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0-100 MPH: Tesla Model S Versus BMW M5

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It’s not often you see an electric vehicle at a drag race. Then again, it’s not often you see an electric vehicle like the Tesla Model S. Tesla is hoping that changes soon. Until it does, Automobile Magazine arranged a drag race between the Model S and the longtime king of performance sedans – the BMW M5. In developing the Model S, Tesla didn’t want to just make a high-mileage vehicle (which, with 300 miles of range at the top end…they did) but also an uncompromising one in the area of performance.

The result is a sedan that in Performance guise hits 0-60 in 4.4 seconds – faster than a Porsche 911. An extremely impressive figure, but still not enough to beat the M5’s 4.2 second 0-60 time – theoretically anyway. The Model S puts out 416 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, versus the BMW’s 560 hp and 500 lb-ft. We know that electric vehicles have instantaneous torque, but still the proof is in the numbers, right? Wrong, according to Automobile. In their tests at Gingerman Raceway, the Tesla beat the BMW a majority of the time in the 0-100 mph dash. Not sure how that happened, but you can check out the results on video for yourself below.

YouTube video

  1. The reason why it happened is pretty simple. The M5 is marginally faster if it has a perfect launch. But it’s launch control is complicated and balky, and there are tremendous mechanical lags compared to an electric drivetrain.

    In contrast, the Model S is essentially a direct drive system with instant throttle response. When you press the pedal you go. Fast.

    So sure, the M5 can be quicker if you do everything perfectly, but it has no margin for error, while the Model S is simple and consistently fast.

  2. Actually the M5 does come with an automatic lunch control so the times it puts up are very consistent.

    But the main reason the last time they did the run the M5 won, was cause the peak Current supply of the battery pack is reduced from the moment you discharge it slightly. Its like opening the cap on a soda bottle. The initial release of pressure is sudden and fast but after that the rate goes down to a steady level as the gas slowly bobbles out of the fluid. The model S when topped off completely can easily take on an M5, but do it a few times and then it just wont hit those numbers. That being said the drop is not that significant after the initial drop. So you get more or less even performance as the car discharges.

    I love the model S and I would take it over the M5 any day for millions of reasons. Not just that if it really had to it could drag race an M5 from standstill. Its not about that, the luxury, the technology inside, the space, the handling, the fact that while cruising at 40mph hitting the pedal will allow you to smoke any ICE car on the road without a doubt (i.e. instant torque), the amazingly low operating cost, like 10x less. and the fact that there are less moving parts to break, all amount to an amazing one of a kind car for a loooong while..


  3. A couple issues with this video…
    1) as other have stated launch control was not used which gives the M5 a consistent launch.
    2) BMW driver was bad… Delayed start

    Reality is m5 will beat tesla s 0 -60, 0-100 and quarter mile all day long. 10 out of 10 times.

    Tesla propaganda here plain and simple….wake up people

  4. @Nima: The car doesn’t get slower as the battery depletes for the same reason your iPod doesn’t play songs slower and slower as the battery gets older. The battery delivers consistent power until it reaches a fairly high depletion point, at which point Tesla drops the power it’ll pull (kicks in at something like the 10% battery level).

    @Paul. Really, conspiracy theories? Automobile Magazine is going to pimp Tesla and bash BMW. You think that somehow makes financial sense to them to intentionally bash a huge company like BMW? Break out the tinfoil hat.

    The reasons are just what @Thomas said. The BMW looks bad off the line because it that’s the nature of gas engines. Damn near any electric will kill the BMW off the line because of the power curves. The BMW would incredibly quickly make up that gap on a Volt, but the Tesla is a bigger, stronger engine and that’s why you don’t see the BMW gaining ground until much later in the run.

  5. Paul:

    In August, I went on vacation to "car week" in Montery/Carmel, CA. Quite by chance, we were wandering up Ocean Ave. when 5 Model S Tesla's were parked on the street and the Teslans were out answering questions. I signed up for a test drive on Sunday. With all the cool car auctions, shows and vintage racing I got to see that week, driving the Model S was the height of my CA experience. It's a terrific car.

    Between Model S and an M5. I prefer the Model S. Not only is it marginally faster…although they are pretty close, the Model S handles better. Center of gravity is so low on these cars they feel like my Cayman in corners. The suspension is very well sorted. The 21" wheels are huge. They are coming out with a Sport Suspension, but I don't think it's needed. The active air suspension was on the Performance model I drove and I would get that. Tesla is right down the street from Dinan and there are many Dinan BMWs parked in the Tesla lot. Elon Musk is a real car (and rocket) guy.

    It's expensive and it may not be practical for some people, maybe even me, but it's a fabulous invention. I have a reservation in. How much interest could I be losing at todays rates on $5,000 anyway? Mine reservation number is 11, xxx. That will be a while and I'm sort of glad about that. A lot more will be known about these cars before I'm asked to put any non-refundable money down.

    What Model S won't do that an M5 will? A track weekend. The big battery might last for a 20 minute session, but unless you have a Tesla super-charger at the track, it's not likely to last for the second session. I doubt that that repeated rapid drain and rapid charge would be very good for the battery in any case.

    Don't sell these cars short until you drive one. They're pretty nice.

    I do have a few other issues with them. They were designed in S. CA, not Detroit…What happens in the winter when you park it outside and those glide-out door handles won't glide out because of icing? What happens if you park this thing at the airport in winter for a business trip and the weather goes sub-zero? What about those day trips I take to from Chicago to Racine or Indy? Do they become overnights? Simple reliability things that we take for granted in our Chevys and BMWs may not have been fully vetted in the Model S yet. Then there's the Tesla parts and service system. Does anyone know a thing about that really? What I get from the Teslans is "There's really nothing to break on a Tesla? Oh really? Sunroof? Door handles? Windows? What about crash parts for them? Speaking of crashing, what about environmental clean-up after a crash? How is that Tesla Club track day going to work out if someone has a bad off and bangs up the battery?

    Then there are these Tesla Stores….NADA is going after Tesla in 4 states for "illegal dealerships". I've been to the one in Oakbrook, IL. It's just a showroom and they don't have any working cars there. No test drives, only brochures, a chassis with no body on it, a prototype car that people can sit in. Don't know if it will even run, but it demonstrates the charging locations, the cool screen in the dash, the seat room etc. It's more like going to the auto show than a dealership. In fact, that might be a defense for Tesla…Where are the service bays at the Chicago Auto Show? Heck, at the Auto Show, you can even get a "test ride" in a Jeep up a fake mountain road.

    I still want one.

  6. Never mind, gossip has it the S out performed the Roadster in real dragstrip racing. check out the National Electric Drag Racing Association [NEDRA] for timeslips! There ARE faster EVs than Teslas, but you have to DIY!
    Sweet demo VDO!
    Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday

  7. Really electric faster than ICE PLEASE! You have fingers please find the fastest electric drag times and the fastest ICE times; the electric is a turtle. Keep the hype up though and when you get your doors blown off by a Ford Pinto at thr strip don’t say you weren’t warned. Try looking up fastest street cars in America and then come back and tell me how fast your electric is. And to the guy yapping about 40mph rolling runs, I assure you the M5 will kill the S; try math sometime A=F/m.

  8. I have a new M5 F10. I will bet all my wordly pocession if any Tesla wants to race with me. 0-100 M5 without launch control 9 seconds with launch control 8.5 secs. This race is rigged. You could see the Tesla jump on the M5. How about a quartermile race. I will bet 10 to 1. Any takers?

  9. Always funny to read posts from a few years ago. The speed at which things are changing is amazing

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