Tesla Model S P85D vs Dodge Challenger Hellcat

Fast against furious—and we have the data to tell the difference

Last updated: July 03, 2015 09:00 AM

Dodge Challenger Hellcat
Ferocious feline gets frisky during playtime.

Having a 327-acre test track allows Consumer Reports to conduct all sorts of performance comparisons not available on public roads. The most recent example: testing the outer limits of the certifiably insane 691-hp Tesla Model S P85D and the patently ridiculous 707-hp Dodge Challenger Hellcat.

But it’s far more than just a 2.6-mile test track we have at our disposal. We have world-class drivers and scads of instrumentation that would make an automaker’s R&D chief nod in approval, as they routinely do. (Learn how Consumer Reports tests cars.)

Recently, we decided to test our own P85D against a rented Challenger Hellcat, courtesy of the speed freaks in Chrysler’s SRT performance division. If you need the finish-line results right now, you can cut straight to our video above or scope our data tables below. But if you want to hear about the sensation behind the wheel, read on.

What did we find? Horsepower simply doesn’t tell the story. This is beyond horsepower for horsepower’s sake. Remember the new, more powerful Porsche 911 that we raved about just a few months ago? That’s a legitimate, proper sports car. But it has just half  the horsepower of either of these cars.

So which of these socially inappropriate cars delivers the most screech for the shekel? The most zoom for the zloty?

The Hellcat’s supercharged Hemi V8 bellows, burbles, and crackles, and it makes all the appropriate go-fast sounds. But to its detriment, it also consumes several precious milliseconds while transmitting engine power to the transmission, then to the axle, and then convincing those big Pirellis to get a grip on the blacktop and shove you down the track.

By contrast, the all-wheel-drive Tesla’s launch is smooth, near silent, and even more ballistic. The tires on this gilded, tree-hugger seem afraid to burn rubber. All that electric-motor power is put instantly to pavement. We piled up more than a full G in less than a second.

What is “more than” a full G, you ask? The application of one g-force on an object’s acceleration is the equivalent of a free-fall. To have this force—and then some—applied in less than a second is no different than being flung off a building. It is quite literally terminal velocity. And your brain reacts in exactly the same way – by retreating into a quivering ball in the darkest corner of your skull. Side effects may include dizziness and momentary panic. (Read "Is the Tesla Model S P85D the quickest car ever?")

Because sensory response can’t always be trusted, we checked with our instruments, which showed that the Tesla had reached 30 mph in one and one-third seconds. That’s an unheard-of acceleration rate in a street-legal car. In our tests, no other “normal” car has reached that velocity that quickly, and in that few feet. Oh, and the Tesla hit 60 mph in three and a half seconds. That’s still million-dollar supercar territory. The Tesla costs $128,000, which is still in 1-percenter turf, but why quibble? (See our guide to Tesla news and reviews.)

The Hellcat—a relative bargain at $65,600—was hardly tame. And if it took eight-tenths of a second longer than the Tesla to reach 60 mph from a standstill, that’s still about as quick as that aforementioned Porsche 911. (Yes, the Porsche has half the horsepower, but also much less weight to carry around.) And more than that, the Hellcat’s sound and sensation of speed and control filled our heads and hearts with the visceral satisfaction that embodies a beautiful friendship between man and machine.

Ultimately, both of these adrenaline-pumping rides are a thrill and could be addicting for some. They just come from different places, even different eras—the Hellcat being the ultimate representation of the 1970s dream machine, while the Tesla is the car from the future.

Read our complete Dodge Challenger and Tesla Model S road tests.

Gabe Shenhar

  Tesla Model S P85D Dodge Challenger Hellcat
Price as tested $127,820 $65,565
Power output, hp 691 707
Max torque, lb.-ft. 687 650
Engine/motor Front & rear motors Front supercharged 6.2L V8
Drive wheels All Rear
Weight, lbs. 4,962 4,300 est.
Acceleration, 0-30 mph
1.3 2.3
Acceleration, 0-60 mph 3.5 4.3

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