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Tesla begins offering 20″ Sport wheels for Model 3, performance model coming soon?

Spring is here, it’s time to ditch those winter tires – and Tesla has just the way to do it, if you’re lucky enough to have a Model 3 and ready to spend $4,000.  After hints at the possibility of 20 inch sport wheels coming to the Model 3, Tesla updated their shop site with a 20 inch wheel and tire package for the car overnight.

The package includes installation by Tesla at your local service center and comes with tires and wheels, plus new suspension links to better take advantage of the higher levels of grip provided by these sport tires.

Pilot Super Sports are a very well-respected performance tire.  They’re listed as “max performance summer” tires and are the same tire which the Ferrari 458 originally shipped with. The BMW M series also uses Pilot Super Sports. So these will certainly provide plenty of grip in any sort of sports driving application.

It should be noted that the 20″ wheel and tire package will affect your range – the Model 3’s range is best with the standard 18″ aero wheels and standard tires, which are normal all-season tires, rather than the sport tires which come with the 20″ package.  Stickier tires provide more grip, but also more rolling resistance, which means more friction and less efficiency – which is true for any car, not just electric cars.

The difference between the 18″ and 19″ wheels was already close to 10%, so adding even stickier tires onto the wheels could affect range even more than that. On the Long Range Model 3, this could mean a difference of 30+ miles per charge.

So these tires are for drivers who want to push the most out of their car’s performance, not so much for hypermilers or people who are just commuting with the car.

Interestingly, the 20″ wheels have not yet shown up as an option in the Model 3 configurator. If this is an option you’re interested in and you’re configuring now, you should probably give Tesla a call and see if they can ship your car with the new wheels already installed, instead of having to purchase an extra set of wheels after delivery.

Electrek’s Take

I absolutely love the handling of the Model 3.  The car already feels so planted, it already has such good turn-in, the suspension is tight, there’s no body roll, it’s just fantastic.

The car could perhaps use a tiny bit more grip in long corners, which this sport tire update would provide, but that’s really a nitpick compared to the overall excellent handling of the car.

So given the car’s already great handling, these tires are probably overkill for the Model 3’s current level of performance.  As stated above, these are “max performance” tires, and they’re $1,100 a set on TireRack just for the rubber alone.  For comparison, I only spend ~$800 on a full set of tires for my Tesla Roadster.

So what could this mean?  Perhaps Tesla is ready to start selling performance Model 3s.  These tires are really more than what’s necessary for a midsize sedan in normal driving conditions.  The all-season tires on the car right now are, really, just about right for its current performance level.

Adding to that speculation, we’ve also seen evidence that dual motor configurations are coming soon, and seen a Model 3 with red brake calipers (generally denoting a performance model) testing on Tesla’s test track in Fremont.  Tesla said that the first dual motor configurations are coming “Spring 2018”, and we’re now officially a few hours into spring, so it’s open season on dual motor speculation.

I’ve always expected Tesla to release a high-performance Model 3 package intended to target the BMW M3 in terms of specs – even before the performance model was confirmed last year.  Given that the BMW starts at $66k and the Model 3 currently can be specced up to around $60k (including Autopilot options), there’s certainly room for Tesla to add a performance package and still be price-competitive.  And you can bet that Tesla will aim to beat the BMW’s ~3.8 second 0-60 time.

If Tesla is ready to start offering a car that can take advantage of the grip provided by these tires, and use all four of them to put power down through the road, we could very well see another drag strip monster here.  But with 1,000lbs less weight than the Model S, it should take corners a lot better as well.  Then, if the Model 3 performance package does something about battery and brake cooling, maybe the Model 3 could even pull off some impressive feats at a track day…

This is still speculation, however much coincidence we have.  Another explanation could just be that, since people seem to like the look of bigger wheels, Tesla thought they’d provide a way to get a little money out of those who want to spend extra money to make their car look cooler.

Maybe the performance package won’t be out for a while, or maybe they’ll change their minds and never offer it and expect those who want the most powerful Tesla to purchase a P100D, and keep the Model 3 as a budget “everyman” vehicle.

…But when has Tesla ever been content with making slow cars?

What do you think?  Are you excited about the performance Model 3, or should that remain the purview of the Model S and Tesla should focus on keeping the Model 3 affordable?  Let us know in the comments.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for since 2016.

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