In very specific circumstances, the Tesla Model S P85D might actually be “the world’s fastest sedan”, but that definitely doesn’t include the racetrack. On this year’s Car & Driver Lightning Lap, the “fastest sedan” ended up in a distant last place (full results here) with a time around VIR that matches the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. While the Tesla’s 1/4 mile and 0-60 times make it an internet clickbait darling, the Model S’s miserable performance on C&D’s test drive is proof that efficiency-minded Electric Vehicles have no place on a real racetrack.
All this made me think about was how the Model S embodies every negative American sports/muscle car stereotype that cars like the GT350 R and Corvette have fought so hard to debunk. It’s an absolute beast when accelerating in a straight line but just don’t ask it to stop. The weight, abysmal brakes, and poor endurance of the electric drivetrain render it pretty worthless by the first turn; making it the modern interpretation of most 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s American sports cars. Despite all the technological advances in terms of range, power, and autopilot, perhaps the Tesla’s best party trick is its ability to bring us back to a time where straight line speed was all it took to qualify as a “performance car”.