Elon Musk wasn’t kidding when he mentioned that Tesla doesn’t make slow cars. Case in point: the Model 3. The Model 3 may be the company’s entry-level car, but its performance isn’t to be underestimated. The Model 3 Performance shines first, from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds off bone stock, allowing it to match even high-end sports cars at the quarter-mile distance.
But track driving is an entirely different animal compared to drag racing on a straight line from honest to good. When it comes to driving tracking, Tesla’s reputation is still not solid. The Model S Plaid may have set a pretty good record on the Nürburgring, but for some car enthusiasts, Tesla are still vehicles that can’t match the best internal combustion cars on a closed circuit. This is a perception that Unplugged Performance has been hacking for years now, to much of the success.
Unplugged Performance has been tuning Teslas for years, and the company has seen its fair share of wins. Last year, its Model S Plaid won the showroom category at Pikes Peak, and in 2014, its custom Model S was the first Tesla ever shown at a SEMA show. With the Model 3, the work of Unplugged tuning continued, culminating in the bolt-on Ascension-R package, which essentially turns an entry-level Tesla into a capable track weapon. How can one ask? While recently running at Buttonwillow, the Model 3 with bolt-on parts completed a course at 1.49.90.
This number might sound impressive, but it’s quite shocking when one puts it into perspective as it puts the Unplugged’s Model 3 lap time in the same ballpark as the Porsche 911 GT2 RS and GT3 RS. A look at Buttonwillow’s fastest laps reveals that the GT2 RS has a record of 1:50.42 around the track. It’s worth noting that the Porsche 911 GT2 RS is one of the best Porsche cars to date, having conquered the Nürburgring in 6:43.30, much faster than the Model S Plaid’s record of 7:35.579.
So does that mean Unplugged’s Model 3 is better than a closed circuit Porsche beast? Ben Schaffer, CEO of Unplugged, notes that it’s not possible to make an apple-to-apple comparison between the two cars’ lap times because the Unplugged Model 3 and the Porsche 911 GT2 RS are two of these different vehicles. The Model 3 Ascension-R is essentially the same as Tesla’s entry-level sedan with bolt-on parts, and even with the full suite of modifications, it’s still a fraction of the cost of the GT2 RS. The GT2 RS was also built specifically for the track, and its records at the Nürburgring show it.
“So, is our apple 1:49.90 an apple with the latest spec 911 GT2 RS, a lap 1:50.42? Of course not. It can’t be summed up simply. The arguments can be valid on both sides. But the crazy thing, our point with this is The project is that a debate can be made comparing the Tesla Model 3 with our bolts against the ultimate track-focused weapon from Porsche, the $400,000 US 991911 GT2 RS The debate could be because if you put both on the right track and drive them off, you’d have An improbable and close race!” Schafer said.
It’s hard not to give credit to Unplugged Performance for its work on the Model 3. As the auto tuning company’s CEO noted, the Model 3 Ascension-R’s initial goal was to get close to the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, a car that slots under the GT2 RS. Such a goal was already considered crazy, but it definitely doesn’t feel that way now.
Watch the Tesla Model 3 from Unplugged Performance run a hot lap around Buttonwillow in the video below.
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