Un­plugged Tesla Model S

WE SAY: TIME TO TRY A MODEL 3 BREATHED ON BY A COM­PANY THAT KNOWS ABOUT TUN­ING

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS - STEPHEN DOBIE

You might not have heard of Un­plugged Per­for­mance, but they’re a big deal. They’re run by Ben Schaf­fer, the man be­hind Bul­let­proof Au­to­mo­tive. His Tesla-tun­ing ven­ture came about by cir­cum­stance, when he moved onto the same busi­ness park as Elon Musk’s Cal­i­for­nian HQ and got chat­ting with the neigh­bours. Un­plugged is now 90 per cent of Schaf­fer’s busi­ness.

Tun­ing an elec­tric car is dif­fer­ent than tun­ing a tra­di­tional petrol car, and so the Un­plugged Model 3 has no pow­er­train mod­i­fi­ca­tions, the fo­cus in­stead be­ing on its sus­pen­sion, brakes, wheels and tyres. When 0–60mph takes as lit­tle as 3.3secs, you could eas­ily ar­gue ad­di­tional power is pretty low on the pri­or­ity list. The cars we’ve tried here have coilover sus­pen­sion ($1,995, or around £1,600), car­bon-ce­ramic brakes (£7,000) and lightweight forged wheels (an­other £7,000 or so).

Now, the Model 3 is al­ready a de­cent car to drive, and eas­ily Tesla’s best. But Un­plugged’s chas­sis tweaks lift it onto a new plane. There’s

new clar­ity and com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the steer­ing, much quicker re­ac­tions and a tan­gi­bly lower cen­tre of grav­ity. It feels tauter and more honed, and right up there with a BMW 3-Se­ries for agility. The one thing that stops it com­pletely repli­cat­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence is its over­bear­ing sta­bil­ity con­trol sys­tem, which blows the whis­tle on your fun far too early. And can’t yet be turned off.

If you’re ex­pect­ing all this ex­tra han­dling nous to come at the ex­pense of ride com­fort, you’re wrong. Those coilovers are man­u­ally adjustable through 24 lev­els, but Un­plugged will set them up for your own pref­er­ences when you or­der.

All told, it’s made the Model 3 feel like a proper driver’s car. Ap­ply­ing the mods to a sin­gle-mo­tor RWD car wins for pu­rity, but one small taste of the dual-mo­tor, AWD car’s per­for­mance is enough to con­vince you it’s ca­pa­ble of tak­ing down a BMW M3. And that the fu­ture of tun­ing is safe in the likes of Schaf­fer’s hands. Sam­ple ei­ther, though, and you’ll not want to drive a stan­dard Model 3 again.

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