The Tesla Model 3 range is updated in the 2021 edition with many small changes that correct many defects present in previous versions. The price lists are also filed downwards, to the point also for the Performance version to be able to benefit from the state eco-bonus. How does the most powerful and fastest of the Tesla Model 3 behave?
Model 3 Performance now benefits from the Ecobonus
In 2021 Tesla Model 3 is renewed, introducing some interesting changes that do not transform its characteristics and soul but which correct some defects of the previous generation, meeting the many customer requests. In addition to this, the 2021 model brings a reduction in price lists, to the point of including Model 3 Performance within the maximum cost ceiling to access the national Ecobonus with a direct discount on the purchase price. The upper cost limit of the vehicle to access the state incentive is €49.999 + VAT: Tesla Model 3 Performance costs €49.992 + VAT in the standard set-up, so be careful not to add even the smallest optional or you will lose the discount of the Ecobonus.
[HWUVIDEO="3067"]Tesla Model 3 Performance 2021[/HWUVIDEO]
Let's compare the basic characteristics of the 3 Tesla Model 3 models, pitting the 2021 range against the 2020 range:
|Tesla Model 3|| Performance |
|Long Range |
|St. Range Plus |
| Performance |
|Long Range |
|St. Range Plus |
|0-100km / h||3,3s||4,4s||5,6s||3,4s||4,6s||5,6s|
Seen from the outside, the Performance version is characterized by the small rear wing, the red brake calipers and the 20-inch diameter rims. Under the body is an 82kWh battery and two motors, one for each axle, with increased performance: from 0 to 100 in 3,3 seconds and a top speed of 261km/h.
If the majority of customers, budget permitting, turn to the first two versions of Model 3, the Performance version is designed for the more sporty and passionate user. In addition to superior performance, this Model 3 offers driving handling more geared towards sportiness: lowered suspension, greater possibilities for user intervention on the dynamic behavior of the vehicle, more performing tires and brakes. A vehicle that requires just over 14 seconds from zero to 200km/h but which at the same time, thanks to the power of the electric motor, can accompany us noiselessly and with the utmost possible fluidity on the way from home to work.
What's new on the outside of the 2021 model
If the external structure of Model 3 2021 remains unchanged, some details have been modified with the new evolution. The most evident is the abandonment of the chrome, present in the previous models to surround the windows, in the door handles and in the supports of the rear-view mirrors. Now these elements are matt black, for a very different final result that favors superior cleanliness of the lines. The aesthetic impact is obviously a matter of taste even if for many the black finish is preferable to the chrome one, with the only exception of the metallic black bodywork with which the lack of definite contrast is not so appreciable. But as always "de gustibus non est disputandum" as the Latins remind us: preferences are personal and remain so.
Tesla has modified the rims of all the 3 Model 2021 versions, keeping the diameters unchanged: for the Performance declination we find the 20-inch diameter Uberturbine ones, with well-lowered 235/35 tires compared to the 245/45 ones on the 18-inch rims of the Standard Range Plus and Long Range versions, models that can however mount 19-inch wheels with 245/40 tires as an option.
One of the most recognized limits of Tesla vehicles, compared with the production of other manufacturers, is linked to the quality of the assemblies and mechanical construction. Tesla has undoubtedly improved in this respect over the years, although there is still work to be done. The paint finish, for example, is very nice but the impression is that of a certain fragility: in the example used in this analysis, for example, the paint was scratched at the height of the passenger handle despite not even 3.000km of total mileage .
The sheet metal couplings are no longer what we would define as rough as they used to be, but there is still a long way to go before reaching the typical standards of European premium brands. Overall, however, the overall quality perceived on the outside is very good and you can see the steps forward made by Tesla on this which has historically always been its weak point.
Tesla Model 3 2021: the news inside
Upon entering the car, other novelties and improvements of the 2021 model stand out: the central console has radically changed, still dominated by the 15-inch screen with which you can access all the car's functions. The door that hid the smartphones from view, which can be recharged by induction, has disappeared, while the finish is no longer glossy as before but opaque: goodbye to fingerprints and greater usability of this area, in which nothing changes in terms of usable space .
