The Tesla Model S Plaid is a 200mph, 1,020bhp electric car | Top Gear
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The Tesla Model S Plaid is a 200mph, 1,020bhp electric car

Tesla claims 0-60mph in less than two seconds and "the quickest production car ever"

Published: 11 Jun 2021

“The quickest production car ever,” says Tesla of the new Model S Plaid. Bold claim, and one worth testing when we can get our hands on a car. So without further ado, let’s look at the company’s own numbers.

First, acceleration. “No production car has ever done 0-60mph in under two seconds,” said Elon Musk at a glitzy event at Tesla’s Fremont, California factory, where the company delivered the first handful of Model S Plaids to owners. Mate Rimac may disagree, and so might a few of you. Depends on your definition of a ‘production car’.

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Tesla claims the 1,020bhp Model S Plaid accelerates from zero to 60mph in 1.99 seconds. That’s an American-style 0-60, mind, allowing for a one-foot rollout. So its actual standing start-to-60mph and 62mph times are likely to be a little over two seconds. Still that’s uncomfortably, outrageously rapid for any kind of car, not least a four-door saloon with a decent boot and seating for five.

And we’re promised that because Tesla’s doubled the size of the radiator, the Plaid can, in the words of Elon Musk, do “back-to-back 0-60s, go on the track and just haul ass” without “getting winded” – good, because this is something the Model S has struggled with in the past. The new motors – of which the Plaid has three – have carbon-sleeved rotors (a first, apparently). Snazzy.

Next, outright speed. Tesla claims the Plaid is a 200mph car “when equipped with the proper wheels and tyres”, which ought to be available sometime this autumn, and clocks a 9.23-second quarter-mile at 155mph. Outrageous. Musk says it’s “the fastest production car to complete a quarter-mile” – yet another claim Mr Rimac might have something to say about.

Claimed range is around 390 miles thanks to a new battery of unspecified capacity and revised aero – Musk says the Model S Plaid has the “lowest drag coefficient of any car ever made” at 0.208, another controversial claim (yes, we have asked Merc for the third decimal point). Charging performance has been improved so the Plaid can take on up to 187 miles of range in just 15 minutes at a Tesla Supercharger.

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Of course the Plaid gets all the same kit as the newly-revised Model S – the yoke steering wheel, mega-powerful infotainment system and more spacious rear-seats.

You might remember there was to be an even faster, longer-range Model S called the Plaid+. But that’s no longer a thing – a few days ago Musk tweeted “Plaid+ is cancelled. No need, as Plaid is just so good”.

In the UK the Model S Plaid costs £118,980. Tesla’s site estimates deliveries will begin towards the end of 2022.

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