2024 Tesla Model 3 Performance review: electric super saloon driven in the UK

June 07, 2024 by

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The Tesla Model 3 Performance is an electric family car with blistering performance, but it’s not as quiet and refined as alternatives

Pros

  • Fantastic performance
  • Brilliant in corners
  • Cool minimalist cabin

Cons

  • Lots of tyre noise
  • Jiggly over bumps
  • Annoying infotainment

Wowscore: 9/10

Is the Tesla Model 3 Performance a good car?

This is the Tesla Model 3 Performance, an electric family car with loads of power and upgrades to make it more fun in corners. It’s a bit like giving your washing machine the Fast and Furious treatment.

Go-faster versions of electric cars are becoming more common, so you could consider the Model 3 Performance alongside the likes of the fantastic Hyundai Ioniq 5 N, Ford Mustang Mach-e GT and Porsche Taycan, though the latter two are considerably more expensive.

The latest Model 3 looks much meaner than the last, with its low front end and narrower headlights. Changes for the Performance model are minimal, with vents in the front bumper, a subtle spoiler at the rear, and a Performance-specific badge.

Inside it’s classic Model 3, with the low, slim dashboard view punctuated by a large infotainment display. It’s all very minimalist and the materials are not quite as squishy as you’d want from a £60,000 car, which means it doesn’t quite have the posh ambiance of German alternatives. The Performance model’s bucket-like, leather-upholstered seats are great, though, and feel suitably special.

Storage is excellent throughout, with large door bins, a huge space beneath the armrest, and two cupholders with yet another large covered space ahead of them. The angled wireless charging pads are a nice touch, too. The boot is massive at nearly 600 litres, more than the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N and Porsche Taycan can offer, and there’s a front boot, too.

There’s plenty of space in the back for passengers, but although refinement has been improved from the old Model 3, the Performance is a bit noisier thanks to its big alloy wheels.

Tesla Model 3 Performance: electric range, battery and charging data

Range: 328 miles
Efficiency: 3.7mi/kWh
Battery size: 78kWh (est.)
Max charge speed: 250kW
Charge port location: Left side rear
Power outputs: 460hp

Out on the road, the Performance drives very much like the regular Model 3 the vast majority of the time. That’s to say it’s easy to pilot around town and you have great visibility, and while alternatives are smoother over bumps, it’s unlikely to be a deal breaker. There’s quite a bit of tyre noise from those big alloy wheels, though.

Those minor complaints are soon forgotten when you find a twisty road. Tesla has upgraded the suspension and chassis to be sportier, and it shows with how well the Model 3 Performance goes around a corner. You hardly need any steering input and the car grips the road, eagerly turning into the corner – and if you choose the ‘Insane’ mode for full power, it will catapult you rapidly out of a corner with little fuss.

With no ‘engine’ noise or gears to change it lacks some of the fun and character of combustion-engined performance cars – or the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N, which simulates this brilliantly – but for outright power and handling prowess the Model 3 Performance is fantastically capable.

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How much is the Tesla Model 3 Performance?

Tesla Model 3 prices start around £40,000 for the rear-wheel drive model, £50,000 for the Long Range version, and £60,000 for this Performance variant. That’s a lot of money for a family car, but compared with other fast electric cars it’s pretty good value.

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N has a slightly higher starting price, while the Ford Mustang Mach-e GT requires a big jump to £75,000. A Porsche Taycan costs more still, with the range beginning from £85,000.

You get quite a lot for your money in the Tesla, too. Aside from the suspension and chassis upgrades, there are 20-inch forged alloy wheels, sports seats, design tweaks and unique software that sets the car up for hard driving on track.

Performance and drive comfort

Fantastic fun on a twisty road, but the Tesla Model 3 Performance has quite a firm, sporty suspension

In town

Some high-power cars can feel a bit agitated in town, like they’re desperate to unleash all their performance with low speeds a frustrating inconvenience. However, as an electric car the Model 3 Performance has no such issues, particularly in Chill mode, which tunes the motors to offer smooth acceleration, making it relaxing to drive about town.

