Track mode, first introduced on the Model 3 Performance, is what Tesla’s flagship sedan desperately needed.
In our recent test of the Model S Plaid, we achieved an impressive 1.08 g of grip on the skidpad, but getting there took more attempts than usual. That’s because the car behaved considerably differently when turning left versus right, provides very little steering or chassis feedback, and because the stability control couldn’t be turned off. Tesla is now fixing that last bit by adding Track Mode, introduced on the Model 3 Performance, to the Model S Plaid through an over-the-air update, which allows the driver to adjust or defeat the stability control system.
That’s not all Track mode is good for, though. Tesla says that the Model S Plaid’s dual rear motors enable torque vectoring, but in our test we couldn’t exploit it due to the intrusive stability control. In Track mode, though, the rear motors will be able to automatically adjust torque to help the 4828-pound EV rotate through corners. Track Mode also precools the powertrain to fight off the onslaught of heat created by racetrack driving as long as possible, regenerative braking is increased to help reduce load on the brakes (although it’s adjustable), and the adaptive dampers stay in their Low mode. It also displays the powertrain temperatures along with a g meter, a lap timer, and other configurable vehicle information on the digital gauge cluster and new 17.0-inch touchscreen.
Tesla says that the goal of Track mode was to help the Model S Plaid achieve the fastest EV lap time at the Nürburgring, and it did just that with a 7:35 lap back in September 2021. Tesla also claims that the Plaid will eventually be able to reach 200 mph after a future software update, but it’s currently limited at 162 mph.
To give Model S Plaid owners even more performance capability, Tesla is also now offering a carbon-ceramic brake kit for $20,000. It will be available in mid-2022, Tesla says, and it’s only compatible with cars equipped with 21-inch wheels (a $4500 option), not the standard 19-inch wheels. With the standard brakes, the Model S required 150 feet to stop from 70 mph in our test.
The 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid starts at $135,690. It launched to 60 mph in 2.1 seconds and tied the Bugatti Chiron Sport in the quarter-mile in our testing. With this new update the Tesla Model S Plaid should improve in areas other than just straight-line performance.