Tesla Motors has released an over-the-air update for the Model S that includes a hidden, Mario Kart-inspired Easter egg. The news conspicuously comes shortly after the California-based firm announced plans to recall 2,600 examples of the Model X crossover in order to replace a faulty seat hinge.
Company founder Elon Musk called the mysterious hidden feature a “psychedelic cowbell road” on Twitter. He briefly explained that it can be unlocked by activating the Autopilot function four times in quick succession, but he stopped short of revealing what happens. As it turns out, activating Autopilot four times transforms the road displayed in the S’ instrument cluster from a bland gray street into Rainbow Road, one of the most challenging — and colorful — tracks in Mario Kart, and briefly plays the cowbell audio from Saturday Night Live over the speakers.
Tesla has a long history of hiding Easter eggs in its cars. Notably, a software update pushed in 2014 let owners transform the picture of a Model S displayed on the infotainment screen into the Lotus Esprit-based submarine from the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. Users were even able to set the submarine’s depth in leagues, ranging from 2,000 to 20,000. The stereo volume goes up to 11, the much-hyped Ludicrous speed is a direct reference to the movie Spaceballs, and changing the car’s name to 42 will display “Life, the Universe, and Everything” on the dashboard and on the infotainment screen. The quote is from Douglas Adams’ book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Green shells, banana peels, and a hard-to-hit shortcut are nowhere to be found in the S’ Rainbow Road-inspired instrument cluster, but all hope is not lost for Tesla-driving Nintendo aficionados. Musk tweeted that Tesla is adding “more cowbells soon,” so the Mario Kart-inspired display is just the tip of the iceberg.