Tesla Model 3 electric motor, drive & performance

The Tesla Model 3 is anything but slow, even in entry-level spec, although it’s no sports car in corners

0-60mph Top speed Driven wheels Power
5.3-3.2 secs 140-162mph RWD or 4WD 201-444bhp

Even the entry-level rear-wheel drive Model 3 Standard Range Plus is anything but slow, with a 0-60mph time of 5.3 seconds, while the Long Range manages 4.5 seconds, in part thanks to the addition of four-wheel drive.

The Performance is a full-on nutter, punching through 0-60mph in a supercar-like 3.2 seconds and carrying on to 162mph. While the ride is firm, it’s not uncomfortable, and the Model 3 is as quiet as you’d expect on the move.

Tesla Model 3 0-60mph, top speed and acceleration

You can either have fast, faster, or flat-out ridiculous in the performance stakes with the Model 3. We haven’t driven the Standard Range Plus car, but the on-paper acceleration of 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds is hardly tardy.

The other models both get four-wheel drive courtesy of dual electric motors - one on each axle - and even the Long Range is fast enough to thrill, with the trademark linear power delivery via a single-ratio automatic gearbox, making it easy to judge throttle response.

The Performance model is the halo car of the range, and the 3.2-second 0-60mph time and 162mph top speed speak for themselves. This is a car that’s as at home pottering around town as it is proving a point to a Ferrari 488. Although this is the most expensive Model 3, it’s easy to argue that it’s actually great value for the turn of speed on offer.

Handling

This is one area where the Tesla Model 3 doesn’t really live up to the standards set by more precise, adjustable performance cars like the BMW M3. The Model 3 is fun in the brutal, unflappable way the all-wheel drive models power through corners, feeling stoic and grippy if not poised like you would expect of a more single-minded performance car.

But this isn’t a single-minded performance car, it’s an executive hatch with sports car performance, and in that respect it balances fun with unintimidating, accessible handling and potent acceleration perfectly.

There’s very little whine from the electric motor and the wind and tyre noise is outstandingly well-suppressed. Ride comfort, too, is very good. The Model 3 is firmly sprung, so you are aware of what’s going on with the road surface, but the tighter springs help to keep the heavy body in check.

Otherwise, the damping keeps things smooth, so while the Tesla is no magic carpet it’s more than comfortable enough to make light work of scruffy town roads. Performance models get lowered suspension and bigger wheels, and while this proved acceptable on our American test drive, we’re yet to try it in the UK.