Top-end speed and acceleration are two considerations that define how quickly a car can go.
And lately, as we’re more accommodating towards electric vehicles (EVs), Tesla has shown us that its EVs are extremely fast and safe.
But how fast can their fastest go? And which model is it?
The fastest Tesla is the Tesla Model S Plaid. The model has the best acceleration of any car in production and has an immense 396 miles EPA-estimated range.
And today, the Plaid has a top-end speed of 200 miles per hour and a 0-to-60 mph acceleration in 1.99s.
However, Tesla has put software limitations on the car, and you’ll be lucky to achieve close to the 2.0 seconds 0-to-60 miles per hour milestone without any software updates.
Tesla Model S Powertrain Specs and Performance
A quick look at the Tesla Model S Plaid is enough to convince you that this sleek car is hiding something from plain sight.
And, to many, it has something unique to justify its exorbitant price tag. The secret lies in the car’s powertrain and drivetrain design.
Inside the Model S Plaid is a tri-motor all-wheel drive (AWD) featuring three independent carbon-sleeved rotors and torque vectoring technology.
In fact, it’s the first Tesla model to have three electric motors, with two at the rear axle and one on the front axle.
Together, they produce a 1,020 peak horsepower and 1,050 lb-ft of torque sufficient to give the Model S Plaid an astounding 0-to-60 mph acceleration in under 2 seconds.
Just so you can see how fast these times are, the Model S Plaid’s 0-to-60 mph time equals similar benchmarks by the super-fast Porsche 911 Turbo S and 918 Spyder.
Additionally, its quarter-mile pass in 9.4 seconds and 151 mph while accelerating towards 200 mph matches times set by the Bugatti Chiron Sports.
What Makes the Tesla Model S Plaid Extremely Fast?
As of today, the Tesla Model S has the quickest acceleration of any vehicle in production.
The car has stupendous off-the-line acceleration that would give even the Suzuki Hayabusa a run for its money.
Moreover, a common misconception about Tesla is that they would focus solely on environmental sustainability and not so much on top-end speed and acceleration.
But clearly, we were wrong.
And as we’ve seen, the Tesla Model S has a tri-motor assembly for even more power and better acceleration.
But the true source of its immense top-end speed is the carbon-fiber-sleeved rotor assembly.
In the set-up, each rotor is held together by a robust carbon-fiber shell that improves the rotational capacity of the rotors to 20,000 rpm, a figure that’s 25 percent faster than the previous configuration.
Additionally, the Model S Plaid is made for speed, and its aerodynamic design gives it a low drag coefficient of .208 (Cd).
What does this mean? The more aerodynamic a car is, the lesser the air resistance and the faster it moves through the air.
In other words, the vehicle with a lower Cd has a lower drag and should be faster if the two are equally matched in all other aspects.
In comparison, it beats the likes of the Toyota Prius (0.24), Hyundai Ioniq (0.24), Tesla Model X (0.25), Kia Optima Hybrid (0.25), and the BMW 5 Series EfficientDynamics Edition (0.22).
And unsurprisingly, Tesla improved the Plaid’s chassis to be wider to improve stability while cornering. The higher top-end speed and instant responsiveness prompt for a better and more reliable chassis and wheel design.
Talking about the wheels, the Plaid comes with staggered, performance wheels and tires that keep the car grounded for maximum power transfer and traction to the wheels.
And if you’ve ever been to a drag race, you might have heard or seen most racing vehicles inadvertently lifting the front end during take-off.
The loss of front-end traction significantly reduces the surface area of the tires in contact with the road, hence poor acceleration.
How To Achieve Top Speed or Maximum Acceleration in Your Tesla Model S Plaid
Tesla Model S Plaid has many technologies in its arsenal that you must activate to unlock the vehicle’s impressive acceleration.
For starters, the Plaid’s 1,020 horsepower and 1,050 lb-ft of torque are just outrageous, considering that the model is cheaper than most cars of similar ratings.
Select the “Drag Strip” mode from your car’s touchscreen to unlock maximum acceleration.
The mode warms the battery pack and lowers the front air springs when you simultaneously press the accelerator and brake pedals in what’s known as the “Cheetah Stance.”
Here’s how you can use Launch Control to achieve immense speeds.
- Tap the “Controls” option in the lower left corner of your Tesla’s 17.0-inch infotainment system. Afterward, select “Pedals and Steering” and then “Acceleration” from the menu that pops up.
- Next, select “Drag Strip Mode,” which is the same as launch control.
- The warming of the battery pack takes eight to 15 minutes based on the pre-existing conditions; hence you’ll have to exercise patience. But not for long, as you’ll get a “Peak Performance is Ready” notification once the preconditioning is complete.
- Your next step involves stepping on the brake pedal with your left foot and simultaneously doing the same on the accelerator pedal with your right foot. The system automatically detects your input and lowers the front end by close to 2 inches.
This way, the lower front-end ground clearance gives the car a better downforce, resulting in improved acceleration, aerodynamics, cornering, and handling.
And note that you’ll have to wait for close to 10 seconds to fully activate the “Cheetah Stance.”
- You’ll then get a “Cheetah Stance Enabled” and a “Ready to Launch” notification on the infotainment screen when the front-end is low.
- Here, ready for take-off, slowly release your foot off the brake pedal, and the car shoots off like a bullet!
And what’s exceptional about the Plaid is that you can re-run it without taking it through the preconditioning cycle.
We have to give due credit to Tesla for their more sophisticated and effective powertrain thermal management.
However, as much as the set-up is advantageous for drag races, it is, unfortunately, unavailable in the older Tesla models.
How Much Does the Tesla Model S Plaid Cost?
If you’re interested in this car, chances are that you are eager to know its manufacturer suggested retail price. And to answer that, the Model S Plaid costs just over $130,000.
That’s quite impressive, given that the model has an additional electric motor that pushes its speed limits beyond what we thought was possible.
However, the extra battery drain from the third motor lowers the car’s range from a Model S 405 miles to 396 miles.
Final Remarks on the Fastest Tesla Car
Critics have been quick to point out that having 1,020 horsepower in a four-door road sedan is a show of extravagance and a bit too much.
Some faults plaguing the Model S have also rolled over to the Model S Plaid, making the expensive price tag questionable.
On the brighter side, it’s still a great car with a steering yoke that you should try, a best-in-class acceleration, and many features synonymous with the Tesla brand.
Go with the Plaid if you need better performance, but go with the Model S if you need a better driving range.