2013 Tesla Model S Track Test

Track Testing Our 416-HP Electric Sedan

  • 2013 Tesla Model S - Action Front 3/4 - 7

    2013 Tesla Model S - Action Front 3/4 - 7

    The Model S is the fastest EV we've ever tested. | April 23, 2013

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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.

Most Recommended Comments

By ren6
on 04/24/13
11:25 AM PST

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.

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By 11forin
on 04/24/13
2:12 PM PST

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:)

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By duck87
on 04/24/13
6:34 AM PST

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.

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