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Tesla Owners Provide Top Gear with Real Data for Model S vs Taycan 'LaunchGate' Controversy


Tesla owners have decided to help Top Gear gather up-to-date information for its Tesla Model S vs. Porsche Taycan drag race after the British car show made a slight gaffe with its results. It seems all the showrunners needed to do was ask for a hand, and the Tesla community would have provided them with the equipment they needed—they probably would have given them an orientation to the all-electric vehicle’s features and capabilities, too.

Top Gear’s all-electric drag race declared the Porsche Taycan Turbo S the winner with a recorded time of 2.61s from 0-60 mph and a total time of 10.68s at 131.6mph during the 1/4 mile race. The Taycan supposedly went up against the Tesla Model S Performance. According to Top Gear’s initial report, the Model S was slightly behind the Taycan with a recorded time of 2.68s from 0-60 and a total run time of 11.08s at 124.0mph on the quarter-mile.

Tesla Community's Take

Top Gear’s recorded times for the Tesla Model S during the Porsche Taycan race were actually lower than the times Tesla owners reported during their own informal tests. A few Tesla owners around the world seem to have thought the same, including the President and founder of the Tesla Owner’s Club in Taiwan, Michael Hsu.

Hsu is a car enthusiast and a big Tesla fan, as evident by his status in the community and the cars he owns. He owns a Model X, Model 3, and the Model S P100D — the older version of Tesla’s full-sized flagship sedan. His Model S runs at 2.4s from 0-60, while in Launch Mode and Ludicrious+ Mode—and it isn’t even the latest iteration of the car.

Elon Musk improved its flagship sedan with the release of the “Raven” Tesla Model S Performance—take note, Top Gear, it is not the same as the P100D. Although it is technically the same car—and the P in P100D may stand for performance—the “Raven” is definitely different. It’s fitted with a more efficient motor and a new suspension, which makes it more optimized for a race, especially against the equally impressive Porsche Taycan Turbo S. In fact, if Top Gear wanted to really show the German-made EV’s muster, it should have tested it against the real Tesla Model S Performance.

Eli Burton, President of My Tesla Adventure, an owner’s club in America, tested the Raven on the drag strip this year. He raced it as soon as it was delivered and actually held the record for the fastest Tesla car in the world. So what was Burton’s final time? On a quarter-mile race, Burton’s true and blue “Raven” Model S Performance finished with a time of 10.6s, while in Launch Mode and Ludicrous+ Mode. Burton later beat his own record after fitting performance wheels on his vehicle, proving that two races with the same car won’t always yield the same results.

Top Gear Defends Its Results

Interestingly enough, Top Gear’s record for the Model S against the Taycan is precisely the same as the times it yielded when the British car show pitted the P100D variant against the Mercedes AMG E63S in 2017. YouTuber Brooks from DragTimes, an experienced drag racer, noticed the identical time with the help of his friend. He called out the results, stating it’s impossible for any car to yield identical times in any race. According to Top Gear, they published the results of the drag race with the old time results from 2017 to show the Model S in a better light, since those were the best figures the showrunners had achieved from the all-electric car.

As pointed out before, the P100D and the “Raven” Performance aren’t exactly the same car. Even if Top Gear—which is presumably run by car experts—somehow confused the two variants, the Tesla Model S P100D’s recorded time seems off. How did Top Gear get 11.07s on a quarter-mile race—while on Ludicrous+ Mode—for the Model S P100D when an experienced drag racer, namely Brooks from DragTimes, was able to get high-10 quarter-mile times consistently with the same variant.

The only difference between drivers at Top Gear and Tesla owners, like Hsu and Brooks, would be their knowledge of the Model S. For instance, Top Gear went out of its way to clarify that when they tested the Model S--whatever version they had--against the Taycan, Ludicrous+ Mode was enabled. However, Tesla owners know for the best results on a race, Launch Mode must also be enabled, and Range mode must definitely be turned off.

Michael Hsu and other Tesla owners realized that the Top Gear driver had left Range mode on during the tests. The feature was made to conserve energy so the battery’s charge lasts longer—not exactly what a racer wants when running a quarter-mile race.

Maybe next time someone at Top Gear should pay attention during Tesla’s orientation of the car. Every owner gets a one-on-one lesson about their new Tesla vehicle when it is delivered. Top Gear’s launch gate gaffe is one of the reasons every new Tesla owner should pay attention during their orientation.

About the Author

Claribelle Deveza

Claribelle Deveza

Longtime writer and news/book editor. Writing about Tesla allows me to contribute something good to the world, while doing something I love.

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