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TG24: how fast is the Tesla Model 3 Performance?

We strap the timing gear to Tesla’s littlest car. So, just how quick is it?

Time for some Top Gear science. You see, Tesla claims the Model 3 Performance will do 0-60mph in a rather impressive 3.2 seconds. That’s thanks to dual e-motors, fed by a 75kWh battery, giving all-wheel drive and 444bhp/471lb ft. Remember, this is a five-seat family saloon with two boots that costs under £50,000. Not shabby. 

But how fast is it really? Do you and I actually stand any chance of matching that number? 

Cue the VBox. Our test was carried out in a Model 3 Performance charged to roughly 90 per cent with two averaged-sized adults onboard. Ambient temperature was around 28 degrees celsius (which probably didn’t help, though we turned the A/C off), the road surface was smooth and, importantly, bone dry. We tried both Track and Sport modes, but as there was no difference in straight-line performance between them we left it in Sport. 

Unlike the Model S, the Model 3 Performance does not have launch control, so our method was thus: deactivate creep so you don’t have to hold the car on the brakes, then stamp on the accelerator and hang on to your face. No gears to worry about, and of course you don’t have to manage your launch. Simply stand on the right-hand pedal and let the car do whatever number it so chooses. 

And the number it chose to do this time was 3.52 seconds to 60mph. Which is very good indeed (if a couple of tenths off Tesla’s claim) given we didn’t use a one-foot roll-out like the Americans usually do. 

How does that compare to other cars of the same price/type? It doesn’t, not really. The only other cars that can accelerate so quickly for this kind of money are lightweights like the Ariel Atom or Nomad. That said, honourable mention goes to the Audi TTRS, which we figured at 3.49 seconds. The quickest Tesla we ever figured was a Model S P100D Ludicrous+, which hit 60mph in 2.68 seconds. 

That Model S did 0-100mph in 6.46 seconds. The Model 3 Performance, meanwhile, took 9.12 seconds in our test, the rate of acceleration slowing massively after 60mph. We’ve figured a Alfa Romeo Giulia QV at 8.72 seconds, the new Mercedes-AMG A45 S at 9.07 seconds, and a new Toyota Supra at 9.56 seconds. Not that 0-100 times matter especially - when are you ever going to do that in real life? 

30-70mph is much more relevant - something you might need to do sharpish on a slip-road joining a busy motorway. The Model 3 Performance manages this in 2.88 seconds. 

Where the Model 3 Performance struggles is on the brakes. To the extent it covers more distance stopping from 100mph than a Mercedes-AMG G63 (98.77m plays 95.39m) . 

Tesla fans, tell us why we’re wrong/useless/biased in the comments below.

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