For today’s review we are on board a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I’ve wanted to try it for a long time, and it’s finally in my hands. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of trying Model 3 in the Long Range version and I already liked it a lot, but this time is true love.
Driving a Tesla Model 3 Performance in such a place is a unique experience. We are in the Sibillini Mountains in Italy, along the roads that lead to Castelluccio di Norcia. To be precise, we are in the heart of the Sibillini National Park, in an area that unfortunately in 2016 was hit by a terrible earthquake that wiped out entire villages. An undoubtedly suggestive place where not even bad weather has managed to ruin our experience.
Externally it changes little compared to the Long Range already tested, Tesla Model 3 Performance stands out for a handful of details. We find larger wheels, twenty inches, and in black color. The suspension is slightly lowered and there is a small carbon fiber spoiler on the rear hood.
The biggest differences come out while driving, a unique pleasure. Corner after corner, it leaves you breathless. It feels incredibly precise, literally glued to the asphalt. Even the braking system, which on the other Teslas had never convinced me at 100%, here manages to leave me speechless. On the road, although the weight of the car is still high and the speeds are important, it is very difficult to reach the limit of the brakes.
The journey continues while I am having a lot of fun in this windy road and suddenly I find myself in front of the plans of Castelluccio. A place that in the period of May-June I would dare to define magical as it is filled with colors due to the famous flowering of lentils, a typical product of the area. Undoubtedly a particular setting, also because on the slopes of a mountain we can find a characteristic “Italian shape” forest created in 1961, on the occasion of the centenary of the unity of the nation, following a request from MP Mariano Rumor.
Tesla does not release many technical data, more willingly reveals what are the results. An example? The acceleration that, in the case of Model 3 Performance, makes many more noble competitors speechless. 0-100 km/h is covered in only 3.3 seconds. Numbers apart, the acceleration also feels different. Practically, you can see the trees running on the windshield as Spock saw the stars flow from the USS Enterprise, all in complete silence.
Model 3 Performance, compared to the rest of the range, also offers a setting called “Track” that allows you to customize the car in many aspects. In fact, it is possible to create various “presets” in which parameters such as torque distribution, stability control and regenerative braking are customizable. When activated, an infographic shows on the screen showing the temperature and status of the various components and the G forces acting on the car. Very interesting, it will make all the car nerds happy.
The Model 3 under test is also equipped with “Full Self-Driving Capability”, an optional at € 7500. The features that it offers in addition to the “basic” autopilot are the possibility to perform an automatic lane change, autopark and traffic light recognition. The summon functionality is also available, but, due to European technical regulations, its use is very limited. In the future, autonomous driving on city roads will also be unlocked, which in USA is already showing very promising results. A huge applause to Tesla, I have never experienced such a precise driver assistance system. The ability of the car to autonomously take motorway junctions based on the route set on the navigator is shocking.
My geeky soul as a Data Scientist is totally enraptured by so much technology. Despite this, in Europe I consider the purchase of this optional to be unjustified, especially in relation to the price it has. However, in the weeks following the test, Tesla split the Autopilot into three levels. Now, for € 3800, you can buy all the functions except autonomous driving in the city and the recognition of traffic lights.
It is always difficult to talk about the range of an electric car, as it depends on many factors such as the outside temperature, air conditioning, the type of route, the number of sections, speed, wind and much more. The large 75kwh battery, however, allows distances that in the WLTP cycle reach 567km, slightly lower than the Long Range. As said before, however, this is purely indicative; for example, with careful driving and easily reach 600km in urban roads. On the highway, with heating on, autopilot at 130km/h and outside temperatures around ten degrees I managed to do about 350km. One of the worst conditions for an electric car, especially if, like the test model, it is not equipped with a heat pump.
During this week of testing I also had the pleasure of trying in more depth what I think is the “killer feature” of the American brand, the capillary and proprietary charging network. The navigator plans the trips based on the Supercharger stations and indicates the percentage of battery at the time of arrival and the charging time. In a nutshell: range anxiety is gone.
In one of my trips I made a quick stop at the Forlì Supercharger. The peculiarity of this station is that, for now, in Italy it is one of the two points where we find third generation Supercharger. The advantages that this infrastructure brings are related both to the charging power, increased up to a theoretical maximum of 250kw, and to the elimination of energy sharing between adjacent chargers. I arrived at this location with a very low battery and this allowed me to test the real potential of the V3. I reached peaks of 220kw. Translated into time, 90% of the battery can be recovered in about half an hour. Impressive!
Currently the Tesla range has been renewed by a fairly substantial restyling. All the Model 3s now have the electric tailgate and the long-awaited heat pump: a component that in my opinion I consider essential in an electric car, being more efficient than the resistance alone, allowing to obtain a greater autonomy for the same of comfort.
Tesla Model 3 2021 also abandons all exterior chrome in favor of black finishes. The aesthetic innovations also involve the interiors as there is now a new opaque black central console on which we can find a plate, covered in microfiber, for wireless charging of two devices, one USB-A in the central tunnel and two USB type C The upper part of the cockpit also changes slightly, the steering wheel now has metal wheels and the sun visors are magnetic. Only for the 2021 Performance version do the wheels also change, we now find the new 20 “Überturbine”.
Last but not least, all the Model 3 variants have recently undergone a significant price cut.
I still consider the small of the American house to be the best purchase, the smartest one that can be made, if you want a car of this type. For this test car, I have said it very few times, at the time of delivery, if I could, I would have bought one immediately.