Video: Tesla Model S Plaid reclaims Nurburgring electric-car lap record from Porsche Taycan
After losing the title to Porsche last year, the Tesla Model S Plaid – not coming to Australia – has returned to the top of the electric production car time sheets at Germany’s Nurburgring race circuit.
The Tesla Model S Plaid – not sold in Australia – is once again the fastest production electric car to lap Germany’s Nurburgring race track, 10 months after it lost the title to the Porsche Taycan Turbo S.
Tesla announced on Twitter on Sunday the Model S Plaid – now equipped with the optional Track Pack, with a higher top-speed limiter, track-day tyres and upgraded brakes – has posted a seven-minute, 25.231-second lap around the 20.832km circuit.
It beats the previous benchmark of 7min 33.350sec set by the Porsche Taycan Turbo S electric car in August 2022 by more than eight seconds.
This time was two seconds faster than the Tesla’s original 7min 35.579sec Nurburgring lap record posted in September 2021.
The Model S Plaid also becomes the second-fastest four-door production car to officially lap the iconic German circuit, just trailing a 7min 23.164sec time set by the two-seat but four-door Jaguar XE SV Project 8 supercharged V8 sedan in 2019.
Attributed to the record is a new Track Pack introduced for the Model S last month, which is available to order for $US20,000 ($AU30,400) in the US, or €18,435 ($AU30,200) in Europe.
It lifts the top-speed limiter to 322km//h (200mph) – as promised when the Model S Plaid was unveiled two years ago, up from 282km/h – and adds lighter 20-inch ‘Zero-G’ forged aluminium wheels and track-oriented Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tyres.
Also included are 410mm carbon-silicon brake discs with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers, and improved brake pads and fluid.
These are designed to address criticisms of the standard steel brakes, which owners have found to fade quickly after repeated use from high speeds on a race track.
The new Tesla time is the latest in a lap-record exchange between Porsche and the US electric-car specialist stretching back to late 2019.
Porsche was first to announce an electric-car lap record on the Nurburgring, recording a 7min 42.30sec lap time in August 2019 with a pre-production Taycan Turbo, one model grade below the Turbo S (video below).
However this was set around the 20.6km layout of the track – not the 20.832km layout used for official lap timing since 2019, inclusive of an extra 232m section of the final straight for a complete lap.
It was also set during testing and development of the base vehicle, rather than in a formal lap-record attempt verified by Nurburgring officials.
In cars with similar performance to the Porsche, this additional 232m stretch takes about five seconds to complete – which would push the Taycan’s lap time to about seven minutes and 47 seconds.
Tesla was first spotted with two modified Model S prototypes on the Nurburgring the following month, testing what would become the three-motor Plaid model a year later, with wider wheel arches and tyres.
Although the test vehicles were unofficially timed by onlookers’ stopwatches to have completed seven-minute 23-second lap times, Tesla did not attempt a formal lap record.
The company claimed in a Twitter post in late September “data from our track tests indicates that Model S Plaid can achieve 7:20 at the Nürburgring”, and that “with some improvements, 7:05 may be possible when Model S returns next month”.
It took until September 2021 for Tesla to set a formal lap record around the Nurburgring, posting a 7min 35.579sec time (above) around the 20.832km configuration, with Nurburgring and German motor-vehicle registry officials present.
The Model S Plaid became the first car to officially set a Nurburgring lap record for an electric production car, as the Porsche’s 2019 time was not conducted under the watch of German officials.
It was held until Porsche returned to the Nurburgring in August 2022 (below) with a Taycan Turbo S fitted with an optional “performance kit” available through Porsche dealers in Germany.
This package includes 21-inch RS Spyder Design wheels, Pirelli P Zero Corsa track-day tyres, and a software update for the vehicle’s control systems to account for the new capabilities of the wheels and tyres.
Although the Taycan Turbo S with the optional performance kit is the fastest model in the current Porsche Taycan range, the German car maker has been seen testing a future high-performance variant.
This is expected to arrive as part of the facelifted Taycan range due later this year, or sometime next year.
The new model – which could be named Turbo GT – has been seen with a large front splitter, a fixed rear wing, and a lip spoiler on the boot lid.
While the changes appear relatively subtle – compared to the wild wings and splitters seen on high-performance Porsche 911 GT sports cars – significant changes are expected under the skin, according to overseas reports.
Reports claim the flagship Taycan could develop up to 1000 metric horsepower (735kW) – compared to the Tesla’s 1020 imperial horsepower (761kW).
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