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Tesla Model 3 Performance Review – At 2 Years and Counting! Are We Two Years into a Revolution?

zman222

Member
Jun 13, 2020
36
45
Long ISland
Nice review. You're totally right about the power and driving experience. I got a 2020 LR AWD a few weeks ago. The acceleration and power is insane and a speeding ticket waiting to happen, but the chill from driving it on the freeway with EAP on is incomparable to anything else I've ever driven, luxury or otherwise. Takes out all of the worry that comes with driving.

Also, never having to carry car keys again is a major, major, MAJOR win. Phone key + smart lock at home = no keys ever again. I can't wait until I can use my phone as my license and for NFC to really take off so I can ditch my wallet completely.

@dfwmatt; how stiff is the suspension? I considered getting a Performance but decided against it because I wanted a slightly softer ride
Congrats on your new purchase. I have been loving everything about owning my model 3 LR AWD 2018. The 2020 model threes are even more refined than ours. Tesla improvements never rest. Funny, I thought the ownership couldn't get any better and then I ordered boost that's worth every cent. The ownership experience just gets better and better.
 
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dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,016
5,035
FL
Building the Teslarossa – A Max Model 3 for the Street?

This story, like many car stories (car stories are usually only interesting to guys!), starts with a test drive. . . or in this case two of them. The first of them was a test drive of a top-of-the-line Tesla Model S in the Spring of 2013. While its acceleration was impressive, it was simply way too large and too ponderous for me to think about buying one. Its handling was not bad for a car that weighted well over 2 tons, but I just couldn't consider it as a daily driver – the suspension design appeared modern and sophisticated, but the car just felt much too big and heavy – and not any lighter on its feet than its spec sheet would suggest. Disappointed, I thought, oh well, let's see what they come up with next, as the drivetrain was pretty impressive . . . and of course the instant-on acceleration pretty appealing.

Fast forward three years to April 1st, 2016 – sight unseen and test drive undriven, I plunked down a measly thousand dollars on the first day that you put a deposit on the Model 3, along with 200,000+ other brave pioneers. And I promptly just about forgot about it, as the Model 3 I would be buying was at least 1 if not 2 years away. And, as bad luck (in this case, ‘ production hell’) would have it, it turned out to be roughly 2½ years away! By the middle of 2018, I was beginning to wonder if I would ever see a car, but sure enough, in July I got notification that I could now put in an official order for a real (non-vaporware?) car. Hmm . . . still skeptical, I put in an order – online of course as that’s the only way you can buy one of these things – for a Performance Version Model 3 with just about every box ticked (except full self driving), and gulped, yikes! as the final price was like $76,000. Whoa! And then I realized I was thinking about spending $20,000 more than I'd ever considered spending on a car . . . . that I had not even test driven! This did not make a whole lot of sense!

So I trundled down to the Framingham Mass. Tesla store, and asked them for what I called a ‘serious test drive.’ The guy looked at me skeptically, and asked me what I meant by that, and I said “well I don't want to go on a race track, or violate any laws, but I do want to push it a little bit,” explaining that I had just put down $2500 for one in the original pile of first day orders, again, sight unseen and test drive undriven. He agreed.

Well, I had never experienced acceleration quite like that! .9 Gs, no wheelspin, and no drama. Point-and-squirt acceleration. Instant response, and deeply linear – the G Force felt directly proportional to how much you press the “gas” (?) pedal. And on my first serious turn, I was very pleasantly surprised that the car felt a lot lighter than its rated 4000 pounds, and waaaay lighter than the floaty Model S I had experienced, as it turned in with alacrity. Although I didn't want to get too close to its limits, I could tell they were pretty high. That was enough. I was sold. I had been prepared to cancel my deposit if the car failed the test drive, but instead, I put down another deposit on another DMP Model 3 for my wife. We’d be fighting over this thing constantly if there was just one of these and a crappy ICE Mommy van!! That was one of my best moves ever.

Of course, as pleased as I was with the stock handling and performance, I had the approach of most guys with their cars, that things (finances permitting!) can always be improved!!! During those early days in 2018 there was a dire shortage of aftermarket equipment, and of course, unlike ICE, modding the engine was not an option, but I quickly heard about this new Canadian group that was doing amazing things on track with the car, Mountain Pass Performance! But I started with some lighter weight and wider wheels from Advanti, upgraded to Vorsteiner and then VS Forged (an amazing value at only $650 a corner for ultra wide 20s weighing 21/22 lbs), and after checking them out thoroughly, ordered the Sports Coilover kit from Mountain Pass Performance. Mountain Pass has proven to be an absolute gold mine for Tesla tweaking junkies. They are an exceptional outfit in every way – from the standpoint of their technical competencies, their customer service and integrity, and their commitment to supporting the Model 3 (and it looks like they're going to go in a similar direction on the Model Y!).

