For average drivers unaccustomed with the insane performance of the Tesla Model S, the thought of racing one of Elon Musk's commuter sedans against the impressively styled, and even more impressively performing, McLaren 720S might seem ludicrous. After all, the McLaren is only the latest in a long line of the world's most powerful, best handling, and most expensive supercars.
But when it comes to outright performance, the Tesla Model S in P100D-spec benefits from the instantaneous torque available from its two electric motors, an all-wheel-drive system powering all four wheels, and a low center of gravity made up mainly of its skateboard-layout battery pack. With 762 horsepower and 687 lb-ft of torque, the Model S is certainly no slouch, especially off the line.
Automotive enthusiasts, of course, won't be surprised at the Tesla Model S's performance, but will recognize the potential advantages a McLaren holds in a quarter mile drag race. To start, the McLaren's heart and soul is a mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged V8 displacing 4.0 liters while pumping 710 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. Where the Model S has only one forward gear, the McLaren utilizes a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, allowing for a 0-60 time of 2.7 seconds—critically, on the way to a top speed of 212 miles per hour.
And of course, the weight differential between the two cars comes into play, with the McLaren tipping the scales at 3,128 pounds to the Tesla's 4,910 pounds. Aerodynamic exteriors and the Tesla's single forward gear also make for a massive differential in top-end speed, as Tesla boasts the Model S can sprint to 60 miles per hour in under 2.4 seconds, but also electronically limits the car to 155 miles per hour.
The maniacs over at carwow clearly enjoyed this test of drag-racing prowess, and also threw in a rolling race and brake test to demonstrate the advantages that lightweight sports cars hold over their heavier, albeit more powerful, counterparts. The McLaren dominates the braking test thanks to its lower weight and an active rear spoiler, while the Tesla takes advantage of not requiring a downshift to take a quick jump ahead when both cars floor it from 50 miles per hour.
And unlike the McLaren, the Tesla can comfortably hold up to five people, with trunks front and rear for gear. Not bad for a relatively new car company trying to set the standard for relatively new tech.