When Tesla’s enigmatic owner, Elon Musk, first announced the Model 3 as the brand’s entry-level and volume-selling car, he made it very clear what its main competitor would be — the BMW 3 Series. Since then, Tesla and BMW fans have been at each others’ throats, claiming which brand/car is better. In terms of performance, though, BMW’s 3 Series isn’t going to compete with the Tesla Model 3 Performance.
To give you a bit of background, the Model 3 Performance is a dual-motor performance-oriented car, like the Model S P100D, so it packs an electric motor at each axle, making it all-wheel drive. Those two motors combine to make 450 hp and 471 lb-ft of torque which, when using launch control, can get the Model 3 Performance to 60 mph in under 3.2 seconds. That’s blisteringly fast for the segment.
During some VBox texting, some users have recorded sub 3.2-second 0-60 mph times, with one user getting 3.18. That is, quite frankly, incredibly impressive. There is one catch, though — cost.
The Tesla Model 3 Performance starts at $64,000 and can quickly get up into the high-$70,000 range with options. So it’s not so much a 3 Series competitor as it is a BMW M3 competitor. And that’s where the Model 3 Performance’s, well, performance starts to lose a bit of its luster.
In that price range, the Tesla Model 3 Performance starts to compete with some other very fast, very exciting cars, not just the M3. For that money, you can also get a Mercedes-AMG C63, Audi RS5 and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. Admittedly, the only car in that group that can accelerate anywhere near as fast as the Model 3 Performance is the RS5, thanks to is Quattro all-wheel drive grip, as the others are rear-driven.
But those cars also have sharp steering, playful dynamics, tail-out shenanigans and delicate chassis balance. Each one of those cars are genuine sports cars, cars that engage the senses and thrill their drivers. The Model 3 just isn’t that car, objectively. Sure, straight line speed is great but, if that’s it’s only party trick, it’s going to get old quick.
Now, none of this would be a knock against the Model 3 Performance if Musk didn’t make some outlandish claims before its release. If it was just designed to be an affordable electric sedan that was nice to drive and just so happened to be very fast in a straight line, there’d be nothing but positive words about it here. However, Musk’s ego couldn’t be happy with just that and he had to make claims that his Model can’t back up.
According to Musk, the Model 3 Performance “Will beat anything in its class on the track.”. He’s clearly never driven any of those other cars. The M3 Competition, as antiquated as it is at this point, is still one helluva track car. The AMG C63, thanks to its killer V8, is like riding a wave made out of sex, drugs and rock and roll and there literally isn’t a chance the Model 3 can be anywhere near as enjoyable or as capable as the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, the finest driving car with four doors right now. Ironically, the Model 3 might also be the only car in the segment with worse build quality and quality control than the Alfa…
Sure, the Model 3 Performance will keep up with those cars on track for a bit, thanks to its impressive power and performance but it will be interested to see if the battery will overheat and how the brakes will handle themselves. The jury is also still out on the chassis or suspension chops to hang with the best in the segment, but nonetheless, it’s a great car, there’s no doubt, and we’ll have to see how it does as a track car.
We also have no doubt that the Model 3 Performance will blow the doors off the M3 in a straight line. But will it be the better performance car overall? I guess we’ll just have to find out but this humble journalist doubts it.