Finding the right driving position takes just a few moments: the adjustments are electric and it is possible to memorize your personal profile, so that all the settings are recalled when you get behind the wheel. From the inside, a further novelty of the 2021 model is also appreciated: the windows are double-layered to better isolate from external noise. The sun visors are now magnetic and orientate much easier, while the two wheels on the steering wheel are now metal. These wheels, together with the joysticks on which they are mounted, allow you to interact with many vehicle functions: in Model 3 these, together with the large touch screen and the two levers mounted on the sides of the steering wheel, allow the driver to interact with the various vehicle functionality.
Tesla Model 3 is comfortable for 4 adults, with the rear bench well shaped on the sides. The sloping roof does not help taller passengers, who will find themselves better in front, while the fifth occupant has less space available than the others but having no transmission tunnel benefits from ample room for the feet. In this area we also find the two vents for rear ventilation, under which there are two USB Type-C ports for recharging smartphones and mobile devices.
Luggage space? Front and back
We get out of the car and see how much space is available for suitcases. The rear compartment is now electrically actuated to open and close, controlled with the App or with the central screen: it is a novelty of the 2021 model. The compartment is not very developed in height but allows you to easily accommodate 7 cabin trolleys as well as leaving space for some bags and backpacks. If we also use the compartment in the back, where the charging cables are placed, we gain even more space: we can accommodate an additional cabin trolley together with a few small bags. The front frunk is slightly smaller than the previous model and loses the hooks to fix bags and objects: also in this case we can accommodate a trolley with a little more space available.
The Frunk is smaller for a valid reason: in Model 3 2021 Tesla introduced the heat pump, obtaining a more efficient behavior of the passenger compartment heating system which leads to a reduction in consumption. The system works very well and is quick to bring the interior of the vehicle to the desired temperature.
The absence of transmission and gearbox tunnels has allowed Tesla to install a central part of the console, between the two front seats, which in fact turns out to be a large glove compartment. Not only is it designed to house two telephones, both rechargeable by induction, but it offers two large compartments that develop in a particular way in depth and in which the many objects that you usually have in your vehicle can find a place. There is an additional compartment in the dashboard, the opening of which is controlled by the touch screen, while both in front and behind the doors they are equipped with large compartments for a bottle of water and other objects. In the 2021 model, the center console has a matte finish, abandoning the glossy one of previous versions: no more fingerprints left on these surfaces, a recurring criticism of Model 3 owners.
The heart: a central 15-inch screen
The heart of our Model 3 Performance is the central screen, the large 15-inch tablet from which you can control all the vehicle's functions. There are only two steering wheel stalks, one for the turn signals – high beam – windscreen wiper and the other to set the gear and enable the autopilot. No other buttons, apart from the hazard positioned above the rear-view mirror: one is left a little disoriented at the beginning but one easily gets used to this way of using the vehicle which is very different from the one centered on buttons and levers. Or at least, I quickly got used to this new approach: the lack of physical keys and switches makes for cleaner lines but can make those who appreciate the tactile feedback with the controls turn up their noses.
From the screen it is possible to manage the whole infotainment part: from what is present in our smartphone to the possibility of configuring our Spotify user, up to DAB radio and the TuneIn App. There are also some entertainment options for when you stop to recharge at the Supercharger, among which the Netflix client certainly stands out. When also Prime Video and other streaming systems?
From the screen you also have access to the basic control functions of the steering wheel and exterior mirrors: they are adjusted through a movement of one of the two small joysticks on the steering wheel. The integrated navigator interfaces preferentially with the Tesla Supercharger network, providing clear indications not only of how to reach these charging points but also of what the remaining autonomy will be once you arrive at the Supercharger station.
Tesla does not implement support for Apple CarPlay or Google Android Car: the connection with your phone is via Bluetooth interface. The system is equipped with Premium Connectivity, i.e. a SIM that manages web data traffic to and from the car; in the Long Range and Performance versions it is supplied with a 1-year subscription, which can be subsequently renewed for a monthly cost of €10. It is possibly possible to use the connectivity of your mobile phone in teethering, which however requires that the phone is enabled for the purpose and above all that it is fixed in the car.
