Tesla Model S: From Insane to Ludicrous to slice 1/4-mile times (with video)

The original Tesla Model S P85D is quick, but it has now been superseded by the P90D, with its even more outrageous “Ludicrous” option. 

To lessen the sting for early P85D adopters, Tesla Motors also offers a “Ludicrous Upgrade” option for the earlier car--and many performance-minded P85D owners have chosen to get the $5,000 upgrade (plus labor costs).

That would include me.

DON'T MISS: Drag-Racing My Tesla P85D: 71-Year-Old Novice Hits The Strip (Video)

But how much actual performance improvement does this upgrade provide?

I've previously reported on the drag strip performance of my 2015 P85D as it has evolved from the original software to the latest functions in Version 7.0. 

2015 Tesla Model S P85D showing added Ludicrous mode [photo: George Parrott]

2015 Tesla Model S P85D showing added Ludicrous mode [photo: George Parrott]

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I saw my quarter-mile times fall from an impressive 11.72 seconds down to 11.63 seconds using the latest control systems, both while using the “Insane” power settings.

Now I have “Ludicrous” mode and Version 7.1 software on my 24,000-mile P85D, running 19-inch all-season tires.

ALSO SEE: Drag-Strip Test Of Top Tesla Model S Cars: P90D Vs P85D Vs P85+ (Video)

Five days ago, on February 24, I found myself at Sacramento Raceway, the site of my earlier best times, to learn just how much quicker the upgrade would make my car.

I was faced off against another recently upgraded P85D as we lined up to discover what we got for our upgrade “investment.”

2015 Tesla Model S P85D with Ludicrous badge added [photo: George Parrott]

2015 Tesla Model S P85D with Ludicrous badge added [photo: George Parrott]

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We had actually met earlier at Folsom Outlet Mall, which had the nearest Tesla Supercharger, to get our battery charge to the optimal state. But, I arrived a bit later than ideal, so ended up leaving with only a 90-percent charge, while my competitor Ray had gotten to a full 100-percent charge.

It was a 15-mile drive to the raceway, and we set our batteries to “Max Battery Power" for the race.

CHECK OUT: Tesla Model S Gets New 90-kWh Battery, 'Ludicrous' Performance Mode (Jul 2015)

Here are our quarter-mile times, in seconds, from four separate runs:

            TIME     5:09 pm     5:22pm     5:42 pm    6:08 pm

George             11.366        11.555      11.557      11.602

      Ray              11.342        11.345      11.367      11.513

2015 Tesla Model S P85D, May 2015 [photo: George Parrott]

2015 Tesla Model S P85D, May 2015 [photo: George Parrott]

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Ray had a best trap speed of 117.57 mph on his first run, and my best was 115.99 also on my first run of the evening. The new mode managed to knock roughly 0.3 second off my best previous quarter-mile time, not too shabby.

This was the first time I had tried arriving at the raceway with less than a 100-percent charge when leaving the Supercharger site.

That seemed to cost me in direct comparison to Ray’s times and to his consistency with the higher charge state from the start.

WATCH THIS: Tesla Model S P85D 'Insane' Mode: NSFW Video Shows How Fast It Really Is:

Checking my car this morning for the dash photos, I see that another software upgrade will be installed tonight. Perhaps that will offer another performance boost, since not a single P90DL owner has managed to come even close to the quarter-mile times of below 11 seconds that were originally posted by Tesla for this model?

There still seems to be a bit of a disappointing difference in trap speed between owner cars (maxing around 117 mph) vs the Motor Trend test P90DL which turned over 121 mph. 

So I'll be back to the Raceway for another testing session next month.

Still photos of starting line: Amy Grafius; video by Jennifer Rousseve; other photos by George Parrott.


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