors. The M3P, with it 450 horsepower and 471 pound-feet of torque, officially does the 0-to-60 miles-per-hour deed in 3.5 seconds, while the BMW M3 Competition pack does it in 4.3 seconds; the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio in 3.9; the AWD Audi RS4 in 4.2 seconds. Impressive.
While Reynolds ride didn’t allow him to push all the performance parameters — they will eventually get the car again for more extensive testing — he did give us a little more info on its track mode, which is still under development. Apparently, the regen settings can adjust and strengthen to make up for potential fading from the physical brakes. A neat trick indeed.
While he does write other positive notes about updates to the upholstery and the changes to driver’s controls via software updates, he does have some criticism. With only red brake calipers and an (optional) carbon fiber lip on the trunk lid, the Performance version lacks the visual menace of some other brand’s sportified sedans. Though many of us like this “sleeper” aspect of the car, we do sympathize and note that the aftermarket is more than likely working on parts that will make it stick out from the crowd.
All-in-all, it’s a pretty great read for fans of fast electric vehicles so, enjoy!