The new Tesla Model S P90D, a seven-seat electric car, accelerates faster than sports cars from Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bugatti, according to tests by the car enthusiast magazine Motor Trend.
The all-wheel-drive P90D went from a dead stop to 60 miles an hour in a mind-warping 2.6 seconds, according to the magazine. The average family sedan today takes about 8 seconds to do the same.
Among the cars that would take longer to reach highway speeds, according to Motor Trend, are the $400,000 Lamborghini Aventador and the $2 million Bugatti Veyron, both two-seat high-performance sports cars.
There are a few cars that are quicker, but very few. Among them are the Ferrari LaFerrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder, both plug-in hybrid supercars with price tags many times that of the Tesla.
Prices for the Model S P90D electric car, with Tesla's new Ludicrous Mode performance software, start at about $120,000.
The P90D's two electric motors -- one driving the front wheels, the other back wheels -- can produce up to 762 horsepower. Unlike gasoline engines which have certain speed ranges in which they pull best (hence the gears,) electric motors produce full pulling power at all speeds.
Many other cars, particularly specially-designed sports cars, could probably still beat it on a race course thanks to faster cornering and higher top speeds. Also, other Tesla ( Model S sedans Motor Trend has tested have lost performance as batteries have heated up during repeated high-performance runs, associate editor Christian Seabaugh said. )
Nevertheless, its fast acceleration seems almost unreal.
"For the first few seconds, you're accelerating faster than free-fall," said Motor Trend road test editor Chris Walton, "so it's literally like being on an amusement park ride."
Also, unlike other cars, the Model S accelerates almost noiselessly, making the experience even weirder, he said.
Ludicrous Mode is also available on the Model X SUV. A next-generation Tesla Roadster sports car, due out in four years, will have a mode called "Maximum Plaid," Tesla has said, which should be even faster. (The name was taken from a scene in Mel Brooks' 1987 "Star Wars" parody film "Spaceballs."
Tesla recently released new software updates for the Model S that allow the car to steer itself, to some extent, and also to brake automatically to avoid hitting other cars.