Tesla’s Model 3 Rattles European Fast Car Hierarchy

Let me explain something you're not going to believe, but trust me on this. After having driven and tested perhaps 7,000 vehicles, sometimes I don't need to drive very far to get the idea.

Remember that freeway onramp we "missed" before Nelson took the wheel? It's a sweet 700-foot short-chute that whips into a right-hander I know very well, and I wasn't going to simply wait for the next freeway entry. "Hang on," I'd told everybody, whipping a U-turn and stamping the accelerator. Even with four aboard, the Model 3 DMP surged ahead so startlingly that it stopped conversation. Except maybe for an uttered "Oh my god." I braked pretty hard and arched up the on-ramp toward the freeway. It was a flourish more akin to swiping a navigation route on your phone than driving a car on the actual road. Carol might have been upside down by the time I backed off.

In maybe 120 wheel revolutions, a high-performance hierarchy has been rattled. The European marques perennially atop the sport sedan podium are about to have trapdoors release beneath them. Although nothing has fundamentally changed with the car's steering or suspension (besides an imperceptible but CG-lowering 5-10mm drop in ride height), the dual motor and all-wheel drive give the compact Tesla a tensed, hair-trigger potency for leaping ahead or around whatever's in the way. It's pure jungle cat. Our testing to come will explore whether its lighter Brembo brakes stop better and how much the now in-house vehicle control software lets Tesla directly tune the car's handling poise (without a supplier interpreting it). A track mode, which is still in development, dials up regenerative braking to lessen heat load on the friction brakes.

Yea... only P for me; that is after I put all three kids through private school and college. But seriously, Elon has put the gas motor heads to sleep with this 0-60 in 3.5 beast! I’m betting he gets it easily in under 2.9 if he really wanted to.

Italian vs. German vs. American Super Compacts

What we do see is added complexity on an Italian car. That makes us nervous. We happily awarded the Giulia first place, experiencing no reliability issues at all with the two test cars we abused. Then, a few weeks later, a different Giulia died in traffic, leaving one of our senior staffers blocking the road until the flatbed arrived. And then yet another test car showed off its Italian heritage by stalling randomly during a photo shoot.

Apparently this Giulia might live up to Alfa’s love-it-but-don’t-trust-it reputation after all. Or it could just be early-build teething problems from an all-new platform. We still think it’s the best compact sport sedan you can buy, even if it winds up breaking your heart. Better to have loved and been towed home than to have never loved at all.

Maybe I'm getting old but the term over engineered keeps coming to mind. You're paying $65,000 - $89,000 for a car and yet the maintenance you're to expect is not only outrageously expensive but frequent. Like I said, maybe it's me, but how does Honda, Toyota and Nissan do it on their high performance vehicles with so much less required maintenance?