Tesla Model S Performance

How fast is Tesla’s Model S?

I’m potentially in the market for a pre-owned Model S, so this question has certainly been on my mind lately.

There are a lot of different models, and a lot of different performance numbers thrown out there. It can be confusing, so I wanted to post an article with actual facts.

Tesla’s ability (and inclination) to perform OTA (Over the Air updates) can also make this a moving target. Here’s some verbiage from a Tesla owner that spells this out:

The original spec for the 85D was 5.2 seconds 0-60, but a software update around June/July 2015 gave us a “Normal/Sport” selection similar to the P85D’s “Normal/Insane” selection. The Sport mode at that time gave us the current performance levels, 0-60 in around 4.2-4.4. A subsequent software update removed the Normal/Sport toggle, and the car is now in Sport mode all the time.


As I publish 0-60 mph and quarter mile times, I’m trying to annotate that with legitimate sources like Car & Driver or Road & Track. But it’s worth noting that if the car was tested back in 2013, but then received an OTA that made it faster, the old published article may no longer be relevant.

ModelYear0-60 mph1/4 mileSource
S 8520134.6 s13.3 s / 104 mphLink
S 85D20145.2 s?Link
S P8520144.1 s12.6 s / 108 mphLink
S P85D20153.3 s11.8 s / 114 mphLink
S 70D20155.1 s13.8 s / 101 mphLink
S 6020145.5 s14.2 s / 98 mphLink
S 7020165.5 s?Link
S P90D20152.8 s11.1 s / 121 mphLink
S 90D20164.2 s?Link
S P100D L20172.3 s10.5 s / 125 mphLink
S 100D20173.9 s12.4 s / 113 mphLink

Now that we have the facts in front of us, let’s discuss them a bit.

None of these Model S’s are slow. They can certainly get out of their own way. Some of them are fast, while some of them are really fast.

I’m going to say anything faster than 4.5 s 0-60, and/or 12.9 s and 111 mph in the quarter mile is fast. That’s not arbitrary, I’m using numbers commonly used for the BMW M3 and Lexus IS-F. In that case The P85 makes the cut, whereas the S 60 and S70 (or S70D) do not.

I’m going to say anything faster than 4.0s 0-60, and/or 12.5 s and 116 mph in the quarter mile is really fast. Those are the numbers for a C7 Corvette. One could argue it’s not fair to use a true 2-seater sports car as a yardstick for a sedan, but it’s my article and I can use whatever I want 🙂 In that case, the P85D, P90D, P100D, and possibly even the 100D models qualify.

In a later article, we’ll discuss Model 3 and Model X performance. And it’s my intention to go through in detail to discuss the differences between some of these models, and how they achieve these performance milestones.

Tesla smoky burnout