Electric Cars / Motorsports

Tesla Model S Defies Musk With Formula Drift Action

Tesla Model S Defies Musk With Formula Drift Action

The Tesla Model S is, in many ways, a marvel of modern engineering, an all-electric luxury sedan with 265 miles of range and up to 691 horsepower on tap. Yet it is also a closely-guarded vehicle by its builders, and any attempt to modify the drivetrain or software could get you a stern call from Tesla’s customer service.

But so what? If you’ve just spend close to $100,000 on a car, you damn well should drive it how you want…or in this case, drift it. Fresh out of the Japanese Formula Drift circuit comes this video of a Tesla Model S doing its best to get its two-plus tons sideways around a race course. It doesn’t look easy, but it does look cool.

For those of you unfamiliar with Formula Drift, drivers are tasked with navigating a pre-set race course against an opponent, with points awarded for line, style, showmanship, and speed. This is a qualifying match from the looks of it, as in the finals the drifters face off against each other at the same time in a tandem race, with drivers switching off who takes the lead position between sets.

Despite having to fight the traction control and a whole lot of weight, the P85+ (I’m assuming) manages to put on a pretty decent drift show. As a longtime fan of drifting though, it will take some getting used to only hearing squealing tires, rather than a high-spinning engine bouncing off the rev limiter. Not bad, just different, though I think the Formula E race cars sound much, much better.

Unfortunately, the Tesla Model S can only go all-out for a limited time, as too much performance can lead to an overheating battery pack, at which point the electric car curtails the available power. Other electric car startups are working on a solution, though it may still be awhile before Formula Drift goes electric the same way Formula E has.

Then again, electric cars might be even better at drifting than they are at drag racing. Instant torque, limited time on the track, and compact drivetrains could put electric cars like the Model S at an advantage over the combustion-powered competition. Unfortunately a proposed electric drifting league from 2012 never panned out, though it seems inevitable that somebody will try again.

I leave you with this: which car is the better drifter, the Tesla Model S or the BMW i8?

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A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.