What makes a car a supercar? Ask five different motoring journalists and we’d guess you’d get five different replies.
For some, a supercar must be a super-sexy, super-fast two-seat sports car capable of insane performance. For others, it has to be made by a luxury or performance marque and come with the kind of price tag that most people would associate with a mortgage.
But here at Transport Evolved, we’ve come to the conclusion that Tesla’s all-electric Model S Sedan — or at least its flagship Model S P90D with optional Ludicrous mode upgrade — has five different qualities that makes it a supercar.
What’s more, it’s one of the cheapest supercars you can buy, costing a fraction of the multi-million dollar supercars that so many petrol heads around the world adore.
So sit back, enjoy, and let us know if you agree with us in the Comments below.
We’ve got to admit when Tesla CEO Elon Musk held a surprise press call to announce a trio of new options for the Tesla Model S electric sedan last week, a faster 0-60 mph time wasn’t on our list of expected enhancements.
But fitted with a new proprietary fuse, larger battery pack and new, improved contactor, the Tesla Model S P95D can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds. Or if you prefer, an average acceleration of 1.1g.
The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport — firmly on most people’s supercar lists — can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 2.4 seconds. Meanwhile, a 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S takes 2.9 seconds to achieve the same feat, while a 2015 Nissan GT-R NISMO sprints from 0-60 mph in 2.7 seconds.
All three are considered Supercars in their own right, which we think gives Tesla equal claim on that title.
We’re not just talking straight-line performance here — nor are we talking sheer acceleration, since most supercars can out-perform the Tesla Model S in terms of top speed.
What we’re talking about is overall handling and the general sporty nature of the Tesla Model S, both of which make you feel as if you’re sitting in a car many times more expensive than the Model S is.
With an almost perfect weight balance, a super-low centre of gravity and optional adjustable air suspension, the Tesla Model S is incredibly difficult to throw off course with its on-board traction control turned on. Turn it off, and you’re treated to the same kind of tail-happy, wheel-spinning action as any other red-blooded American muscle car.
As well as being super-fast, every single supercar we can think of is a model which people from every walk of life aspire to owning. Just think of the cars that so many of us had photographs on our walls of as children: Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar, Aston Martin. Each in their own way are aspirational cars that give them supercar status.
From its early days producing the Tesla Roadster to its upcoming Tesla Model X SUV, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] has always been seen as an aspirational brand. And while that recognition didn’t come immediately, today there aren’t many truly hardened petrol heads we know who aren’t impressed by the Tesla brand.
Indeed, just like hardened petrol heads save up for years to buy themselves a Porsche 911 or Ariel Atom, so too have we encountered people who have saved literally every penny to get their hands on a Tesla Model S.
Of course, one of the ways that many people decide if a high-performance car is truly a supercar or not is its exclusivity. A high-end, high-performance car with hundreds of thousands of examples around the world isn’t so much a supercar but a sports car.
And while Tesla has now sold more than 70,000 Model S cars around the world, not all Model S cars are top-spec Tesla Model S P90D models.
More accessible than many super cars thanks to its lower sticker price, the Tesla Model S still remains exclusive enough that most people flock around one as soon as they see one.
Its over-the-air update system and always-one Internet connection only serves to heighten that exclusivity, as very few cars today — even high-end ones — can boast the kind of in-car technical prowess as the Model S.
5: Those Drag Strip Videos
Our final reason for the Model S to be called a super car lies with all those fantastic YouTube videos in which Tesla drivers beat any number of gas-guzzling supercars on the drag strip — and sometimes the public highway.
And while we’re not ones to condone racing on the public highway, we think any car that can hold its own against million-dollar Italian supercars, custom-muscle cars and Japanese drifters deserves to be called a Supercar itself.
Have we missed anything?
As always, we’re keen to hear if you disagree with our analysis — and if you think that the measure of a supercar is something else that we’ve not yet touched on.
Or perhaps you’re a Tesla fan who agrees with our analysis and wants to give us your own two cents.
Do so in the Comments below.
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