Performance option pushes Tesla’s mass market Model 3 into Model S territory

Tesla Model 3
Miles Branman/Digital Trends

Posting on Twitter late at night, Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk has informally announced key details about two long-awaited Model 3 variants. The dual-motor, all-wheel drive Model 3 and the high-zoot Performance model will join the basic, rear-wheel drive car in the coming months.

Musk confirmed the all-wheel drive model will receive a dual-motor configuration similar to the one that equips the Model S. All-wheel drive in an electric car is often different than in a gasoline- or diesel-powered car, where you’ll normally find a mechanical connection between the two axles (e.g., a driveshaft) to transfer power to the four wheels. Tesla simply added a second electric motor to the front axle. The Model 3’s system is called through-the-road, meaning the only connection between the front and rear axles is the asphalt the car drives on.

Selecting the all-wheel drive option adds $5,000 to the base price of a Model 3. It’s only offered with the optional long-range battery, a $9,000 option, so it starts at $50,000 — at least in theory. Tesla hasn’t released pricing information yet. Buyers who tick the dual-motor box will get up to 310 miles of range, a 4.5-second zero-to-60-mph time, and a 140-mph top speed. To add context, the base Model 3 offers up to 220 miles of range and takes 5.6 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop.

Named Performance, the second Model 3 variant Musk announced on Twitter will certainly please speed junkies. He boldly presented the car as Tesla’s answer to the BMW M3, a model often considered the holy grail of the sports sedan kingdom. And while he stopped short of revealing full specs, he wrote the 3 Performance takes 3.5 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop, it has a 155 mph top speed, and its maximum range checks in at 310 miles. Significantly, he added it “will beat anything in its class on a track.” That’s fighting talk. Oh, and a fully loaded model costs $78,000; that’s over twice the price of a base model.

Let’s look at the M3: Fitted with a twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter straight-six rated at 425 horsepower, it reaches 60 mph from a stop in 3.9 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 155 mph. Pricing starts at $66,800. We can’t believe Musk’s claim of building a M3-slapping sports sedan until we’ve driven it, but color us intrigued.

More details about Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 variants will emerge in the coming months. We hope you’re patient when it comes to buying a car. Tesla notes buyers who want a car with the long-range battery and rear-wheel drive need to wait four to six months for delivery. Those who want the dual-motor 3 or the Performance version will wait anywhere between six to nine months, while those content with the basic car and its often-hyped $35,000 price could face a yearlong delay.

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