Last week at Darren Langenfeld's awesome Destination Nürburgring track day, I got
cornered approached by noted Nissan GT-R tuner Iain Litchfield who said he had a car he wanted me to take around the Nordschleife. I had visions of 750+ hp supercars dancing through my head when he stopped in front of a bone stock Tesla Model S.
Um, excuse me? I thought. You want me to take this 4,700 pound electric car around the Green Hell while 911 GT3 RSs and La Ferraris dive bomb me into Flugplatz? WTF??
But what came out of my mouth was "Okay, let me grab my helmet." (Us drivers are kinda stupid that way.)
Now, I have had the pleasure of driving a huge number of cars, both on the Nürburgring and off, but this would be my first time in a Model S or any fully electric car. And I have to admit I was pretty impressed.
Yes, it was heavy. Yes, it had almost no mechanical grip. And yes, the steering was as numb as my jaw after a trip to the dentist. However, considering that the Model S is a brand new car, from a car company that didn't exist 10 years ago, using technology that had (at the time of founding of the company) never been successfully mass produced on any large scale, I am suitably impressed.
So what was the lap like from the drivers seat? Um... quiet? Really quiet, actually.
Quiet enough that Iain and I were able to have a normal conversation at speed, with our helmets on. So I asked him what was a supercar tuner doing bringing a stock Telsa to the Nürburgring? His response was interesting.
Iain's feeling is that the Model S is the future of the automobile. Maybe not this year or next or even in 10 years, but inexorably the battery technology found in the Tesla will be the norm rather than the exception and Iain wants to be the first to tune the bejeezus out of it.
The lap itself was around 10 minutes Bridge to Gantry (in heavy traffic) but unfortunately the car went into a reduced power mode about 3 minutes in due to excess battery heat (at least, that's my guess).
However, before it did it was able to keep a GT3 RS going full chat, within shouting distance (at the 2:00 mark) far longer than any 4,700lb sedan has a right to.
I think without the reduced power output and traffic, a B-T-G lap under nine minutes is possible. According to the Bridge To Gantry site, that would put it in the company of some really quick hot hatches.
I'm really looking forward to giving it another go once the Litchfield Motors guys have had a chance to work there magic on it.
You've got my number Iain...
Robb Holland is a professional race car driver for Rotek Racing and friend of Jalopnik who basically lives at the Nürburgring most of the year. He is also the tallest man in Germany.
Photo credit Frozenspeed Motorsports Photography