Tesla’s reputation as the out-of-the-box quarter-mile king is well established by now. Its snappy electric drivetrain makes for acceleration that rivals even the biggest players in the exotic namespace at a fraction of the cost, and it can now be improved with a simple over the air update. Enter, “Cheetah Mode.”
To explain how it works, we’ll need to look at Tesla’s two flagship vehicles, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, both of which leave the factory equipped with adaptive air suspension that can alter ride height and dampening on the fly. Thanks to this, Tesla’s newest feature simply utilizes this dynamic suspension to lower the vehicle’s front axle when launch control is engaged, which puts the vehicle in a “crouching” position to improve traction—much like a cheetah ready to pounce.
The feature was discovered by Tesla data deep-diver GreenTheOnly, who reportedly obtained access to an early version of Tesla’s next software version that includes the feature.
The new mode appears to be an over-the-air update to the Performance variants of the Model S and X, adding the crouching feature to the vehicle’s launch mode. Reportedly, this aims to give the vehicle an extra boost of initial speed by pre-loading torque to the vehicle’s electric motors prior to the initial take-off.
As it turns out, those enrolled in Tesla’s early access program may already have the feature rolled out to them. Brooks Weisblat of DragTimes happened to be one of them and was able to get the Cheetah Stance from the update, but also a power increase of around 34 kilowatts (that’s approximately 46 horsepower).
DragTimes measured a zero-to-60 time improvement of around 0.06 seconds in its testing, or roughly 2.41 seconds from 2.47 originally. It also shaved off around 0.13 seconds from the quarter-mile time, bringing the full 1,320-foot sprint to just 10.54 seconds at 127.5 miles per hour. A demo of the new launch mode and acceleration can be seen in DragTimes’ video below, starting around 2:30.