Milestones, records and other geeky facts


Hey did you hear The Tesla Model S Plaid 2021.5 / 2022 can run 0-60 mph on a prepared running surface for a time of under 2.0 seconds. Well, something like that. The way we collect acceleration data uses the same starting method as the NHRA, the drag racing sanctions agency. The official timer starts after 1 foot of forward progress – also known as a rollout – so that the car has completely broken through the beam of light at the start line of a competitive dragstrip. (We consider this rollout via software when we test without bars, which is mostly the case.) The thing is, on a prepared surface that’s so sticky with resin that it almost knocks your shoes off, with three electric motors that Driving all four wheels, and 1,050 lb-ft of torque at your disposal, a lot can happen not only in one foot, but within the length of a car on its way to 60 mph and beyond. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Does VHT Make A Difference?

As we looked at this car’s data, we compared its record run to the fastest pass we made in the exact same Tesla Model S plaid on a smooth asphalt surface. Did Tesla really need the resin-based compound called TrackBite (formerly known as VHT) to break the 2.0 second barrier?

We applied the two acceleration runs side by side and found only very minor differences in the speed curves. Take a look: The red line is on the groomed race track and the yellow line is on normal asphalt. From start to finish there is almost exactly a tenth of a second in between. Why don’t the arcs start at zero and zero in the lower left corner? That’s the 1-foot rollout that appears. When the timer started, the car was already moving on the prepared surface at about 10 km / h in the first foot and about 8 km / h on unprepared asphalt.

Satisfactory resolution

We routinely report times that are “rounded to the tenth” (0.1) of a second because our data recorder runs at 20 Hz and drops a “bread crumb” of data 20 times per second. This means, for example, that in two seconds we have 40 data points to work with. Fortunately, computers are excellent at filling in the gaps between these data points, so in this case we used the 0.01 resolution. Yes, on that sticky, race-prepped surface, the 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid actually reached 60 mph in 1.98 seconds (2.0 seconds rounded). 2.07 seconds (2.1 rounded) were recorded on flat asphalt.

The tarmac track was enough for the Plaid to become the fastest (0-60 mph) and fastest (quarter mile) production car that MotorTrend has ever tested. In fact, we will add the asphalt track to our database as an official entry for the car, as we are not testing on groomed surfaces. With the same performance, the start on the racetrack only offered enough initial grip to duck under two seconds to 60 mph and stay 0.1 seconds before the asphalt run during the entire “race”.

And for those who are wondering how the 0-60 time of the Tesla Model S Plaid is on unprepared asphalt, without 1-foot rollout, without drag mode, without launch control, without pedal overlap – so just “slap-n.” -go “- the unadulterated 0-60 time is 2.45 seconds.

Time slows down

We wanted to slow the clock down and take a closer look at that epic 1.98-second 0-60 time and 9.25-second quarter-mile run, millisecond by millisecond. So we opened our laptop and launched software to take snapshots of particular interest along the 1,320 foot trail. We’ll focus on running on the groomed surface, but the following data points would be very, very similar on unprepared asphalt.

