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Tesla unleashes the Model 3 Performance: More than the sum of its parts

The fastest small Tesla is a bargain speedster

Red Tesla Model 3 Performance facing straight on parked on dark metal plates with a dark wall in the background.
Tesla / Tesla

Earlier in 2024, Tesla refreshed the Model 3 rear-wheel drive and dual-motor AWD versions but did not update the Model 3 Performance variant. The wait is over, and with Tesla’s recent price reductions, the refreshed Model 3 Performance is an amazing deal for a car with sub-3-second 0-60 mph acceleration and nearly 300 miles of range.

Why the Tesla Model 3 Performance matters so much

Red Tesla Model 3 Performance driving on a one lane road in a desert with hills in the background and a blurred foreground.
Tesla / Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 Performance fills a void in the existing lineup since the January 2024 refresh. The update included new headlight and taillight designs and new color choices, including the Ultra Red in the Model 3 Performance photo above. The new Model 3s also gained ventilated front seats, an 8-inch display for rear-seat passengers, a quieter cabin, and more luxurious seating. The updates were welcome, but removing the Performance trim from Tesla’s online order sheet disappointed buyers who wanted even more speed than the RWD and standard dual-motor AWD versions.

Tesla Model 3 Performance: the go-fast parts

Tesla Model 3 Performance chassis with suspension dampers.
Tesla / Tesla

The Model 3 Performance’s performance numbers are indeed impressive. Tesla says it produces 510 horsepower maximum. It can scoot to 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds, and its top speed is 163 miles per hour.

The new high-performance drive units exact a cost in range. The EPA estimates a maximum range of 296 miles for the Model 3 Performance, 45 miles less than the standard dual-motor AWD variant’s 341 miles. Nearly 300 miles of range may look pretty good for a buyer who prioritizes fast performance.

The Performance version also costs $5,250 more than the less speedy AWD version. And certainly, that plainer Model 3 isn’t a slouch, reaching 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds and maxing out at 125 mph. But still, if you want the fastest Tesla, you can buy within the model set; the 45-mile range difference and five-grand higher purchase price are unlikely to change your mind.

If you were truly over the top for performance the Model S Plaid and Model X Plaid are even faster, but they cost at least another $31K.

Tesla Model 3 Performance: additional upgrades

Red Tesla Model 3 Performance interior showing Track mode page on dashboard display
Tesla / Tesla

In addition to the drive units, the Model 3 Performance upgrade adaptive suspension with improved body control with dampers all around on a new bespoke chassis, new heat management for the car’s high-performance brakes, and lightweight forged wheels with optimized aerodynamics, and more predictable traction coming out of corners.

With the new Track Mode V3 driver pages, you can customize the car’s suspension, regenerative braking, and more. Finally, newly designed sports seats with side and cushion bolsters will help you and your wingperson stay in place. Updates on the Model 3 Performance design include new front and rear fascias, a rear diffuser, and a carbon fiber spoiler for added downforce as well as an extra-cool appearance.

Tesla Model 3 Performance: pricing and availability

White Tesla Model 3 Performance left rear three-quarter view
Tesla / Tesla

The new Model 3 Performance starts at $52,990. According to Tesla, it qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit if you qualify, too. Stealth Gray is the standard color. Color options are Pearl White Multi-Coat ($1,000),  Deep Blue Metallic and Solid Black (each $1,500), and Ultra Red ($2,000). if you want a black-and-white interior instead of just black, it will cost you an extra $1,500. Full Self-Driving capability is now $8,000.

Tesla does not include home charging equipment with the Model 3, but it would definitely be in your best interest to purchase both a wall connector ($450) and a mobile connector ($250) to have the greatest odds of finding a good connection when you’re not near a Tesla Superstation. In addition, there’s also a $250 non-refundable order fee when you order a Tesla online.

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Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Cars teams. He also writes technology news…
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