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Tesla sets record: Model S is fastest street-legal car from zero to 60

Why it matters to you

Tesla's new acceleration record makes high-performance speed a bit more affordable to car buyers.

The results are in and Elon Musk’s flagship is faster than even he predicted. In Motor Trend’s acceleration test, the 2017 Tesla Model S P100D in Ludicrous+ mode set a new world record for zero to 60 acceleration at less than 2.3 seconds, a barrier crossed by no previously tested street legal car.

When you consider the tested Model S seats seven and weighs almost 5,000 pounds, a sub-2.3-second zero to 60 time is even more impressive. The Tesla hit 60 faster than any other car of any price Motor Trend ever tested, including the $1.4 million Ferrari LaFerrari, $1.15 million McLaren P1, and the $845,000 Porsche 918. The Tesla’s as-tested price is $148,000.

Elon Musk predicted that when the Ludicrous mode Easter egg (aka Ludicrous+) was unlocked, the extra 33 horsepower would scoot the P100D to 60 in 2.34 seconds, beating the regular Ludicrous mode’s 2.5 second time. The official time in the test run was 2.275507139 seconds. We doubt Musk feels bad about that.

More: Update: Ludicrous+ sends Tesla Model S P100D to 60 mph in 2.41 seconds

So here’s how you can try to replicate Motor Trends’ test results with your own 2017 Model S P100D.  First off, locate a safe, closed-road test track. Making sure your car has firmware v8.0 release 2.52.22, go to the Settings menu, select Acceleration, and press and hold the Ludicrous button for five seconds. You will be asked if you want to “push the limits” and warned about extra wear on the motor, gearbox, and battery. If you’re still in the game, ignore the “No, I want my Mommy” button and press the “Yes, bring it on!” button.

Engaging maximum performance mode takes a few minutes while the battery pre-heats and the AC system cools the motors. When the vehicle is set, you will be prompted. Then you step on the brake, mash and release the accelerator to engage launch control, hold the brake, floor the accelerator, release the brake, and hold on.

Because of the aforementioned extra wear and tear on the car’s vitals, you won’t want to do the whole Ludicrous+ launch control thing casually or often. It’s not for bagel runs and you may find the resultant drivetrain jerk at the start uncomfortable. Do it often enough and you can count on your local constabulary learning about such antics and, when they catch you in the act, presenting you with an unwanted bill.

As Motor Trend details, the Tesla doesn’t maintain the acceleration crown for speeds higher than 60 miles an hour. The Ferrari LaFerrari gets to 70 faster and the Porsche 918 and McLaren P1 both beat the Tesla to 80. Zero to 60 time matters most, however, and that is where Tesla now rules. In Motor Trend quarter mile runs, the Porsche 918 and the Tesla tied at 10.5 seconds.

As drivers around the world consider a switch to electric over fossil fuel-powered vehicles during the next decade, Tesla’s new world record makes one point perfectly clear: You don’t have to give up performance when you make the transition.