The BBC-owned Top Gear published a video claiming the results of its drag race between the Tesla Model S Performance and the new Porsche Taycan Turbo S resulted in a 0 to 60 mph time of 2.61 seconds for the Taycan and 2.68 seconds for the Tesla; a 0 to 100 mph time of 6.12 seconds to 100 mph for the Taycan and 6.46 seconds to 100 mph for the Tesla; and a quarter-mile time of 10.69 seconds for the Taycan at 131.6 mph and 11.08 seconds for the Tesla at 124 mph.
However, another YouTube video, made by the drag-racing website DragTimes, speculated that "Top Gear" had not turned on the Model S's "Ludicrous Plus" feature, which allows it to achieve its fastest acceleration. The website also said the 0 to 60 mph, 0 to 100 mph, and quarter-mile times for the Model S displayed by "Top Gear" in an on-screen graphic matched those from a prior race, and that it has received reports of faster quarter-mile times for the Model S than the time shown in the "Top Gear" video. DragTimes also noted that the numbers for the elapsed time and speed of the Tesla are exactly the same as those published by the site for a previous race in which it had set the American electric machine against a Mercedes AMG C63.
Top Gear issued a statement saying that they went with the fake digits – they were originally generated during an older comparison of the Tesla Model S versus the Mercedes C63 – because they were better than the best results produced in this latest test.
“We ran the drag race five times and the Porsche won every time by a small but increasing margin with each subsequent race,” the statement reads. “Tesla was in Ludicrous+ mode, the battery was pre-conditioned and both cars had around 85 per cent charge before the first run.”
However, netizens pointed out that in the video Tesla’s battery wasn’t preheated and that the car was in range mode instead of Ludicrous+ mode.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk sided with DragTimes, calling out the false numbers and noting that Top Gear had put Model S in range mode, minimizing its performance in favor of range.
"The graphics on the vehicle’s MCU and instrument cluster do not feature the same settings as a Model S with its maximum performance enabled," he added, noting that the show should be called “Low Gear.”
Putting Model S in range mode is the opposite of launch mode, as it minimizes performance in favor of range. Show should be called “Low Gear”!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 1, 2019
Top Gear has been no stranger to using controversial performance numbers, including ones it used with Tesla Roadster Review which led to the libel claim Tesla lost in court. In 2015, after a row with a producer of the show, the BBC decided not to renew a contract with its iconic host, Jeremy Clarkson. He and his co-hosts, James May and Richard Hammond, departed to Amazon to start a Gran Tour show, with Top Gear taking serious hits in the four years that have followed, as Chris Evans proved not to be a hit with viewers and exited after only one series, and Matt Le Blanc left the series at the end of 2018.