Compared to a muscle car, is the Model S still fun to drive?

Compared to a muscle car, is the Model S still fun to drive?

I'm going to be splurging on a car soon and the Tesla Model S P85 series is what I'm considering buying. I'm looking for a car that I will love driving and will put a smile on my face when I mash the pedal down. Also looking for a car that handles well.

Anyway, I'm trying to decide between a Tesla or a Mustang GT. I've always liked Mustangs and test drove one recently, which was incredible. Handles well too (though my point of reference is a Camry). That said, the Model S is much more practical for everyday use. But would I be missing out on a fun to drive car or is the Tesla fun also?

I haven't test driven a Model S yet (it would be a far drive), and wanted to see what you all thought before scheduling one. I'm coming from a Camry that's boring to drive and takes 8.3 seconds to get to 60mph. It's slow and isn't great on gas considering that either.

pnajar | May 19, 2015

On the country roads I drive in Colorado the P85D handles the twisted better than my former car, BMW 650ix. It is also faster.

You have to decide whether the exhaust note is important and the fact it's all electric fits your life style.

priustech | May 19, 2015

"The torque impacts your body with the violence of facing the wrong way on the train tracks when the whistle blows. Within the first degree of its first revolution, 100 percent of the motors' combined 687 lb-ft slams the sense out of you. A rising-pitch ghost siren augers into your ears as you're not so much accelerating as pneumatically suctioned into the future. You were there. Now you're here."

sauce | May 19, 2015

To be fair, you need to A) show up at a Tesla store with your questions on the car, then 2) definitely test drive the Model S, preferably the P85D.

Next, report back here on if the Mustang GT even shows on your short list after the test drive.

I bet a visit to the Tesla store and test drive will be an eye-opener.

As for me, even though I had been keeping an eye on the Model S ever since it's first announcement way back then, when I finally decided to show up at the Tesla store to ask my questions and then for a test drive, it was such an eye-opener for me that all of a sudden every other vehicle including my TSX became instantaneously irrelevant.

kgor93 | May 19, 2015

@sauce, did you buy the P85D?

@pnajar wow that's impressive. I'm surprised because often family sedans are snoozers.

Basem | May 19, 2015

I am replacing my Challenger RT with the S70D. The 70D is somewhat less powered than the RT but man the way the Tesla handle is something else.

You should be good with the P85D. It is very powerful and handles very good.

The new 2015 mustang has an independent suspension and it handle historically better than the its pervious models. However, it does not come close to the Tesla.

Possibly if you are skillful enough with many years on the track you "simply a race car driver" then you could get the mustang to handle sufficiently. Otherwise the tesla D will just do it for you.

kgor93 | May 19, 2015

@Basem either way both handle better than my Camry. My current car can't corner at all.

Anyone else coming from a mainstream sedan care to comment on their experiences when moving to the Tesla?

P.Mac | May 19, 2015

I have previously driven a 5.0 L Mustang, manual, back in the 70's when cars were much faster. Also a Corvette with I believe a 456 cubic inch engine, manual, performance suspension. Great muscle cars.

I now drive an S85, not even the 85D or P85D, and I greatly prefer this car. There were certain visceral pleasures associated with the noise and vibration of those muscle beasts, and maybe my memory has faded, but I think the S85 is much more fun to drive.

I am afraid to test drive a P85D. I am sure it would burst my bubble of complete car satisfaction.

Ford is a great company (I used to work for them.) And the Mustang is a great car, but it cannot compare with any of the Model S vehicles. Get the P85. It will put a smile on your face when you put the pedal down. And when you plug in each night. And when you realize later that you are not spending time and money on car maintenance.

minervo.florida | May 19, 2015

There truly is no comparison unless you want the exhaust noise.

I gave up my 2010 Grand Sport Corvette for the p85d and words cannot describe how much better the Tesla is, and I loved the Vette.

Look at it this way, driving the Mustang or almost any car compared to the Tesla is like going back to a rotary phone compared to your smartphone.

sauce | May 19, 2015

@kgor93: Not yet. But there is also no way I'm buying anything else now that I know. My TSX has over 300,000km (187k miles) now. Obviously I will need a replacement soon, so the plan is to have probably the 85D (budget and winter range needs) in the driveway in 14-16 months.

I consider my TSX to be much more pleasant to drive than my father's Camry used to be. But the P85D is just something else altogether.

For me, the other cars I was looking at (TLX, C-Series) to replace the TSX suddenly became completely irrelevant.

Do the test drive, you'll see.

kgor93 | May 19, 2015

@sauce have you tried the P85 (not d)? Curious how that one is as well.

sauce | May 19, 2015

No I haven't. To my knowledge the P85 at least in Canada is not available anymore. You might still be able to test drive one if they have a P85 loaner car, then buy one off the preowned car market.

