Tesla Model 3 Performance Crushes Fossil BMW M3 Around Race Track


Published on April 25th, 2019 | by Dr. Maximilian Holland

April 25th, 2019 by  

Top Gear magazine has track tested the Tesla Model 3 Performance head to head against fossil fans’ favorite sports saloon, the BMW M3. The track times were conducted on the 2 mile Thunderhill Raceway Park West circuit, with the Tesla coming in a significant 2 seconds ahead of the (more expensive) BMW. Fossils must now accept all-round inferiority in the performance realm.

Tesla Model 3 Track Mode / Tesla

Top Gear Magazine‘s head-to-head also found — unsurprisingly — that the Tesla beat the BMW on pure acceleration, as well as on their 0–100–0 mph acceleration-and-braking tests. It’s worth noting also that the price of the Tesla came in at more than a thousand dollars below that of the BMW M3.

A lead of almost 2 seconds on a 2 mile track (with lap times around 85 seconds in total) is significant. Both vehicles were stock without modifications, and were lapped by the same driver.

On the feel of the two vehicles around the track, the testers found that for the BMW, compared to the Tesla:

“when you floor it, the throttle response is glacial by comparison, and the accompanying racket isn’t quite as glorious as you remember — more of a distraction from listening to what the tyres are doing and getting on with the business of going fast.”

They also noted the superiority of the Tesla’s ride for normal daily driving, away from the track:

“Where the BMW’s comfort and refinement is conceded quite a bit to unlock its track potential, the Tesla is utterly uncompromised…”

Tesla Model 3 Track Mode / Tesla

What does it all mean?

The BMW M3 was born in 1986, and has been continuously developed and improved by BMW’s motor sport division ever since (over 3 decades now). It has long been viewed as offering the pinnacle of mid-sized sports sedan performance.

The Tesla Model 3 is the first full electric mid-sized sedan ever mass produced by any automaker, and the platform was developed for efficiency, zero emissions, autonomy, and technology (amongst other things), not primarily for performance.

The very first iteration of an electric mid-sized sedan to have a performance option beating out the longstanding stalwart of fossil fueled sports sedans … does not bode well for the old tech. After all, the fossil technology has already benefited from over a century of refinements and improvements. If we look 5 or 10 years down the road, what refinements and improvements will EV technology gain, to further the performance lead over fossils?

We’ve already seen battery electrics beat out fossils at the Pikes Peak hill climb (outright record), on the Nürburgring Nordschleife (production cars record), and at other racetracks. In each case, these are just the first tentative generations of full electric sports cars, with huge scope for further improvements.

On public roads, where noise, emissions and other regulations are in effect, and powertrains have to be reliable enough for a lifetime of real-world use, fossil vehicles stand no chance of keeping up with electrics. No wonder the next generation of high-performance hypercars are turning to electric powertrains. The 2020 Tesla Roadster will be joined by the (much more expensive) Rimac Concept 2 and Pininfarina Battista, amongst others.

The future’s clearly electric, despite the retro nostalgia of the pistonheads. If you are simply into blistering track performance and outright record lap times, and won’t miss the toxic fumes, noise, and climate emissions, there’s everything to be excited about. The evolution of electrics will push the performance bar previously set by fossils much, much higher.

Top Gear has promised to release a video to accompany the magazine article, so keep an eye on their YouTube channel for it in the coming days. 


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About the Author

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona.

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