Acceleration: Insane

Posted on May 15 2015


It’s not every day that a stranger lets you wring out a brand-new, $120,000 sports car. But that’s just what happened on Tuesday. I was an out-of-towner being, as usual, an airport bum, swapping flying stories and drinking coffee with the local flyers in a flight school lobby. One of the locals had taken delivery of an electric car, a Tesla S P85D.

He dared me to take it on the road and floor the pedal from a dead stop.

Well, OK, mister. I ain’t scared of no electric car. I mean, how fast can an electric car really go?

Before I compose an answer to that question, please wait a moment so the blood can return to my eyeballs. Right now, it’s still pooled at the back of my skull from the Tesla’s acceleration forces.

Cazart! That thing is fast.

Despite the neck-snapping acceleration, the Tesla didn’t squeal the tires, it didn’t pull to one side or the other, and it didn’t have the roar of a fuel-burning engine. There may have been a slight hum to the electric motors, but I don’t remember. All I remember is that the outside world became a blur as I went zero-to-60 mph in just a few seconds. We shot straight down the road like a rocket.

Sixty is as fast as I took it. Then we drove around some curves and did some maneuvering. The car handled well. Its low center of gravity certainly helped here.

As we made our way back to the airport, the owner scrolled through the various menus on the large electric touch-screen that comprises the center portion of the dashboard.

It has, for example, a feature that makes the steering wheel feel like you’re running over rumble strips if you start drifting out of your lane.

Drivers can adjust all sorts of stuff. As for the options for acceleration performance, I didn’t notice the entire layout on the screen, but one option was labeled “Insane.”

Yes, really. How cool is that?

As for the look of the Tesla S, unless you knew what you were looking at, you wouldn’t know that the car was electric. It looks like a moderately sleek four-door sedan.

The owner said the car has a range of about 250 miles. As for the model specifics, the Tesla S comes in several flavors, of which the “P85D” is an upper-end offering. I was told the “P” is for performance (no argument here), the “85“ reflects the battery capacity of 85 kilowatt hours, and the “D” is for dual motors, one of which drives the front wheels, the other of which drives the rear wheels.

I’m not knowledgeable about electric cars, but they’ve got a growing, and often sophisticated, fan base, so the Web is surely full of information on the subject.

I can merely relate my impression as un-reformed high-school gear-head. Being an electric car, a lot of the attention aimed at the Tesla goes to the “electric” part, which is fair enough. But it was the “car” part that caught my attention, because it had such good “carness.”

OK, that’s not a word. But it should be.

After we got back to the airport, my routine reverted to its usual trajectory. Dinner consisted of a candy bar and a bag of chips from a hotel vending machine. Still, for a quiet Tuesday in a strange town, it wasn’t half bad.

Ed Stephens Jr. | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Visit Ed Stephens Jr. at His column runs every Friday.

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