What just happened? With a time of 1:36.555, the Model S became the fastest 4-door car around the famous Laguna Seca racetrack in California, according to Tesla. This event took place during the company's R&D of a new 'Plaid' powertrain (which has three motors, apparently) and is seen as a response to the record-breaking Porsche Taycan that recently blitzed the more demanding Nürburgring Nordschleife racetrack. Although it did prompt Tesla to send a Model S to Germany, CEO Elon Musk said that the car (a modified P100D) will need to be reviewed and tuned thoroughly for safety before they go for a best lap time.
Porsche's record-breaking run at the Nürburgring for its Taycan 4-door EV raised quite a few eyebrows on the internet. Soon afterwards, the inevitable happened as Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that a Model S would be heading to the racetrack as well to post a best lap time of its own.
While that is yet to happen, a prototype Model S equipped with the company's upcoming 'Plaid' powertrain broke the record for the fastest 4-door car to lap the Laguna Seca racetrack. Tesla didn't have to use a racing driver to clock this time as the company had a "member of the development team (amateur driver)" behind the wheel.
*~ 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
The sedan being referred to here is the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V that achieved the milestone back in 2015. Interestingly, the CTS-V is still the "official" fastest 4-door car at Laguna Seca, as a spokesperson for the racetrack wrote to CNBC in an email: "We were not officiating while the Tesla was testing on the track. Official records only happen during sanctioned events where a sanctioning body is officiating."
Commenting on the go-faster 'Plaid' powertrain, expected in Tesla's 2020 Roadster, Elon Musk responded to a tweet with the powertrain's production timeline and the models on which it'll be available.
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
This could mean that a future 'Plaid' Model S could slot in between the current Ludicrous model and the more expensive Taycan Turbo, but for now, it remains to be seen how the Model S will fare when Tesla is ready for a speedrun attempt at the Nürburgring.