When most people hear the term "electric car," the thought of a humble Nissan Leaf might come to mind. Put that person in the passenger seat of a Tesla Model 3 Performance, though, and their opinion of an EV's capability can flip like a light switch. Tesla knows this, and it has worked hard to launch performance variants of its all-electric vehicle lineup. Now, a new over-the-air (OTA) update for the Tesla Model 3 will enable Track Mode v2—a feature that further pushes the Model 3's limits by allowing owners to individually tune the driving experience of their cars.
You might already be familiar with Tesla's "Track Mode." The automaker first announced the feature last year as a perk for its top-tier Model 3 Performance, showing that an electric car on the track can be just as enjoyable as its gasoline-powered counterpart. Tesla's newest iteration of the tech will improve upon its initial track-focused handling package, enabling owners to make a plethora of tweaks and adjustments to the powertrain and brakes.
Like all features in the Model 3, drivers must enable Track Mode from the car's center-mounted touchscreen. Once enabled, the display changes to show more in-depth information about the car, including temperature status of the tires, brakes, powertrain, and battery, plus an accelerometer that plots historic g-force readings.
The same screen also permits customization to the driving style of the car, beginning with how power is distributed. The factory 50-50 power balance can be swapped in favor of full rear-wheel-drive, front-wheel-drive, or any combination in-between. Regenerative braking is also customizable, meaning that the artificial braking can be welcomed or neutered at the touch of a simple slider.
A Compressor Overclock function allows the powertrain's cooling compressor to "go into overdrive," meaning that it overworks the vehicle's on-board water pump to cool the powertrain at a faster rate, preventing performance from being thermally limited.
Modern cars are also known for their driving aids and nannies which often mute the experience on the track. Never fear, because Tesla will allow the driver to disable these safeguards while in Track Mode unless they feel like they need a bit of extra help, in which case they can actually increase the Stability Assist functions of the car.
Best of all, these settings can be saved into individual profiles so if you want to spend the morning drifting and the afternoon autocrossing, the vehicle's driving style can be changed by clicking a single button. Oh, and your sessions can be recorded via the Tesla's onboard cameras. This is the future.
Tesla also released an optional "Model 3 Track Package" this week which further dives into the performance side of its cars. This $5,000 upgrade is available to Performance-trim owners and includes new 20-inch "Zero-G" wheels, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, high-performance brake pads, and track-focused brake fluid. These clearly can't be delivered via OTA updates like Track Mode, but they're meant to provide a supplemental layer of driving engagement for owners looking to truly test their cars.
Small olive branches from automakers, like Tesla's Track Mode v2, are helping enthusiasts grow accustomed to electric cars. And if it's as easy as performing an update through WiFi, who wouldn't want more performance from their Model 3? This is a noteworthy step for traditionalists to take note of, but we'll have to wait until we drive one to say if it's as fun as a gas-powered track weapon.
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