Tesla Will Never Top BMW on the Track, and Here’s Why

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Since Elon Musk bragged on Twitter that the Tesla Model 3 would ‘beat anything in its class,’ so this Top Gear track battle was inevitable.

When Elon Musk isn’t on Twitter crying conspiracy or accusing people he doesn’t know of child sex-trafficking, he’s generally just making bold claims. Some of which have led to a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. However, the bold claim that led to this Top Gear video on the company’s official YouTube channel was just an old-school piece of braggadocio. Musk claimed the Model 3 costs around the same as a BMW M3 and would beat it, and any other competitor in their class, around the track.

Elon Musk BMW tweet

On paper, there is a case for the Model 3 having good performance. We’re more than aware of how fast a Model 3 is off the line due to its instant and copious amount of electrically generated torque. It’s a heavy car due to the batteries, but all that weight is low down in the chassis so it has a low center of gravity. When he claims better handling, that’s a particularly bold claim as the Tesla weighs as much as 4,072 lbs. It’s entirely possible he’s using grip and handling interchangeably though.

In the video, the Model 3 does indeed beat the outgoing M3 model around the track and to 60 mph and, although the M3 has a shorter stopping distance, gets to 60 mph and back to 0 mph faster. That’s a lot of credit to the Model 3 and will be surprising a lot of people. However, it’s worth pointing out a few things. First, this is the outgoing M3 and a new one is imminent. Second, the build quality of an M3 is levels above anything Tesla builds and doesn’t fall apart in the rain or require the CEO to promise fixes for the brakes and suspension. Third, BMW is more likely to still be around in a few years time to service your car in a timely manner.

BMW Vs Tesla on the track

It’s fun to have a dig at Tesla, but the real point to make here is in the handling and the driving experience of the two cars. Yes, we all like track test times but we don’t only buy cars based on that. It’s important, but the people that drive M3s tend to be driving enthusiasts, not track racers.

The BMW is a sharp car that doesn’t only rely on power to be fun to drive, and it looks like the presenter isn’t having much fun trying to manhandle the Tesla around the track. In the end, he also points out that, “If I had to have one last lap of that track, it would be in the BMW M3.” However, he also thinks the Tesla is more civilized on the road. But we think that’s not why you buy a BMW M3.

Ultimately, the Model 3 has shown itself to be fairly capable. Surprisingly capable, even. But, we’ll take a hard pass on the basis that it’s not an M3, and it’s a bit silly to pretend the two cars are real competition for each other when it comes to an enthusiast’s driving pleasure.

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Ian Wright has been a professional writer for two years and is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum, Jaguar Forum, and 6SpeedOnline, among other auto sites.

His obsession with cars started young and has left him stranded miles off-road in Land Rovers, being lost far from home in hot hatches, going sideways in rallycross cars, being propelled forward in supercars and, more sensibly, standing in fields staring at classic cars. His first job was as a mechanic and then trained as a driving instructor before going into media production.

The automotive itch never left though, and he realized writing about cars is his true calling. However, that doesn’t stop him from also hosting the Both Hand Drive podcast.

Ian can be reached at [email protected]

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