There are many burning questions these days to which we seek answers: who will win the upcoming presidential election? How does the Tesla Model S Performance stack up against the BMW M5 on a drag strip? And, of course, who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong? While we can't speak to the either the political or metaphysical queries, we now have an answer to the automotive one.

On paper, the answer seems clear. The BMW M5 is said to scoot from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds when equipped with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, while Tesla says the Model S Signature Performance edition can do that in 4.4 seconds. What happens beyond that speed is anyone's guess, but it should be kept in mind that the gas guzzler's 4.4-liter V8 puts out 560 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque – maybe more – compared to the battery-operated sedan's 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of sizzle.

But driving doesn't happen on paper and so the similarly-inquisitive folks at Automobile magazine took one of each of these vehicles to Gingerman Raceway for a little head-to-head competition. The result? While it is possible for the somewhat lighter German machine to occasionally edge out the slippery American newcomer, the Tesla seems more adept at translating its potential energy into forward motion. You can watch the smack down for your own electric edification by scrolling below.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 379 Comments
      Dan Sturges
      • 2 Years Ago
      I know which one wins. The one that can drive across the entire United States. Someday EVs will have the right infrastructure. But that is not today.
        Ricky St. Vincent
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Dan Sturges
        when tesla installs super chargers across the US like they plan to do within the next two years that will be possible. for a 30 min stop at any rest stop that has a tesla super charger, you will get 150 miles of range. oh and these super chargers generate electricity purely by solar panals. these solar panals also put more electricity in the grid than the cars will be using. this is important because it discredits the argument that electric cars arent truely green if powered by a dirty grid if all of this solar energy gets put into the grid.
        justgoawaymad
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Dan Sturges
        You know what amazes me? You tell the truth and get shot down for it. That can only mean to me this site in infected with tree huggers not "real" car people.
        pickles
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Dan Sturges
        Perhaps to Mr. Dan Sturges, driving across country is the metier by which he judges all cars. For me, it isn't. I've had 17 cars, driven about 25-30,000 miles a year and I've never driven across country. Ever.
        Grendal
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Dan Sturges
        Yes. That's the defining issue for a car. Whether it can drive across the US on a regular basis. Because, of course, everyone drives across the US on a regular basis. And besides, there are only about 300-to 350 in customers hands so far and one couple picked theirs up in California and drove it across the US to get home. And they didn't even do it to prove that you're an idiot either. They did it because they thought it would be a fun way to pick up their new car they waited three years for. Is it the very best car to drive across the US in since everyone does that every other day? No. But it does have other advantages that a gas powered car doesn't have. But, rest assured, Dan, that you can still buy any car you want. Even one that will drive across the US on a regular basis since that is what you seem to do.
          Grendal
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Grendal
          Well thanks for your contribution. It was a NEV, the ZENN car, that got me interested in EV's. Sure more infrastructure is needed. But they are not the defining feature of EV's either. EV's work different than ICE cars. Highlighting the advantages and disadvantages honestly allows a consumer to properly compare their buying choices. EV's are better at quite a few things and their disadvantages are easy to understand and adapt to. Since most people don't drive long distances on a regular basis then eliminating EV's as a choice is silly. Just for that rare trip. I've owned my current car for 5 years and only once did I use it for a trip beyond the range of this Tesla Model S (265 miles). I've been to New York, Chicago, Fremont, Dallas, and San Diego during the same time frame. Every time I flew and rented a car, or used cabs. I think that is what most people do nowadays. So making a flat statement for everyone: "I know which one wins. The one that can drive across the entire United States. Someday EVs will have the right infrastructure. But that is not today." That statement assumes you know how everyone drives. You don't. And statistics say that you are wrong for most peoples driving patterns. Comparing the Model S to a regular gas car allows people that don't know about EV's to compare them to something they do know. It's very fair. There will be those that want to deny the possibility but there are others that become intrigued and want to know more. I'm sure there are a lot who watched the video and had no clue that the Model S was in the same league as the M5 as far as performance is concerned. It is. And in fact it beat the M5 - twice. More information and more comparisons are needed. Getting information out there on what these cars can do is exactly how change happens. Maybe someone out there does drive across the US regularly but this way they can decide for themselves whether they want to stick with their gas car or not. Sorry for the speech.
          Dan Sturges
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Grendal
          Well actually, I don't care if EVs drive across country either. But unfortunately it does matter if you spend $50K for a car that someone in LA can't drive to San Diego in. Sure you could rent the "Far Car" and do it that way. The Tesla innovation is great. But when you compare an EV in a world with little infrastructure to a BMW gas car that is soaking in a world full of infrastructure, all I am asking is for people to see that the infrastructure is needed. Hey, I am the inventor of the NEV and have more EVs on the street of my design than anyone (won't last long though :)
          American Refugee
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Grendal
          I lived in LA for years and frequently went to San Diego. I never, ever went to San Diego then immediately turned around and went back to LA. I always went to San Diego to do something, like spend the weekend, go to a concert, or play rugby. The kind of thing during which I could easily plug in for long enough to pick up the extra 80 miles of range I need to go home. As for Orange County, you could to round trip LA to the furthest point in OC, San Clemente, in the cheapest Model S with about 40 miles to spare. Facts! They're all the range these days!
