Electric Cars

Tesla's Model 3 Performance gets some real track time

The crew over at Road & Track managed to convince Tesla to let them have a day of lapping out at Lime Rock Park and we're a little jealous.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

We recently were offered a quick spin in the Performance version of the Tesla Model 3, and while it was about a million miles from being comprehensive, we did get an inkling of what Mr. Musk and Co. were trying to do with the car. It seemed like it would be a hoot on track and according to the lucky bast... sorry, I mean talented journalists over at Road & Track, our suspicions were correct.

In addition to having a whole day with Lime Rock Park to themselves and a pair of Performance Model 3's to flog, the R&T crew had access to some of the Tesla engineers who worked on the project, and what they found out about the new car's "Track Mode" was incredibly interesting.

The Model 3 Performance may not look terribly different from the standard car, but don't let looks deceive you.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

When we had the rear-wheel-drive long-range Model 3 here in Los Angeles, we naturally decided to take it for a spirited rip up the famous Angeles Crest Highway, where we found the car to be a somewhat surprisingly willing companion. One thing we did have a problem with was a tendency toward brake fade and stability control that was overeager to intervene. Apparently, the Performance Pack remedies both of these issues.

The brake issue is solved by larger rotors and calipers and by a tweak in the regenerative braking program that bumps the regen up by 0.1g, thereby putting less strain on the fancy new brake hardware. The stability control can't be turned off on the car as in many other performance-oriented cars, but the new tuning of the system allows the vehicle to move around more before it intervenes.

Bigger brake calipers and rotors coupled with more aggressive regeneration mean that the RWD Model 3's brake fade is a thing of the past.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Messrs. Sorokanich and Okulski were able to get in around three full-speed hot laps before the vehicle had to gently throttle back the performance due to heat soak, something which Sorokanich describes as gradual and workable, and not like the sharp performance cut of the older Model S and Model X.

If anything, the Road & Track story makes us want to get our hands on the Model 3 Performance and take it to one of our hot, dusty Southern California tracks to see how well it fares in a more challenging environment. We can't wait.