Hybrids & Electrics

Which Tesla Model Truly Offers the Most Performance?

There’s no denying EVs’ performance capabilities, least of all ones made by Tesla. The Model 3, for instance, can out-drag a 707-hp Charger Hellcat. And the Tesla Model S is one of the few cars which can honestly see the 0-60 times the publications post. But Tesla now offers Performance variants of all its models, even the Model X and Model Y crossovers. So, which is the fastest? YouTube team Throttle House wanted to find out.

The 2021 Tesla Performance lineup updates

For 2021, the Tesla Model S receives more than just additional range, Motor Trend reports. It’s one of several Teslas that’s receiving a performance boost.

Metallic gray 2020 Tesla Model S Long Range Plus driving around a mountain road
2020 Tesla Model S Long Range Plus | Car and Driver via Instagram

The $94,990 2021 Tesla Model S Performance doesn’t appear to make more power and torque than the 2020 model, Car and Driver reports. However, 778 hp and 841 lb-ft from dual electric motors aren’t exactly a pittance. But Tesla claims the top-shelf Model S can do 0-60 in 2.3 seconds, down 0.1 seconds from the 2020 model.

That’s likely due to its new ‘Cheetah Mode,’ Car and Driver reports. When activated, it stiffens the Tesla Model S’ front suspension, which improves rear weight transfer. It’s similar to how the Dodge Challenger Super Stock’s front springs are stiffer than its rear ones. Also, the Cheetah Mode reportedly increases peak power and improves the EV’s thermal protection. In layman’s terms, the Model S Performance can now launch hard repeatedly, rather than just once.

Tesla Model X
Tesla Model X | Tesla

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It’s a similar story with the $99,990 2021 Tesla Model X Performance. It too now comes with Cheetah Mode. And, like the Model S, its dual electric motors also produce 778 hp and 841 lb-ft, GoodCarBadCar reports. As a result, the electric crossover now sprints from 0-60 in 2.6 seconds, 0.1 seconds faster than before.

How the Model 3 and Model Y Performance compare

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Neither the Tesla Model 3 or Model Y Performance trims offer Cheetah Mode. The $59,990 Model Y Performance is less powerful than the Model S or X, MT reports. It ‘only’ makes 456 hp and 497 lb-ft. However, it’s noticeably lighter than the Model X. On Throttle House’s scale, the Model X Performance comes in at 5531 pounds. The Model Y is about 1100 pounds lighter. Even so, its 0-60 time is slower, at 3.5 seconds.

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The $54,990 Model 3 Performance is slightly less powerful than the Model Y, Automobile reports. Its dual motors produce the same amount of torque, but just 450 hp. But it’s even lighter, with a curb weight of about 4000 pounds, Automobile reports. And thanks to a recent update, MT reports it can now go 0-60 in 3 seconds flat.

But, as Carwow demonstrated in its Lamborghini drag test, it’s always possible to mess up a start, even with launch control.

The Tesla Performance tests and results

The 2021 Tesla Performance lineup, with a black Model S in front of a white Model Y in front of a white Model 3 in front of a black Model X
2021 Tesla Performance lineup: from front to back, Model S, Model Y, Model 3, Model X | Throttle House via Instagram

Speaking of launch control, that’s one thing that Throttle House tested in its first comparison: a standing-start ¼-mile drag race. After that, to take Cheetah Mode and launch control out of the equation, the team ran a rolling ¼-mile drag race.

Rather unsurprisingly, the Tesla Model S Performance won both tests outright. With a 5003-lb curb weight, it’s not exactly the lightest. But it’s lighter than the Model X and has significantly more power than the Model 3 or Y. Incidentally, the Model Y came last in both races. It simply couldn’t overcome the power gap over the Model X, even with its weight advantage.

However, the Tesla Model 3 and Model X Performance EVs were basically neck-and-neck. The Model X only just caught the Model 3 in the last bit of the standing-start race. And in the rolling race, the latter finished barely ahead of the former.

How realistic are these results?

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In terms of 0-60 times and drag races, the standing start results aren’t necessarily reproducible in the real world. Although the Cheetah Mode update may have resolved some of the Tesla Model S’ performance degradation, it’s hard to imagine many owners deliberately activating it at a stoplight. And even then, depending on the battery’s state of charge, the EV may not launch as hard as possible.

That being said, the rolling race is intended to be a real-world performance comparison. No launch control, no powertrain prep, just power output, and AWD programming. So, if you’re wondering which Tesla offers the most performance, the answer is the Model S.

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