Hagerty took the Tesla Model S Plaid out to Willow Springs International Raceway in California and pitted it against two of the fastest gas sedans out there – the BMW M5 CS and Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing – and you’ll never guess what happened next (unless you read the title or looked at the featured image).
Much has been said about how the Model S is the quickest car ever, and electric dominance at the drag strip has been a consistent trend of the last decade. The argument from bench racers was always that “electric cars are only quick in a straight line,” and that battery weight and overheating holds EVs back from other performance metrics.
These arguments were partially true at the time, but electric cars have been gradually whittling away at them nonetheless. Recently, Tesla set a 7:35.579 at Nürburgring, an electric record and quite close to the record for gas four-door sedans. Tesla is still looking for more, though, and seems to want to beat all the four-door competition if they can.
But in a more even test, driving three cars back-to-back on the same road in the same day with the same driver (Randy Pobst), Hagerty recently found that, well, the fastest gas sedans are really not quite a match for the fastest electric sedan, not just in a straight line, but on a full lap. Have a look:
In three consecutive runs, Pobst broke the Willow Springs lap record for four-door sedans, with the M5 breaking the record first, then the Blackwing, and then the Model S, making them the three fastest sedans to take to this particular track, and the Tesla the fastest of them all.
The previous record was owned by the Jaguar XE SV Project 8, which Jaguar says is the fastest sedan ever, although it is a heavily modified, limited-edition, race-focused package that really doesn’t belong in the same class as other usable sedans. Nevertheless, all three of these cars beat it around Willow Springs.
Throughout the lap you can see the lead changing a few times. The Model S starts ahead after the start straight due to its higher straight-line speed, but loses ground in the initial twisty bits due to its heavier weight.
Pobst calls out the Model S’s brakes, stating that they don’t inspire much confidence. He had just gotten out of the other two cars, both of which are some 600 pounds lighter, so this is bound to make the Model S feel heavy on the brakes and in the corners. But he also giggles with delight whenever he gets a chance to floor it, and on each straight the Plaid rockets back ahead of the competition.
It should be noted that the Model S isn’t even a track car. It doesn’t have the Model 3 Performance’s “track mode” (yet?) and doesn’t have many of the track-specific improvements that more “racey” cars tend to have. For example, there’s no easy way to disable the Model S’s stability control system, which slows down experienced drivers.
Perhaps this is why the Blackwing will be Cadillac’s last new gas-powered sedan. For all their trying, their fastest car ever is still not able to beat the first track-ish sedan from an all-electric California startup.
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