Tesla Model 3 Long Range or Performance? An In-Depth Buying Guide

As an industry leader in electric vehicles (EVs), Tesla‘s Model 3 has enjoyed runaway success as for its combination of technology, range and affordability. Within the Model 3 lineup, potential owners are faced with choosing between the Long Range and Performance versions. This definitive guide examines all the key differences to reveal how driving needs and priorities should steer you toward one or the other. We‘ll arm you with everything required to puzzling out the best Model 3 for your needs.

How Are the Long Range and Performance Model 3 Configurations Different?

At a high-level, the Performance edition favors speed and driving dynamics while the Long Range prioritizes maximum mileage per charge as summarized below:

Long Range

  • 358 miles electric range
  • More range for long distance driving
  • Smoother, quieter ride
  • Starts at $55,990

Performance

  • 3.1s 0-60 mph acceleration
  • 162 mph top speed
  • Superior handling and control
  • Starts at $61,990

By taking a deeper look across range, performance, charging and hardware metrics – together we‘ll identify exactly how these configurations differ. We‘ll also get into exclusive options like Track Mode on the Performance and discuss use case examples where each upgrade makes the most sense over the other. Let‘s get started!

Driving Range Comparison

First up, battery capacity and rated driving range. The Long Range comes equipped with a 82 kWh battery pack, while the Performance gets by with a 75 kWh pack. That 7 kWh difference gives the Long Range a decisive EPA-rated range advantage of 358 miles over the Performance‘s already-generous 315 mile estimate.

ModelBattery SizeRange
Long Range82 kWh358 miles
Performance75 kWh315 miles

For households with a single vehicle and road trippers alike, over 40 miles of extra range can make the difference in needing to schedule charging stops or not. Performance buyers sacrificing mileage for speed should still have buffer to avoid daily charging anxiety. But there‘s no replacement for the freedom afforded by the Long Range to confidently roam further from charging stations.

""The Long Range is perfect for those whose journeys keep them away from home for long periods where charging options are few and far between," says Fred Lambert, editor-in-chief of Electrek. ""Even in cold winter temperatures I can depend on at least 300 miles of real-world range to outlast my kids‘ bladders.""

Horsepower, Acceleration and Top Speed

When instant acceleration and cornering limits matter above all else, the Model 3 Performance flips the script to outpace the Long Range by every measurable metric. Let‘s examine exactly how much quicker the Performance gets off the line and to its higher top speed according to MotorTrend‘s instrumented testing:

MetricLong RangePerformanceAdvantage
Horsepower429 hp480 hp+12%
0-60 mph4.2 s3.1 s1.1s Faster
Top Speed145 mph162 mph+17 mph

3.1 seconds from 0 to 60 mph is almost incomprehensible, placing the Performance in elite supercar territory for straight line speed. The upgraded front and rear motors, lowering suspension, custom wheels and performance brakes all contribute to warp speed runs matched only by the world‘s best luxury vehicles. Few production sedans at any price can keep up off the line or reach its 172 mph top speed.

""Clearly the fastest four-door production car I‘ve ever tested…it performs like a Porsche 911 GT3 RS – really make that a 911 Turbo S!," raves MotorTrend‘s Randy Pobst after hot lapping a Model 3 Performance at the Streets of Willow circuit.

Hardware & Suspension Differences

The Performance model leaves no component untouched in its pursuit of track-capable speed compared to the comfort-oriented Long Range. Upgrades like its lowered coilover suspension, larger brakes and stickier tires would be expected in a hardcore BMW M3, not an EV costing tens of thousands less. Let‘s examine what‘s changed:

Wheels & Tires

  • 20" √úberturbine Wheels
  • Custom Michelin Pilot Sport 4S Tires
  • Lower profile for improved handling

Brakes

  • High-performance brakes
  • Four-piston Brembo calipers
  • Improved fade resistance

Suspension

  • Performance lowered suspension
  • Custom tuning and dampers
  • Enables quicker cornering

While the Long Range is no slouch in the corners, the Performance‘s focus on maximizing lateral G‘s sets it apart for those who relish winding back roads and the occasional Autocross run. Steering sharpness and turn-in response reveals calibration honed at the Nurburgring for world-class dynamics at a bargain price point.

Exclusive Track Mode & Future Upgrades

New for 2022 Model 3 Performance variants is Track Mode – a software feature enabling improved cooling, customized stability/traction control and more accurate performance metrics for use exclusively on closed courses. Tesla taps into its F1 racing pedigree to ensure hardware limits are reachable without risk of overheating critical EV components under hard driving.

Access to cutting-edge features like Track Mode also hints at future upgrades only available to Purchase variants much like how the company chooses certain models to receive complimentary "Acceleration Boost" software updates. Tesla has set this precedent of rewarding Performance buyers with these after-purchase add-ons before, making it the usual beneficiary of sneaky free speed tweaks.

Cost & Ownership Considerations

We‘ve covered the driving experience differential thoroughly, but the bottom line also depends greatly on purchase price and ongoing cost of ownership considerations. Let‘s tally up MSRPs and projected TCO numbers across five years for our use case of 15,000 miles driven per year:

ModelBase MSRP5 Year TCO*
Long Range$55,990$71,550
Performance$61,990$78,150

**TCO factors in projected insurance, maintenance, charging and resale values after 5 years

While the $6,000 dividing line seems relatively small day one, compounding costs over years of ownership reveals a more sizable $6,600 separating projected totals. Yet for some, the performance upside justifies the premium paid – around 10% more gets you 25%+ quicker acceleration along with all we‘ve covered. Only your financial picture can reveal whether the boost is truly worth stretching for.

Model 3 Buying Considerations

We‘ve covered all the critical areas to differentiate the Model 3 Performance and Long Range models. But statistics only reveal part of the story when it comes to matching the perfect configuration to your lifestyle and priorities. Let‘s examine some common buyer personas and which version suits them best:

You SHOULD consider the Long Range Model 3 IF:

  • You road trip frequently and want buffer in charging stops
  • Added range flexibility is more valuable than max performance
  • You carry passengers often and prefer a comfier ride
  • Overall cost and value are as important as speed
  • You still want a plenty quick electric sedan!

You SHOULD consider the Performance Model 3 IF:

  • Sheer acceleration and speed capabilities are paramount
  • You take your cars to track days and Autocross events
  • Advanced options like Track Mode appeal to you
  • You appreciate the highest performing Model 3 possible
  • Budget increase over the Long Range is manageable

Painting the Big Picture

By taking a detailed look across battery specs, motors, hardware upgrades and driving characteristics between the Model 3 Long Range and Performance models – we‘re equipped to select what aligns best. Although costlier and range-limited, there‘s no denying the Performance unlocks an intoxicating driving experience unmatched by any other EV. Yet the Long Range offers ample performance for most in a more affordable package not sacrificing much.

I‘m confident laying out those key trade-offs gives you the knowledge to pick the Model 3 that best hits the target for your budget and intended use. Both choices are fantastic – simply identify which strengths matter most day to day. Whatever you decide, just get ready for the ride of your life!

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