Expert Insights

Full Details on the Tesla Model 3 Performance

Laurance Yap
May 1, 2024
Hot on the heels of significant updates to its big-selling Model 3 sedan, Tesla has introduced a new flagship version, the Model 3 Performance. It packs over 500 hp, can dash to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds, and has 296 miles of range.
Tesla Model 3 on highway

Tesla’s Top Model 3

Tesla has had a rough ride in the headlines lately. The EV pioneer, now facing increasing competition from legacy and startup automakers, is no longer the top seller of electric vehicles in the world (a mantle recently taken up by China’s BYD), and its sales in the U.S. have slowed. Quality issues with the hugely-hyped Cybertruck, job cuts, and CEO Elon Musk’s polarizing personality haven’t helped. But beyond the headlines, the company still builds really good electric cars, with a great mix of technology, value, and performance.

The Tesla Model 3, one of the world’s best-selling electric cars, and also one of the world’s best-selling sedans, is a good example. Updated for the 2024 model year, it is – especially once you apply the $7,500 federal tax credit – affordable, spacious, economical to run, and with decent range and speed. Now, Tesla is adding an all-new Model 3 Performance model to the mix, with headline-grabbing numbers that are competitive with some of the top-performing, and much more expensive, gasoline-powered sedans from Europe.

silver Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 Performance and Range

Designed as a high-performance, long-range daily driver, the Model 3 Performance packs a new, more powerful drive unit that Tesla says delivers a 22 percent improvement in continuous power and a 32 percent increase in peak power, with 16 percent more torque. Total output is now a shocking 510 hp and 546 lb-ft of torque, similar numbers to performance sedans like the BMW M3, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, and Cadillac CT4-V.

With all that extra power, as well as standard all-wheel drive from dual motors, the Model 3 Performance will zap from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds, better than any of those gasoline sedans. Yet despite all of that, improvements to the Model 3’s software and systems mean that energy consumption is actually reduced by 2 percent. Tesla claims a driving range of 296 miles, with a top speed of 163 mph (though don’t expect that range number at that speed).

Upgraded Suspension for Better Handling

In addition to more power, the new Model 3 Performance features a number of upgrades to the chassis and braking system to ensure it handles and stops as well as it goes. While the company is light on details, it does say that components specific to the Model 3 Performance reduce mass while improving stiffness. New 20-inch Pirelli P Zero 4 performance summer tires have been developed specifically for the car to provide great cornering grip without negatively affecting range; regular Model 3 sedans have 18- or 19-inch wheels.

Adaptive dampers with hollow piston rods, new stabilizer bars, higher-strength steel springs, and stiffer suspension mounts should make the Model 3  Performance more stable in the corners. There are three drive modes, Standard, Sport, and Track, which adjust the stiffness of the dampers, and Track mode now activates different programming for the motors, cooling system, and vehicle dynamics electronics. The regular Model 3 is already a hoot to drive, with responsive steering and a fine handling balance, so we’re looking forward to trying out the upgraded version.

close up of Tesla Model 3 headlight

Incorporating Latest Model 3 Upgrades

Based on the latest version of the Model 3, introduced earlier this year, the Model 3 performance is distinguishable from the outside by a different front bumper and front splitter, a larger rear spoiler, and an aggressive-looking rear diffuser. The updates are said to reduce drag by 5 percent and cut lift by 36 percent. The Performance has the latest slim LED light clusters and the new rear lights that were introduced for the 2024 Model 3.

Inside, the highlights are brand-new 12-way adjustable sport seats that have more aggressive side bolsters for sporty driving, as well as heat and ventilation, as well as carbon-fiber trim. Like the standard version, the Model 3 Performance retains an almost complete reliance on controls embedded in the large central touch screen. There isn’t even a shift lever for park, neutral, drive and reverse; you select gear by swiping on the screen, and turn signals and windshield wipers are activated by touch controls on the steering wheel.

While we find some of these features frustrating, we do like the higher-quality interior materials and finishing that Tesla has brought to the new Model 3. There’s integrated ambient lighting around the entire cabin, a stunning 17-speaker sound system, and a rear entertainment console with a screen for rear passengers. Trunk space is also very impressive, at 20.8 cubic feet, with a usable front trunk as well.

Tesla Model 3 Performance: The Verdict

All in all, the Model 3 Performance offers a lot of performance, a lot of features, and a lot of bang for the buck, especially when you consider its $52,990 starting MSRP (before $1,390 destination fee) and the fact that it’s eligible for the $7,500 federal purchase rebate.

That’s before you factor in Tesla’s excellent Supercharging network and the company’s excellent software architecture, which offers seamless over-the-air software updates and a user-friendly app. For the speed and tech you get, the Model 3 Performance is truly a bargain – tens of thousands of dollars less than the gasoline sedans it’ll leave behind in a drag race, with substantially lower running costs.