As my Auto Shop teacher explained to us in high school, cars from the 1950s had powerful motors for two reasons: Highways and people socializing. A 1955 Chevy Bel Air might hold three couples on an outing, six adults—three across the bench in the front, three in the back—and when merging onto a highway, had to be able to quickly get all that weight up to 55 miles per hour.
To a 1950s engineer, that kind of torque required lots of iron: V-8 engines, four-barrel carburetors and tons of gas. And back then a 13-second 0-60 time was reckoned respectable. But nowadays a Tesla with an electric engine—or say, two electric engines—has cut the acceleration time by some 75%.
Yes, folks, Tesla’s Model S P85D (“D” for “dual engine”) can do 0-60 in a blistering 3.2 seconds, subjecting the occupants to 1G in the process. It’s called “Insane Mode” and here are unsuspecting passengers’ reactions (Warning, NSFW):
Here’s what veteran auto journalist Damon Lavrinc wrote on Jalopnik after receiving a ride in one:
I got a brief, spirited run in the back seat, and the results are—and I kinda hate admitting this—scary.
Acceleration runs don’t freak me out. I’ve been in cars with over 1,000 hp manned by a competent driver, and I’m able to keep my cool. But something is different in the P85D. When the driver slams on the accelerator, my mind knows we’re OK, but my body—for just a few tenths of a second—got freaked out. Maybe it was the torque or the blackened tunnel that we shot into, but there was the briefest moment of panic, which subsided as the twist of the motors started bleeding off.
The P85D will be out later this year; the video above was presumably shot to drum up pre-orders.