Unplugged Tesla Model S
WE SAY: TIME TO TRY A MODEL 3 BREATHED ON BY A COMPANY THAT KNOWS ABOUT TUNING
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.