Tech-Driven Fast Laps: Tesla Track Package

LYNDON CONRAD BELL
Motor Matters

It’s time to update your database if the thought of running a Tesla on a racetrack fails to compute for you. While performing that download, you might also want to recall Tesla gleefully presented the “Ludicrous Mode” to the world back in 2015. Introduced for the brand’s flagship Model S sedan, this power setting gave Tesla’s large four-door the ability to accelerate from 0-to-60 mph in an astonishing 2.8 seconds.

Rumors emerged last autumn, giving rise to speculation that Tesla’s midsize Model 3 sedan would soon be graced with the 100-kWh battery pack, along with software and hardware upgrades to support the Ludicrous Mode. As things currently stand, however, the Model 3’s most potent powertrain is fed by a 75-kWh battery pack. Still, just to remind everyone of its middle child’s performance potential, Tesla is introducing the Model 3 Track Package, configured to further improve the sport sedan’s handling, and by extension, lower its lap times on racing circuits.

Those of you who follow such things closely are probably already aware of the fact the Tesla Model 3 has fared quite favorably in comparison tests with the industry’s benchmark in this category — BMW’s 330i. In fact, a May 2019 Motor Trend comparison test found the Model 3 actually bests the renowned BMW in many regards.

The Tesla accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds, compared to the BMW’s 5.6 time. The Model 3 ran the quarter mile in 12.5 seconds at 113.1 mph, compared to the 330i’s 14 seconds at 98.1 mph. And, adding insult to injury, the Tesla also beat the BMW on the figure-eight handling course. These results led Motor Trend’s Derek Powell to proclaim the Model 3 as the new leader in the midsize performance sedan class.

While we’re returning from our trip down memory lane, it’s also useful to recall that Tesla’s introduction to the world was in the form of a two-seat sports car based upon the Lotus Elise. In other words, the marque has included performance as an aspect of its design brief from day one.

Of course, EVs do have a rather significant performance advantage over internal combustion engine (ICE)-powered vehicles, in that all of an electric motor’s torque is available the moment you punch the throttle. This gives them far superior acceleration potential. In a drag race, while the vehicle powered by an ICE is building up to its torque peak, the EV is long gone.

Taking things one step further, Tesla has made some moves calculated to give its Model 3 improved stability at high speed, along with added grip when asked to corner and brake with more ferocity. Offered for Model 3s specified with Tesla’s Performance trim level — which includes the company’s dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain — the package is based upon a set of 245/35-20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Regularly heralded as the best high-performance tires on the market, these are mounted on a set of super-lightweight 20-inch Zero-G wheels.

Continuing the theme, the Model 3’s standard front and rear brake pads are exchanged for a set designed to withstand the higher temperatures running on a track produces. Similarly, the Tesla’s standard brake fluid is supplanted by a formulation better suited to dealing with the extreme heat generated by repeated braking from high speeds.

Those components dovetail nicely with Tesla’s upcoming V2 Track mode for the Model 3. The software upgrade will enhance the Model 3’s custom driving modes while also endowing the sedan with a G-force meter, adjustable traction control, and several other features specifically intended to enhance its performance on the track.

According to Tesla, the Model 3 Track package price is set at $5,500. If you already have a Model 3 equipped with the Performance trim level, then the package can be retrofitted to your car.

Tesla is introducing the Model 3 Track Package, configured to further improve the sport sedan’s handling, and by extension, lower its lap times on racing circuits. The Model 3’s standard front and rear brake pads are exchanged for a set designed to withstand the higher temperatures running on a track produces.