Edited 8/30/12 to include current track data and reflect what we now know.
I came across some haters loudly and obnoxiously claiming M5 has drastically better performance than Model S Performance (They compared themselves to Sig Perf to give themselves a price advantage, but the real competitor is the regular Performance model).
They literally were saying "how can some stupid little car company in California come up with a car even remotely as good as the M5, which major competitors like Mercedes and Audi can't even touch." Didn't seem crazy to me in terms of speed comparisons but I am very pro Tesla ATM so argued my points anyways. Basically, I was confident that Model S handles better, so I argued it wouldn't embarrass itself on a road course.
In terms of facts, I knew that at least one customer review wrote that Model S Performance "felt" faster than his M5 even though its not actually a faster vehicle. He said the Model S Perf felt "like a rocket ship" while the M5 felt like a "bucking bronco" (Turns out it was faster. 2013 M5 is much faster than previous model years, and 2013 M5 is fairly closely matched to MSP.). I got curious as to the actual performance of the two cars and found some interesting stats. So, lets start with the basics that everyone looks at.
Model S Performance
Accel - Factory reports 0-60 in 4.4 seconds - Edmunds reports 4.3 with no rollout, MotorTrend reports 3.9 with 12" rollout.
Horsepower - 416
Torque - 443 ft-lbs
Price - $84,900
Accel - Factory reports 0-60 in 4.3 seconds with DCT - Edmunds reports 4.3 with MT, 4.1 w/DCT no rollout. Car and Driver and MotorTrend report 4.0 MT and 3.7 DCT with 12" rollout.
Horsepower - 560 @6000RPM
Torque - 502 lb-ft @1500RPM
Transmission - 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode, or manual transmission.
Price - $92,000
Based on testing by Edmunds and MotorTrend, it's clear that the 0-60 times of these cars are virtually identical if M5 is equipped with a manual transmission, while M5 with the DCT can be a couple of ticks quicker. Except.
M5 is an ICE vehicle. Take a look at that DCT transmission. An automatic with a manual paddle. Peak torque at 1,500RPM, peak HP at 6,000 RPM. A reviewer who says Model S Performance "feels" faster, like "a rocket ship" while the M5 feels "like a bucking bronco". Still, he thinks M5 is faster and the 0-60 is 0.2 seconds faster (with DCT) which makes him right for 2013. Except.
M5 achieves the 0-60 time using a computerized launch routine. Here is the Car and Driver Test Notes regarding that launch control -
So think about that for a second. Model S Performance has an electric drive with the following attributes. Linear acceleration and access to ALL of its torque at any time. So now to the key stat, provided by Car and Driver on its instrumented test."TEST NOTES: Launch control is difficult to engage: DSC off, manual shift to “S3” setting, step on brake lightly, hold gear selector forward—but not too long or it drops out—and floor it."
The M5 has a 5-60 speed of 4.6 seconds ... !!
5-60 means a rolling start as opposed to the computerized launch from a complete stop that is only useful in a drag race. Consider that for a moment.
Model S Performance has linear acceleration with 100% available torque at any speed. It can't rev its engine to some arbitrary peak performance number then launch to win a drag race. Linear acceleration means a smooth linear curve. If the Model S accelerates from a rolling start it should get to 60mph quicker than it would if it started while standing still. I *think* it will do it in a bit less than ~4.1 seconds, though I have no data to back that up yet.
Regardless, I think its an open question as to just how QUICK the M5 is (MotorTrend thinks MSP is probably quicker, sorry M5 ). It will clearly beat a Model S Performance in a drag race, or in any top speed measurement. However, that is only if the M5 is equipped with DCT. Against a manual transmission I'd bet on MSP in a drag race. MT equipped M5 has been clocked doing a 1/4 mile in 12.4 seconds, vs 12.5 for MSP. But the 12.4 is with a weather adjustment. When you race head to head the only thing that matters is who reaches the end first, not your temperature and altitude adjusted time.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn't point out M5 is working VERY hard to match or exceed MSP in a drag race. Using the computerized launch control or popping your clutch is a fairly brutal act and neither your transmission nor your clutch will love you for it. The only mechanicals between the Model S motor and the wheels are the differential, which is mechanically more robust than a clutch. And M5 is much more reliant on skill and split second timing. It's just much harder to screw up when all you need to focus on is stomping on the accelerator.
Both of these cars handle almost equally well (M5 turns slightly better, while MSP has better brakes), and it looks highly likely that MSP can out accelerate an M5 coming out of turns, and really though most of the performance envelope on a road course.
With it's best in class brakes and electric powertrain, I'd feel fairly comfortable betting on the Model S Performance in a road race. The M5 driver would have to be exceptional to keep the car in the meat of its power band at different speeds and in turns, while the Model S driver just needs to keep the car under control. So it really is "bucking bronco" vs. "rocket ship".
Or maybe I'm wrong ..
2013 BMW M5 Road Test Car and Driver
World Exclusive! 2012 Tesla Model S Test and Range Verification - Motor Trend
2012 Tesla Model S Track Test
Here is the original Review from Rowan which helped inspire this thread and my argument with the Tesla haters. Turns out that he owns an M6, not an M5, but it was a great review and I have zero doubt that the Model S Perf would pwn the M6 even easier than M5.. :P (see note)
Rowan Trollope | Test drive - Tesla model S - AWESOME
Note - Subject to such pwnage occurring in an environment that lacks long straightaways where top speed becomes a factor
Here is data from MotorTrend -
Quote from MotorTrend Article -Code:Base Price Weight Power 0-60 mph 60-0 mph Lat grip BMW M5 $92,095 4384 lb 560 hp 3.7 sec 110 ft 0.94 g Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG $96,805 4256 lb 550 hp 3.9 sec 113 ft 0.92 g Porsche Panamera Turbo S $176,275 4388 lb 550 hp 3.5 sec 105 ft 1.00 g Tesla Model S P85 $105,400 4766 lb 416 hp 3.9 sec 105 ft 0.92 g
Edmunds Inside Line -And were we to have measured those 0-60 mph times from the first twitch of accelerator movement instead of after the standard 1-foot roll-out, the Model S would be already off and away while the gas cars were still reacting to their suddenly opened throttles. It's a startlingly instant shove into the seatback. Measured by our classical methods, the Model S P85 is now the fastest American sedan, and close to the fastest anywhere. And in the real-jousting that sometimes erupts on highways (you know what I'm talking about), it's probably the quickest.
How does it perform? Impressively. This thing is fast.
In Performance trim, the 2012 Tesla Model S makes 416 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Enough to blow the doors off our long-term Audi A8 and a long list of luxury sedans that don't wear badges like M or AMG. It also turns and stops like Tesla has been building high-performance sedans for decades.