Tesla’s fastest electric car has returned to the Nurburgring in production guise – with a record attempt said to be in its sights.
The 2022 Tesla Model S Plaid electric super sedan has been snapped lapping the famed Nurburgring circuit in Germany – and rumours suggest it’s gunning for a lap record.
Nearly two years since its last outing in September 2019, the Model S Plaid has returned to the ‘Ring in its production form, swapping the crude lip spoilers, splitters, fixed wings and sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres fitted to Tesla’s 2019 test car for the more conservative look and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber now on sale in the US.
Despite that, local rumours indicate the Plaid is looking to set a lap record – though whether it’s only targeting the Porsche Taycan electric sedan’s seven-minute, 42-second time, or the circa seven-minute 25-second overall record for production sedans, isn’t clear.
The compact VBox timing antennas mounted above the driver and passenger doors suggests Tesla is using satellite data to track the car’s lap times or, at minimum, monitor its performance.
Our spy photography partners snapped the electric sedan on track on two seperate occasions, with the second outing seeing the standard car’s controversial aircraft-style ‘yoke’ steering wheel replaced by a more conventional circular item (top of story).
It’s not clear whether the circular wheel was fitted for test use only, or whether Tesla plans to offer it as an option – though recent comments from CEO Elon Musk suggests the former is more likely. However, doubts have also been cast over whether the ‘yoke’ will pass Australian and European certification standards.
Powering the Model S Plaid is a trio of electric motors developing a combined 761kW, sent to all four wheels for a 9.23-second quarter-mile time (402m), and a 2.1-second claimed 0-100km/h time – though independent testing in the US has only been able to match this figure on a prepared drag strip.
The array of records standing in Tesla’s path range from the Porsche Taycan Turbo’s seven-minute, 42-second time (on the shorter 20.6km layout), to the outright sedan records for the four-seat Mercedes-AMG GT63 S (7:27.800) and two-seat Jaguar XE SV Project 8 (7:23.164).
As a refresher, the Model S Plaid was last spied on the Nurburgring in September 2019, when a slew of heavily-modified sedans with sticky tyres, wide wheel arches, carbon-ceramic brakes and large rear lip spoilers lapped the track over the course of a week.
Stopwatch-equipped onlookers are said to have timed one vehicle around the circuit in seven minutes and 23 seconds – comfortably beating the Porsche’s record.
Tesla later added credence to photographers’ measured times, stating on Twitter that “data from our track tests indicates that Model S Plaid can achieve 7:20 at the Nurburgring”. It also hinted at a time as low as 7:05 “when Model S returns [in October 2019]”.
The American electric car specialist returned to the Nurburgring as promised two months later, with even more aggressive prototypes featuring mammoth rear spoilers, high-downforce diffusers, and front wheel-arch cooling vents.
While it’s not known how quickly the new Plaid prototypes lapped the ‘Ring, expect the 2021 cars to fall slightly behind their more aggressive 2019 counterparts when the clocks are stopped.
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2022 Tesla Model S Plaid returns to the Nurburgring, record attempt likely imminent