Tesla Model S Plaid does 0-60 in 'just' 2.59 seconds — what's going on?

tesla model s plaid
(Image credit: Tesla)

How fast does the Tesla Model S Plaid go from 0-60 mph? According to Tesla, the car can manage that feat in 1.99 seconds. Which is incredibly impressive, and makes the car one of the fastest accelerating production cars on the market.

But your experience may differ, as shown by this acceleration test video from ICSI. This test that showed the car going from 0-60 in 2.59 seconds. That’s over half a second slower than what Tesla promises. So what’s the deal here? 

Well, there’s a lot of reasons for that discrepancy, the main one being that Tesla doesn’t measure rollout as part of its 0-60 timing. Essentially, this means Tesla is operating under drag race rules, and the clock doesn’t start until the wheels have made one full rotation. 

In other words it means the car has travelled about a foot, and has already started accelerating before the clock starts ticking. ICSI’s speed test didn’t do this, and the clock started when the car started moving.

Environmental factors can also affect acceleration, including what surface you’re driving on and what tires you’re using. Ordinary street tires on the public road won’t be as fast as specialized tires on a specially prepared drag strip.

Tesla itself has even admitted that the Model S Plaid needs to be put into a special ‘drag strip mode’ to reach its peak acceleration, according to Motor Trend. That’s a process, rather than a simple push of a button, and involves waiting between eight and 15 minutes for the battery to reach the optimal temperature and for the electric motors to cool down.

ICSI apparently did go through the motions to activate drag strip mode, otherwise the time would likely have been noticeably slower. The car also had three people inside, which would have increased the weight and slowed the car down ever so slightly.

Still, as you can see in the video above it’s clear that the Model S Plaid is no slouch, and it seems to hit 60 miles per hour in absolutely no time at all. After all, the 0.6 second difference between ICSI’s time and Tesla’s official one isn’t huge.

That makes a lot of differences on spec sheets and during a race, but not during real-world driving. Plus, you’re still hitting 60mph in under three seconds, which is a pretty exhilarating experience, as any rollercoaster enthusiast will tell you.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.