I got the Sports Coilover kit, and after toying with wrenching it myself, wisely had it installed. I initially set the shocks for the recommended street 10/12, which was actually really comfortable so I decided to ratchet up the stiffness, and set it at 8/10 which is where I've had it ever since. Not sure I’d want to go much firmer on the street . . . . Then it was a question of what other suspension ‘bling’ I might add to this great start.

Long story short . . . .that ended up being almost everything in their parts catalog at this point accepting the Front Upper Control Arms (saving that for later maybe) and the lower suspension bushing part. That includes the rear camber adjustment arm, the toe arms, and the traction and trailing arms. All really fine pieces, with super heavy duty spherical bushings. Highly, highly recommended, esp. the rear camber arms, but hell, just get the whole damn bin of their suspension parts!

How’s it drive? A tighter, more precise version of the stock car, with significantly higher limits. The basic DNA of the Model 3 is immediately recognizable, but everything is more immediate, and the steering is slightly heavier (have it on the standard setting), presumably due to the much wider fronts. Much better turn-in, and more locked down at virtually any lateral acceleration rate. And while the stock Performance Model 3 is somewhat scrambling for traction any place much north of .8 G, this feels VERY securely planted at .9 G and will comfortably show loads on the track mode G meter of 1.1 Gs, and I'm definitely not exploring its limits fully on the street - it's possible the car could peak at about 1.2-1.3 Gs. There is none of the ‘pogoing’ on oscillating surfaces, and absolutely no sense that the rear is becoming a little bit loose at higher speeds or on sudden turn in. Very significantly reduced body roll and brake dive/acceleration squat - I can see why MPP feels that anti-roll bars aren't critical - and I like a little bit of roll anyway. The driver's seat is really a/the limiting factor now in terms of how much lateral accel you can tolerate. Not any grainier in relationship to road surface grain or harshness (still really smooth overall) but it is now firm to a point where I wouldn’t want to drive cross country with things any firmer. Not sure I’d drive to NYC ever in this car, not with the current wheels and tires, even though I am sure they are much more impact-resistant than the stock OEM boat anchor wheels, and the 265/30 fronts probably are more impact resistant too.

Haven’t had it on a track yet (wouldn’t track it with the current Pilot Sport 4S past 1-2 laps, as they would likely get chunked quickly and they are way too expensive a tire to have to replace after 5-10 hot laps somewhere). Also needs more front negative camber for any serious track work, plus harder pads, and a brake fluid swap. Serious track wheels and tires might be the next item to save for – but I promised my wife that her car would get the Comfort Adjustable Coilovers to get lowered and achieve that hunkered-down look with those nice chunky tires (who would have thought she’d care?).

Tesla tuning is an expensive addiction!! 12 step program?

Final result: you just can't tell how chunky and seriously wide those tires are from most angles.
It's kind of stealth car, in that sense, a suspension/wheel/tire version of the stealth performance model 3.
20200716_170423.jpg

This view does give a little bit more away of how radically changed the wheel tire complement might be:
upload_2020-7-18_0-33-52.png


First things first! Suspension coilovers in front:

20200717_172650.jpg


and rear, where all the real bling is hiding:

20200717_171303.jpg
20200717_171311.jpg


Two serious PS4s: front 265/30 (wheel/tire combo weighs only 45 lbs - pretty light for 20s w/ 265
20200717_172637.jpg
and the rear 275/30 on a 10.5 rim both weighing together 50 lbs. Not bad.

20200717_171327.jpg
 
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Jun 27, 2020
42
31
Euless, TX
Congrats on your new purchase. I have been loving everything about owning my model 3 LR AWD 2018. The 2020 model threes are even more refined than ours. Tesla improvements never rest. Funny, I thought the ownership couldn't get any better and then I ordered boost that's worth every cent. The ownership experience just gets better and better.

I cannot ducking wait to buy me some boost
 

tcpilot

Member
Jan 28, 2020
45
64
Los Altos
@dfwatt Thanks for the well-written review! Reinforces others I've read, and the pics really do add to the story. I appreciate the effort, but not the $$$ that you will likely cost me in the near future ;-).

Cheers,

/TCP

PS: Any idea what a stock 20" boat anchor with a PS4 mounted to it weighs? I'm trying to grok the difference between stock & your VS Forged setup.
 

cochran

Member
Jul 31, 2019
97
28
USA
My MPP sport coilovers are super comfy as well on recommended settings. Was very stiff in beginning but springs settled after a month and it became perfect
 
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TMThree

Active Member
Mar 28, 2019
1,116
1,605
USA
4) While were on the subject of the interior, the back seats are just set too low – I'm sure this was in the service of preserving headroom for the rear passengers, but it would be nice if this could be adjusted.


