Tesla Model 3 Performance (2021) in the test: The other three

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Electric wonder car or exaggerated hype?

Tesla Model 3 Performance (2021) in the test: The other three-model

Few car brands take on traits of religion. This is mostly due to charismatic company founders whose names are on the vehicles, just think of Ferrari or Porsche. Seen in this way, "Musk" should actually be written on the world's most famous electric cars instead of "Tesla".

Because one thing is clear: Both Elon Musk and Tesla are familiar to almost every citizen of this country.

Of course, also because Mister Musk knows how to skillfully stage himself and his babies on four wheels. Critics see certain traits of a religion here and many a Tesla fan acts with fundamentalist zeal. That's why it's not that easy for car editors like me to approach a Tesla brand vehicle in a neutral way.

But I want to try it at this point, because the Model 3 Performance from model year 2021 is actually the first Tesla since the original roadster that I was allowed to drive. "Was allowed" because you can't get a test car that easily. But this point is not intended to be prejudice.

Picture gallery: Tesla Model 3 Performance (2021) in the test

Tesla Model 3 Performance (2021) in the test: The other three-model

Just like some readers of this sympathetic site, please don't stone me if I'm not extremely deep into the technology of the Tesla Model 3 immerse. If you are into it, you will find what you are looking for at InsideEVs Germany. And I would like to say something else in advance: I have already driven various electric cars of different brands, certain benchmarks are available.

Ultimately, I feel like many other drivers who say, with a view to the current state subsidies: "Such an electric car sounds interesting and I've heard a lot about the Tesla Model 3. So tell me how it drives and what it can do. "

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Design and dimensions

Let's start from the outside: Model 3 is just under 4.70 meters long, roughly the size of a 3-series BMW. Tesla deserves praise for its design, and a good four years after its premiere, the sedan still looks modern. No wonder, after all, you didn't have to take any predecessor into account. In October 2020, the Model 3 received a major facelift, the chrome-plated trim and door handles are now black, which looks really good.

Speaking of door handles: They fold similarly to the blissful Fiat Barchetta off when you press on it. A fancy thing, but not ideal in the event of an accident. However, other manufacturers also indulge in unnecessarily complicated handle solutions for their electric cars in order to get the last bit of aerodynamics out.

Contrary to what you might expect when looking at the body shape, there is no large flap at the rear, just a trunk lid. Since the facelift, it can be opened via the touchscreen or the Tesla app. By the way: You can use it to open and lock the entire car. As "guests", we used a kind of check card that is held against the B-pillar. Together with the front trunk, the "Frunk", 542 liters of luggage fit into the Model 3, a good value.

But now the doors are opened and put in. The frameless windows are chic, a very large glass roof with a transition to the rear window lets a lot of light into the interior. The space in the rear is also good, although the roofline suggests otherwise. In the often scolded workmanship, Tesla has meanwhile increased significantly.

Perhaps our press test car may have been an outlier, but we couldn't find anything negative. The materials used could be of a higher quality. German premium brands are still ahead here, but this is also reflected in the prices.

Focus on the cockpit

The actual explosive in the Tesla Model 3 sits enthroned in the 15-inch format in the middle of the otherwise yawning empty cockpit. You look for buttons almost in vain, almost everything is controlled via the huge touchscreen. The fans will certainly note that the windshield wipers can also be operated by voice input.

But do things like adjusting the mirrors and steering wheel have to be done on the screen? Okay, you don't do THAT that often, but I want to put it this way: The high-resolution touchscreen (it pleases, especially with Google Maps) offers a lot of distraction potential unnecessarily.

Here comes the Ford Mustang Mach-E into the mind that I was able to drive at the end of last year. Ford seems to have taken a good look at the Model 3 there and, in my opinion, does a few things better when it comes to operation. There is a manual control for the volume and a small display behind the steering wheel for the most important displays.

The Tesla shows the speed in the top left of the display, the view always wanders slightly there. My suggestion to Tesla: at least make the digits bigger. Space would be available and that shouldn't be a problem with one of the many software updates.

One thing is certain: The Tesla Model 3 is not self-explanatory when it comes to operation, but at some point you have learned the most important things. Good ideas include a video game to play with while charging. Or the distance when parking in centimeters.

