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P3D[+] for a spirited driver

Discussion in 'Model 3: Driving Dynamics' started by Ugene, Mar 25, 2019.

  1. Ugene

    Ugene Member

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    I just read an entertaining thread at Why aren't car review sites raving about the Model 3 Performance's amazing value? : teslamotors and recalled that my P3D+ buying decision was far from black and white. I decided to compile my main reasons where Tesla limits me compared to a non Tesla sports car that I had or I could have purchased and modified to achieve a close performance level for considerably less money.

    But first briefly about my priorities. I value my everyday fun and excitement of those few turns and bends on my way to work and back, and also when getting to/from mountains to ski/hike/climb. That feeling that I executed that boring turn on the streets close to optimal manner and close to the edge of traction. The feeling of the car dancing from turn to turn on a twisty road. I do like to open up my turns on some nice twisty side roads we have in the region. I value the freedom to execute a maneuver on a busy highway when my neurons fire. I also value a car that I can fit my skis and my bike into and can fit a friend or two with their stuff. I don't target a super fun to drive car to take it out a couple of days a month while I drive something more practical and less exciting most of the time. I like beautiful lines and form meeting function well, and well engineered interior and exterior, but I can sacrifice quite a bit for a sleeper looking car driving which puts a bigger smile on my face.

    So, here's a list of where I feel somewhat limited in my driving P3D+ fun.

    - I can't take my Tesla to some of my favorite roads in the state because the range drops quite a bit when driving in a really spirited way and there are not enough superchargers and destination chargers around.

    - On some other roads I have to drive conservatively and can't have as much fun to make it back home. Example, I would not make a 170 miles roundtrip (with 4500ft elevation gain & drop) to my favorite ski resort from a full charge if I don't drive conservatively. Yeah, yeah, more air resistance at faster speeds, winter tires, 20" rims, lower temps and all of that but still.

    - I miss that feeling of railing through a turn when the suspension and the body have flexed and the tires grip and I know the car is not going anywhere from the curve even I am close to the limit of traction. I don't get this feeling from P3D+ on many tighter street turns and highway ramps I had dialed my reflexes in for. Tesla could still have faster exit speed thanks to the ability to accelerate out but I don't get as much of that reliable-friend feeling. The turn dynamics in Tesla in such turns are different. However, there are plenty of turns I get more excitement and perfection compared to my old Audi.

    - I am not as brave throwing Tesla into a slide (nothing too dramatic like you see in the movies) in a turn or entering a turn faster and relying on my ability to correct. While the Tesla does at least 90% of such turns better than my previous car its behavior surprised and scared me a couple of times where front wheels or all 4 wheels lost traction. At these times the softer suspension, that I applaud to most of the time, combined with the weight made course correction much slower while the body swang from side to side. I may change my opinion in time once I observe P3D+ in these situations more but I've pushed 2-3 cars that I had regularly driven beyond their limit of traction and remained in my comfort zone. Note that we are not talking about a race track, just streets and highway ramps.

    - In the snow this 80-20 or 90-10 becomes more like 50-50 where Tesla looses a part of my confidence on slippery packed snow compared my old Audi S4 with exact same winter tires. There are also maneuvers such as entering a snowy road through a pile of snow from a parking lot or balancing one wheel on a compacted center when the ruts in the snow are too deep for the clearance (I did try slip start mode, BTW) where the car does not execute as well as my Audi. Tesla also does not give me the same feeling of tracking through the snow when coasting or when braking slightly. There were a couple of threads of Teslamotorsclub where a P3D+ owner from CO dared to talk about Tesla inferiority on snowy roads compared to an Audi with exact same tires and was trolled by people that clearly didn't have the same experience or didn't drive their cars as fast in same conditions. So, I am a bit reluctant writing this. Don't get me wrong, there are many cases where Tesla found amazing traction in the snow, or where I for fun carefully climbed a slippery steep hill with warmish fresh snow on top of slippery compacted snow that I would not have made up in my other cars.

    My Model 3 Performance puts a smile on my face every day but to me the purchase decision making is far from black and white. I hope my observations will help like-minded folks and I will get constructive advises and questions. I am also hoping to find some time to compile a wish list of handling improvements.
     
  2. kbecks13

    kbecks13 Active Member

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    This is very surprising to me. Model 3 handles better than pretty much anything i've ever driven, though the stock suspension is a bit soft and there is a good bit of body roll.

