Tesla came, saw, but did not conquer the Green Hell

The brewing rivalry between Tesla and Porsche has taken another turn after the California-based electric carmaker went to the Nurburgring for the very first time…and left without actually posting a time. But that’s not stopping Tesla from puffing its chest, saying that the triple-motor Model S “Plaid Mode” can clock a lap time of 7:20.

Even more brazen, Tesla’s calling yet another shot, claiming that “with some improvements,” the Model S can achieve a lap time of 7:05 when the automaker returns to the ‘Ring next month. Tesla didn’t specifically say when it plans to return in October, but it will be interesting to see what it does when it comes back to the Nurburgring. Judging by its first foray to the world’s most famous race track, Tesla claims to have done a lot without actually doing, well, a lot.

Here’s what we know about this budding rivalry between Tesla and Porsche. The latter launched the Taycan to great acclaim a few weeks ago. Shortly after that, Tesla announced that it would bring the Model S to the Nurburgring for the first time. The timing of Tesla’s announcement wasn’t a coincidence. With the Taycan in the fold and threatening to take the Model S’s crown, Elon Musk and company went on the offensive, determined to snatch the four-door production car lap record that was recently set by, you guessed it, the Porsche Taycan Turbo.

Determined to mark its territory, Tesla didn’t just bring a production Model S to the Nurburgring.

It brought a prototype model, called the Model S Plaid, that’s powered by three electric motors — one at the front and two at the back — and was kitted with all sorts of aerodynamic additions, including, but not limited to, a rear spoiler.

It also had carbon-ceramic brakes, a gutted interior, according to witnesses who saw the car at the ‘Ring, and it was even wearing a set of lightweight wheels wrapped in wider semi-slick Goodyear tires, either the Eagle F1 Supersport RS or Supercar 3Rs variety. Hardly a production Model S that you can order from Tesla.

Tesla Claims the Model S Can Lap the Nurburgring in 7:05 - After Not Posting an Official Time Exterior Spyshots
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In any case, Tesla brought this prototype-spec Model S to the Nurburgring and, as you might expect, it scorched the track on the way to what an eyewitness claimed was a lap time of 7:23. That’s a significant time because it’s almost 20 seconds faster than the 7:42 lap time set by the Taycan Turbo a few weeks ago. Tesla being Tesla, the automaker wasted little time shouting about the Model S Plaid’s accomplishment, saying that the triple-motor prototype could achieve a 7:20 lap time, according to “data from our track tests.”

This is where it gets interesting. Even with the “eyewitness” timed lap, the Model S Plaid actually didn’t set a legitimate time because its runs around the ‘Ring were done during an industry pool session where manufacturer timing is banned on a track layout that doesn’t allow for flying laps. Still, Tesla’s going to take its victories any way it can get them, and while there will be debates on the supposed record lap time and the version of the Model S that set said record lap time, that didn’t stop

Tesla from shooting its own shot yet again, claiming that with some improvements to the non-production spec Model S Plaid, it could set a 7:05 lap time when the Model S returns next month.
Tesla Claims the Model S Can Lap the Nurburgring in 7:05 - After Not Posting an Official Time Exterior Spyshots
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So, Tesla’s coming back to the Nurburgring next month, and it’s bringing a modified version of the Model S Plaid prototype. The latter still isn’t a production model so it does look like Tesla’s only doing this to stroke its own ego. Fortunately, Porsche still has an ace up its own sleeve. The faster and more powerful Taycan Turbo S has yet to take a lap around the Nurburgring. Perhaps we should just wait for these two electric vehicles to line side-by-side at the Nurburgring and do it the old-fashioned way to see which of these two is faster around the Green Hell.

Fastest Sedans Around Nurbugring
Subaru WRX STI Type RA NBR (non-street legal) 6:57.5
Jaguar XE SV Project 8 7:21.23
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 7:32
Porsche Panamera Turbo 7:38
Honda Civic Type R 7:43
Volvo S60 Polestar 7:51
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S 7:55
BMW M5 7:55
Subaru WRX STI 7:55
Cadillac CTS-V 7:59

Further Reading

Tesla Claims the Model S Can Lap the Nurburgring in 7:05 - After Not Posting an Official Time Exterior Spyshots
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The Tesla Model S Plaid May Have Beaten the Taycan Around the Nurburgring

2017 Tesla Model S Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Tesla Model S.

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