Madatgascar | May 19, 2015

Kgor - I have both, and the P85 is completely satisfactory, but unless you are buying used you cannot get the P85 (non-D) anymore.

kgor93 | May 19, 2015

@tbouquet oops I was actually referring to the current 85d.

Does anyone have/use the autopilot mode? That's a MAJOR selling-point IMO.

Madatgascar | May 19, 2015

What I have found is that I enjoy the acceleration a lot more in the Tesla because I don't have to worry about making so much noise that people will turn and look and think I'm being a rude jerk. It's stealth acceleration - it just looks silent and effortless. You can get that smile every day, not just on the drag strip.

sbeggs | May 19, 2015

And how!

Madatgascar | May 19, 2015

Autopilot software is not enabled yet. The TACC is great, though. I would not get my hopes up for true autopilot too much - I think it may get neutered by the attorneys before it is ever released. Probably just a freeway lane-keeping function.

srumpf | May 19, 2015

Replaced my Mustang with a Model S. Couldn't be happier

kgor93 | May 19, 2015

@srumpf what year/model Mustang did you have?

Hkinkade | May 19, 2015

Kgor, as several have recommended setup a test drive and take the trip to your nearest Tesla showroom. You will forever be second guessing yourself if you bought another car without test driving a Tesla. The new Mustang is a very attractive car from many perspectives, but the Tesla will generates new and very exciting driving experiences that can't always be described. Make a day of it and experience Tesla service and driving experience, it's insane!

Dramsey | May 19, 2015

Perhaps, as the owner of both a 2007 Saleen Mustang (supercharged, 500hp) and a 2013 Tesla P85, I can offer some perspective. (I have also driven the new 2015 Mustang GT several times.)

• Although when driven by an expert the Saleen is about as quick 0-60 as the Tesla, the Mod S will win every time in the real world. It's really not even close. In the Saleen, to get the maximum acceleration, you must rev the engine, perform a violent clutch dump, feather the throttle with exquisite skill, and hit two perfect power shifts. In the Mod S you simply slam the accelerator down. A chimp could do it.

• The Saleen handles better than the Mod S; the 2015 Mustang is much better. Due to its extremely low center of gravity, the Mod S does better than you'd think for a car of its size and weight; and the lack of body roll means the car can get every last bit of grip from its tires with little lost to camber changes. That said, "handling" is more than just lateral grip, and the Mod S weighs about 1,000 pounds more than a 2015 Mustang GT. Transient response suffers due to our friend "Mr. Inertia". All other things being equal, a light car will out handle a heavier car, and the Mod S simply can't keep up with even my older 2007 solid-rear-axle Saleen in the twisties.

• "Fun" is a relative term. As a sports car, the 2015 Mustang GT offers the sounds, performance, and driver involvement that gear heads love. On the other hand, the power and instantaneous response of the Mod S electric drivetrain will completely ruin you for ICE engines.

• Last, you can get a well-equipped Mustang GT for about 1/3 the price of a P85D. So there's that.

My advice: drive both.

RedShift | May 19, 2015


"That said, "handling" is more than just lateral grip, and the Mod S weighs about 1,000 pounds more than a 2015 Mustang GT. Transient response suffers due to our friend "Mr. Inertia". All other things being equal, a light car will out handle a heavier car, and the Mod S simply can't keep up with even my older 2007 solid-rear-axle Saleen in the twisties."

Bingo. One reason why I bought the lightest Model S that could be supercharged. (60 kWh) :-)

Actually a fair comparison is between the Model S and a BMW 750i. I have driven them back to back, and the Bimmer slightly edges out the Model S in handling.

Yes, the V8 growl in the big Bimmer is intoxicating, but I won't give up my Model S for anything in the world.

jordanrichard | May 19, 2015

Kgor93, where are you located?

Also, just to mirror the other remarks and I know this sounds overly simplistic, but just drive one and you will understand.

Most likely the version you will be able to test drive will be a "D", meaning a 70D, 85D, or a P85D. I have a S85 (Mar'14) and even if you were able to drive that, would make you completely disregard anything else.

kgor93 | May 19, 2015

@jordanrichard Baltimore. Nearest dealership is DC which would be a hassle.

damonmath | May 19, 2015

My everyday driver was a 2010 Benz E550 coupe, 362HP, 0-60 in 5.1secs. Fun little two door with excellent pull off the line and stable 100mph+ handling. Corners great and scorches the pavement in gears 1-3. I waited several years to find and take possession of this car.

That said, after my test drive of a standard S85, I put a deposit down right away and now my E550 sits in the driveway under a car cover. Driving any ICE car after my Tesla is like taking a trip back in time. Everything about it seems clunky, out-dated, noisy, smelly and just plain odd. I still cannot believe after 5 months with my new S85 that we haven't been driving these cars all along.

