Matt Robinson profile picture Matt Robinson 2 years ago

A 'Plaid Mode' Triple Motor Tesla Model S Is Laguna Seca's Fastest Saloon

Following talk of a Nurburgring lap time attempt, a prototype Model S has set an unofficial record elsewhere

Remind me later

Just under a week on from Elon Musk making claims of an incoming Model S Nurburgring effort, the car has set a fast lap… at a different circuit. The Tesla went around Laguna Seca in 1:36.555, making it almost a second faster than the Jaguar XE SV Project 8. Best just to gloss over the fact the Model S has five doors and not four.

The catch? This was no ordinary Model S - this was a prototype with a new chassis and a ‘Plaid’ powertrain. Elon Musk appeared to confirm on Twitter that this means the Model S is getting the same triple motor setup (two at the rear axle, one at the front) as the Roadster, a system which will also appear in the Model X. The three-motor S will “cost more than our current offering, but less than competitors,” Musk said, in a not-so-subtle reference to the new Porsche Taycan.

Is all this a distraction from the conspicuously absent Model S Nordschleife time? Not necessarily. Perhaps it’s best thought of as a warm-up - according to Road & Track, Tesla does have a 30-minute private slot booked at the ‘Ring on 21 September. The ‘P100D+’-badged car we’re expecting to be used for the effort - most likely with the same Plaid powertrain and chassis as the Laguna Seca beast - has been spotted in the vicinity.

Elon Musk has also said that the Model S sent to the Nurburgring is in the car's seven-seater configuration
Elon Musk has also said that the Model S sent to the Nurburgring is in the car's seven-seater configuration

However, even if this mightiest Model S is able to beat the Porsche Taycan’s 7min 42sec Green Hell lap, the feat may, erm, ring hollow. The Tesla is sitting on fat Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tyres, with the wheel arches widened to cover the bigger rubber. Cup 2 Rs are street legal, and extremely effective, but they wear out extremely quickly. It’d never be feasible to offer them even as an option on the Plaid Model S. The car Tesla has in Germany also wears some new aero elements - it’s not clear if these will make it on to any production cars.

Regardless, we’ll be watching Tesla’s Nurburgring progress with interest.