          Dan Sturges
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Grendal
          Yes @Grendal it is a defining issue whether it can travel far when needed. Here in LA, few will pay over $50K for a car they can't drive to Orange County and back or to San Diego and back without having to park for 45 minutes to charge. The infrastructure for the Tesla is not here yet. Doesn't mean they aren't amazing vehicles and the future we need. I just think a comparison between a battery car and a BMW gas burner is dumb.
        pickles
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Dan Sturges
        Perhaps to Mr. Dan Sturges, driving across country is the metier by which he judges all cars. For me, it isn't. I've had 17 cars, driven about 25-30,000 miles a year ( so, + or - 650,000 miles over 26 years) and I've never driven across country. Ever.
        john
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Dan Sturges
        With this mindset, the Model T wouldn't have been invented. Deciding whether to pursue a new tech isn't reliant on what it can do *now*, but what it's potential is, and how well it performs the majority of the time. Most folks, with the exception of truckers, don't drive across the country.
      pavsterrocks
      • 2 Years Ago
      I still wonder what will happen when every single household will have an electric car. I would guess major power outages - no way our electric infrastructure is prepared to deal with this.
        Dave R
        • 1 Month Ago
        @pavsterrocks
        The vast majority of EV charging takes place at night when there is plenty of surplus grid capacity to go around. Either way, a transition to EVs will not occur overnight - utilities will have plenty of time to plan ahead.
        Grendal
        • 1 Month Ago
        @pavsterrocks
        Studies have already been done and for the forseeable future electric cars will actually help the grid. Why? Because they are charged mostly during off hours and help to smooth out electrical use. There is lots of electricity used during the day and very little at night but you still are generating the same amount as during the day. Electric cars help to create a better balanced grid.
        Spec
        • 1 Month Ago
        @pavsterrocks
        First of all, even if everyone decided that their next car will be electric, it would take many decades to transition. (And very few people are doing that.) But they have studied this and without a single new power plant, the current power generation system could handle some 70+ million EVs as long as they were charged at night. So you just use time-of-use metering to encourage people to charge up at night. This is pretty much a non-issue. Sure, some local transformers would need to be upgraded and some other adjustments . . . but stuff that is easily doable. The power companies are looking forward to getting paying customers that use all their excess power generation capacity that is just sitting idle at night.
      FuelToTheFire
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm looking for something to replace my '99 Cherokee. I like the idea of an electric vehicle-gobs of torque, low cost to operate, excellent daily driver, quiet. I might go with this as my next car. This or a Fisker Atlantic (after test driving my sister's Karma, probably going with the Atlantic).
        Spec
        • 1 Month Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        *must not make joke over the poster's name*
      Jolly
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Tesla can burn in car hell.
        justgoawaymad
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Jolly
        I think the tesla has a purpose. If you can afford it, if you can put up with the range, then maybe its not so bad. But there are 100 times more people out there that cant use it or afford it.
        Spec
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Jolly
        Oh, the salty tears. LOL.
      lulziez
      • 2 Years Ago
      So the BMW, a gasoline engine, "launches" from a standstill AT IDLE and they call that a drag race win? Perhaps my speakers are failing me but that doesn't seem fair at all
        Thomas Fisher
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lulziez
        Here are the Car and Driver test notes for M5 launch control - " 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." Model S launch control steps - Press pedal and go. Fast. In a head to head drag race you can get to the point of holding the brake on M5 before launch. When you say "go" you need to press the gear selector forward "but not too long or it drops out" and then floor it. If you do not use launch control, or if you do not execute it perfectly you will lose to Model S every time. If you do it all right you are marginally faster. In real life M5 managed to win 1 out of 3 times, which is not terrible considering what a poor performer it is otherwise.
        lordedardstark1
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lulziez
        It's the DCT not the manual.
          KaiserWilhelm
          • 2 Years Ago
          @lordedardstark1
          And the DCT has a launch control that wasn't used.
          lordedardstark1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @lordedardstark1
          Your GTR is not a manual, no matter how much you say otherwise. Dual Clutch is not a manual, technically.
          NissanGTR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @lordedardstark1
          DCT is manual
      Kris
      • 2 Years Ago
      No launch control on the M5 and the Tesla jump started. Once they picked up speed it was clear the M5 was catching up. I don't underestimate the Tesla's performance, it is fast, but to me it's not faster than the M5. I bet my ass that with proper launch the M5 will be faster.
        mootabolife
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Kris
        It might have been a private owner. You have 20 launch control starts before your warranty expires.
        Ben
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Kris
        Because of the difference between how electric and IC engines operate, I'd expect the Tesla to "jump" if both drivers hit the accelerator at the same exact time. If they had a proper light setup, I'd expect the M5 driver to hit it sooner so they'd leave at the same time.
