Tesla Model S Plaid Track Mode includes higher top speed
But Tesla's most powerful, most expensive model still can't reach 200 mph as the automaker has long claimed.
Chris PaukertFormer executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015.
Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
By any metric, the Tesla Model S Plaid is capable of stupendous performance. The 1,020-horsepower, tri-motor electric hatchback hits 60 mph from a standstill in a factory-estimated 1.99 seconds and yet it manages nearly 400 miles of overall range. But when it comes to spirited EV driving, the most difficult thing is often the repeatability or longevity of such high performance. With its latest over-the-air software update, Tesla is taking steps to improve the Plaid's dynamics and high-performance durability with a new Track Mode.
As part of Release 2021.44.30, the Plaid's new Track Mode includes changes to the vehicle's thermal management and electric drive systems, along with suspension tweaks and a unique Track Mode infotainment interface. The changes also reportedly include expanding the EV's top speed to 175 mph, an increase from 163 mph. (Note that Tesla's consumer website continues to disingenuously claim a 200-mph top speed.)
According to NotATeslaApp.com, a website that tracks Tesla updates, this new Track mode includes different cooling system programming, including running the heat pump more often and more aggressively to keep the powertrain at lower temps for optimum performance. The new programming includes "post-drive cooling," as well, increasing the driver's chances of taking multiple runs on a track with minimal performance degradation.
Track Mode also makes use of the Plaid's adaptive suspension, automatically dropping the ride height to Low immediately and tweaking the adaptive damping rates to enable more confident high-speed performance.
Driveline changes include stronger regenerative braking and, perhaps more importantly, increased torque-vectoring control for sharper handling.
Finally, Tesla has added a host of display-related Track Mode features to help drivers make the most of their track sessions. These include telematics and video-capture capabilities, as well as a G-meter, lap timer and cooling-system monitor.
Tesla previously promised a carbon-ceramic brake kit for the Model S Plaid is due later this year, and this upgrade could go a long way toward helping the Model S Plaid safely realize the 200-mph top speed that Tesla has long been claiming. In the meantime, the new Track Mode includes driver warnings about overheating the brakes, also noting that the setting "...disables or restricts certain vehicle functions including some Driver Assistance features," according to fan site Teslarati.