    If all four wheels break loose at once, that's a good thing! Means the car is very well balanced. But it also means you're having fun ;)

    Can't really disagree with some of your charging comments, though the number of charging stations (either Superchargers or L2) are growing literally by the day.

    Looks like we just found a permit for a new supercharger by Lake Tahoe today, for instance: supercharge.info
     
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  3. S4WRXTTCS

    S4WRXTTCS Active Member

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    I certainly agree that it's not a black and white decision, and everyone will have their preferences for how they want a car to handle.

    In terms of handling I'd rank the cars I've owned as the following

    Porsche Cayman S
    Tesla P3D+
    Tesla Model S
    Audi S4 (this was way back in 2000)
    Audi 3.2 TT (it was front wheel drive biased which annoyed me)

    For all-around driving it's really hard to beat the Tesla because of how quick it is. So I'd rather give up a little handling in favor of that quickness. It's not just quickness, but the silentness which it does it. With the Porsche Cayman S I was advertising to the world anytime I drove it hard.

    One thing I hated about the Audi's is the Oxygen Sensors kept failing. The Audi dealer told me I was driving it too hard. After awhile of that I was "screw this" and bought the Porsche. The Porsche never had any issues.

    With Tesla I'm mostly annoyed about tires.

    It's always a huge tradeoff between handling, and efficiency.

    The Summer performance tires that came with it have very little tread depth. It's like they delivered it with half tread, but that's just how the tire is.

    As to snow I strongly believe Tesla needs a snow mode like they have a track mode.
     
  4. animorph

    animorph Active Member

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    There are suspension kits available that should be able to fix at least some of the handling.

    Given that for performance electric cars it's kind of Tesla or nothing, it may be a few years before we get some additional choices. I would think sports cars would be a viable electric car segment, given the higher margins at the high end.
     
  5. Ugene

    Ugene Member

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    RE: Handling:
    Well, it is hard to state that Model 3 handles better than anything. It is a heavier car and I'd agree that light Porsches such as Cayman and Carrera would be more fun even with slower acceleration. At least from my distant memory. Once I take P3D+'s practicality into account the value equation changes for me, of course.
    Teslas, and P3D in particular, handle spectacularly well. From some POV, these are sad days for good drivers because Teslas quite a bit accelerated that narrowing of the gap of how well a really good and a mediocre driver can handle the car.
    My concern is that with Tesla I am loosing that understanding and predictability of how the car behaves beyond the limit of traction and how well I can feel the limit. Or at least I am not building it as fast as I did with my previous cars. I don't have a solution in mind. I hope Tesla will improve on that small percent of cases when the car gets me surprised. I don't know if some "predictable" mode is a good solution here. And I am not talking about the tracking here - I imagine very small minority of spirited drivers take their car to the track. I'd like a car that is fun on the streets and country roads. And I don't routinely drive in track mode - I'd like to have fun in Sport please.

    Here's a scary example: accelerating into a curved highway entrance (wet road in the 50s F, OEM summer tires) two front tires lost traction and the front shifted probably about 2-2.5ft to the outside of the turn before it very suddenly regained traction and the effect of my steering correction had to wait until the suspension swang the car back. I am pretty sure I stopped accelerating within probably 0.3s (normal human reaction) but I guess expected the car to remove the torque from rear wheels faster or to not put as much in the first place. Unless there was an oily spot on the road, which I doubt because I didn't feel rear wheels got affected by it, I can imagine this happening to me in a couple of Audies and a AWD Acura RDX I used to routinely drive - either the nannies would break some wheels or I would feel that the tires were approaching the limit of traction. I subjectively recall Tesla managed to accelerate faster than I would attempt in an Audi (I use same tires) before the front lost traction but still.

    RE: the suspension and suspension kits:
    I enjoy and appreciate a lot that P3D+ remains composed in turns while having softer suspension. The softness does limit the speed in curves with uneven surface but it would not be an obvious decision to install a suspension kit for street driving once it becomes available. I don't know how important is the steering quickness between really tight turns for me outside of the track. It just that this softness comes with a surprising steering delay when the car needs to regain traction...
     
  6. FlyNavy01

    FlyNavy01 Member

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    Considering you were driving summer performance tires on a cold, rainy PNW day and lifted throttle in the middle of a turn, I'm more impressed it remained mostly composed. Many other cars would be off in the grass if you did that.

