T • is for Torque

I have sinned, and it’s Elon Musk’s fault. I covet the Tesla Model S P85D. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Chevy Volt. I think the Zelectric Bug is the best thing on earth. But Tesla has hooked me with this two-motor model that makes me want to go out and race a Ferrari. Not that I ever will. But knowing that I could… well, that’s pretty amazing for a production 4-door sedan. But not just any 4-door sedan. The P85D is an electric sedan. And that flow of electrons from anode to cathode is what holds the key to its rocket-like performance.


Why have Koenigsegg, McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche embraced a hybrid electric drivetrain? The “T” word. Sure, they still have fire-breathing ICE powerplants. But it’s the instant torque from electric motors that helps launch these hypercars from 0 to 60 faster than ever before.


When you first learn the difference between torque and horsepower, a whole new world of automotive understanding opens up. Torque conquers inertial mass. And no matter how powerful an internal combustion engine might be, it can’t develop maximum torque as rapidly as an electric motor. You can know this intellectually, but when you actually feel it – it’s another story entirely.


That’s why I decided to take a ride as a passenger in a P85D at the Portland International Raceway at an event sponsored by Dream Drives for Kids, an Oregon non-profit with a mission “to brighten the lives of sick and medically fragile children and their families.” Tesla Motors teamed up with Dream Drives to make it all possible.


The kids weren’t the only ones that got a thrill. Not only does the P85D catapult off the line with neck-snapping torque (“insane” mode), but thanks to the aggressive driving around the rest of the track by my Official Tesla Driver, Joe, I was able to feel some amazing g-forces in the corners as well, with the Tesla tracking like it was on rails. Really impressive handling for a vehicle that weighs almost 2.5 tons (4936 pounds). And of course, it was remarkably quiet, as well.

Other than the tires screaming bloody murder trying to stay in contact with the pavement.



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