          Grendal
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Ben
          I'd expect that the complex launch to lose to the easy to use pushing of the pedal over the long haul. Launch control is a complex process to overcome the weakness of the ICE. The Model S doesn't have that weakness to begin with. Good old American know-how beats German complexity.
      knodoctor
      • 2 Years Ago
      Pitting an overpriced EV that cannot do any serious long trip to DRAG RACE against a REAL CAR is like pitting an Elephant to compete with a Lion, where the competition is who weighs more.
        purrpullberra
        • 1 Month Ago
        @knodoctor
        Your anger and childish YELLING are the PROOF you are a depraved mental case. Its really funny watching you fake your way through life, failing, every time you type. No one cares for you, we GET IT. It is your fault, though, not ours, so stew in your bile and suffer publicly. I love it!!! Are the trees the right height in that little mind of yours? Go Tesla, Go Obama! You are kno doctor... just a sad waste. You are the losermobile! No, you momma wuz. :-)
        Spec
        • 1 Month Ago
        @knodoctor
        excuses excuses.
        Lachmund
        • 1 Month Ago
        @knodoctor
        oh look...who are you. the new troll in town?! i wonder what was your last nick...
        Grendal
        • 1 Month Ago
        @knodoctor
        Well thor, since that is who you are. The $85K American car you called vaporware beats a $106K German supercar and you're upset about that. How Un-American of you. What are you so afraid of? Change? Watch the video again and watch change happening.
        knodoctor
        • 1 Month Ago
        @knodoctor
        and to those who still didn't get the above, DUH, drag racing is the strong point of any EV vs a real car. You did not even need to do the contest, you could have declared the EV the winner in advance. Not that it would help its taxpayer subsidized sales any...losermobiles...
          Grendal
          • 1 Month Ago
          @knodoctor
          Well. Since it WON, it must be a Winnermobile. It's funny how you write just like thor - who got kicked off. Create a new account, did you?
          Spiffster
          • 1 Month Ago
          @knodoctor
          Are you referring to the DOE loan program or the tax credits for EVs started by the Bush administration?
      NightFlight
      • 2 Years Ago
      That Model S is an awesome car, and it is fast there is no doubt about that. BUT, hat was a truly pathetic launch of the M5. I'd expect better from Automobile. Regardless, I'd gladly accept either of them into my garage.
        knodoctor
        • 1 Month Ago
        @NightFlight
        The Tesla is a joke. 100%, usda Choice JOKE. Comparing it to a REAL CAR is like Apples and Oranges, and gives the unemployed something to fool around with until Tesla goes BROKE.
          inthelv
          • 1 Month Ago
          @knodoctor
          Huh?
          Grendal
          • 1 Month Ago
          @knodoctor
          Hi thor. Back for more? Got multiple personality syndrome? You should still see a doctor for your mental health problems. Really. Go talk to someone about your problems. Your joke just smoked an M5. Deal with it.
          purrpullberra
          • 1 Month Ago
          @knodoctor
          That's it!!! You're an unemployed loser suffering from self hate and profound stupidity. No wonder you can't stop crying about all the butt hurt! I feel for those who fired you. I'd HATE to be your coworker. Ask, do you even deserve a job? I wouldn't hire you to scoop my dogs poo. Why would anyone who meets you like or hire you? You're insane. I'm sure that the total lack of normal human relationships has taken a bat to your personality but I'm sure it was doomed from the start. Don't hate on me, I'd gladly tell people this in person. I'm just thankful I can drive past the insane homeless and hopeless to my comfy, well-earned home (that I can afford).
          Spiffster
          • 1 Month Ago
          @knodoctor
          Why are you so mad? Haters gonna hate i guess... :-)
        Grendal
        • 1 Month Ago
        @NightFlight
        2 out of 3 runs. Important to note that the M5 needs launch control and the Model S does not. In everyday use the Model S is much easier to kick @ss with.
          Brodz
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Grendal
          Maybe because it's power to the wheels is delivered linearly (computer controlled?), not dumped on the rear wheels all at once. Because otherwise the Tesla would have destroyed those tyres.
      WMB
      • 2 Years Ago
      Finally a sleeper that smacks German M mehhh....
      Jonathan Wayne
      • 2 Years Ago
      Damn.
      Moreno636
      • 2 Years Ago
      It WALKED the M5.....jeez that thing is impressive, 300 miles is perfectly in line with what 90% of the population will be using it for 90% of the time.
        Nemebean
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Moreno636
        Honestly, other than 1 or 2 long overnight trips a year, this could do 100% of my driving. Nobody that I visit on a regular basis lives over 300 miles away. Sadly, I ran the numbers and a Model S would cost me approximately as much as my mortgage per month. ;-)
      Carma Racing
      • 2 Years Ago
      Electric motors, depending on design, do not all have 100% torque at 0 rpm as many people think.
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