When Tesla announced the Tesla Model S P100D yesterday, the big headline was that it’s the “quickest production car ever” with a claimed zero to 60 mph time of 2.5 seconds. But is it actually the quickest production car ever? As always, that depends on what you mean by “production.”
“Quickest” also needs some sort of definition here, before we start. In a world where the most expensive supercars all accelerate to highway speeds in less than four seconds, new benchmarks have been attempted. There’s always top speed, and in the past few years there have been Nurburgring times, too. For a while Chevy and Dodge were trying to get people care about times at Virginia International Raceway as well, but no one cares and that’s never going to be a thing.
There’s also a difference between “quickest”—which refers to acceleration, or time—and “fastest,” which refers to top speed. And since the Tesla is limited to 155 mph, it is definitely not the fastest.
But everyone knows what zero to 60 is, and it’s traditional, so let’s stick with it. Also, the Tesla Model S is a family sedan and there’s no way in hell that it’s beating a Koenigsegg around the ‘Ring, so we can throw that metric out right off the bat.
But here are the fastest accelerating street legal cars made by some semblance of a manufacturer and not just some guy in a shed:
- Porsche 918: 2.2 seconds
- Ariel Atom V8: 2.3 seconds
- Ferrari LaFerrari: 2.4 seconds
- Bugatti Veyron Super Sport: 2.5 seconds
- Bugatti Chiron: 2.5 seconds
- Porsche 911 Turbo S: 2.5 seconds
- Koenigsegg One:1 : 2.5 seconds... ish. Probably. Koenigsegg never released an official time for this one.
- McLaren P1: 2.6 seconds
And so on. As it is, there are at least two cars here that best the Model S, even if only by a flea’s nose.
But how are we classifying “production?”
The traditional benchmark of 25 examples, taken from the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in the day, would only rule out the Koenigsegg, with the Veyron Super Sport just squeaking in with 30 units built.
But what if we raise the bar? What if we set it at 100 units? Then the Veyron SS is out, but that’s about it. (There probably aren’t 100 Chirons yet, but Bugatti will almost certainly get there barring apocalypse.)
500 units? Then the P1 is out.
1,000 units? 1,000 is still a hell of a lot of cars, but let’s be unreasonably generous to Elon & Co. If our benchmark is 1,000 cars, that rules out nearly everything.
The Porsche 911 Turbo S, with a zero to 60 time of at least 2.5 seconds, should keep even pace with the Tesla without breaking a sweat. It will then continue on to more than 200 mph, which would completely smoke the electric car.
And it’s built in significant numbers, too. Porsche doesn’t break down exact production figures on the 911 Turbo S, but a Porsche spokesman told us that the company sells around 10,000 911s a year.
Of those, about 20 percent are 911 Turbos. And of the 911 Turbos, approximately two-thirds are the faster 911 Turbo S. Doing some back-of-the-fender math, that means that Porsche sells roughly 1,320 examples of the 911 Turbo S a year. Meaning it easily clears even Tesla’s high bar of 1,000 annual examples.
So is the Tesla Model S the fastest accelerating production car in the world?
Sort of. But “tied for the title with a Porsche” doesn’t sound nearly as impressive for Tesla.