This Is What a Tesla Model 3 Can Do On-Track With Performance Upgrades
The most effective modification is something you can do to any car.
We've all heard about Tesla's amazing drag times. Electric cars have inherently superior acceleration to internal combustion engines thanks to their flat torque curve starting from a dead stop. Electric cars will win the holeshot every time. But not everyone is impressed.
Toronto Motorsports Park may not be the Nordschleife, but it was where the YouTube channel Speed Academy got the opportunity to test what might be the first modified Tesla Model 3 to attack a road course.
Speed Academy tried the car in three configurations. First, the car was bone stock, aside from Ferodo DS2500 brake pads and RBF 660 brake fluid so that the brakes wouldn't instantly die under hard track use. Even the original economy-tuned Michelin tires were used. Stability control, which can not be turned off in stock form, was extremely invasive, struggling to keep the car away from anywhere near its performance limits and slowing it down. Even with the upgrades, braking was "okay-ish," and still not quite up to snuff for the 4,072-pound car under track conditions. Fast turns caused significant body roll and excessive understeer, with stability control once again ruining all the fun.
The first improvement they made was to switch out those stock economy tires for Advan RG2 wheels wrapped in Bridgestone RE71R performance tires. Speeds were significantly increased but despite the Model 3's rigid chassis, understeer was the name of the game. Although it was possible to enter corners at higher speeds, the invasive stability control killed acceleration on the way out of the turn. The better tires helped, but the Model 3 was still holding itself back and was frustrating to drive, particularly knowing there was much more potential there.
To address this, Mountainpass Performance designed suspension and brake kits to improve the Model 3's performance. The stock brake calipers are reused, but larger rotors are added, as well as brackets to relocate the stock calipers to work with them. Shocks and springs are also replaced, as well as special camber and toe arms to make the rear alignment more adjustable. The car was also reprogrammed to make stability control much less invasive.
These parts transform the Model 3 into a much better performer. Its stiff chassis can be much better appreciated with a suspension designed to take advantage of it at speed. The brakes feel great and do not fade. The car still tends toward understeer, partly because the front tires are only 245 millimeters wide instead of the rear's 275 mm, and partly because of the Mountainpass Performance front suspension not allowing camber adjustment, which is important to maximize cornering grip. But still, the Model 3 becomes much more fun to drive with these modifications, and lap times do decrease.
But how much? In stock form (with brake pad upgrades) the car turned a 1:29.0 lap. Tires alone improved this to 1:24.3, and the full package dropped the time to 1:21.7. For comparison, the Canadian Sport Compact Series track record for Toronto Motorsports Park is 1:20.821 for its Street Front-Wheel-Drive class, less than a second faster than this Model 3. But it's interesting that tires, alone, made even more of an improvement to the car's performance than all of the other parts combined. This reflects my own experience with my Subaru BRZ after replacing its original Michelin Primacy HP "Prius tires" with Michelin Pilot Super Sports.
With the continuing understeer problem, there's still a lot of untapped potential left in this car. Mountainpass Performance is hoping that with more front tire width and camber improvements a lap below 1:20 may be possible.