A tuned Tesla Model 3 almost beat the McLaren F1 on a track
We all know a lot about Tesla's need for speed. It's one of the main reasons why Elon Musk's zero emissions company has managed to gain so much branding power and a fanatical fanbase. However, as fantastically speedy as the "Performance" badged Teslas can be, some people reckon they can make Elon's electric machines even more insane than they are when they come out of the factory. Here's where electric tuning company Unplugged Performance comes in.
Whilst Teslas may be fantastic in a straight line, they have been noted to be somewhat lacking in the corners. This is where Unplugged Performance works its magic with its "Ascension R". Based on the Model 3 Performance, it's been outfitted by the tuning company with a carbon-fibre body kit that includes a pretty sizeable rear wing to help increase downforce in the corners, as well as carbon-ceramic brakes, properly adjustable coilover suspension, 20 inch forged alloy wheels with Michelin Cup 2 tyres and proper racing seats with proper four point harnesses.
What Unplugged Performance hasn't fiddled with at all is the drivetrain. All of that is exactly the same as the regular Model 3 Performance. With the Model 3 being able to zoom from 0-62 in around 3.2 seconds in standard form, I think it's probably a wise choice not to fiddle with that end of things. It's definitely fast enough in a straight line for most racetracks! Not tweaking the drivetrain or performance also means that everything else still works as it should, including the autopilot system.
To prove the performance credentials of these modifications, Unplugged Performance's team took the Ascension R to Tsukuba in Japan and set a few laptimes. During this circuit time, the car set a laptime of 1:04.7. This is within 0.1 seconds of a laptime set by a McLaren F1, which managed a time of 1:04.6! It also managed to beat a time of 1:04.8 set by a Porsche 911 GT3 (997). "The test day at Tsukuba circuit was done as a proof of concept to illustrate that Unplugged’s Ascension R upgraded Model 3s can perform at the level of world-class supercars of any era, on any track," claims Unplugged Performance's CEO Ben Schaffer. I guess he's right, then...
This Tsukuba demonstration isn't even the top echelon of what Unplugged Performance claims to be able to offer, either. As Schaffer also states, "future Unplugged Performance upgrades will build upon the foundation of vehicle upgrades on this car and will implement greater extremes of downforce and grip." In another interesting development, it's been rumoured that Unplugged Performance's stand at the Tokyo Auto Salon was staffed by Tesla employees. Maybe in the future it's possible that not only will we see wilder and wilder tuned Teslas, but we could also see them being sold through Tesla dealerships. Regardless of what happens, it looks like we could be seeing some really insane electric speed demons in the very near future.