Tesla Model 3 Performance is faster than the Audi RS5 Sportback — But is it better?

When Tesla’s more performance-oriented cars first hit the scene, which were recognize by their ‘P’ badges, they were so shockingly fast that the rest of the industry began scrambling to catch up. For instance, the Tesla Model S P100D is the fastest accelerating sedan ever made, getting to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. Admittedly, that car is well over $100k and very exclusive. So it’s a bit of a rarity. Tesla wants to create a performance car that’s not only a bit more attainable but a lot cheaper. Welcome the Tesla Model 3 Performance, which can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds and costs around $65,000 to start. That makes it faster than the Audi RS5 Sportback. But is it better?

While the Model 3 isn’t a true liftback sedan, like the Audi RS5 Sportback, it looks like one and boasts a lot of trunk space. Plus, both cars have similar power/performance, prices and four doors. So we’re comparing them.

Let’s look at the Model 3 Performance first, because it’s the newest of the two cars. To start, it gets the standard Model 3 chassis, which has been proven to be a surprisingly fun little car but not as fun as most of its competitors. Then, it gets an extra motor, one at the front axle as well as the one at the back, which gives it all-wheel drive. Those motors combine to make 450 hp and 471 lb-ft of torque and has recently been proven to clock 60 in the aforementioned 3.2 seconds. In fact, one vlogger clocked it at 3.18.

Tesla has also given it some interesting software, called Track Mode. In this mode, it supposedly changes the cooling algorithm for the battery pack to make sure it doesn’t overheat on track. It also gives the regenerative braking a bit of a new function, which induces lift-off oversteer by shunting all of the regen braking to the front axle when you lift off the throttle. That honestly doesn’t sound like it will work in an intuitive manner and I don’t think I would like that.

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As for the Audi RS5 Sportback, it’s far more traditional. It gets a 2.9 liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 450 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. On paper, that’s right there with the Model 3 Performance. However, it has to send that power through an eight-speed automatic with a torque converter, a center Torsen differential, two driveshafts and four axles before the power ever reaches the road. So that sucks up a bit of its power. While the Model 3 just has two electric motors that spin axles. So the RS5 Sportback takes a claimed 3.7 seconds to reach 60 mph (though we’ve seen the Coupe do it in 3.5 seconds, which isn’t much slower than the Tesla).

Where the Audi RS5 Sportback punches back, though, is in the handling department. The Model 3 Performance is likely a good car, of that we have no doubt. But the RS5 has been developed and tuned by people that have been making performance cars for a very long time, far longer than Tesla. They know a thing or two because they’ve seen a thing or two (bum, ba-dum ba bum bum bum). Plus the RS5 has already proven to be a very impressive, dynamics sports car.

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The Audi RS5 Sportback also has looks, interior quality and a rip-roaring exhaust note in its favor. While the RS5 Sportback is stylish, good looking and packing a great cabin, the Model 3 looks like a jelly bean that had one end smushed flat and its interior is about as visually interesting as a bowl of uncooked quinoa. So in terms of which car is more exciting to own, I don’t know if there’s much of a question, there.

So we know the Tesla Model 3 Performance is shockingly fast for its segment. We know it boasts all-electric tech and it’s very hip with hipsters. But is it actually better than its competition, better than a car like the Audi RS5 Sportback? I guess we’ll just have to find out. Hopefully Tesla will let us borrow one…

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.