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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Tesla Plaid Track Mode brings torque vectoring and extra cooling

Tesla on Thursday confirmed a new Track Mode for the Model S Plaid aimed at improving performance in areas beyond straight-line acceleration.

Rolling out to vehicles in North America this week via an over-the-air update, the Model S Plaid Track Mode originated in Tesla’s quest to achieve the Nürburgring lap record for production EVs, according to the company. A Model S Plaid achieved that goal in 2021 with a 7:35.579 time.

The Plaid already boasts 1,020 hp and a claimed 0-60 mph time of less than 2.0 seconds, but Tesla upgraded powertrain cooling to give it the endurance necessary for proper track sessions. When track mode is engaged, the car drops the temperature of its battery pack and motors, creating a chilled thermal mass that helps keep everything cool longer after aggressive driving commences.

Tesla Model S Plaid specs

Track Mode also adds torque vectoring. In this case, the torque split of the tri-motor powertrain’s two rear motors is adjusted, sending more power to one motor to help rotate the car through corners. Tesla says its motors allow for quicker adjustments than the differentials used by internal-combustion cars.

The adaptive suspension gets track-specific tuning that reduces pitch during hard braking and acceleration, and rebalanced damping to keep the car more settled, Tesla said. Track Mode also sets the ride height to Low, and unlike in other drive modes, the suspension won’t automatically raise while driving to improve comfort, Tesla noted.

Regenerative braking power was also increased to reduce heat generated by the friction brakes. This effectively allows for one-pedal driving, which Tesla believes will be better for track use.

Tesla Model S Plaid Track Mode

Tesla Model S Plaid Track Mode

Tesla also said Track Mode gives drivers more control over electronic nannies. It includes a Race tune for the vehicle dynamics controller that allows more tire slippage, and will automatically adjust the torque split to improve cornering ability, Tesla said. Drivers can also individually adjust the stability control and regenerative braking to their liking. Everything is controlled from a track-specific instrument cluster menu, which also includes a lap timer, g-meter, and dash cam and telemetry recording capability.

Track Mode should be a nice complement to the Plaid’s brutal acceleration. Jay Leno set a 9.247-second quarter mile time in one last year for his “Jay Leno’s Garage” show. Tesla previously announced an even quicker Model S Plaid+ with over 1,100 hp, but then cancelled it since the regular Plaid was already outmuscling the competition.

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