The BMW M3 may have met its all-electric match

Elon Musk announced some time back that the performance version of the Tesla Model 3 would cost about the same as a BMW M3, but that it would be around 15 percent quicker around a track than the German car. Well, the time has finally come to put that claim to the test and see if the much-beloved M3 is really slower than the Tesla.

Tesla Model 3 Performance vs. BMW M3 Video

TopGear has pitted the two against each other in a series of track-based challenges whose conclusion is too obvious not to state outright: the Tesla Model 3 Performance is quicker than the M3 in pretty much any situation, and it only loses out to the BMW in one of the four tests. The Tesla has no problem out-accelerating it off the line, accelerating to 100 mph (160 km/h) and then back to naught again, or doing a full lap of the track quicker.

The only area where the BMW M3 wins out is in the drift off where its more adjustable chassis and rear-wheel drive help it go around corners sideways much better than the all-wheel-drive Tesla could muster. But, then again, this particular test is relevant only to a minute percentage of those watching (those who want their car to go sideways better than the other guy’s), so we could say that challenge was thrown in there so that the Tesla didn’t humiliate the BMW with zero points under its belt.

Is a Tesla Model 3 Performance faster around a track than a BMW M3?
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Interestingly, during the hot lap, the driver and host of the video points out that the BMW’s loud engine drowns out the sound of tire squeal under cornering. In the Model 3, it is easy to know which tire has lost grip because you hear that specific tire start squealing and you can adjust accordingly - it is a new way to think about car handling where the fact that there is no engine sound allows the driver to focus more on just getting the car around corners as quickly and efficiently as possible.

But why did the Tesla beat the BMW in each and every category? Well, let’s break it down - in terms of power, the Model 3 Performance has more power than the M3 (444 horsepower versus 425 horsepower), and even though it’s nearly 660 pounds (300 kilograms) heavier, its extra torque (all of which is accessed instantly) and all-wheel-drive traction help it pull away in pretty much any situation, especially at lower speeds.

Is a Tesla Model 3 Performance faster around a track than a BMW M3?
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The Tesla Model 3 also has a low center of gravity, and it also doesn’t have to contend with shifting gears. So, it’s this combination of a good handling coupled with surprisingly precise steering, the instant power delivery, extra traction provided by all-wheel drive, and the lack of noise that allows the driver to focus more on what the car (and not the car’s engine) is doing that makes the Model 3 Performance a real bona fide all-electric M3 killer. Now those looking to buy an M3 might reconsider their choice, especially since the Tesla actually slightly undercuts the BMW in terms of starting price.

Further reading

2018 Tesla Model 3 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3.

2015 BMW M3 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 BMW M3.

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