When it comes to electric vehicles, the Tesla Model 3 is arguably the most talked about product on the market. After the success of the Model S and the Model X, Tesla aimed down-market with the smaller Model 3 sedan. While the promise of a true $35,000 (before $7,500 federal tax credit) version has yet to be achieved, that isn’t stopping Tesla from expanding the Model 3 family at the high-end, as witnessed by the recently introduced dual-motor variant.
The Model 3 (for now) starts at $49,000 for a rear-wheel-drive car, and jumps to $54,000 for dual-motors (all-wheel-drive). However, selecting the “Performance” dual-motor variant bumps that price to $64,000, which is a far cry from $35,000. However, what you receive is a vehicle that is quoted by the manufacturer as accelerating from a standstill to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds and will hustle to a top speed of 155 mph.
The two electric motors combined generate a whopping 450hp, which is comparable to the 2018 BMW M3. However, its 471 lb-ft of torque is well above the M3’s 406 lb-ft. The Model 3 may look like a rather mild-mannered sedan from the outside, but Road & Track confirmed the vehicle’s performance credentials, putting down a 0-60 time of 3.51 seconds and hitting the 1/4 mile in 12.07 seconds at 114 mph.
Shod with 20-inch wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S 235/35 tires, they took the Model 3 to the track where it showed that it had the handling chops to back up its straight-line performance. This is despite that fact that the machine weighs in at just over 4,000 lbs, or roughly 227 pounds more than its rear-wheel-drive sibling.
Although the automotive publication didn’t give hard lap numbers, it showed impeccable demeanor on the track. “Pushing wide through Turn 1? Dab in a little regen, load up that front axle, and get ready to rotate,” writes Road & Track. “Feeling light over Lime Rock’s puckering Uphill? You’ll hear it, and correct for it, at a level you’ve never experienced in a bellowing internal-combustion car.”
However, given that this is a machine that’s powered by a huge lithium-ion battery pack, there are heat concerns to contend with. And when running around the track, the Model 3 was found to lose a bit of performance after around four laps. At that point, performance was automatically dialed back slightly to keep the car from overheating. However, several cool-down laps or 20 minutes of time for the vehicle to rest was enough to allow the powertrain to come roaring back to full strength.
It’s not perfect, and EV early adopters are going to have to learn the limits of current battery technology when it comes to pushing the Model 3 to the limit. But when all was said and done, the testers came away impressed with the vehicle overall, even if its $70,000+ as-tested price may give some pause. However, we have to keep in mind that a BMW M3 with a similar performance profile will set you back at least $66,000 — that’s if you can even find a bone-stock M3 on dealer lots.