The Tesla App allows you to remotely monitor the status of our vehicle, as well as perform some practical functions such as opening the front and rear doors (the latter, as reported, lifts and closes automatically, new for the 2021 version). Among the interesting functions we point out the sentinel mode, with which suspicious behavior near the car is monitored by the external cameras, such as someone trying to see the inside or trying in some way to open the doors. Registrations require the installation of a USB Type-A key in the dedicated predisposition in the front cockpit between the two seats.
With the App installed, our smartphone will act as an electronic key to open the car, as well as to lock it when we move away. We can, if desired, operate the lights as a flash or send a horn blow so as to remove anyone who has come too close to the vehicle.
It accelerates like a Supercar, but without the noise
Tesla Model 3 Performance is the most powerful version of the little one from Tesla but already with Model 3 Long Range you certainly didn't feel the lack of power in everyday driving. Thanks to an acceleration from o to 100 declared in 3,3 seconds, Model 3 Performance allows you to obtain acceleration and recovery values that in fact equate it to a supercar. This is, after all, one of the characteristics of electric vehicles, highlighted here by the sporty nature of the Tesla Model 3 Performance which makes accessible performances for which, with internal combustion engines, it is necessary to spend far more significant sums.
We performed some acceleration tests with Model 3 Performance, obtaining data that not only highlights how capable this vehicle is but represents a starting point in the database of electric vehicles that we will collect with our road tests.
| acceleration |
|Tesla Model 3 |
|0-60Km / h||1,84s|
|0-100Km / h||3,37s|
|40-70Km / h||1s|
|50-90Km / h||1,48s|
|60-110Km / h||2,22s|
Having read these data once, one may think that they are wrong, as they are too low: this is not the case, however, as Model 3 Performance is really capable of producing these results. The four-wheel drive and the electronics that govern the vehicle's traction and stability also make it very simple to obtain these values: it is only necessary to press the accelerator pedal all the way down and keep it in that position to see the speed increase dramatically. We point out that in just over 14 seconds the car accelerates from zero up to 200 km/h, while the 400 meters from standstill (the well-known quarter mile of drag racing) is completed in 11,6 seconds.
Autonomy and Tesla Supercharger
Tesla declares a range of 567km in the WLTP cycle for Model 3 Performance, only slightly less than the 580km of the Long Range model and well over the 448km of the Standard Range Plus (however equipped with 50kWh batteries against the higher values of the other two versions) : the transition to the 2021 version has led to an increase in the maximum declared autonomy for all versions.
In our test on a mixed route (extra-urban, state road, motorway and urban centre) of 100km we recorded a consumption of around 15,6 kWh per 100km, which corresponds to an effective range of well over 450km: we are over 80% compared to that declared, a value in line with the average range of electric vehicles on routes of this type. As a rule for the autonomy of all electric vehicles, even with Model 3 the best performance is obtained by maintaining a speed between 110Km/h and 120 Km/h when traveling on the motorway: going further the car proceeds quickly and safely but the impact on autonomy is far more substantial.
Recharging takes place through a traditional CCS2 connector, with which it is possible to interface with alternating current columns as well as with fast direct current ones (including Superchargers, of course). In alternating current Tesla Model 3 operates up to a maximum of 11Kw, while in direct current we can reach 250Kw as a maximum with the latest generation V3 Superchargers. The complete recharge therefore requires about 1 hour arriving with the battery almost completely discharged and reaching 100%, while stopping at 80% the time is considerably reduced.
Driving it is a pleasure and with Track Mode it's fun
When I tested the Model 3 Long Range last summer, I was amazed by the sort of double soul of that vehicle, capable of taking us to our destination in silence and in utmost tranquillity, as well as unsheathing its claws when we ask for the power it is capable of. In the Performance version the claws scratch even more: zero to 100 in just over 3 seconds is in fact within everyone's reach, you just need to sink the accelerator and actually have the courage not to lift your foot. No skidding, no gear changes as the vehicle picks up speed in a way that has hardly been experienced before.
