The 2022 Tesla Model S Plaid has many things in its arsenal to put down some insane acceleration numbers. For starters, it includes three electric motors—one at the front axle, and one at each rear wheel—to total 1,020 horsepower and 1,050 lb-ft of torque. A set of 21-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires (265/35 up front and 295/30 at the back) does the important job of putting that huge amount of power to the ground. And finally, the Model S Plaid’s launch-control system preps the powertrain for explosive, neck-snapping acceleration runs. Thankfully, activating launch control is fairly easy. Here’s how to do it:
Tap the “Controls” icon on the infotainment screen (the icon is a mugshot of the Model S located at the lower left corner). This brings you to a menu where you’ll select “Pedals & Steering,” and then “Acceleration.”
Next, you’ll need to select “Drag Strip Mode,” which is Teslaspeak for launch control. The system then preconditions the battery pack, bringing it to its ideal operating temperature. This can take anywhere from eight to 15 minutes based on our observations, so you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to prepare prior to any straight-line showdowns. A message stating “Peak Performance is Ready” pops up to let you know the preconditioning process is complete. You’re almost there.
With the powertrain preconditioned, you can move to the final step. First, you’ll need to firmly stomp the brake pedal with your left foot, and then do the same to the accelerator pedal with your right foot. This operation initiates “Cheetah Stance,” which lowers the front end approximately 2 inches. This takes about eight to 10 seconds. According to Tesla, lowering the front end improves “traction and anti-lift geometry during maximum acceleration.” Tesla also says it tuned the system to allow the driver to hold this position longer than before.
“Cheetah Stance Enabled” and “Ready to launch” messages pop up on the instrument panel when the front end is done lowering and the car is ready to launch. All you need to do is take your foot off of the brake and let the car do the rest. If you’re brave enough to take your eyes off of the dragstrip, you can briefly check out the wild graphics that play on the instrumented panel during acceleration.
As we mention in our main story about our test of the Plaid, a quarter-mile run takes less than 10 seconds. But the great thing about the 2022 Tesla Model S Plaid is that you can turn around and do it all over again without having to go through the long preconditioning routine. That wasn’t possible in previous iterations of the Model S, and credit goes to improved powertrain thermal management.
During our dragstrip testing, we performed five or six back-to-back runs and didn’t notice any performance drop. In fact, the brakes will likely need a cooling period before the powertrain does. Additionally, at triple-digit speeds the steering yoke begins to feel a tad light and twitchy if the steering mode is in its standard setting. Sport mode feels more stable, and there’s also a comfort mode best used for your drive home from the drag races.