2013 Tesla Model S Track Test on Edmunds.com

2013 Tesla Model S Track Test

Track Testing Our 416-HP Electric Sedan


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.

This past Monday was Earth Day. You likely noticed the, uh, well, OK, nothing happened. But we're using this, the flimsiest of holidays, to bring you the performance numbers on the 2013 Tesla Model S Performance Sedan we purchased for our long-term test fleet.

Previously we had tested a somewhat unique 2012 Tesla Model S. It had the same 85kWh battery pack that produced the same 416 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, but it was not only a pre-production vehicle loaned to us by Tesla, but it had a yet-to-be-realized Sport package with staggered-width wheels, Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires and sportier suspension tuning.

This 2013 Tesla Model S is ours. We bought it and it has the production-spec suspension with production-spec Continental tires.

Does the 2013 Tesla Model S we bought match the terrific numbers we saw out of the pre-production model? We took it to the track to find out.

Odometer: 3,480
Date: 4/16/13
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $105,005

Drive Type: Transverse, rear-motor, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Single-speed direct drive
Engine Type: 310 kW, liquid-cooled, three-phase four-pole AC induction motor
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 5,980/365
Redline (rpm): 16,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 416 @ 5,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 443 @ 0-5,100 rpm
Brake Type (front): 13.2-inch ventilated discs with four-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 14.4-inch ventilated discs with four-piston sliding 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 (96Y)
Tire Size (rear): 245/35ZR21 (96Y)
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ExtremeContact DW
Tire Type: Asymmetrical summer performance
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,721

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 2.1 (2.4 w/ TC off)
0-45 (sec): 3.1 (3.6 w/ TC off)
0-60 (sec): 4.4 (5.2 w/ TC off)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.1 (4.9 w/ TC off)
0-75 (sec): 6.1 (7.4 w/ TC off)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 12.6 @ 108.4 (13.7 @ 98.7 w/ TC off)

30-0 (ft): 28
60-0 (ft): 113

Slalom (mph): 63.6
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.87 (0.85 w/ TC on)

Db @ Idle: 36.4
Db @ Full Throttle: 62.5
Db @ 70-mph Cruise: 61.7
RPM @ 70: N/A


Acceleration: This car's ability to dump all that torque from a stop and supply it continuously throughout the quarter-mile is what makes it so unique. The hackneyed saying "accelerates like an electric bullet train" finally applies without allegory. Still, I believe the powertrain might be surrendering the power prudently, however, as when I shut off the traction control, I did manage some glorious wheelspin, complete with a white cloud of tire smoke. Of course, the times only suffered for it. This car is deceptively quick and fast.

Braking: Minimal dive, arrow straight and nearly silent scrubbing of speed with all that weight behind it. Zero distance creep indicates plenty of built-in thermal absorption/dissipation, and the pedal remained steady. Brakes felt "normal" in this test.


Slalom: Standard steering setting felt most appropriate here. Crisp and ultra-precise turn-in, tracks true and is amazingly well balanced. It manages its 2-ton weight extremely well. At its limit, either/both under- and oversteer appear depending on driver input. ESC was a little abrupt, but short-lived. Best technique was to "pedal it" between cones (lift to tuck nose, squeeze to rotate), which was surprisingly easy and kept the ESC from intervening.

Skid pad: Again, excellent balance here, especially with traction control shut off. I love the immediate throttle response and used it to coax a slight rear slide all the way around the circle without ESC intrusion. Steering weight (still in Standard) was entirely appropriate and shockingly informative. Overall, I'd say this car's setup, feel and abilities (discounting the 4,700-pound weight) rival those of the Porsche Panamera.

Read more about our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S here.



  • throwback throwback Posts:

    No question this car is a brilliant performer. If I were in the market for 100K daily driver this would be at the top of my list. Even though I can't warm up to the huge touch screen. I hope when they redo the interior they shrink it down some. yeah, wishful thinking.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    It's fast... but only until the battery is depleted. OH YEAH, I WENT THERE. Remember folks, plug it in "every night", lest the Tesla forums crucify you.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    63.6 on the slalom is maybe kinda low - ? They may have under-tired this car in the interest of range...a 245-section tire on a 4,700-lb. car is rather thin. 12.6 @ 108.4 in the quarter - compare this to for example a Mustang GT Edmunds tested...13 flat at 110.6. A much higher trap speed even if the ET was slower. You can really tell that the acceleration curve starts to flatten out on EVs once they get over 100. Really fast car, though, nonetheless.

