Tesla has been busy at two different tracks this week testing a Model S prototype with a new powertrain and chassis setup nicknamed "Plaid." Spy photographers first caught a modified Model S at Germany's Nürburgring after Porsche released video of its new electric four-door Taycan lapping the legendary track. Now Tesla has released video of a Model S prototype lapping California's Laguna Seca.
Blame Porsche for Elon Musk's and Tesla's sudden urge to prove their cars' lap credentials. Once discussion questioning if the Taycan or a Tesla would be faster on the track began, Musk was quick to tweet about a Model S at the Nürburgring. In the spy photographs, it was clear the Model S P100D was not stock, as it had slight aero tweaks, fender flares, wider wheels, and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R semi-slick competition tires. We speculated Tesla could be preparing a competition-spec performance package for the Model S, and a new tweet with video further suggests a new variation is in the works.
With an amateur driver who is a member of the Tesla development team behind the wheel, the Model S prototype lapped Laguna Seca in 1:36.555. This bests previous reports of a Model S with upgraded brakes lapping Laguna Seca in 1:47.62 and a claim that a stock Model S P100D ran a lap in 1:43.06. For more reference, Jaguar claims an I-Pace HSE ran the track in 1:48.18 and an XE SV Project 8, which has set Nürburgring records of its own, did it in 1:37.54. A modified Model 3 Performance has also recorded a time of 1:41.28.
The video only shows the inside of the vehicle, so we can't be 100 percent sure this car has the same modifications as the one seen at the Nürburgring. But the tweet does confirm Tesla is working on something new. This is particularly relevant, as most purists only accept records from production cars that consumers can purchase. Because Musk mentions research and development for a prototype, it seems Tesla could, at some point, sell the cars it is currently trying to set records with. Watch the video below.
*~ Some personal news ~*— Tesla (@Tesla) September 12, 2019
We lapped Laguna Seca @WeatherTechRcwy in 1:36.555 during advanced R&D testing of our Model S Plaid powertrain and chassis prototype
(That’s a second faster than the record for a four-door sedan) pic.twitter.com/OriccK4KCZ
Yes. To be clear, Plaid powertrain is about a year away from production & applies to S,X & Roadster, but not 3 or Y. Will cost more than our current offerings, but less than competitors.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 12, 2019