New Tesla Model 3 Plaid Spotted in the Flesh

New Tesla Model 3 Plaid Spotted in the Flesh

The car company with a performance trim named after a throw-away joke from every 13-year-old’s favourite Mel Brooks film is apparently expanding its EV performance lineup downward with a new Model 3 Plaid on the docket. The Model S Plaid proved no match for Porsche’s Taycan or Lucid’s Air Sapphire on track. As a result, maybe Tesla has taken a page out of the muscle car handbook, putting the big motor from the big car into the small car to go fast.

For a company that claims to not have a PR department, Tesla’s PR department works awfully hard. This short (and clearly cleverly orchestrated by Tesla) video posted to social media over the weekend depicting the new Tesla Model 3 Plaid trundling through a small square in Valencia, Spain, is the proof. The car isn’t even wearing real license plates, just a three-dimensional badge that says Model 3 like it might for a manufacturer photo shoot. Spanish police aren’t going to let something without a plate drive around willy-nilly.

Tesla hasn’t officially recognized that this car exists, though it has dropped some pretty big hints. Obviously, as the Model 3 lineup currently lacks a performance variant, we knew one was coming soon, but to see it in production-ready guise wearing a Plaid badge means Tesla is getting serious about it. What do we know about it so far?

The current Model S and Model X Plaid models make an eye-watering 1,020 horsepower from a trio of electric motors, capable of pushing the just-shy-of-5000-pounds S sedan from zero to sixty in 2.1 seconds. The current Model 3 dual motor weighs around 800 pounds lighter than the Model S Plaid, though it makes do with just 394 horsepower of thrust. That’s hardly good enough to make Spaceball One go Ludicrous Speed, and Dark Helmet will not be pleased. It doesn’t seem likely that Tesla will have enough room in the recently-updated Model 3 for a third motor or the associated cooling gubbins.

In order to be worthy of the Plaid badge, the Model S required a 350 horsepower bump from the standard Model S Dual Motor’s 670 to the Model S Plaid’s 1,020. It isn’t feasible to fit 1020 horsepower worth of motors in the smaller Model 3, or nearly double the Dual Motor’s electric ponies. This is all speculation, but Edmunds is placing their bet at 550 horsepower. I don’t think that will be enough to sate Mr. Musk’s appetite for meme-induced power. I’m going to wager the Model 3 Plaid will make at least 650 horsepower in order to earn the Spaceballs-inspired badge.

Based on the spy video of the Model 3 Plaid driving around, the car has a reworked front fascia with an eye toward aerodynamic downforce, and a new diffuser out the back. The car sits lower, and more purposeful on a black set of directional five-spoke aero wheels. It’s difficult to say if the brake package is larger than on the standard Model 3 from the short video, but they look pretty purposeful.

Screenshot: Cochespias1

The current Model 3 Dual Motor is capable of running from 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, and the discontinued Model 3 Performance could do the sprint in 3.3 seconds with just 450-ish horsepower on tap. I would be seriously surprised if this new Plaid doesn’t get a time under 3 seconds across the plate, maybe even into the low 2-seconds. And with an expected price tag of around $US60,000, this is probably going to be the quickest you can go for so little money. Maybe it’s not a good idea to give regular citizens weapons-grade EV power, but Tesla seems to have made a business out of doing that for a little over a decade now, so what do I know?

Pretty soon Tesla will be slapping the Plaid badge on everything. Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the cars are made. Tesla Plaid-the T-shirt, Tesla Plaid-the Coloring Book, Tesla Plaid-the Lunch box, Tesla Plaid-the Breakfast Cereal, Tesla Plaid-the Flame Thrower. Wait, scratch that last one, it’s too dumb.

Want more Aussie car news? Here’s every EV we’ve reviewed in the last two years, all the EVs we can expect down under soon, and our guide to finding EV chargers across the country. Check out our dedicated Cars tab for more.

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