Tesla Model 3

Side­ways... in a 450bhp elec­tric car? You bet

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS - JA­SON BAR­LOW

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

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