At times it’s easy to forget you’re not in the regular Model 3, if you ignore the fact the Performance jiggles over bumps more noticeably thanks to its sporty suspension and big alloy wheels.

Visibility is great thanks to the low dashboard and huge windscreen, though the front pillars can cause a bit of a blind spot. Fortunately there are cameras all around the car, and they build a virtual 360-degree view on the infotainment display so you can see other vehicles as well as obstacles such as kerbs. It makes parking a doddle.

On the motorway

The lack of an engine to mask out wind and road noise has long been a battle for electric cars, and the Model 3 Performance suffers somewhat here. Again, the big alloy wheels and sticky tyres are partly at fault, transmitting quite a bit of road noise to the cabin, while you can hear if it’s a bit gusty outside as the wind hits the wing mirrors.

Motorway miles are not to be avoided though, because much of this can be drowned out by the excellent sound system, and while you might get back pain just imagining bucket seats in a road car, they’re upholstered in soft leather and have loads of adjustment so it’s easy to get comfortable. And an efficient motor means there’s no range anxiety either.

Autopilot is available, which is essentially an advanced cruise control system that maintains your speed and distance to the car in front, as well as nudging the wheel to keep you centred in your lane. It’s an expensive extra though, and the standard-fit adaptive cruise control works well enough.

On a twisty road

Some minor compromises to be had in everyday driving, then – but it’s on a twisty road where you get your reward for putting up with them.

Put the motors into Insane mode for full power, and tweak the suspension setup to Sport, and the Model 3 Performance comes alive. Acceleration is brisk enough to push you into the seat, and the grippy tyres result in rapid changes of direction. The suspension isn’t obviously sportier, but that’s actually a good thing because hitting broken sections of road won’t send a crash through the cabin or unsettle the car too much. The brakes are the only weak point here; despite being upgraded for the Performance, they still feel like they’re struggling to rein in all that heft at high speeds.

While it’s clearly very capable, and you’d have to be an utter hooligan to go beyond its limits on the road, there’s no denying it’s missing a bit of character from its silent motors. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N manages to make electric motoring more fun through its synthesised sounds, while also being just as fast down a country road as the Tesla.

If you want to take the Tesla Model 3 Performance out on track, there’s a Performance-specific Track Mode in the software. Turn it on and you can hear the car wake up with extra cooling, and a new display that shows you the state of important areas of the car so you don’t overdo it.

Space and practicality

The Tesla Model 3 Performance has a practical cabin and a big boot, but it’s annoying accessing the glovebox through the infotainment display

It’s easy to find a good driving position in the Tesla Model 3 because there’s loads of adjustability in the seat and steering wheel, though it’s annoying to have to do the latter through the infotainment system. The only complaint here is that with this being a performance-focused version, it would be nice if the seat could drop a bit lower, as even in the bottom setting you feel like you’re sat quite high above the dashboard.

Storage is excellent, with big door bins and a huge space beneath the armrest, complemented by another huge area beneath the infotainment display, with a USB-C and 12V socket too. There’s a pair of cupholders, though larger bottles will struggle to fit. A pair of wireless phone charging pads are sat beneath the screen, too.

Space in the back seats

Back seat roominess is excellent, so you can comfortably take your mates out to show off how much power there is. The seats recline more than in the old Model 3, which makes it a bit more comfortable, though you still don’t get much under-thigh support.

Door bins aren’t quite as big in the back, but still useful, while two more cupholders can be found in the armrest. There’s a screen for climate controls between the front seats that can also be used to play video to keep those in the back entertained. Pairing Bluetooth headphones to this means those in the front don’t have to hear what’s playing, which is particularly useful when the kids are watching Frozen for the 17th time today.

Speaking of which, there are ISOFIX mounting points in the outer rear seats, and plenty of room for bulky child seats, though the mounts themselves are rather hidden away between the cushions, so getting them hooked up takes some guesswork.

Boot space

Boot space is excellent at 594 litres. That’s more than you get in the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N (480 litres), Ford Mustang Mach-e GT (402 litres) and Porsche Taycan (407 litres) and means you don’t suffer at all for not getting an SUV.

