Marc UrbanoCar and Driver
- Tesla says its latest over-the-air update increases the power of its Model S and Model X Performance variants.
- The update also bumps up the vehicles’ thermal performance and endurance, Tesla claims.
- During a launch-control start, the Teslas go into a “cheetah stance,” lowering their front suspension and adjusting the damping for better traction.
When we recently pitted the Tesla Model S Performance against the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, one of the slights against the Tesla was the performance degradation after using its launch-control mode more than once. Tesla seems to have been paying attention and has now rolled out an update to the Model S and Model X Performance editions that includes higher thermal performance and includes a front-suspension-lowering “cheetah” launch mode. When Ludicrious+ mode is enabled, the front suspension lowers and the damping is adjusted to increase takeoff traction.
According to Tesla, the update includes a peak power increase, more high-speed power at speeds over 80 mph, and higher thermal performance with better endurance so there is less degradation of power after repeated use. In other words, you can use Ludicrous mode repeatedly with less power loss than before.
How can thermal performance be improved with software, you ask? Does this mean Tesla has just decided to let the battery pack and electric motors get hotter before pulling power? Yes, that’s exactly what happened, Tesla telling us that it has increased the cells’ maximum temperature and introduced new thermal models for the battery pack, powertrain hardware, and cells that control the limits of the powertrain. Of course, the biggest trick is making these changes while still being confident in the longevity of the battery pack and powertrain.
There’s nothing in the release notes about power gained, but back in October, CEO Elon Musk tweeted about this update, saying that it should add an additional 50 horsepower to the vehicles. The company also says that the user interface to enable launch mode has been simplified and that the process the driver has to complete to actually take off is more straightforward. Once the brake and accelerator are depressed, you now have 15 seconds to launch instead of the four seconds described on page 75 of the Owner’s Manual from before the update.