Software update 2020.8.1 includes one of the most enthusiast-focused features to date. This is one of those times where Tesla absolutely didn’t have to, but we’re bloody glad they did.
The update to Track Mode is generally referred to as Track Mode V2 and takes the initial Track Mode in Model 3 Performance cars and turns it right up to 11.
Enabling Track Mode now allows you to completely configure the power distribution in your car. Performance variants include the front and rear electric motors and thanks to easy to use sliders, you can convert your car to a completely FWD or RWD and everything in between.
This is a feature that was never on the spec sheet when we bought the vehicle, but thanks to an OTA update is rolling out to Tesla vehicles across the world.
The update offers 2 built-in presets for Race and Drift that can’t be changed, but also offers the ability to add a number of custom configurations.
Custom configurations allow you to modify the handling balance (or power delivery) between the front and rear wheel, with the non-track mode we use everyday being 50/50. From there you can slide it to 100/0, 80/20, 20/80 of 0/100 and everything between. This is a fantastic level of control over how your vehicles works.
When you plant your foot in a Tesla, you always feels completely in control, thanks to the max stability setting. With Track Mode, you have the choice to lower than setting using the stability assist, just like in video games. With the right setting and the right throttle application, this will spin the tyres and is absolutely something you only want to do on the race track.
If you are at a race track and attempting to set your best time, you may want more of a traditional feeling when you get off the accelerator, so you can tone down he amount of regenerative braking. As you’d expect, this negatively impacts your range, but if you select Track Mode, it’s clear your priorities are not with range.
At the bottom of the Track Mode Settings screen, you get a few toggle controls. These include Post-Drive Cooling, Compressor Overclock and Save Dashcam for Laps.
Actually using the new track mode is really neat, you simple enable it, then accept the warning (read first obviously), then you see your vehicle on the right of the display (RHD markets), turn to a representation of the power train, battery, brakes and tyres.
There’s also a fun geforce meter at the bottom, which shows a history (or record) of the highest Gs you achieve during your laps.
This brings us to lap timing. You may initially think you can only use Track Mode at a track, but there’s nothing technically stopping you from enabling this anywhere which is kind of amazing really.
To identify a start/end marker for a lap, you simply tap and hold for a second anywhere on the map. Once the checkered flag is down, you simply drive a lap and the route planning will remember the sequence of corners you took to return and pass over that start/finish line.
If you’re competitive, you can tap Start on the lap timer to track your laps down to the thousandth of a second. Given this information is now available directly from the car, it’s unlikely you’ll need a dedicated timing device for your next track day.
Obviously when you give an enthusiast an inch, they’ll take a mile and naturally there’s already improvements I’m thinking of to make V3 even better.
The only negative I’ve seen about the update is a UI glitch that hides the lap timer under the panel on the right. I suspect this is an issue only present in RHD markets where the vehicle panel is on the right of the display and Tesla left the lap timer at the same X/Y co-ordinates as the LHD markets.
Hopefully we see a point release soon to resolve this overlap.
My Track Mode V3 ideas to make it even better
If you’re at a track, then you’ll likely be competing with others for the best time of the day. Sharing your best lap should definitely be possible, both with other Model 3 owners in the area and to your social accounts.
I would love to see the ability to get a timeslip for quarter mile times or lap-by-lap spits, which I’ve seen done for GoKarts, so lets have it on the Model 3. A simple download to the TeslaCam drive in CSV would be an excellent addition.
It should be possible to take the custom track (after 1 lap), apply some path planning AI to understand the optimal route for the best lap time, then overlay that route on the screen, on top of the front-facing camera. This would really help drivers that are new to racing, learn the optimal turn in points and braking markers. Race Coach could even be sold as an upgrade to your Model 3 in the app.
It’d also be great to enable the interior camera for some footage of the driver (optional of course) which could eliminate the need for a driver-facing GoPro. Having some automatic assembly of the footage from all cameras would be appreciated and save a bunch of time.
The race and drift presets are great, but having the capacity to share your custom presets with friends etc, would be a great addition.
It will be interesting to see if Tesla goes down the route of upselling users on potential improved track times if they upgrade their wheels and tyres to specific brands, especially in the US where the track package is available.
Finally I think race circuits should have ratings from drivers who’ve actually driven there. This would help racers understand which ones they should travel to go visit. Personally I’m fortunate that I have 2 race tracks within an hour of where I live, but many people don’t.
Overall after an initial look at the feature, it’s really fantastic to see Tesla push in this direction. As I mentioned at the start, nobody would be surprised if they had left this area of development alone while the focused on FSD, but hey, it’s pretty cool, so I’m glad they did.
Good luck to other automakers on catching up with this one.