About TACC - I use it often and enjoy being able to relax my feet from having to do anything. I hope autopilot does come to fruition so that my daily commute can be that much more of a pleasure. Regenerative breaking also makes driving that much more fun... No more riding the break, in fact, I rarely use the break pedal at all.

I recommend taking a test drive of any Tesla. You will not be disappointed. And compared to a Mustang... Not even in the same stratosphere.

Ruby110 | May 19, 2015

@kgor93: while a little further away, you might find access to the Bethesda store easier.

jordanrichard | May 19, 2015

If someone doesn't offer it here in this thread, perhaps you could post another thread to see if any MD owners might be willing to offer you a test ride/drive in their car. I would do it, in a heartbeat, but I am in CT.

PhillyGal | May 19, 2015

Driving a mustang is to eating ice cream as driving a model s is to jumping into your custom swimming pool for the first time of summer after having just been told you were getting a raise at work.

Seriously, this has been covered but GO DRIVE IT!
I've driven new mustangs several times and find handling to suck. Unless the one you get has driver selectable steering (is that even a thing with Ford), you won't get as sporty a feel as Model S.

The acceleration is breath taking at any speed. A mustang, like any ICE, has gears to burn through and as a result lags.

Also, Model S is so bottom heavy that you are firmly planted. It will do whatever you want it to.

5 months into ownership and I can't fathom a single reason why any other car with comparable cost has even a single sale. When's the last time someone purchased a new bathroom vanity using their Mustang? Oh wait...

buickguy | May 19, 2015

The Tesla experience is completely different from driving any ICE vehicle. There are all of the handling issues stated earlier in this thread, both good and bad. There is also one pedal driving -- you should rarely need to touch the brake pedal. Your life style should allow for a plug-in at home, although you can exist with public or work chargers and Superchargers. If you live in a cold winter environment (as compared to balmy and parched California), your plug-in alternatives become more important. And then there is price. A nicely equipped new Tesla can easily run $100,000, although I equipped mine for less. However, a nicely equipped used Tesla purchased through Tesla's CPO program is (only) $75,000. If a Tesla fits your life style and pocketbook, you will never look back. You will be looking forward with this silly grin we owners have become accustomed to!

Red Sage ca us | May 19, 2015

According to me: Sure.

According to Motor Trend: Old school tire smokin' wins by a close 51%-49% split margin.

LostInPA | May 19, 2015

If you are into smoking tires, the vibration of a rumbling engine, and the raw visceral sound of booming thunder then the Model S is not for you. But if stealth is your game then...

jordanrichard | May 19, 2015

buickguy, "your life style should allow for a plug-in at home"? Huh? Me plugging my car in takes me all of 5-10 secs. Not much of a change to my life style. Unless you meant something else.

RipEmUp510 | May 19, 2015

I'm trading in a Boss 302 for a 85D. As much fun as the Boss is, about the only thing I'll miss is the "pop pop pop" when downshifting.

On paper the Boss is quicker 0-60, but I just can't get the 1-2 shift smooth enough to make it happen in reality. Throw in the Boss is a summer only car vs. all wheel drive on the 85D doesn't give me a twinge of remorse to make the change.

srumpf | May 19, 2015

@kgor93 2005 V6 Coupe... nothing too special but for what its worth my dad drives a 01 Viper, 89 Ferrari and 86 Porche and is considering getting a P85D.

mferris | May 19, 2015

I confirmed my S85D order last week - I was heavily comparison shopping the Audi S6 and the Panamera 4, not Mustangs - but probably more comparable as I was looking around the $80K price point (of course I ended up paying $100K for the T - see below).

My view -
the 2015 Panamera 4 was a dog off the line, great highway car, but felt boaty otherwise.
the 2015 Audi S6 had loads of cool doo-dads inside, but felt like it was a bunch of technology thrown together with an awesome V8 - but had limited soul and felt like a A6 with a big engine. I'd floor it and it went - without fuss, but without the wow.

It took about 5 min into the Tesla test drive (followed by 2 other test drive appointments) to confirm - that the Tesla was for me.

It was so different, so much "guiltless" torque, so easy, and seemed to drive even smaller than the Audi. I'm having some nightmares about the unknown on the future - but can't wait the approx 2 months until mine arrives.

Interestingly - based on my (highly justified) spreadsheet analysis - over 3 years of FedRebate/50% depreciation/tires/fuel-electricity/maintenance/insurance/etc. - a $100K Tesla is comparable in overall cost to a $80K ICE car. I was ama

Grinnin'.VA | May 19, 2015

@ Red Sage ca us | May 19, 2015

According to me: Sure.

According to Motor Trend: Old school tire smokin' wins by a close 51%-49% split margin.

Reminder: "Fun" is like "beauty" - it's in the eye of the beholder.
Humanity includes a vast variety of perspectives. YMMV.