Driving impressions

How does the Model 3 Performance drive with standard all-wheel drive? Less exciting than expected, but what is meant as a compliment. If necessary, you can travel very quickly (3.3 seconds to 100 km / h) without the Tesla being as brutal as a Porsche Taycan Turbo S. nailing the cerebellum to the headrest. The power development is rather relaxed and elegant.

From a speed of 160 km / h, however, clear wind noises are perceptible; if you like, you can drive this Model 3 to around 260 km / h. We made it to 230 … That brings me to the power: 158 kW (215 PS) and 240 Nm are provided by the front engine, while the rear is 219 kW (298 PS) and 420 Nm. We add up: Makes a good 510 hp and 660 Nm of torque.

So pretty juicy, but even the "base model" of the Model 3 with rear-wheel drive is impressive. The "Standard Range Plus" version offers 239 kW equal to 325 PS. Even that is more than sufficient.

But back to our test car: Its steering is nicely balanced and direct, the chassis, despite the built-in 20-inch rims, is firm, but not uncomfortable. The additional features for autonomous driving can be dispensed with. They are expensive and work less well than expected.

Consumption and loading

The charging of the Tesla Model 3, on the other hand, works excellently. Along the motorways and major highways there is the Tesla Supercharger, a clever move by the brand. But not in every location, which is why we used a normal "High Power Charger" that is officially supposed to charge with 150 kW, but currently only manages 110 kW. German reality in 2021.

The Model 3 sucked in here at the beginning with maximum power, then on average with 80 kW, but even with 98 percent filling, where it only drips with others, still with 9.3 kW. So it can be said: Tesla really knows how to charge!

Tesla specifies a maximum range of 567 kilometers for the Model 3 Performance, we had 508 kilometers on the display. Here too: thumbs up! The other thumb goes up for consumption.

Sure, anyone who shoots at 230 on the autobahn consumes a lot in a combustion engine and also in the Model 3, namely around 60 kWh per 100 km. Conversely, a very good 15.5 kWh are also feasible, we settled on an average between 21 and 22 kWh. Considering the performance of the car, this is a good value.


And what does the Tesla Model 3 cost? Well, here the manufacturer often and happily changes the prices. This is our last status, as it is currently (mid-April 2021) in the Tesla configurator: 54,990 euros for the performance version without extras, 49,990 euros for "Long Range" with all-wheel drive and 39,990 euros for the "Standard Plus" with Rear wheel drive.

That's fair if you have the Polestar 2 uses for comparison. He's been priced recently between 41,930 and a good 58,000 euros, but is not as strong as the Model 3. With a view to the state environmental bonus, one should take a look at the basic model. 448 km range, 225 km / h top, 18-inch aluminum. That’s enough.

One more word about the guarantees: 4 years up to 80,000 km on the vehicle. And 8 years on the battery, limited to 160,000 km for the standard battery (58 kWh) and 192,000 km for the long-range battery (82 kWh).

Conclusion: 8.5 / 10

The Tesla Model 3 is currently one of the best electric cars on the market, but it's not a miracle car. The comparison to Apple is obvious: At first the iPhone was a unique highlight there, but now all the others also offer smartphones.

Over the course of its years, the Model 3 and Tesla have slowly lost their "uniqueness" and the competition is catching up. However, we still see a lead in battery and charging technology. There are deductions for operation via the mega display.

It remains to be seen whether it has to be the strongest Model 3. We find the basic model much more attractive for the wallet when it comes to the equivalent. Just as a side note: The top version of the VW ID.3 with 77 kWh battery is more expensive.

Picture gallery: Tesla Model 3 Performance (2021) in the test

Tesla Model 3 Performance (2021) in the test: The other three-model

Picture by: Fabian Grass

Tesla Model 3 Performance (2021)

engine Induction motor in front; Permanent magnet synchronous motor at the rear

power 158 kW (215 PS) front; 219 kW (298 hp) in the rear

Max. Torque 240 Nm front; 420 Nm rear

drive All-wheel drive

Empty weight 1,847 kg

Top speed 261 km / h

Acceleration 0-100 km / h 3.3 sec.

Electric range 567 km (WLTP)

length 4,694 mm

broad 1,933 mm

height 1,443 mm

Ground clearance 14 cm

Trunk volume 542 liters

battery 82 kWh

Base price 54,990 euros

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