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New vs Used: Tesla Model 3 Performance or Tesla Model S P85D

By Trent Giunco, 08 Aug 2019 Advice

tesla model 3 vs tesla model s

It’s a battle of the EVs, but which Tesla would you spend your $91K on?

Tesla has been somewhat of a pioneer in the field of electric cars, the Model S paving the way and making traditional carmakers stand up and pay attention. Now there’s a new model on the block – albeit late to our shores – that could really give the US maker a boost. So what's the better purchase, a new Model 3 in go-fast Performance guise for $91,000  or a used Model S P85D for around the same money?


tesla model 3

Good things come to those who wait, and just maybe the Tesla Model 3 Performance is proof. Deposits were taken more than three years ago and the US has had the car for some time. However, it’s here now – and at $91,200, it’s cheaper than we thought. If that's too much money the base model can be had for $66,000.

Tesla Model 3 review: was it worth the wait?

But the performance lives up to its name in figures. With a combined 335kW and an instantaneous 640Nm from its electric motors and 75kWh battery, it’s no wonder the fastest Model 3 reaches 100km/h in 3.4 seconds. It’ll also go on to a top speed of 260km/h with only one gear. We say combined because the Performance utilises dual motors – one for the front axle (188kW) and one for the rear (147kW) to essentially create all-wheel drive. The range is quoted as 430km if you’re driving sensibly.

tesla model 3

There’s engaging dynamics at play, too, and loads of grip from the Michelin tyres. At a claimed 1.9 tonnes the Model 3 performance isn’t light, but the weight is placed low for a better centre of gravity. There’s regenerative braking, however, the level of intrusiveness can be altered. A Track mode also finds its way into an EV, which is an intriguing proposition.

tesla model 3

An adjustment period is required inside. This is a cabin unlike just about anything else. Everything is controlled via the huge 15-inch tablet-style touchscreen which offers great clarity. The Model 3 is practical with a useable boot and a frunk for additional luggage. While packaging in the rear isn’t conducive to tall adults, the range scores a top five-star ANCAP safety rating.

2019 Tesla Model 3 first drive: Australian exclusive


Okay, it’s not the P100D – the blisteringly quick halo that devours 0-100km/h times for breakfast. But it isn’t far off. The 515kW P85D is still one of the quick ones when referencing the first-gen model. And you can have a circa 2014 Model S P85D for around the same price as the brand-spanking new 3 Performance.

tesla model s

The P85D uses dual electric motors (193kW front and 375kW rear) like the Model 3 Performance. Hence, it also mimics all-wheel drive and offers immense traction off the line, affording the headline-grabbing performance figures. You can reach 100km/h in 3.3sec and go on to a top speed of 250km/h, while the overall range is quoted as 491km. The straight-line performance is simply manic and it dominated the experience. The P85D is heavy at 2240kg, which hampers the dynamics somewhat, and the steering lacks feel.

More Tesla Model S reviews

Like the Model 3 Performance, Autopilot can be had in the P85D, but it was a $3200 option to gain the autonomous-driving tech. It began the downloadable updates and featured a mamoth 17.0-inch touchscreen display, which controls basically everything. Packaging is compromised by the batteries, so rear-seat headroom is cramped, but the boot is capacious.

tesla model s

There’s a surprising amount of Model S variants on the second-hand market, and some with a fair amount of kays on the clock. So it seems buyers are getting out and using their Teslas. If you can afford the step up in price, the second-gen car ironed out some niggles found in the original.

Read: Tesla pulls the plug on its cheapest Model S and Model X models

Specs comparison




Price (new)




Dual motors, 75kWh battery

Dual motors, 85kW/h battery





Single-speed reduction gear

Single-speed reduction gear


3.4sec (claimed)


Efficiency (combined)

18kWh/100km (estimated)











Wheel size



 Country of origin


Wheels staff picks

Alex Rae
Online Editor

I reckon I can deal with the 0.1sec 0-100km/h deficient the Model 3 Perforamnce has to the S, and I'd much prefer to buy an electric car with a long warranty ahead. I also see EVs right now much like phone technology has been over the last decade, with newer models bringing meaningful enhancements. There's also a big question mark over the quality of a used battery – sure, it might not be a worry, but if it does need replacing, that's a huge extra to cover.

Trent Giunco
Staff Journalist

For the supposed dynamic ability and performance on tap in the, ahem, Performance, it’s hard not to choose the newest arrival to the Tesla clan. And unlike the Model S, it’s not outlandishly expensive, either. Yes it’s smaller than its bigger bro, but as a competitor to the luxe mid-size sedan segment, it makes a compelling case. Plus, range anxiety is becoming less of an issue as Tesla currently offers the most infrastructure to support its offerings. It could be a landmark car.


Reckon we’ve got it right? Or are we way off the money (literally)? Find your best and let us know in the comments what you’d buy.