Tesla Model 3 with bolt-on parts matches Porsche 911 GT2 RS record at Buttonwillow

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Elon Musk wasn’t kidding when he said 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 is nothing to sneeze at. Its top-of-the-line version, the Model 3 Performance, goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds, allowing it to match even high-end sports cars over the quarter mile.

But track driving is a whole different animal compared to honest straight-line drag racing. When it comes to track driving, Tesla’s reputation still isn’t quite as established. The Model S Plaid may have set a decent record on the Nurburgring, but for some car enthusiasts, Teslas are still vehicles that can’t match the best closed-course internal combustion cars. It’s a perception that Unplugged Performance has been tackling for years now, with great success.

Credit: unplugged performance

Unplugged Performance has been tuning Teslas for years, and the company has had its fair share of wins. Last year his Model S Plaid won the show class at Pikes Peak, and in 2014 his custom Model S was the first Tesla ever shown at the SEMA Show. With the Model 3, Unplugged’s tuning work continued, culminating in its bolt-on Ascension-R package, which essentially transforms the entry-level Tesla into a performance trail weapon. How capable, one might ask? At a recent race at Buttonwillow, the Model 3 with bolt-on parts completed a lap in 1.49.90.

That number may sound impressive, but it’s downright shocking when put into perspective as it puts the Unplugged Model 3’s lap time in the same ballpark as the formidable Porsche 911 GT2 RS and GT3 RS. A look at the fastest laps recorded at Buttonwillow reveals that the GT2 RS has a record of 1:50.42 around the track. It should be noted that the Porsche 911 GT2 RS is arguably one of Porsche’s best cars to date, having conquered the Nurburgring in 6:43.30, far faster than the Model S Plaid’s 7:35.579 record.

So does that mean Unplugged’s Model 3 is better than Porsche’s closed-course track monster? Unplugged CEO Ben Schaffer notes that an apples-to-apples comparison between the lap times of the two vehicles cannot really be made since the Unplugged Model 3 and the Porsche 911 GT2 RS are such different vehicles. The Model 3 Ascension-R is essentially Tesla’s same entry-level sedan with parts bolted on, and even with its full suite of modifications, it’s still a fraction of the cost of the GT2 RS. The GT2 RS is also designed specifically for the track, and its Nurburgring records show it.

“So is our 1:49.90 lap apples to apples with a 911 GT2 RS final lap of 1:50.42? Of course not. It can’t be summed up that simply. Valid arguments can be found on both sides The crazy thing though, and our goal with this project is that a debate can arise comparing a Tesla Model 3 with our bolts on versus the ultimate track-focused weapon of Porsche, the $400,000 price tag + 991,911 GT2 RS Debate may arise because if you put both on track and drive them both flat out, you have an improbable, close race!, says Schaffer.

It’s hard not to pay tribute to Unplugged Performance for their work on the Model 3. As the tuning house’s CEO noted, the initial goal of the Model 3 Ascension-R program was to get closer to the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, a vehicle that sits under the GT2 RS. Such a target was already considered insane, but it certainly isn’t now.

Watch Unplugged Performance’s Tesla Model 3 take a hot lap around Buttonwillow in the video below.

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Tesla Model 3 with bolt-on parts matches Porsche 911 GT2 RS record at Buttonwillow






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