2012 Tesla Model S Track Test

Performance Testing Tesla's New Electric Sedan


  • 2012 Tesla Model S Track Test Video

    Can an all-electric car feel as good as a gasoline-powered car? And, exactly how quick is it? Watch the Edmunds IL testing team run numbers on the Tesla Model S to find out. | August 14, 2012

1 Video , 69 Photos

Edmunds tests hundreds of vehicles a year. Cars, trucks, SUVs, we run them all, and the numbers always tell a story. With that in mind we present "Track Tested," a quick rundown of all the data we collect at the track, along with comments direct from the test drivers. Enjoy.

According to Tesla founder (and possible evil genius) Elon Musk, the Tesla Model S is "the best car in the world." It's a bold statement from a bold man about a very bold car.

But is the seven-passenger Model S really that good? So far our brief drives have left us very impressed. And we will publish an extensive full test soon where we will examine the sedan's range and consumption. Today, however, is track day. Tesla agreed to truck a Model S to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California exclusively for Edmunds, so we could put the EV through our usual battery of instrumented tests. The world's first test of the new sedan.

How does it perform? Impressively. This thing is fast.

In Performance trim, the 2012 Tesla Model S makes 416 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Enough to blow the doors off our long-term Audi A8 and a long list of luxury sedans that don't wear badges like M or AMG. It also turns and stops like Tesla has been building high-performance sedans for decades.

See for yourself below.

Vehicle: 2012 Tesla Model S
Odometer: 2,185
Date: 8/14/2012
Driver: Mike Monticello
Price: $94,350 (base price)

Specifications:
Drive Type: Transverse, rear-motor, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Single-speed direct drive
Engine Type: 310 kW, three-phase four-pole electric
Redline (rpm): 7,600
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 416 @ 5,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 443 @ 0
Brake Type (front): 13.2-inch ventilated steel rotors, four-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 14.4-inch ventilated steel rotors, four-piston fixed calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent double wishbones, pneumatic springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, pneumatic springs, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 245/35ZR21
Tire Size (rear): 265/35ZR21 (101Y)
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: Pilot Sport PS2
Tire Type: Asymmetrical summer performance
As Tested Curb Weight (lbs.): 4,770

Test Results:
Acceleration
0-30 (sec): 2.0 (2.0 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 3.0 (3.0 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 4.3 (4.3 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.0 (4.0 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 6.1 (6.1 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 12.6 @ 108.3 (12.6 @ 108.2 w/ TC on)
Braking
30-0 (ft): 27
60-0 (ft): 108
Handling
Slalom (mph): 66.8 (66.0 w/TC off)
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.86 (0.86 w/TC on)
Db @ Idle: 35.4
Db @ Full Throttle: 64.2
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 61.2

Comments:
Acceleration: As you would expect with a ton of instant torque, it gets off the line in a hurry, with no wheelspin whatsoever. Just endless forward thrust. The first and second runs were the quickest, and after that it just got slower and slower despite having plenty of charge. By the sixth and final run it was 0.3 second slower.

Braking: Very firm pedal. Feels like a normal car without all the hybrid wonkiness. Just a little bit of extra travel at the very end of the stroke, but no fade and rock-solid stability. First stop was 110 feet. Second stop was shortest at 108 feet and third stop was longest at 112 feet. Very consistent.

Handling:
Skid pad: Definitely felt the weight here, and the lack of a free-revving internal combustion engine means changes in throttle have less effect on the chassis. Still, car felt pretty precise.
Slalom: The stability system cannot be fully defeated, but I was impressed with the intervention point. And it would even allow some decent slalom-exit-power-on oversteer before it would slam on the brakes. Preferred the midlevel standard mode over Sport, which seemed like it was fighting me more than helping. A very long and heavy car and was surprised it could go through at almost 67 mph. Seems like a very good suspension tuning compromise.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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