    The P3D has an obvious weight disadvantage, but a CG advantage. The super quick steering ratio combined with heaps of low-end torque give it a very darty, go-kart-like feel. The stock suspension has moderate body roll and could certainly be improved for performance (many people, including myself, are doing that with aftermarket coilovers), but overall I think the handling is excellent for a 4100lb sedan.
     
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  7. stickman

    stickman Member

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    #7 stickman, Mar 26, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
    strange thing to be sad about, and also, nonsense.

    I have a solution: Take an HPDE class at the track and learn how to control your car.

    The car went in to understeer because you accelerated into a wet turn. The VSC system took over and you made it through the turn. Where's the problem? Why would you expect the car to remove torque from the rear wheels? If anything, you'd want the VSC to put power to the rear to balance the slide. Again, I respectfully suggest you get to a HPDE or car clinic and learn how the car behaves at the limit in a safe controlled environment and not on the roads upon which I'm taking my kids to school.
     
  8. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Details please. Always looking for fun routes (even if it involves an overnight stay somewhere to charge). Thanks.
     
  9. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    (1) Agree.
    (2) After extensive use of #1, try out Track Mode.
     
  10. Ugene

    Ugene Member

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    This was different from understeer I got used to in my previous cars. The loss of traction was very sudden and the front wheels shifted to the outside very fast. On my previous cars, the last one had exact same summer tires, in similar conditions I would feel I am getting close to understeer and use the accelerator to balance the car through the turn.

    My explanations might be naive but I'd appreciate constructive comments instead of trying to school me. This is not my first car and I have seen examples when HPDE classes didn't make average drivers into good drivers on my scale. I don't see anything wrong with being slightly beyond the traction limit to rotate the car faster on street turns at street speeds (30-35mph would do, and much less on snowy roads). To me it makes sense to compare new car performance on street turns and highway ramps where I dialed in my turns and my speed on previous cars hundreds, sometimes thousands of times commuting every day.
     
  11. jkoya

    jkoya NA2 NSX

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    For me personally, if it's a curvy road, I actually prefer my Acura NSX to my P3D. The NSX is the total opposite of the P3D in today's world - 6 speed manual, cassette player, analog gauges with physical needles, no navigation and 17" wheels/tires. It's also a 2 seater with a small trunk and no useable cup holders (for holding my phone). The acceleration of the P3D just leaves the poor NSX in the dust and is more practical in the real world with lots of cargo space and creature comforts. Of all the cars I've owned, the handling of the P3D reminds me the most of my VW R32, which to me is not a bad thing. I love both cars.
     
  12. Nocturnal

    Nocturnal Active Member

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    I've found that the model 3P handles like a tank in the snow.

    I'm a novice to road courses but from the sense I get after a few track days is that the limiting factor is the stock suspension. If you stiffen that up I believe it will feel super solid. Not much you can do about weight, but at least that weight is very low to the ground and truly balanced.
     
  13. stickman

    stickman Member

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    Whatever.
    Unless I'm reading you wrong you are saying
    that you're already a great driver so you wouldn't benefit from an HPDE day. But your description of your 'scary situation' shows otherwise. The wheels 'shifting suddenly to the outside' is a classic front end push, and the fact that you've never felt that before and were surprised by the vehicle's (correct, from your description) subsequent behavior shows you would likely benefit greatly from some car control training. If you're just looking for people to confirm your feelings that the car is unpredictable, good luck with that.
     
  14. Ugene

    Ugene Member

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    Note that I was not looking for a slide. I was getting to max safe speed through a relatively narrow 1 lane ramp that I can achieve without understeer and I was ready to lower acceleration/torque once I feel the the car starts to understeer. I was not looking to bring the rear wheels around and slide the turn at all. I mitigate understeer by decreasing torque. Is it wrong?

    Are you in WA, in Seattle area?

    Do I understand you correctly you recommend driving on the streets with Track Mode on? It felt weird in winter when I didn't need extra battery cooling the car did in Track Mode. Also those times I had Track Mode on I was not lucky with having no traffic on some turns where I could feel the difference. So, I gave up on having it on for everyday driving where a fun turn was a last moment decision based on the lack of other cars and safe conditions.
     
  15. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Yup.
     
  16. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    No. What I was saying is that the sequence is (1) do the fun stuff on-track preferably with some HPDE, and (2) Track Mode can make track time even more fun when you're ready.
     
