- “Track Mode” is a software update to the Tesla Model 3 Performance that enables spirited, unstable driving of the sort that enthusiasts crave.
- Tesla released the update on Thursday.
- Motor Trend sampled the tech – and pro driver Randy Pobst lent a hand in its development.
Teslas are so fast in a straight line that they’ve gained some credibility in the drag-racing world. Until recently, however, they haven’t been noted for around-corners race-track performance.
The company was aware of this and so for the Model 3 sedan, it developed a new feature called “Track Mode.” I first heard about when I tested out a Performance version of the Model 3 earlier this year, but it wasn’t yet ready for prime time.
Now it is. “With Track Mode, which is designed specifically for use on closed autocross circuits and racetracks, our goal was simple: use that same motor power and torque to make cornering on the track feel just as natural as forward acceleration,” Tesla said on its website.
After considerable testing and tweaking – including enlisting tame race-car driver and Motor Trend throttle jockey Randy Pobst – Tesla has released Track Mode into the wild. Tesla celebrated the achievement with a very informative blog post about the bonkers performance boost that managed to make it all seem like a completely arid engineering experiment. Sample: “By precisely controlling whether torque goes to the front or the rear wheels, Model 3’s dual motors can immediately and silently increase or decrease the car’s rotation in a corner at your request.”
Luckily, the wordsmiths at Motor Trend crashed the party at Willow Springs, a track near Los Angeles. Their stylings were more in line with what enthusiasts might appreciate.
With Pobst’s input, the Track Mode-equipped Model 3 was a stunner, posting a 1:21.49 lap time. That “snips a lifetime-like 1.29 seconds from Randy’s recent lap in the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio,” Motor Trend wrote.
“The new time essentially matches a 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 and even beats a former Best Driver’s Car winner, the 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia (1:22.30). Until the new BMW M3 shows up, that perches the Model 3 atop the podium as the world’s quickest sport sedan-at least around this track.”
In a nutshell, Track Mode in a dual-motor Tesla destabilizes an otherwise very stable machine, while also adding cooling to the powertrain, which needs it to avoid overheating. While you would expect a combination of two motors, antilock braking, and traction/stability control to keep a Performance Model 3 more or less glued to the tarmac under spirited piloting, Track Mode sends the nanny home.
The result, to my eye (Tesla and Motor Trend each posted videos), is a Model 3 that wants to dart into corners, nail the apex and power out with some juicy oversteer, as power is vectored to the rear wheels. Fun stuff! As you can see from the screen grabs in this post, nice, juicy plumes of incinerated Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires can now be conjured, a la “Top Gear.”
Can’t wait to strap on my helmet and take a crack at “simultaneously [applied] brake and motor torque to produce a net increase in tractive force while cornering.”
I’m kidding, Elon. Track Mode sounds brilliant and is just what a lot of Tesla owners have been asking for.