It's public relations 101. What's the best way to draw attention away from bad news? Release some awesome news instead. That's what Tesla has done with this fantastic Mario Kart Easter egg. Right when the embargo lifted on the Model X recall this morning, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted some curious instructions to Tesla owners:
Activate autopilot 4X in quick succession for psychedelic cowbell road. And, yes, we are adding more cowbell soon.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 11, 2016
More cowbell? Forget defective seats, give me Rainbow Road!
When you put the Tesla Model S or Model X into Autopilot mode, the instrument cluster shows the car "driving" down a road. It's meant to give an indication of where the car thinks it's located within the lane, as well as the existence of other cars around it. Normally it's a boring grey road, but if you engage Autopilot four times in a row, you get Rainbow Road from Mario Kart instead.
But it's so much more than just Rainbow Road. We confirmed with Tesla that the car plays the actual cowbell audio from Saturday Night Live over the stereo. Thanks to Brian Stucki of MacMiniColo who shared the cowbell-infused clip (make sure to turn the sound on):
We've no idea what other cowbell Musk could have in mind, but the Model S has a hidden James Bond mode that turns the car (at least as far as the on-screen display is concerned) into the Lotus Esprit submersible from The Spy Who Loved Me — a car that Elon Musk personally purchased back in 2013.
Updated 4:15PM ET: Updated with more details about the actual cowbell sound effects.