  17. Ugene

    Ugene Member

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    Here are some routes that I take with some regularity and that I would not use my Tesla on for now due to range concerns.
    - Mt Rainier, Paradise is a 220 miles roundtrip from where I am in Seattle area if I take the shortest path. I would have to drive very conservatively to make it. I recall going up to Paradise in the afternoon when all traffic goes down the mountain got me some long empty stretches with fun turns a couple of times.
    -- South Mt Rainier, towards east of Mt St Helens has some nice roads. Not possible in acceptable time.
    - Olympic Peninsula has many of my favorite roads. Hwy 112 between Port Angeles and Neah Bay is one of them. Looking forward to when SC in Forks is online as it should become feasible to drive Sequim SC -> Neah Bay -> Forks SC without thinking of saving electrons.
    - Driving between central/eastern B.C. and Seattle through Columbia and Okanagan valleys has some beautiful scenery and fun side roads. I'd instead have to drive either through Kelowna or Spokane to have SCs on the way.

    Sure. Thanks. I understand. I was really writing about spirited driving on the roads and not on track. I did drive a few laps on track and 1/2 day at a rally school. It has not become my passion.

    BMW and Porsche got many of their car buyers to attend their driving schools. I drove with a couple of people who did that and thought the schools didn't help much. I thought those money would have been better spent on something like go-karting.

    Do you think majority of P3D buyers buy the car to take it to the track? I expect not. I hope folks who do track their cars do not look down on us "mortals" and do not make fun of our sometimes naive ways of expressing what we feel. Otherwise, it would make these forums less fun.
     
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  18. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    (a) I expect not as well.
    (b) Not clear where you're getting that impression. The track isn't for people that don't think they're mortals, more the opposite.
    (c) Not my intent.
    (d) Agreed.
     
  19. Ugene

    Ugene Member

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    In my other cars (one with same tires) I would feel the car is about to understeer and lower the acceleration. To be fair, I would not have reached the same speed on that ramp in my other cars.

    The steering is awesome indeed. However, I'd appreciate a more variable steering with further increase in steering ratio at lower speeds as well as softer steering at lower speeds in Sport mode. It is hard to quantify that feeling in routine street turns but constantly steering in the narrow multistory garage where I park every weekday, often on 8-9th floor, requires quite a bit more steering work compared to my B7 Audi S4 (the last V8 generation still with hydraulic steering) where steering is sharper than in the later S4s. While overall responsiveness to steering input in the Audi is not nearly as good as in P3D, the car feels lighter and more agile in the garage and in many tight low speed turns.
     
  20. mact3333

    mact3333 Member

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    I just test drove the p3D today. I was very surprised! Of course the torque and acceleration were insane as expected, but it was the steering and feel that surprised me quite bit. Granted I had it in sport mode so never felt the normal mode.

    I am coming from F82 M4 and have previously had a Lotus Elise, Porsche C4S, Audi S4, many BMW M3's so handling is a priority to me.

    First thing was the steering feel. Had a lot of road feel and felt German. The steering was heavy which I liked and I am used to this already.
    I could feel the rocks and pebble son the road. And turn in was sharp and responsive(more so then I was expecting).

    For such a heavy car, the car felt ver very planted with minimal body roll. I don't think i am used to car so heavy with such a low COG. I don't know how much this car weighs exactly but I know its suppose to be a very heavy car but it didn't really feel like that to me. And I was expecting the regen braking to be more intrusive but it wasn't.

    And the power delivery on hard accelerations was surprising smooth. I was expecting neck snapping harshness.

    The seats felt very grippy and comfy also.

    The interior was simple and clean and I didn't even really notice I didn't have a center clusters.

    Now did I order a model 3, nope, cause I am just not into the exterior styling for some reason. But I did put a deposit on a performance model Y with long range and dual motor.

    This car really surprised me and I have no qualms about leaving the ICE sports car world. Maybe I am getting older now but I didn't even miss the loud M4 exhaust sound I am used to now.

    My only complaint about Tesla in general is the build quality. I still saw uneven gaps on the model X I saw on display. This is one of the main reasons I didn't buy the model S when i was one of the original deposit holders many years ago. And the interior material(plastic) on the loaded model S still isn't up to Germans standards.

    I can't wait to try auto driving feature and hopefully by the time the Y comes out, Tesla will have figured this out completely.
     
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