Tesla Model S Plaid given new Track Mode – top speed lifted to 175mph
Tesla has given the 1006bhp Model S Plaid a performance upgrade through its latest over-the-air software update
The range-topping Tesla Model S Plaid has now been given a selection of software tweaks including a new track mode as part of the model’s latest over-the-air update. Track mode has already made its way to the more established Model 3 Performance, allowing drivers to adjust power distribution and traction control for better performance on the circuit. The Plaid is on track for UK deliveries towards the end of 2022 and will cost from £118,980.
In the case of the Plaid, enabling Track Mode gives the battery’s heat pump thermal management system a boost for more effective cooling, allowing the powertrain to provide maximum power for longer. There’s also a post-drive cooling addition that helps reduce cooldown times between sessions. Battery preconditioning will also begin the moment Track Mode is selected to ensure you receive all 1006bhp as soon as possible, with brake cooling also said to be improved, although how this is achieved hasn’t been disclosed.
On the subject of brakes, regen is increased in Track Mode to reduce load on the Plaid’s not-so-capable friction brakes – numerous owners have already noted poor braking performance, not ideal in a 2162kg saloon with hypercar power. In addition to the new software, Tesla will introduce an optional $20,000 retrofit carbon ceramic brake upgrade kit from mid-2022, with enlarged 410mm discs and uprated 6-piston front and 4-piston rear forged callipers.
Track mode also brings an increased 175mph top speed, more aggressive torque vectoring between the Plaid’s three motors, improved throttle response, a new setup for the adaptive dampers, performance displays with information such as lap times and temperatures, and the ability to create custom presets for traction control, power distribution and suspension.
These updates build on the underlying Model S Plaid, which in September 2021 Tesla took to the Nürburgring to prove just how capable the Model S Plaid is, achieving a time of 7:30.9 to make it the world’s fastest production electric car around the circuit. With Nürburgring officials having verified the time, this time puts the Model S Plaid 11.1 seconds ahead of the previous record holder, Porsche’s Taycan Turbo (note, not a Turbo S). The attempt is said to have been set by a largely standard car, including the questionable yoke-style steering wheel, but a roll cage, modified centre console with what appears to be a kill switch and a more accurate race-spec dash can be seen from the POV footage – these additions are commonplace for such attempts.
Peak power for the Plaid is rated at 1006bhp, delivered by a trio of new carbon-sleeved motors. Though they produce less in this application, Tesla engineers say each motor is capable of delivering around 400bhp when battery technology allows for it. It’s claimed 0-60mph sprint is currently pegged at 1.99sec (with a 1ft rollout), completing the quarter-mile in 9.23sec at 155mph and reaching a top speed of 200mph (though this is currently capped at 175mph). While it’s hardly lightweight at 2162kg, this figure does make it around 200kg lighter than Porsche’s Taycan Turbo S.
Despite the intense performance, Tesla claims it will still cover around 390 miles on a single charge. Charging speeds have also been improved with the Plaid able to utilise all 250kW of the firm’s new V3 Supercharger stations, a 25kW improvement over the latest Model S and X models.
The Plaid features torque vectoring which might go some way to counter its hefty kerb weight, with adaptive air suspension also standard. Also new is an upgraded heat pump for better cold weather performance and a radiator twice the size of its predecessor. The latter is said to allow for back-to-back launches and spirited driving without performance degradation – something Porsche ensured was covered in its electric flagship.
Also part of the 2021 facelift was a brand new interior, swapping its predecessor’s portrait display for a 17-inch landscape unit. Unlike in the Model 3, the driver is also treated to a new 12.3-inch display behind the steering wheel, with an 8-inch unit making an appearance in the back for rear seat entertainment. Both the new yoke-style steering wheel and lack of improved seat bolstering are questionable, but the Plaid does appear to feature seat perforations for improved grip. The wood trim of the Long Range is also swapped for carbon fibre.
Exterior design on the Plaid is identical to the Long Range, with only minor tweaks made to the front and rear bumpers for improved cooling – the only way to tell a Plaid apart from the Long Range is its red brake calipers and Plaid badging. 19-inch aero-centric wheels come as standard, however 21-inch 'Arachnid' items can be fitted at a £4400 premium. Drag coefficient has been improved over the outgoing model, with an impressive 0.208 figure outdoing even Porsche’s slippery Taycan.
Stacked up against its arch-rival, the Porsche Taycan, it seems a good value offering on paper. The range-topping Taycan Turbo S comes at a £19,850 premium over the Model S Plaid, but is quite some way down on claimed straight-line performance and range. The Tesla is said to reach 60mph six tenths sooner than the Porsche and boasts a top speed 38mph higher. Range is also on the Plaid’s side, with Tesla claiming it will travel around 100 miles further on a single charge.
The Tesla Model S Plaid will start from £118,980 in the UK, an £8000 increase over the price announced last September thanks to the cancellation of the more expensive Plaid+. First UK deliveries are set to begin at the end of 2022, giving them plenty of time to iron out the bugs and prove in the real world its claimed performance.
Tesla Model S Plaid specs
Triple motor, all-wheel drive
0-60mph (with 1ft rollout)