Tesla tuner Unplugged Performance shipped its track-ready Model 3 to the Tsukuba circuit in Japan to put it through its paces. The hot-rodded sedan set a time on par with some of the world's greatest supercars.
The Model 3 lapped Tsukuba in 1:04.07. To add context, the McLaren F1 went around the same track in 1:04.06, and the 997-generation Porsche 911 GT3 took 1:04.08. That time is even more impressive when you consider the pilot wasn't a full-time professional, and he had never driven a Tesla — let alone Unplugged's version — before.
Unplugged made several key modifications to its Model 3 before sending it out to run hot laps on a cold track. It's sitting on sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires normally found on high-horsepower cars like the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. It also received an adjustable suspension, thicker sway bars to reduce body roll, and fade-free carbon ceramic brakes. Finally, it's wearing a full body kit including a sizable wing bolted to the hatch to generate additional downforce. The company made no changes to the electric powertrain, saying, "In a Tesla you can't really do anything; it's not like you can throw a turbo on it." It's not any lighter, either.
There's no word yet on how the battery pack coped with six laps of flat-out driving. Autoblog reached out to Unplugged, and we'll update this story if we hear back. What's certain is charging an electric car on a race track can be easier said than done. The only charger at Tsukuba was out of service, so the car had to be transported on a flatbed to the nearest charging station, which was several miles away, before it could race.
Unplugged thinks it could shave a few seconds off the Model 3's lap time by fitting slick tires, but it won't. It wants to keep the car street-legal, and it doesn't think it will have another chance to lap Tsukuba in the foreseeable future. The car isn't destined to sit in a warehouse, though, and it will continue to race around the world. Meanwhile, Tesla is still developing a high-performance Model S hoping to end Porsche's reign at the Nürburgring.