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Elon Musk Responds To BBC Top Gear’s 200-Mph Tesla Model S Plaid Track Pack Review

Elon Musk and the BBC haven't been on the best of terms. The contention between the two started when Tesla sued the BBC's Top Gear back in 2011. However, today, Top Gear has come out with a review of the Tesla Model S Plaid track pack and Elon Musk has responded. Although it doesn't appear Musk has seen the entire episode before responding.

It’s no secret that Elon Musk is not a big fan of the BBC as evidenced by his cantankerous recent interview with the British broadcasting company. Musk’s latest issue with the BBC has to do more with the network’s left-leaning tendencies and the BBC’s reception of his Twitter acquisition.

However, well before Musk and the BBC started to butt heads in the political realm, the serial entrepreneur and the company he runs, Tesla, had a major disagreement that went on to result in a protracted legal battle.

On March 29, 2011, Tesla sued the BBC television program “Top Gear” for libel and malicious falsehood. Explaining the suit Tesla wrote “When Top Gear reviewed the Tesla Roadster, the episode that aired contained lies and misinformation about the Roadster’s performance, behavior, and reliability. Tesla reluctantly took legal action after its repeated attempts to contact the BBC, over the course of months, were ignored.”

If you happen to be unfamiliar with the television program, Top Gear is a British motoring show that has been on the air since 2002. Over the years, the show has seen several hosts with the most popular being the Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May trio. All three have now left Top Gear and started a competing motoring show on Amazon called The Grand Tour.

The specific areas of the Top Gear episode that Tesla claimed were falsehoods included the episode showing the Roadster running out of charge and being pushed into a hanger by 4 men, the claim that the Roadster’s true range is only 55 miles per charge (not 211), that the one Roadster’s motor overheated and was completely immobilized as a result, that the other Roadster’s brakes were broken, rendering the car undrivable, and finally that neither of the two Roadsters provided to Top Gear was available for test driving due to these problems.

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At the time, Top Gear was the biggest automotive show in the world and had an audience of over a hundred million people around the globe. This portrayal of Tesla’s first car by the BBC had the potential to stop the small EV upstart in its tracks.

Going back to Tesla’s legal action against the BBC and Top Gear, the EV maker ended up losing the case in front of British judges which concluded no one watching the show will assume the unflattering way Top Gear covered the Tesla Roadster was a factual review.

Since that lawsuit, Top Gear had mostly ignored Tesla despite the EV maker growing to absolutely dominate the automotive market. However, fast forward a decade, and the BBC yesterday released a rare review of a Tesla vehicle.

In a video posted to the Top Gear YouTube channel, Top Gear reviewer Tom Ford took to the tracks a Tesla Model S Plaid with the newly released track package. Tom starts out the review by noting some of the features of the Tesla Model S.

Tom appreciates the vehicle’s practicality by pointing out the speciousness of the cabin, rear legroom and headroom, the size of the hatchback, and frunk. Tom also shows off the Model S tilting screen in action and runs over some of the features of the vehicle.

Continuing, the Top Gear reviewer discusses some of the features that are added to the “regular” Model S Plaid with the track package. Apparently, the track-focused wheels Teslas utilizes on the track package are not legal to be used on EU public roads as a result the tires have to be swapped out at the track.

In addition to the tires, Tom also notes the lighter 20-inch wheels and the carbon ceramic breaks that come with the track package. Tom also discusses some of the software features that are added to make the Model S Plaid track ready.

During his test drive, even though Tom appreciated the power of the Model S Plaid and the ability to easily adjust the driving dynamics, the Top Gear journalist nonetheless concludes his review by saying he would prefer an internal combustion vehicle to the Model S Plaid on the track.

Tom’s particular criticism of the Model S Plaid has to do with the vehicle’s weight, steering wheel response, and apparent over-sensitivity of the vehicle’s driving computer.

Musk reacted to a Twitter user who posted the Top Gear video on the social media platform. The Twitter post read “NEWS: @BBC_TopGear's released a new first drive video today to their 8.7 million YouTube subscribers showing @Tesla's Model S Plaid Track Pack. "I was really pleased with how this car was put together. It's a step forward from stuff I've driven before."

The Twitter user included a link to the full Top Gear YouTube video. Musk simply reacted to the Twitter post by writing “Cool.” It’s nice to see the BBC, Top Gear, and Elon Musk on the same page. However, I’m personally not sure that Musk watched the entire review before responding to the Top Gear video.

It seems uncharacteristic of Musk to simply agree that an internal combustion vehicle is more fun on the track than the Model S Plaid. Still, given the fact that Elon Musk runs 3 separate multi-billion dollar companies, we’ll give the Tesla CEO a pass, even if he hasn’t seen the whole episode before responding.

And despite the conclusion, Top Gear’s review of the Model S Plaid track pack is still one of the most balanced reviews, and it should likely boost the vehicle's sales.

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So what do you think? Excited to see Top Gear’s Model S track pack review? Also, do you think Musk has seen the full episode before responding? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Image: Screenshot from Top Gear’s YouTube video

For more information check out: Tesla Slightly Increases Model 3/Y Price in an Attempt to Stop Individuals Waiting for Further Price Cuts

Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and The evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. He covers everything about Tesla from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news