We are starting to learn more information about the new track mode that Tesla is working on for the Performance Model 3 and what it does to the vehicle.
While still don’t have the full picture, we get to learn a little more through a new track test and comments from the Tesla engineers who developed the system.
Last month, we got a Performance Model 3 test drive, but it was in the middle of Los Angeles during rush hour and it didn’t allow us to really test the performance of the car nor did it even have the option for track mode.
Tesla only allowed the Wall Street Journal and Youtuber MKBHD to test it and not much information about the mode came out of their report.
Now Tesla has made available two Model 3 Performance vehicles with a beta version of track mode for Road and Track to test – resulting in the best look at the system to date.
As we previously reported, Tesla claims that they have developed their own in-house vehicle dynamic controls (VDC) system for the first time with the Model 3 Performance version, which is allowing them to develop more advanced driving modes.
It hasn’t been clear how they were using that new VDC to make that track mode beyond changing traction controls to allow the vehicle to drift and oversteer.
Generally, in other vehicles with similar ‘race modes’ or ‘track modes’, it involves removing or changing the behavior of onboard driver assist features like traction control and power steering, but Tesla takes on the concept differently.
Michael Neumeyer, Tesla Manager of Chassis Controls, told Road and Track:
“Our Track Mode doesn’t disable features, it adds them,”
Apparently, it doesn’t just turn off stability and traction controls, instead, it exploits the features differently to change the feel of the Model 3.
We speculated that it could also involve the use of regenerative braking which can be helpful when racing. Neumeyer confirmed that.
He said that the transfer of regen between the front and back motors of the Model 3 Performance helps balance the car during hard cornering.
It also enables some oversteer. Road and Track reported:
“It also gives the Model 3 Performance a nifty trick no other Tesla can do: Lift-throttle oversteer, coded right into the software. In Track Mode, the regenerative braking is increased significantly—up to 0.3g of deceleration, compared to a max of 0.2g in street trim. When you lift in a corner, the regen tosses all the weight forward, loading up the front axle. The rear tires, now regenerating under much less weight, break loose. The stability control looks the other way. Presto! Oversteer.”
Lars Moravy, Tesla Director of Chassis Engineering, said that they tried to find a balance between a car that is fun to handle but also comfortable to drive on the road.
“It’s easy to make a car that handles well. But if you want to make it go over bumps and ride well, be comfortable, that is really difficult to do. We worked long and hard to make it be able to go around the track fast, be agile, be responsive, but not shatter your teeth out.”
As we previously reported, Tesla started deliveries of the Model 3 Performance version, but it hasn’t released Track mode yet.
The feature is expected to come as an over-the-air software update. The timeline is unclear.
Update: Tesla sent us more background the track mode.
The company says that it uses the traction between the two motors and slip distribution instead of brakes, which gives more control to the driver.
Tesla says the traction control will still help in “tougher situations.”
The regenerative braking not only acts differently in track mode as described above but it also has increased regen power, which helps give a break to the brakes.
Under track mode, Tesla also changed the powertrain cooling algorithm to be optimized for the high power usage of a track day.