- a modified tesla model s was spotted testing on the nürburgring nordschleife, the german racetrack where automakers regularly attempt to set unofficial lap times.
- the sighting comes only a few days after tesla ceo elon musk tweeted that he would send the sedan in an attempt to set the track record for a production ev.
- tesla's sudden desire to hot-lap the model s appears like a direct response to the news of the porsche taycan turbo s completing the loop in seven minutes, 42 seconds.
those who thought tesla ceo elon musk had short-circuited last week when he promised to send a model s to the nürburgring for some hot laps now have to clean the egg off their faces. in fact, we had barely finished breakfast this morning when our spy photographer sent us images of a tesla-backed model s looping the nordschleife.
however, before tesla fanatics start yelling we told you so!, please be clear that the red s turning laps on the iconic german circuit in these photos is clearly not a production model. immediately obvious are its flared fenders and unfamiliar wheels, which are wrapped in stickier high-performance michelin tires. there's also an enlarged opening on the tesla's chin that should improve cooling.
likewise, a gurney flap is attached to its hatch for added downforce. less obvious is the p100d+ badge (not currently an actual model for sale) on the rear and two-piece carbon-ceramic brakes that can be seen in close-up shots. we also couldn't help noticing that the company's notorious build-quality issues were on display with noticeable panel gaps around the hood.
for those who are out of the loop (no pun intended), musk apparently felt compelled to lap the model s after mocking the forthcoming porsche taycan on twitter last week. the noted provocateur first teased porsche for putting turbo in the taycan's nomenclature—we all know that electric vehicles don't have turbos. silly porsche. still, a few hours later musk tweeted that a model s would be on the nürburgring next week. and here we are.
musk even confirmed the ev's recent sighting. where? on twitter, of course. he also unofficially announced a new tesla powertrain called plaid—a reference to the hyperdrive mode that's quicker than ludicrous speed in the movie spaceballs. while details are obviously scarce, we'd wager that the highest-performance model will likely employ three electric motors instead of two. why? because musk himself confirmed that the model s that yesterday claimed a lap record for the fastest four-door at laguna seca had three electric motors.
so it would make sense that the models s spotted at the 'ring has this plaid powertrain, too, or at least the same setup as the laguna seca car. while the tesla ceo didn't explicitly say the s would be quicker than the taycan turbo s, which set a lap record there for production evs at seven minutes, 42 seconds, it seems highly likely that the taycan's time is in its crosshairs. however, a litany of challenges face the tesla and its attempt to complete the 12.9-mile former formula 1 course that is also known as the green hell.
not only does tesla have as much experience testing on the challenging nordschleife as it does building gas-burning engines, but the stock model s also has some serious hardware deficiencies that make prolonged high-performance driving difficult—namely, insufficient battery cooling and braking capabilities. this partially explains the heavy modifications that our spy photographer captured. he also noted that the model s pictured spent the day prior at a private testing facility where it was being prepped for the lapping sessions.
regardless of lap records and automakers' dubious reporting methods of "official" times, the pictures prove that elon musk's twitter pledge to send a model s to the nürburgring came true. now, we just need to see if his souped-up tesla can take down porsche.