The changes to the set-up make this car more reactive and stiffer than the Long Range model, losing something in terms of comfort: however, this penalty in comfort is limited overall and is part of what a sports enthusiast is willing to give up in such a vehicle. This is a real weapon available to the driver who, unlike typical sports cars, can take on a sly soul when he wants. Driving it, especially in urban centres, we will meet the gaze of pedestrians who will be attracted not by the noise and imagined performance, but by the futuristic design and the substantial aesthetic difference compared to the vehicles on the market today.
One of the main differences between Model 3 Performance compared to the other versions concerns the Track Mode: by enabling this function, the vehicle is prepared for maximum performance, allowing you to configure the level of intervention of the traction control and to distribute traction up to 100% on one of the two axes, depending on our preferences. In this way Model 3 Performance becomes rear-wheel drive, losing the thrust of the front engine but at the same time eliminating all electronic bridles. The consequence: power oversteers and the possibility of drifting, obviously provided you are capable of it and in the right environment. All very fun, although certainly not something we will use in almost all ordinary driving conditions.
At present, Tesla does not allow Track Mode to be enabled with other versions of Model 3, relegating this functionality to the Performance version only; unlikely that this will change in the future with a software update, not for technical problems but for the desire to better segment the market offer so as to leave this technical peculiarity only to the Performance model designed for sportier customers.
Except for a higher overall stiffness, the result of the 35 sidewall tires and the lowered set-up, Model 3 Performance behaves in everyday driving like the Long Range model: driving "at the throttle" and with maximum fluidity is the mode that we are going to adopt for most of our daily journey is extremely intuitive.
The electric power supply makes it possible to ride without jerks, very smooth and fluid. When the need arises for a little more vivacity, such as when overtaking or on a more driven stretch of road, the power of Model 3 Performance is discharged in extreme safety with the electronics carefully controlling the vehicle reactions. The intervention of the regenerative braking is decidedly intense, being able to completely stop the movement of the vehicle without touching the brakes. This feature makes possible the so-called "single-pedal driving", with which one advances and slows down in almost all conditions of use simply by modulating the intervention on the accelerator and acting on the brakes only when the powerful effect of regenerative braking is not it is sufficient to stop the march in the spaces available.
One of the accessories that can be purchased with Tesla Model 3 is the advanced level Autopilot, thanks to which the basic autopilot functions are expanded allowing automatic management of the motorway junction, overtaking of slower cars and automatic lane changes during driving on the highway. The system proves to be very fluid to use and represents a valid aid when driving on the motorway: at the moment it is only this type of driving scenario that allows Advanced Autopilot to be enabled, while on other types of roads it is possible to use the function autopilot with automatic acceleration, braking and steering based on the type of road and the presence of other vehicles.
There are still some shortcomings, but Model 3 keeps getting better
Tesla Model 3 is not cheap, even if the price of all versions has been reduced with the 2021 models. The innovations have corrected some of the defects of the previous versions, maintaining what we had already seen previously. The assembly seems to improve over time but there is room for further intervention to get even closer to the high standards of European manufacturers. The standard white paint, offered at no extra charge, is very beautiful but the impression is that it is a little too delicate: some signs, in the model we tested, were already present even after less than 3.000 km traveled by the car.
However, all this is forgiven by thinking about the performance that Model 3 2021 makes available. This is an electric vehicle which, thanks to its integration with the Tesla ecosystem, can really become the only family car for a large number of people. If you let yourself be guided by passion and impulsiveness, it is difficult not to think seriously about the Performance model and its peculiarities, now that it is possible to buy it benefiting from the Ecobonus. If you think about it more rationally, however, the Long Range version remains the one that offers the best overall balance between range, power, driving characteristics and purchase cost.
[HWUVIDEO="3067"]Tesla Model 3 Performance 2021[/HWUVIDEO]
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