Electric vehicles benefit from instant torque, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re quick.
The more affordable electric cars, like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Hyundai Kona Electric, are zippy around town but nothing to brag about on a drag strip. However, higher-end models like the ones we’re looking at here can keep up with some of the most powerful gasoline-burning sports cars in the world — and in some cases beat them.
We’re focusing on larger brands, not smaller companies like Rimac and Pininfarina, due to limited availability and the lack of third-party testing. And, not wanting to rely solely on manufacturer-issued numbers, we’re also including zero-to-60mph and quarter-mile times published by Motor Trend. Finally, we’ve split up this piece into two sections: The first highlights EVs currently on the market, while the second looks at upcoming models.
Tesla Model S Performance (2.4 seconds)
The Model S is quicker than the Porsche Taycan Turbo S at lower speeds, and it takes the zero-to-60 crown with a Tesla-claimed time of 2.4 seconds for the current Performance model. When Motor Trend tested the P100D (Ludicrous+) model in 2017, the EV hit 60mph in 2.3 seconds. Only the Dodge Challenger Demon matches that time.
The Model S uses a 100kWh battery pack, but Tesla mysteriously does not advertise horsepower and torque figures. Motor Trend estimated the P100D it tested had 680hp and 791 pound-feet of torque. However, power figures on the current Performance model could be higher due to software updates. Third-party estimates vary a lot, but some put horsepower around 800.
The Model S would have been the clear winner if it had posted a better quarter-mile time at a higher speed; instead, it’s a tie. The Porsche Taycan Turbo S is a few ticks behind the Model S to 60mph but quicker at triple-digit speeds.
Porsche Taycan Turbo S (2.6 seconds)
Porsche claims the Taycan Turbo S can run a quarter-mile in 10.8 seconds, though it doesn’t state the trap speed. And since Tesla doesn’t provide quarter-mile numbers, we will have to rely on Motor Trend’s testing. It was a close one: The Taycan hit the quarter-mile in 10.47 seconds while the Model S P100D did it in 10.51 seconds.
The big difference here is the trap speed. The Model S was going 125.0mph when it crossed the mark, but the Taycan managed 130.7mph, meaning it was significantly faster. This is partly attributed to the Taycan’s two-speed transmission for the rear motor. In zero-to-60 testing, the Taycan was a smidge slower at 2.4 seconds.
The Taycan has a slightly smaller battery pack than the Model S (94kWh), but its electric powertrain still produces an impressive 750hp and 774 lb.-ft. with Launch Control activated. It makes 616hp in normal driving conditions.
Tesla Model X Performance (2.7 seconds)
Tesla’s largest car, the Model X, is extremely heavy but still very quick. It’s equipped with a 100kWh lithium-ion battery pack, like the Model S, but here again Tesla won’t release horsepower or torque figures to the public. Motor Trend tested the P90D model in 2016 and pegged the crossover’s output in the vicinity of 532hp and 713 lb.-ft. of torque. Third-party estimates vary, but some speculate the current Performance model puts more than 600hp under the driver’s right foot, a figure that places it about on par with a current-generation BMW M5.
Questions remain, but what’s certain is that the Model X is exceptionally quick. Tesla claims the aforementioned Performance model hits 60mph in 2.7 seconds, though it hasn’t released its quarter-mile time. Motor Trend clocked the older P90D model at 3.2 seconds to 60mph on its way to an 11.7-second quarter-mile at 116mph. Power has increased since, so expect an even better quarter-mile time.
Tesla Model 3 Performance (3.2 seconds)
Tesla claims the Performance variant of the Model 3 takes 3.2 seconds to reach 60mph from a stop, a time Motor Trend matched. The company doesn’t provide quarter-mile times, but Motor Trend tested the Performance model in 2018 and hit the quarter-mile in 11.8 seconds at 115.2mph.
The Model 3 uses a smaller 75kWh battery pack, but its electric powertrain still manages to make 450hp and 471 lb.-ft. in the Performance model. That’s plenty for a car that small, and the numbers prove it.
Tesla Model Y Performance (3.5 seconds)
Tesla’s Model Y just hit the market, and third-party testing has yet to be done as of this writing, so we will have to go with Tesla’s claim of a zero-to-60 time of 3.5 seconds. That’s obviously a very quick time, and it will likely hold up once tested. Tesla hasn’t and won’t release horsepower and torque figures, but it’s safe to assume they are in the area of the Model 3 Performance’s (450hp, 471 lb.-ft.) because both use similar powertrains. Its quarter-mile time will likely be somewhat slower than the Model 3 Performance’s because the Y is bigger, heavier, and less aerodynamic.
Jaguar I-Pace (4.5 seconds)
Jaguar’s first and only EV is a crossover, but it’s no slouch. With 314hp and 512 lb.-ft., the I-Pace rockets to 60mph in a Jaguar-claimed 4.5 seconds (no quarter-mile time given). When tested by Motor Trend, the luxury EV hit 60 in 4.0 seconds, on its way to a quarter-mile time of 12.6 seconds at 110.5mph. The I-Pace uses a 90kWh battery pack. We hear a more powerful I-Pace SVR will hit the market soon, and the firm announced its next-generation XJ will launch with an electric powertrain. Its acceleration time might eclipse the I-Pace’s.
Audi E-Tron (5.5 seconds)
The Audi E-Tron is the slowest EV on the list but it’s still very quick. Audi says its first series-produced electric model can hit 60 in 5.5 seconds, but when Motor Trend tested it, it was quicker at 5.1 seconds. The automotive publication also clocked a quarter-mile time of 13.7 seconds at 102.4mph.
The E-Tron utilizes a 95kWh battery pack, and power is rated at 355hp and 414 lb.-ft. But while in Boost Mode, the Audi’s power increases to 402hp and 490 lb.-ft. The sportier-looking Sportback model will be released soon but with the same power. If you want more power, there’s an S-badged model with three motors around the corner.
Notable Upcoming EVs
Audi E-Tron GT
Audi says its upcoming E-Tron GT will produce 590hp and hit 60mph in 3.5 seconds. If that zero-to-60mph time is conservative, the Audi could be as quick as the Model 3 Performance in a straight line.
Ford Mustang Mach-E GT
The most powerful configuration of Ford’s upcoming Mustang Mach-E GT will produce 459hp and 612 lb.-ft. and reach 60mph in 3.5 seconds. It will be quicker than the Jaguar I-Pace but not the Model X Performance.
Rivian R1T and R1S
The most powerful Cybertruck will be the three-motor Plaid model. Tesla claims the truck will reach 60mph in less than 2.9 seconds. When it comes to power numbers, yet again Tesla hasn’t and likely won’t release them. Keeping with consistency, Motor Trend estimates the range-topping truck will produce about 800hp and 1,000 lb.-ft. of torque.
If Tesla’s upcoming Roadster supercar claims are accurate, this is the fastest EV on the list. Its 1.9-second zero-to-60 time and an 8.8-second quarter-mile time are mind-boggling. This is partly thanks to its large 200kWh battery pack. We don’t know how much power the EV makes yet, but some estimate it could be in the range of 1,000hp. Which makes sense. We’ll have to wait longer than expected to see if those figures are accurate because Tesla recently delayed the $200,000 Roadster until about 2022.