Skip to main content

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
How to watch Tesla’s Cybertruck delivery event today
Tesla's Cybertruck.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk behind the wheel of a Cybertruck. Tesla

It’s been a long time coming, but Tesla is about to deliver the Cybertruck to its first customers.

Read more
Tesla introduces ‘congestion fee’ for Supercharger stations
Tesla Supercharger

Tesla has been charging an idle fee for years in a bid to free up its Superchargers and prevent traffic jams at charging stations. But now it’s introducing a new congestion fee, which in some places will replace the idle fee.

To recap, idle fees kick in when a Supercharger station is at 50% capacity. It means that if a car is left plugged in after it is fully charged, the owner has to pay 50 cents a minute until they leave. If the station is 100% occupied, the fee doubles to $1 a minute.

Read more
Tesla says Cybertruck resellers could face harsh penalties
Tesla CEO Elon Musk behind the wheel of a Cybertruck.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk behind the wheel of a Cybertruck. Tesla

Early buyers of Tesla’s new Cybertruck could be forced to hand over $50,000 to the automaker if they try to sell the electric pickup within the first year of purchase.

Read more