The Showdown: Tesla goes head-to-head with Audi [Video]

There’s no other car that directly compares to the electric, connected, autonomous Tesla Model S. However, there is a luxury sedan that approaches it in performance, and nearly duplicates its silhouette: the Audi RS 7. In the latest episode of Motor Trend’s Head 2 Head, Senior Features Editors Jason Cammisa and Jonny Lieberman take the world’s two quickest sedans out for a one-on-one comparison. 


Above: The showdown between Tesla and Audi (Image: Motor Trend)

Both are all-wheel-drive, four-door, hatchback sedans, and they are almost precisely the same size. Both pack prodigious power - the Audi RS 7 Performance offers 605 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque from a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, and the Tesla Model S P100D musters 680 hp and 791 lb-ft from its two electric motors. The RS 7 was the quickest four-door car MT had ever tested, until the Model S P100D came along. The two vehicles are priced similarly: the Audi starts at $129,500, and the Tesla goes for $141,200.


Above: Check out the battle between the Tesla Model S P100D and Audi RS 7 (Youtube: Motor Trend Channel)

Jason and Jonny begin by comparing interiors, and here the Audi comes out ahead. “If there’s one thing Audi always gets right, it’s the interior. Everything you look at feels expensive, it smells expensive, everything is well put together, it’s well designed, it’s well laid out.” When Tesla's Model S first came out, these two, along with many other reviewers, loved the speed and the handling, but found the interior to be just “all right.” Five years later, Tesla has made “a whole bunch of improvements. The seats are good, and it has a center console.” When it comes to the Tesla’s touchscreen, “no one else has even come close to replicating that usability and functionality... it’s the industry standard... the only touchscreen that is not feloniously, negligently distracting, because it works every time.” Volvo rates an honorable mention - its screen is perhaps “20% as awesome.”


Above: Inside the Tesla Model S (Image: Motor Trend)

When it comes to the driving experience, the two super-sedans are both great, but very different. The boys seem to prefer the Audi’s tighter steering, but note that the quiet Tesla offers “a different kind of sporty,” and despite (or because of) its massive weight, it is really fun to drive. “There is nothing even close to as quick.” They explain why an EV’s instant response will always beat an ICE vehicle.


Above: Tesla Model S P100D (Image: Motor Trend)

Next it’s time to compare the two vehicles’ interior space, using... bags of cow manure? Yes, with hatchbacks like these on the market, “the death of the sedan” seems imminent, because you can throw so much “crap” in the back. The Audi holds a respectable 15 bags of crap, but the Tesla takes 17 in the rear and another 4 in the frunk.


Above: Comparing the top-of-the-line Tesla Model S P100D Ludicrous+ and Audi RS 7 Performance (Image: InsideEVs)

On the way to the drag strip, we learn that there’s one spec in which the German car beats the Californian: The RS 7’s top speed is a blazing 190 mph, compared to the P100D’s 155. This reflects a fundamental difference in design philosophy between the two continents. German car lovers have their speed limit-free autobahns to cruise on, so most German performance cars are designed to handle well at high speeds.


Above: Audi and Tesla go head-to-head (Image: Motor Trend)

That said, we Yanks have to get our kicks where we can, on a deserted stretch of road or (for city dwellers) a highway onramp, so American muscle machines are optimized for blistering acceleration. With its Motor Trend-tested 0-60 time of 2.28 seconds, the Tesla is the odds-on favorite as our boys line up for the quarter mile. We won’t spoil their fun by revealing the result - all we’ll say here is it was a close race. Want to know who won? Watch the video to find out.


Source: Motor Trend