Drag Times: Tesla Model S Plaid vs. Ferrari SF90

Time and again, the volatility of electric vehicles has paid off in spades. There’s no question about the speed. EVs are some of the fastest cars on the planet, and they’re only getting faster. Petrol cars have their advantages as well. It might be harder to get more horsepower out of them, but the process of losing weight is much more flexible since they don’t require massive amounts of batteries. It’s a perfect matchup then, between the Tesla Model S Plaid Edition and the SF90, Ferrari’s plug-in electric vehicle. Both are close in horsepower and have about an aircraft carrier’s worth of weight between them, so in theory, the race will come down to traction. First, let’s take a look at the competitors.

Tesla Model S Plaid makes other cars stand still

Tesla’s ability to make a fast car has been covered ad nauseam. Suffice it to say it’s an all-wheel drive fully electric car with 1,000 horsepower. Full electric vehicles like the Plaid have tons of instant torque, so it’s up to the suspension to maximize traction tantamount to the torque in a drag race. Suspension aids drag racing with soft compression and stiff rebound to take full advantage of the rear-ward weight shift. 

Tesla Model S Plaid has adaptive suspension, with three modes the driver can choose from. Unfortunately for the Ferrari in this particular race, one of those modes is meant for drag racing. With its drag race mode accompanied by a “cheetah stance”, which squats the front of the car over eight seconds, the Tesla can reach the quarter-mile in 9.3 seconds.

Ferrari SF90 is a good match for the Tesla

Ferrari SF90 Spider at Goodwood | Martyn Lucy/Getty Images

The Ferrari SF90 uses a 4.0-liter V8 with 986 horsepower mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It also uses an all-wheel drive platform and gets to 60 mph in two seconds, according to Car and Driver. In a sprint, the Tesla Model S Plaid and Ferrari SF90 are dead even, thanks in part to the Ferrari’s “Qualify” setting. 

As the name suggests, this setting maximizes the car’s performance. The SF90 has the weight advantage at 3,600 pounds to the Tesla’s 4,833, and both vehicles have the majority of their weight over the rear axle. The edge should go to Ferrari for its slightly wider tires and being more than 1,000 pounds lighter. With three electric motors, the SF90 typically hits the quarter-mile in 9.5 seconds.

The result may surprise you

As you can see, the Ferrari SF90 and Tesla Model S Plaid don’t get many clean starts, but the winner is clear. It came down to the fact that one car needs to shift while the other does not. Beyond that, the Tesla simply puts down 1,000 horsepower for a more extended amount of time than the Ferrari. The weight didn’t end up mattering much, as the Tesla can utilize its power more efficiently. The one drawback to being faster in a Tesla is that after a few pulls like this, the Ferrari can still drive home.

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