Tesla's EV tour puts 'insane' acceleration on display

Gordon Dickson
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Dallas — What's it like to go zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds — in an electric car, no less?

"It's like owning a roller coaster. It's amazing," said Tesla Motors spokeswoman Jamee Hawn.

And she's right.

Stepping on the accelerator of a Tesla Model S P85D when it's in "insane" mode is like being fired out of a cannon, but with the ability to ease off the power, apply the brakes and slow down practically on a dime. In other words, it's controlled chaos.

Drivers who wanted an up-close view or perhaps even a test drive of Tesla's cutting-edge Model S P85D recently made their way to Dallas. There, a test track in an otherwise-empty parking lot was set up for prospective buyers, or those who are curious about the technology.

The Model S P85D is an all-electric, two-motor sedan with all-wheel drive. The dashboard offers a 17-inch touch screen with easy-to-understand and easy-to-reach features. Among them is "insane" mode, which allows the driver to press down on the accelerator and get to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. (Remember, you're in an electric car now, so it's no longer a "gas pedal.")

That's fast enough to snap the back of your noggin against the headrest.

Anything not buckled down in the car is likely to go flying. It's also best to not be taking a sip of coffee.

Tesla is in the midst of a 10-city, cross-country tour — which goes by the skiing-influenced name of Double Black Dual Motor Tour — to show off its automobiles and give prospective owners a test drive. (In downhill skiing, the toughest slopes are usually labeled "double black" or "double black diamond.")

What makes insane mode possible? Tesla's electric vehicles have all their torque available immediately, so there's no need to press the accelerator and wait for the motor to catch up.

The car also has many practical features, including the ability to go more than 250 miles between charges. The company has created a network of several hundred charging stations nationwide, making it possible to drive across the country essentially for free.

To say that Tesla marches to a different beat is an understatement.

The company doesn't use traditional dealerships to sell its cars. Instead, it sells directly to consumers, to leave out the middle person. But in places where direct sales aren't legal, such as Texas, Tesla relies on online orders.

Tesla also occasionally gets permits from the state to have test drives, such as the one in Dallas.

Also, prospective buyers can visit one of several "galleries" to get information about Teslas.

What does it cost to buy an all-wheel, all-electric car that does zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds? About $105,000.

That's no small chunk of change. But your days of buying gasoline would be over.