Start the timer

  • After setting up the Launch Control and possibly releasing the brake pedal while stationary, the driver immediately experiences 1.00 g of longitudinal acceleration. In other words, the force pushing his head and torso into the backrest at that moment is the same as if he were lying on his back trying to get up from the floor. Try that now. No really try.
  • Welcome back. Fifteen hundredths (0.15) seconds later, the car will travel 1 foot, timing will begin, and it will be traveling 5.9 miles per hour. The g-load jumps to 1.23.
  • The length of the Tesla Model S plaid is 197.7 inches (approximately 16.5 feet). By the time the car’s rear bumper is where the front bumper started, it is already traveling 40 km / h at 1.24 g.
  • Five feet further the tires are really digging in and a maximum g-force of 1.30 occurs at 28.4 mph and the force doesn’t drop below 1.20 g to 50.4 mph.
  • 60 mph arrives in the 1.98 seconds mentioned above, and the car is still pulling 1.11 g – and is only 30 meters from its starting point. Yes, the entire drama under 2.0 seconds takes place in less than 30 meters.
  • Interestingly, on regular tarmac, it takes the car 104 feet and 2.38 seconds to stop from 60 mph, which averages 1.16 g in the opposite direction. We don’t get into that much detail often, but this could be another first: a car that accelerates from 0 to 100 mph in less time and distance than 60-0 mph.
  • For the first time since releasing the brake pedal, the g-longitudinal load drops below 1.00 at 100 km / h.
  • The occupants of the plaid experience more than 1.00 g for almost three full seconds. These three ticks are where you hear most of the screams from passengers. Then it is quiet with wide eyes until the finish line, then the incredulous cursing and the uncontrollable laughter begins.
  • In just 4.17 seconds and 360 feet from its starting point – not even a third of the way to the quarter mile finish line – the Model S Plaid cracks 100 mph and still pushes the rider back with 0.66g of force.
  • Five seconds later, in an elapsed time of 9.25 seconds, it accelerates over the finish line at a speed of 152.6 mph and a force of 0.36 g.
  • For you drag racers out there, here are some other stats:
    • 60 feet time = 1.69 sec.
    • 330 feet time = 4.16 sec.
    • 1/8 mile = 6.19 s at 122.8 mph
    • 60-130 mph time: 4.711 sec.

It’s not often that we test such an extraordinary car or go into that detail, but when the records fall we can’t help but think of the tiny milestones that made it possible. The acceleration performance of the Tesla Model S Plaid 2021 is incomparable for the time being.

While we just said it’s unmatched, here are the plaid’s performance metrics in context with results we’ve had on several other notable vehicles we’ve tested:

2021.5 Tesla Model S Plaid * (AWD) 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari (RWD) 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S (AWD) 2020 Lamborghini Huracán Evo (AWD)
PS (SAE NET) 1020 hp (comb) 950 hp (comb) 640 hp 630 hp
Torque (SAE NET) 1050 lb-ft (comb) 664 lb-ft (comb) 590 lb-ft 442 lb-lb
Base price $ 131,190 $ 1,400,000 $ 204,850 $ 264,969
60 feet time 1.69 sec. 1.84 sec. 1.77 sec. 1.85 sec.
0-60 MPH 2.1 sec. 2.4 sec. 2.3 sec. 2.5 sec.
0-60 MPH distance 98 feet 100 ft 98 feet 106 ft
1/4 mile elapsed time 9.4 sec. 9.7 sec. 10.3 sec. 10.5 sec.
1/4 mile drop speed 152.2 km / h 148.5 km / h 132.3 km / h 132.7 km / h
Max g when accelerating 1.30 g at 28.4 mph 1.04 g at 12.1 mph 1.18 g at 21.1 mph 1.11 g at 15.3 mph
* On unprepared asphalt

2021.5 Tesla Model S Plaid * (AWD) 2019 Tesla Model 3 DMP (AWD) 2021 Honda Accord 2.0T Sport (FWD) 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid (4WD)
PS (SAE NET) 1020 hp (comb) 450 hp (comb) 252 hp 430 hp
Torque (SAE NET) 1050 lb-ft (comb) 471 lb-ft (comb) 273 lb-ft 570 lb-ft
Base price $ 131,190 $ 57,190 $ 33,105 $ 58,490
60 feet time 1.69 sec. 2.08 sec. 2.61 sec. 2.36 sec.
0-60 MPH 2.1 sec. 3.2 sec. 5.5 sec. 5.3 sec.
0-60 MPH distance 98 feet 139 feet 254 ft 259 ft
1/4 mile elapsed time 9.4 sec. 11.7 sec. 14.1 sec. 13.8 sec.
1/4 mile drop speed 152.2 km / h 115.7 mph 100.4 mph 102.1 km / h
Max g when accelerating 1.30 g at 28.4 mph 0.89 g at 29.4 mph 0.67 g at 0.93 mph 0.69 g at 10.1 mph
* On unprepared asphalt


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