Tesla Model 3
Sideways... in a 450bhp electric car? You bet
Tesla has come a long way since the introduction of the Roadster back in 2008. The boss, Elon Musk, is regularly characterised as part Tony Stark, part Bond villain, depending on what side of bed he’s climbed out of. But whatever the case, the Model S and Model X have upended the automotive world in a way few would have imagined a decade ago.
Thing is, no one ever bought a Tesla for pure driving kicks. Not until now, anyway. The Model 3 isn’t just the Tesla that turns the company into a genuine volume player, it’s also the one that aims to stick it to the likes of the BMW M3 for driving dynamics. Which is where the new Track mode comes in. Over to Tesla to elaborate: “Since the introduction of the Tesla Roadster, we’ve exploited the immediate availability of motor power and torque to achieve unprecedented straight-line performance. With Track mode, our goal was simple: use that same motor power and torque to make cornering feel just as natural as forward acceleration.”
Well, about time. So Tesla’s engineers have been beavering away on vectoring the dual motors’ torque and using brake force to sharpen the Model 3’s cornering. It’s nothing new, but what is interesting is that they’ve developed their own vehicle dynamics controller, and all the software is in-house.
So, onto the airfield. The Model 3 doesn’t sit the driver low, it doesn’t feel as purposeful as an M3, but following a demo run from a Tesla engineer, there’s no doubt that the chassis is capable of magic. As with any fast car, it takes time to dial into it, and the slip angles are in direct proportion to the size of your cojones, but it’s worth reiterating: Track mode allows you to do it. Give it the berries on the way out of one corner and into another, and yep, we’re sideways. On the next run we’re drifting. Towards the end, you can even get it rotating with a Scandinavian flick. Now that I did not expect…
Could the Model 3 be lighter? Of course, and when I jokingly suggest a Club Sport version, the Tesla engineers – car guys all – admit they’d consider doing one for their own amusement. With these guys, anything is possible. Ludicrous? Not so much. More ‘Unexpected’.
Delve into the touchscreen and engage Track mode. That’s it. The computers monitor all driver inputs and divvy up the torque front and rear