Tesla Adds Track Mode to the Model S Plaid

The big advantage of Tesla’s track mode is the ability to modify or (allegedly) defeat the sedan’s somewhat invasive stability control system. Handy on the daily commute, stability control ultimately limits what the car can do on the original racetrack. On the Model 3, this results in regenerative braking being put into gear and used to help direct torque. Although the driver is never without assistance as the automaker’s Vehicle Dynamics Control Module is constantly monitoring things to determine how best to convert power to improve spin.

However, the biggest gripe among those trying to race a Model S usually stems from heat management software that errs on the side of caution. This was also addressed by track mode by introducing the same pre-cooling system found in the Model 3. Here, Tesla lowers the operating temperature of the battery pack in preparation for the heat attack it’s about to experience. It does the same thing when the car veers off the lane or enjoys a cool-down period. The manufacturer claims that the system allows the powertrain to operate beyond typical thermal limits and increases the capacity of the cooling system by overclocking the AC compressor to higher speed ranges.

The rest is about what you would expect from any track setting. The dampers default to their settings and the infotainment system toggles to display all relevant temperature readings, with a timer and G-meter thrown in for good measure.

Unfortunately, I still haven’t seen many Model 3s perform more than a handful of laps at any track before they start giving out warnings about brakes or overheating of the battery. But overheating is a common concern among people who track their cars on the streets, and it probably isn’t fair to directly compare Tesla’s luxury product to something that was equipped with an external oil cooler and some tow hooks.

Tesla said this is all about maintaining the fastest EV cycle time at the Nürburgring and equipping the Model S for a top speed of 200 mph which should come via future OTA updates. I tend to think this would require some hardware updates to be done safely, though. While it’s nice to take the Model S on the highway, its steering needs honing before the company decides to turn it into a four-door supercar. You’ll also need better tires and brakes — the latter of which Tesla plans to offer with a $20,000 carbon-ceramic brake kit available later this year. Although it will technically cost more than that, as you will also have to buy 21-inch wheels to house your fancy clogs.

With the ability to top 60 mph in the low two-second range, no one would claim that the Model S Plaid isn’t a very fast car. But it seems to be doing its best in a straight line and I’m not sure why the manufacturer is so obsessed with competing with Porsche at the Nürburgring. These planned updates will undoubtedly make it more capable from a performance perspective, I have only doubt that they will make a better luxury sedan or tune the Model S to replace the Mazda MX-5 as the default car for track day.

[Image: Virrage Images/Shutterstock]

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