Tesla confirms 320km/h Model S ‘Plaid’ will come to NZ

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Words: Matthew Hansen
23 Sep 2020

In the midst of the reveal of its new battery technology, Tesla has surprised fans by also announcing a new car — a performance flagship for its Model S sedan and the quickest accelerating car ever made. So it says.

The model is called the Plaid, named after a reference from the movie Spaceballs. Initially constructed as a Nurburgring Nordschleife rival for the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, Tesla has elected to put the thing into proper production.

The numbers are undoubtedly impressive. The sprint to 100km/h is done in a mere 2.1 seconds, and a top speed of 320km/h is claimed. Tesla notes that the Plaid can run down the quarter mile in less than nine seconds, too.

The reason for all this added pace is the addition of a third electric motor. Factored into the equation, its addition means power goes up to over 820kW. Range is just as impressive, rated by Tesla at over 840km per charge.

The Plaid is the latest chapter in a new electric performance car arms race between Tesla, Porsche, and upstarts Lucid.

After taking on the Taycan at the Nurburgring, Tesla took the Plaid to Mazda Laguna Seca to have a crack at lap record pace — eventually achieving a 1:36.55. Lucid then took their new car, the Air, to the same track, beating Tesla’s time by three seconds. At today’s press conference, CEO Elon Musk proudly exclaimed that the Plaid has since gone back to Laguna Seca and recorded a 1:30.

The model has already appeared on the firm’s websites as available for pre-order. In New Zealand, it’ll set buyers back $257,900 plus on-road costs — a hefty jump compared to the $177,990 Model S Performance that it replaces at the top of the totem.

There are many unanswered details about the Plaid that are yet to be confirmed. It’s expected to have been handed beefed up suspension and braking systems, plus meatier tyres, to deal with all that extra power and speed.

It’s also unknown whether the model will look like all other Model S variants (as per how it currently appears on the Tesla order books), or whether it will get some bespoke aero of its own. All of its videos of Plaid prototype testing so far, as per the grainy image above, have shown a car with an aggressive front splitter, rear diffuser, and duck-tail rear wing.

Tesla claims deliveries will commence in late 2021.

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