Although the boot is big, it’s not the easiest to access, with a fairly small aperture to place items through and a large lip to lift heavy items over. The top of the boot is quite low too, so carrying large items would be easier in an SUV.

While each of the alternatives above also has a front boot, none are as big as that in the Tesla.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

The minimalist looks appeals, but controlling everything through the screen can frustrate, and materials aren’t up there with the best

If minimalism is your thing then the Tesla Model 3 will appeal. There are no buttons outside of those on the steering wheel, and there are no stalks at all. It’s just a wheel and a screen and that’s about it.

As such, there are no design flourishes to make it stand out, and while material quality is generally good enough if you’re looking at regular Model 3s, it doesn’t look or feel special enough for a £60k performance car. And aside from some carbon fibre trim across the top of the dashboard, there’s not much to make Performance cars stand out from the rest of the range.

That said, the bucket seats look great, the leather upholstery feels soft and expensive, and the shape holds your hips well without being uncomfortable.

You get the usual 15.4-inch infotainment screen, which is clear and responds well to your touch. It’s largely intuitive to do the basic infotainment stuff – the climate controls are always visible across the bottom and the navigation is logically positioned in the corner of the screen when not in use – but having to do everything else through the screen too can get annoying. From moving the wheel and mirrors to opening the glovebox needs to take place through the menus.

Electric range, charging and tax

The Performance version sits at the top of the Tesla Model 3 line-up. The battery offers a range of up to 328 miles in official tests, which is more than most fast EVs can offer. And while 300 miles-plus is fairly achievable in normal driving, you can quickly eat into it by making the most of the power on offer.

How much power? Well, there are two motors, which provide all-wheel drive, a combined 460hp, and a 0-60mph time of less than three seconds.

One of the key benefits of owning a Tesla is easy access to the Supercharger charging network. The Model 3 can charge at speeds of up to 250kW, which Tesla claims will add over 140 miles of range in 15 minutes.

Although the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N has considerably more power at up to 650hp, the official figures suggest it’s actually slower to 60mph at 3.4 seconds. The Ford Mustang Mach-e GT’s power output is similar to the Tesla at 487hp, but its 0-60mph time is closer to the Hyundai. Regardless, all three feel ridiculously quick accelerating away from a standstill.

Despite all that power, all of these cars cost nothing in Vehicle Excise Duty because they are electric cars, and are in the lowest band for Benefit-in-Kind, so can be appealing for company car drivers.

Safety and security

The old Tesla Model 3 scored the full five stars in Euro NCAP safety testing. However, the two models are similar enough that that score still applies to the new one. The adult occupant protection score is incredibly high at 96%, while its safety assist rating is 94%.

Basic Autopilot is included on all models, which has adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition. You can upgrade to the Enhanced Autopilot system, which has semi-autonomous features such as the ability to nudge the wheel to keep you centred in the lane. The so-called Full-Self Driving option is quite expensive and isn’t fully ready yet, so it’s probably not worth the upgrade for the time being.

Reliability and problems

Tesla doesn’t have the best reputation for build quality and reliability, but this has been improving in recent years. In fact, the Model 3 was ranked 22nd in the top 75 cars to own in the Driver Power owner satisfaction survey in 2023.

The warranty is pretty good at four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first, with most premium car brands offering three years and 60,000 miles. However, the Ioniq 5 N boasts the same five-year/unlimited mileage warranty all Hyundais get, which makes it mighty appealing.

Tesla Model 3 Performance FAQs

Is the Tesla Model 3 Performance fast?

Yes, the Tesla Model 3 Performance is a quick car. Its 460hp output means it’s not the most powerful electric car around, but it delivers it in a way that will pin you to the back of your seat and records excellent 0-60mph acceleration times.

How much horsepower does the Tesla Model 3 Performance have?

In the UK, the Tesla Model 3 Performance makes 460hp. However, because of different battery technology, US versions have 510hp.

What is the real range of the Tesla Model 3 Performance?

During our test of the car we saw 3.6mi/kWh efficiency, which would result in a range of about 280 miles. However, this included testing the performance of the car, so regular driving should see about 300 miles possible.