  • mfennell mfennell Posts:

    It's pretty wide. That hurts slalom too. There's a youtube video of someone turning a 12.3 in one at a strip. Really impressed with the subjective (feel, balance) comments. That's what counts to me.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @fordson1: The car does seem slightly under-tired (should be at least be a 255 in the front, maybe 275 minimum in the rear but it's hard to say considering the car's weight distribution), perhaps one of the few reasons it did as well as it did in the hand

  • flapsmcgee flapsmcgee Posts:

    Great, now on to the dyno test!

  • ren6 ren6 Posts:

    How does a little company do this their first time around. The Roadster doesn't count...Amazing, just amazing. They have successfully made it so I couldn't care less about pretty much everything else in the car world.

  • ckeith1 ckeith1 Posts:

    How did you calculate the displacement of the motor?

  • 11forin 11forin Posts:

    The best car out there. 3 points to add to commenters: 1. Battery - it is an electric car - it needs charging, just as gasoline car needs filling, so please get over it. It's not a novelty anymore; when an iPad was announced so many jokes came up even on national tv, but after a while the joke's old and anyone making it is a bit out of the times. If you can leave it plugged in every time it's at home - for all your errands and some thrill driving it will always be ready. Remember Tesla's range is unparalleled among electrics. Also not many realised, but if you have solar panels and can use super charger network - you are driving for free, and not some golf cart but a super car equivalent with five adults and two children inboard and full luggage... 2. Compare the results against other sedans not against Mustangs, though it holds against those well too. Beats in economy:) 3. Realize it's a luxury sedan. If you wouldn't buy a Maserati Quatraporte, Mercedes S Class, BMW 750il, Porsche Panamera - than Model S is not a car for you - though it will definitely widen the market - you may pay the price, but then enjoy it nearly for free. Gas price point: I'm seeing journalist starting to say: gasoline prices starting to fall... so interet in electrics is fallling too. Come on, you think oil companies will let gas prices fall? Is that a long term possibility? Only if at least 50% of consumption gone to other types of fuel and falling then surely but until... And I hope you care about the environment not only yourself:)

  • tubybntz tubybntz Posts:

    Why don't they film these tests anymore?

  • diondi diondi Posts:

    Uh guys... why does the Tesla have a displacement? "Displacement (cc/cu-in): 5,980/365"

  • diondi diondi Posts:

    Uh guys, since when do electric cars have displacement?

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    I have to wonder what it really feels like without the typical auditory feedback you would have in a gas-only vehicle? Is there just a giant rush of wind and tire noise?

  • carmageddon carmageddon Posts:

    It's just mindblowing that Tesla was able to come up with a car this good on its first built from scratch model. Even if the Model S had an internal combustion engine, a brand new company building a brand new car with a "setup, feel and abilities [that] rival those of the Porsche Panamera" at a comparable price point is simply incredible. Certainly none of Porsche's long established rivals have been able to pull that off. Add in a completely new and unconventional drive system and you have a genuine engineering and design triumph. No wonder these things are popping up all over the place here in Silicon Valley.

  • tbone85 tbone85 Posts:

    Hmmm. Imagine that: a vehicle runs out of fuel and then it's no longer as fast as it was before. Certainly unique.

  • thebb thebb Posts:

    "How does a little company do this their first time around?..." The answer: a fellow named Elon Musk. It is difficult to determine which achievement is more awe-inspiring, Tesla or SpaceX. Either enterprise would constitute a phenomenal challenge, and to succeed at both, as Musk is doing, is simply a breathtaking accomplishment. In time, the transformative impact Musk will have on the world's economy and environment will make Steve Jobs look like Ron Popeil, an entertaining pitchman. Jobs transformed computing and consuming by making them mobile, but Musk's thrust is to overthrow the fossil fuel empire, usher in the era of sustainable and renewable transportation, and lift the deepening shadow of climate change from this planet. And if that doesn't work, he is setting the stage to enable us to escape this ravaged world for new, unspoiled ones.

  • cencio cencio Posts:

    My wife and I just finished a 2,200 km (1367 mi) road trip from Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies and back in our Tesla Model S Performance. We crossed seven mountain passes, drove in temperatures as low as -12C (10F), and never babied the car or drove slower than the speed limit. It was BY FAR the smoothest, most effortless and cheapest road trip we have ever taken. The car is a dream. We only paid for "fuel" once, at an RV Park-- $10. Ten dollars for over a THOUSAND MILES of blissful driving. This is it, people.

  • mmartel mmartel Posts:

    Wow. If you like ridiculous acceleration, things look pretty bright for the future of electric cars. I love the DB @ Full Throttle: 62.5.

  • mayhemm mayhemm Posts:

    Let's not forget that cars like a Mustang GT also have a 1000-pound weight advantage. Not insignificant when talking about performance, wouldn't you agree?

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