The first reviews of the Tesla Model 3 Performance are in, and they are positive—even occasionally glowing.
Tesla has trickled out cars for review to a handful of outlets so far, including the The Wall Street Journal (and its affiliated website, Market Watch), CNET, CleanTechnica, Motor Trend, and Autoweek.
Reviewers say that in most circumstances the Performance version of the Model 3 feels like any other Model 3, which they note is mainly a good thing.
All note the big difference in the car's acceleration, which blasts drivers from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds compared the standard Model 3's 5.1 seconds.
Reviewers called the acceleration, "magnificent," "thrilling," and "impressing the heck out of me."
"Even with four aboard, the Model 3 surged ahead so startlingly that it stopped conversation. Except maybe for an uttered 'Oh my god.'" wrote Kim Reynolds of Motor Trend.
2018 Tesla Model 3
Dan Neil of The Wall Street Journal notes that the Model 3 Performance delivers, "corner-exiting acceleration that will leave average BMW M4s with a soft auf Wiedersehen." And the BMW M4 is known to be no slouch.
When it comes to handling, Mark Vaughn of AutoWeek says "body roll is firmly-controlled, front-rear weight balance is perfect, and the limits of grip are far beyond" what street driving tolerates. "No understeer, no oversteer, just straight, true tracking through the turns. Whee!"
Neil said the car has "uncanny stability," from its low-slung battery weight.
Opinions on the tires were less enthusiastic, with Neil calling for "more grip," and Kyle Field of CleanTechnica saying the car "begs for more traction."
Writing for Electrek, Seth Weintraub, who owns a Model S, said he prefers the ride the base Model 3's 18-inch wheels deliver to that of the 20's that come standard on the Performance version.
2018 Tesla Model 3
Reviewers were distinctly less enthusiastic about the Model 3's touchscreen, even though Tesla has made some improvements in its interface.
Neil called it "the broken flower pot on Mona Lisa’s head," and noted that it looks as if it's "suspended on a pylon in the middle of the dash."
Reynolds, who estimates he has tested 7,000 cars in his career, calls it "a very alien interface," like "coming across a landed UFO in a Kansas farm field and sitting down at its controls."
Tesla Model 3 all-wheel drive Performance rolls off a new assembly line in a temporary structure
Overall, the reviewers were impressed with the car, which Reynolds called a "pure jungle cat."
"The high-performance hierarchy has been rattled," he wrote. "European marques perennially atop the sport sedan podium are about to have trapdoors release beneath them."
Neil calls it "obviously representative of the next step in the history of autos," and perhaps sums up the sentiment of reviewers when he says, "Doubters will have to bring it."
The Model 3, of course, isn't all of Tesla. It is a critical product that CEO Elon Musk has described as make or break for the company. If these early reviews are any indication, Model 3 Performance buyers will likely be delighted with their cars—as long as Tesla can deliver enough of them in time.