It’s time for the ultimate Tesla showdown! The iconic brand’s three electric cars – the Model S, Model 3 and Model X – are all on the carwow drag strip, so we can finally see which is the best of the bunch!
Tap the video below to see what happens:
In this video, we’ll put our trio of zero-emission heroes through three challenges. First we’ll see who emerges victorious in a straight-forward, quarter-mile drag race. Then there’s the rolling race, where we’ll find out which car kicks down the fastest from 50mph. We’ll finish with the brake test, which does what it says on the tin. All the cars will perform an emergency stop at 70mph, and the winner will be whichever stops in the shortest distance.
carwow presenter Mat Watson will be driving the Tesla Model X P100D. It may be a big, bulky, seven-seat SUV, but this giant is surprisingly nimble. It’s armed with a whopping 795hp, and capable of going from 0-60mph in as little as 2.7 seconds!
Next to that is the Tesla Model 3 Performance, the baby of the bunch. The four-door saloon is the cheapest Tesla on sale but, in the range-topping guise we’ve put in this race, it has 490hp and can reach 60mph in just 3.2 seconds. That’s not as impressive as the Model X, you may think, but the Model 3 is a whole hell of a lot lighter. Will that make the difference over the quarter-mile?
Finally, there’s the Tesla Model S Performance. With its 825hp and ability to go from 0-60mph in an astounding 2.4 seconds, this is the runaway favourite going in. But will the race play out like how the numbers suggest? You’ll have to watch and find out!
Speed and performance
Tesla cars are renowned for their mix of real-world useability with ferocious performance. And, with the slowest car in this drag going from 0-60mph faster than a Mercedes-AMG GT C, that seems to be a fair reputation.
A huge factor in these cars’ savage acceleration is Tesla’s ‘Ludicrous Mode’ – which may or may not be a not-so-subtle knockoff of Spaceballs. This is a system that, when in use, increases the car’s boost off the line by 10%. You activate it using the infotainment screen, after making your way past a menu where you can either select, ‘Yes, bring it on!’, or decline by choosing, ‘No, I want my Mommy’.
Another performance figure to bear in mind is torque, which is, in layman’s terms, a car’s pulling power. The Model S is ahead in this regard, since it has a monumental 1,300Nm of torque. To put that in context, the torque of a Lamborghini Aventador S is 690Nm.
Trailing just behind the Model S is the Model X, which gets 1,140Nm of torque. Then, lastly, there’s the Model 3 and its 660Nm of torque.
All three of these cars get four-wheel drive, thanks to them being powered by a pair of electric motors – one for each axle. If you were to get the Model 3 in its entry-level Standard Plus trim, however, it would be two-wheel-drive only, powered by one motor on the rearmost axle.
Things aren’t looking that promising for the Model 3 at the moment, are they? But it does have one thing going in its favour: its weight. After all, it is only 1,847kg. Compare this with the 2,241kg Model S and 2,487kg Model X, and you see a gigantic discrepancy. This could play in its favour past that initial 0-60mph dash, giving it the edge in catching up. It may also be a huge advantage in the brake test, where lighter cars have shone brightest in the past.
Teslas aren’t just famous for going from 0-60mph faster than the Road Runner. They also have some of the longest driving ranges of any electric car on the road. The Tesla Model S Performance, for a start, can travel a claimed 367 miles on a full battery. Meanwhile, the Model 3 Performance can apparently go up to 329 miles, and the Model X has a claimed 301-mile range.
However, the Teslas we’re using here are designed for being sporty, not for economy. You can get Long Range versions of the Model S, Model 3 and Model X. Respectively, they can go a claimed 379, 348 and 314 miles on fully-charged batteries.
These are some seriously impressive numbers that outdo all of the alternatives. The closest anyone else has got is Jaguar with its I-Pace SUV, which the manufacturer says can go 292 miles before running out of juice. Trailing that just behind is the Kia e-Niro, which can go a claimed 282 miles, and the Kia Soul EV with its alleged 280 miles.
Unlike other manufacturers with electric cars in their range, Tesla has their own network of public charging points. These are called Tesla Superchargers; according to Pod Point, they are able to charge a Model X from 20% to 80% full in as little as half an hour. Tesla says Supercharging costs 24p per kWh. If you want to find a Tesla Supercharger near you, check out our Electric Cars Charging Points map.
This new drag race will tell us what Tesla’s cars are like in extreme and high-speed tests, but what about how they feel when you’re driving in the real world?
Happily, Teslas are very easy to get along with as day-to-day motors. Firstly, since they’re electric cars, they all have automatic gearboxes, making them a doddle to use in heavy stop-start traffic. They’ll also prove extremely quiet thanks to their lack of a combustion engine, keeping you relaxed during long-distance drives – as will the range’s comfy and supportive seats.
Each car has its own pros and cons. Thanks to its high driving position and large windows, the Model X offers great visibility, allowing you to peer high over other cars in urban traffic jams. However, it’s still an SUV, and a big one at that. So, it isn’t the most manoeuvrable car in the world. Tight parking spaces may prove a bit of a pain, too.
The Model 3 has a very soft suspension, absorbing many of the lumps and bumps you’ll encounter on British roads. Sadly, the pillars on either side of the windscreen are pretty wide, creating some major blind spots while you’re at a junction or roundabout. The Model S suffers from the same issue, while its longer body makes it harder to thread around town.
It’s possible to spec your Tesla with its own Autopilot system, which takes much of the hassle out of cruising down the motorway. Autopilot uses eight separate cameras placed in the car’s bodywork to provide a 360-degree view of vehicles, obstacles and lanes around you. Using this, your Tesla can become level 2 autonomous. This means that it has cruise control, can change lanes by itself, and can speed up and slow down without any driver intervention. However, you must stay alert and keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times.
Another autonomous feature among Teslas is their ability to pull out of parking spaces by themselves, while you’re standing outside.
Tesla’s party piece, though, is its enormous, dashboard-mounted infotainment touchscreen. The display is at least 15 inches in diameter, and is among the most intuitive systems on the market. Every feature is easy to see and access, with the satnav especially simple and responsive. It nails the fundamentals, but that isn’t why fans have fallen for it. You can get ‘emissions testing mode’, which can emit a whoopie cushion sound from each seat in the cabin. Alternatively, you can use a notepad functionality and draw messages onto the touchpad, or set your satnav to show the surface of Mars.
As the baby of the range, the Tesla Model 3 is the cheapest. Standard Plus versions of the car start from just £38,500, with Long Range ones costing from £47,000 and Performance models £52,000.
The Long Range is the entry-level Model S, starting from £77,700. The Performance version starts at £92,300.
The Model X is the dearest of the Teslas, starting at £82,700 for the Long Range car. Got £96,900 to spare? Then you can go for the Performance model.