Tesla Model S vs. Corvette - Why we love this matchup
This past year I drove the new Corvette Stingray on the private racetrack at the Monticello Motor Club in New York. After my run I sat down to lunch with some engineers from GM, and Mark Reuss, who was at the time the President of GM, North America. I know, it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it. It was one of the most exciting days I had as an automotive enthusiast and writer last year. Another exciting day was the day that I test drove the Tesla Model S on the roads and highways near my home in Mass. I never thought that those two events would ever end up in one article, but now a viral video showing a Model S beating a Corvette in a drag race has brought these two life snippets of mine together.
I’m a fan of the Model S, but I do need to start off in defense of GM’s bad-boy ‘Vette. The new Corvette Stingray Z51 with some good go-fast bits and the nice stuff you likely want costs about $60,000. The Tesla Model S P85 with the stuff you want costs about $106,000 before the government starts throwing money back at you. So it is not as if the Tesla shouldn’t be competitive. On the other hand, the Tesla is a very spacious 5 or 7 passenger luxury sedan with unbeatable safety credentials. The Corvette is a plastic car-shaped film draped over a V8, transmission and driver. So there are more than one way to look at which one “should” be faster.
Watch the video and you will see that there are actually two drag strip runs and the Tesla wins the first and loses the second. I don’t know which transmission the ‘Vette has. If it is the 7-speed, rev-matching manual I drove then I can understand the poor start in race one. A manual is a fun transmission in a sports car, but it slows the car down. The Tesla, of course has no transmission with which to sap energy and speed from its run. In any case, in the second run the Corvette redeems itself and wins the race by enough of a margin that it is also the overall two-race average time winner. The question is, “Is that the point?”
Electric cars can now do most things better than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. The only problem is that they can’t do them all at once, and they cost more than ICE cars. However, you get to live with a reduced carbon footprint and also be a pioneer in the new world.
It would seem to me the point of this video, and its popularity on the internet, has to do with the fact that the standard-bearer of fast cars in America is no longer the Corvette. In fact, it isn't even a car with a V8 engine, or any engine for that matter. The Tesla Model S is just as American as the Vette, and it is so much more modern in almost every way. Let’s keep in mind that this is a race between Tesla’s top sedan and Chevrolet’s premier sports car. If Tesla were to build a new sports car (and they are not going to) Chevrolet would have no answer. We love this matchup because it shows the pinnacle of old versus the pinnacle of new.
For a different viewpoint on this race please see Patrick Rall's story.
Still image courtesy of youtube.com and Drag Times