Model 3 Highland: Ludicrous performance variant and new wheel design leaked via Tesla Parts Catalog



When Tesla launched the new Tesla Model 3 Highland last month, the automaker introduced only 2 variants of the car — the base RWD and the higher Long Range AWD trim.

The Performance version of the new more sportier-looking Model 3 was missing and Tesla sealed its lips on its plans to release it anytime soon or at all.

However, Tesla enthusiasts find their own ways to discover Tesla’s secrets. @kilowatts / X (Twitter) dived into the new Model 3 Highland’s Parts Catalog and found a familiar badge on the trunk lid.

Some thought it was a Plaid badge and hurried to share the news, even major automotive outlets were deceived by its looks. It actually is a Ludicrous Mode badge, not a Plaid one.

There’s a reason that there won’t be a Plaid Model 3 variant. Tesla will keep the Plaid name and badge for its flagship Model S and Model X performance trims.

Since a Tesla Model 3 will never be as fast as a Model S Plaid, it will stay in the Ludicrous range below Model S. As Tesla CEO Elon Musk repeatedly says “The only thing beyond Ludicrous is Plaid”.

However, we can’t only rely on speculation and Musk’s easter egg hints. The badge actually matches the Ludicrous Mode animation (see below).

Tesla Model 3 Highland with Ludicrous Mode badge found inside the car's official Parts Catalog.
Tesla Model 3 Highland with Ludicrous Mode badge found inside the car’s official Parts Catalog. Credit: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc. via @kilowatts / Twitter.
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Tesla Ludicrous Mode animation found on the older Tesla Model S and Model X Performance variants. Credit: Tesla via @kilwatts / X (Twitter).

The Plaid badge has rectangular lines in it expanding outward. The Ludicrous Mode animation we can see above zooms into stars which is a reference to the 1987 movie Spaceballs’ Ludicrous Speed.

We can compare both badges by looking at the image of the Plaid badge below. A limited number of early Model S Plaid deliveries received this Plaid badging that was later replaced by simple PLAID written in letters under the right rear light.

The limited edition Plaid visual badge on MKBHD's Tesla Model S Plaid.
A Plaid badge on a Model S or Model X. Credit: MKBHD.

So, the presence of the Ludicrous badge on the Tesla Model 3 Highland suggests that Tesla is actually working on a higher performance trim of the car. Since the design-refreshed Model 3 is more aerodynamic now, we can expect much better acceleration and top-speed numbers from it.

The legacy Model 3 Performance comes with a 0-60 mph acceleration figure of 3.1s and a top speed of 162 mph (~261 km/h).

In an interview with some Tesla owners and enthusiasts last year, Elon Musk categorically denied that a Plaid Model 3 makes any sense to him.

Tesla Model Y Accessories by EVANNEX (Sponsored Banner).
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Tesla just recently published the new Tesla Model 3 Highland’s Owner’s Manual on its website and updated the Electronic Parts Catalog ( Tesla has now removed the Ludicrous Mode badge from the Parts Catalog images and any reference to it as well (trying to hide the upcoming performance variant once again).

Looking further into the Tesla Model 3 Highland Parts Catalog, parts like brake calipers and a new wheel design also suggest the coming of a performance variant of the car is in the making. Tesla has also removed the information from the Parts Catalog which showed a “SPORT” label with the brake calipers. A Sport variant certainly is the performance variant.

I spent considerable time to find any reference to the Sport or Performance variant in the Model 3 Highland Parts Catalog but Tesla seems to have removed any and all references to it.

Currently, only 2 wheel options are available in Tesla’s Model 3 Highland car configurator — 19’’ Nova Wheels and 18’’ Photon Wheels, marked with numbers 2 and 3 in the following diagram respectively.

Tesla also removed the part name and any information related to it from the Parts Catalog for the not-yet-revealed wheel design (#1 in the following diagram). The wheel design marked with #1 in the below diagram is either for the upcoming Ludicrous Model 3 Highland or is just the basic wheel design after removing the wheel cover (#3 in diagram).

Diagram: Tesla Model 3 Highland wheel designs found in the car's official online Parts Catalog.
Diagram: Tesla Model 3 Highland wheel designs found in the car’s official online Parts Catalog. Credit: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.
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Iqtidar Ali
Iqtidar Ali
Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii


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