Do you have the original seats or the v2 seats? Cause v1 had very little padding on the front and rears, and that let peoples thighs float over the seat. They fixed it in v2 by making it fluffier, but that also caused dropping the rear seats not lay flat (unless you pulled the lower seats out)
 

dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,016
5,035
FL

Do you have the original seats or the v2 seats? Cause v1 had very little padding on the front and rears, and that let peoples thighs float over the seat. They fixed it in v2 by making it fluffier, but that also caused dropping the rear seats not lay flat (unless you pulled the lower seats out)

I think somewhere in the original review I specified these were version 2 seats. They're really really good, all there's not enough side support for track work. And we don't take the rear seats down that much but you're right it does appear to prevent them from being completely flat
 

dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,016
5,035
FL
@dfwatt Thanks for the well-written review! Reinforces others I've read, and the pics really do add to the story. I appreciate the effort, but not the $$$ that you will likely cost me in the near future ;-).

Cheers,

/TCP

PS: Any idea what a stock 20" boat anchor with a PS4 mounted to it weighs? I'm trying to grok the difference between stock & your VS Forged setup.

Stock wheel and tire setup I think is ~53 lb. 24 lbs for the tire and 29 for the wheel. The nine inch wide forged VS 14s are about 20 lbs, the 9.5 inch wide 20s pick up a little bit less than a pound or so and then the 10.5 another pound. Forged is for sure the way to get to the best reduction of unsprung weight. There are lighter forged wheels but nothing lighter at 650 bucks a corner in a 20-inch size.
 
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dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,016
5,035
FL
One thing I forgot to mention in relationship to the car's handling is its absence of terminal understeer even with its slightly staggered set up. In other words I was somewhat surprised to see that in higher speed corners the car actually feels like it wants to oversteer which can be a little disconcerting. I am wondering if that's a function of alignment. It does not change posture in so called 'trailing throttle' in other words regen braking, (earlier gen Porsche 911s were famous for their 'snap' trailing throttle oversteer which could bite you) and fortunately there's nothing like that, but it's pretty clear that it's not understeerng.

I know the book from the track guys is a completely square set up but I'm wondering how many of them experience a little bit of undesirable oversteer. I know oversteer is desirable especially in lower speed corners where you can pivot out and then apply full power but in high speed corners oversteer strikes me as pretty undesirable. Curious what track guys might say about that.
 
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ATT89

Banned
Jul 16, 2020
78
59
planet
I have been thoroughly convinced that Tesla will take a large share of automotive (commercial and private) market in the next 10 years or so. And I see more and more Model 3's on the road which I welcome since I own TSLA shares.
However, the Supercharging stations were full yesterday and while I was charging some drivers just drove by because they didn't want to wait. This will only get worse as Tesla sells more cars.

Quicker charging times might offer an opportunity to open up chargers without building new ones.
 

dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,016
5,035
FL
Quicker charging times might offer an opportunity to open up chargers without building new ones.

For sure a whole lot of those version 3 superchargers would be really nice. But I think they could do a better job of just building out the version 2 supercharger Network so there's better coverage in some places. For example where we live both in New Hampshire and Florida we are a long distance from any supercharger. On our drives up and down the East Coast it's generally good coverage and now there's great coverage if we go to Miami because they finally got one on Alligator Alley but there's still a lot of holes geographically speaking in the network. Not a lot of big ones but some small ones that they could fill in. And it seems like the demand for superchargers in California is literally bonkers
 
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lotusland

Member
Jun 30, 2011
297
351
I love the handling of my P3D- but I have to admit your rear suspension looks amazing. Next time you have it opened up maybe wipe everything down and shoot it with some nice lighting.
 
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dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,016
5,035
FL
I love the handling of my P3D- but I have to admit your rear suspension looks amazing. Next time you have it opened up maybe wipe everything down and shoot it with some nice lighting.

I'll try to get a picture of it from a better angle like underneath or something where you can really see. Have to take off the Aero Shield
 

dfwatt

Active Member
Sep 24, 2018
3,016
5,035
FL
I don't know if they'll offer that amount of boost; I only know about the 4.4 -> 3.9 boost.

Yeah that's the only one I've heard about too. But it's been very popular. There's the aftermarket hack that apparently gets you all the way to the performance version but that strikes me as a good way to lose your car or at least significant functionality. They could sanction you by making your car ineligible for any firmware updates or any supercharging, or perhaps even shut the car down although that would be probably legally very dubious.
 

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