Stiction | May 19, 2015

IMHO, You don't need the P85D. the S85D should also be test driven and has better range (and cheaper). I

And plenty fast relative to a Mustang (unless it's turbocharged or something)

If you want brum brum noises, you are probably in the wrong place. The S rockets you with no fuss and bother (and wear and tear of thrashing moving parts).

sule | May 19, 2015

Desires for "good noise" are obsolete. They only existed because one always had to choose noise - the only selection was the kind of it. And, even when enjoyed, it is only so for very short periods of time as it is only tiring, damaging and undesirable otherwise (think listening to music instead).

Mustang vs. Tesla? Mustang is only interesting as a museum relic and definitely not more fun to drive.

dchint | May 19, 2015

Are we really comparing a P85D to a Mustang GT?

Kunal | May 19, 2015

Drove a Gen 4 Dodge Viper 600Hp fast, handled really well, loud. Bought a P85D and it's awesome. I love both, the P85D is a daily drive marvel and amazingly quick, great handling and loads of fun. I can live without the sound on a daily basis. You realize that you don't have to be loud to be quick.

Bikezion | May 19, 2015

This question was asked 100 years ago. It was phrased like this; should I buy the new horse, and buggy, or should I get the model T? One test drive and you'll know.

dlake | May 19, 2015

A few of months ago I had my P85 in the service center for its second 5000 mile tire rotation. They gave me a beautiful blue new mustang GT to drive for the day. It definitely had the exhaust note, but otherwise, I really did not like it. The ride was way too harsh compared to my P85 which has stiff suspension but seems to glide over the road like a hoverboard.

The big hood on the mustang takes me back to my old roomate's 1972 mustang. The handling on that car was terrible and he didn't have power steering! I never liked the big front hood while driving and still don't. It feels like I am driving a boat.

Finally, I guess the mustang is quick, but you always hear the engine before you get moving. And it's just can't compare to the instantaneous torque in a Tesla. With a Tesla- stomp on the go pedal and you're instantly moving so fast you can clear a sinus infection. Then there's the grin....

By the end of the day, the constant exhaust note got a little tiring. Driving a Model S spoils you for good.

teslagiddy | May 20, 2015

If you're asking if it's worth your time to test drive the Model S, the short answer is yes. There were no local test drives available 2 years ago so I actually flew to another city to check out this car and I decided after a 10 min test drive that I'd get one. Only you can make that decision for yourself. For me it is fun to drive and I love waking up to a full tank every morning.

kgor93 | May 20, 2015

For those of you in apartment complexes with parking spaces and no garage, how do you charge your Tesla?

PhillyGal | May 20, 2015

@kgor - Anthony on the forum may be able to chime in. He had an outdoor charger installed in his outdoor parking space since he does not have a garage. It seems to work quite well for him.

Also, I think you said you were around Baltimore. If you're ever up North the King of Prussia Mall in PA does test drives.

Pbfoot | May 20, 2015

There's a tesla store in Montgomery Mall near Rockville. Probably closest one to where you are.

da_85bears | May 20, 2015

I have a P85+ and a 2013 Boss 302 Mustang and have done track days. Hands down the mustang handles better. I think most Model S drivers confuse the feeling of the low center of gravity with good handling. The model S is a huge car that weighs almost 5000 pounds. It understeers and the steering has very little feel. It pulls <0.9g on the skidpad. With PS2 tires and the P85+ (P85D) package it handle well for a big car.

A good handling car is neutral (understeer balanced with oversteer), has good feedback, and pulls close to 1g with good tires. The tesla does non of these. Having said that the model S is a very fun car. Nothing beats the feeling of always having a direct connection between the motor and the tires. Power is always there. The mustang has 444hp and weighs 1000lbs less but when traveling 40mph I still need to downshift and rev the engine to get it moving. Back down on the accelerator and the model S is the most economical car you can drive, plant your foot and it's the fastest you can drive. Mustang gets <20mpg no matter what.

FLTeslaS | November 8, 2017

I have bought my S since July 2017. It is simply fun to drive. Often, I felt other cars almost stood still when I "zip" around (occasionally) or pass the intersections. My wife never complaints the gas smell any more. In weekends, I always want to drive it around to get the feelings or to be noticed. I told my friends, Tesla should be on your bucket list. - Just start the fun!

kerryglittle | November 8, 2017

I have the P85D and love it. The S will likely cost twice as much as the Mustang but ten times more fun. Plus its not cop magnet like the Stang is. I sold my 911 Porsche to buy the S and it made the Porsche feel like a Honda Civic. I would say a Toyota but people get offended when I cut up Toyotas, ha ha. I can dis Hondas because I have owned most of them, even the flagship NSX. I predict when you first get the chance to launch the P85 the first words out of your mouth will be...... well I can't print them here. LOL.