The Quickest Teslas Are Getting Even Quicker, Thanks to a Free Upgrade

Thank Elon for the power of software updates.


Even people who don’t know much about cars know about Tesla. Over the last decade, Elon Musk‘s California-based carmaker single-handedly made electric cars cool by showing just how stylish, fast and futuristic they could be. But the company has also burnished their brand through a simple tactic that would be familiar to any conventional automaker: Make Cars Go Fast. Their super-powerful powertrains and clever software optimization have enabled Tesla’s high-performance sedans and SUVs to deliver acceleration that can humble supercars (if, admittedly, the conditions are right).

And now, the quickest Teslas are getting even quicker, thanks to one of the company’s free over-the-air software updates.

See, Tesla’s cars aren’t like most vehicles that require burdensome dealership visits to upgrade any software buried beneath the virtual hood; they can receive tweaks over Wi-Fi, just like your smartphone. One of the newest ones, as Motor Trend found out via DragTimes, improves the Launch Mode for the newest Model S Performance and Model X Performance models; not only does it make Launch Mode easier to use by giving you more time to brace yourself before firing your Tesla down the straight, it also shaves, by DragTimes‘s testing, roughly a tenth of a second from the 0-60 mph dash (knocking that down to 2.4 seconds) and two-tenths from the quarter-mile (bringing that to 10.5 seconds at 128 mph).

How’s it do that? Well, in part by simply adding power. The upgrade reportedly allows the electric motors and batteries to squeeze out an extra 40 horsepower or so during a launch. (Tesla doesn’t quote horsepower for its cars, but according to Wikipedia, that means the Model S Performance should be putting out around 790 horsepower at max attack.)

The other part of the upgrade, however, is a little more unusual. It’s called “cheetah stance,” according to Motor Trend; when the car goes into Launch Mode, the adaptive suspension preemptively drops the front end of the car closer to the ground ahead of it leaving the blocks, counteracting the inertia of the launch that throws the weight backwards. This, in theory, gives the front tires more grip and keeps the power from overwhelming the rear ones, improving traction.

If you’ve already got a Tesla Model S Performance or Model X Performance, you should be seeing the upgrade arrive on your car’s CPUs soon, if it isn’t there already. And if you don’t have one but really, really want a car that tucks its head down like the world’s fastest cat before launching, you can snag one from Tesla for as little as $99,990.

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