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Electric Luxury Sports Car Clash – Tesla Model S vs BMW i8


Tesla Model S

Horsepower: 380
Fuel Economy: 208 Mile Range (60 kWh Battery)
MSRP: Starting at $69,900

Inside the Tesla Model S:

The Tesla Model S has been in production since 2012 and is an all-electric five door luxury liftback. This vehicle has spacious room for five passengers in a nearly soundproof cabin. The Model S is offered in two trim options between the base model with a single rear motor and the performance with dual front and rear engine. Buyers have the option of battery size that dictates how far of a driving range and top speed the Model S will have. The base 60 kWh battery offers a 208 mile range with 120 MPH top speed. The performance series 85D and P85D package, containing a 85 kWh battery, include dual motors with the 85D having a 270 mile range and top speed of 155 MPH. The Model S P85D is the crown jewel in the series and although the range is slightly less at 253 miles, it boasts a 0-60MPH speed of 3.2 seconds; the fastest of any all-electric vehicle on the market. Due to the 1-speed fixed gear, you simply press down the gas pedal and feel the Model S fly.

Tesla Super Charger NetworkThe thing that scares off many consumers from purchasing an all-electric vehicle is likely the fear of running out of a charge with no conventional gas station able to help you. Tesla has created an extensive network of Tesla Supercharged stations across America and into Canada to help alleviate that fear. In only a 30 minute charge, your Tesla now has a 170 mile driving range. This is just one of the many benefits the nearly $70,000 price tag gets you as a consumer. This is an ultra-premium vehicle and the interior is unlike any vehicle you may have experienced. You won’t find any knobs or buttons but instead a 17in touchscreen instrument cluster that controls everything from the audio to the power glass roof. The Model S is consistently ranked one of the safest vehicles on the road with 5 stars in every category.

BMW i8

Horsepower: 357
Engine: 1.5L
Fuel Economy:
MSRP: Starting at $135,700

Inside the 2015 BMW i8:

The BMW i8 is probably the only true competition to the Tesla Model S in terms of an electric luxury vehicle. While these two sports cars have very similar specs sheets, they are also vastly different in many ways. The BMW i8 is a plug in hybrid sports car with seating for four passengers within its luxurious interior. The trim options aren’t your typical options you see with BMW but instead you pick your ‘world’ option which include the Mega, Giga, Tera or Pure Impulse World. These World options mainly affect the interior materials and color options. There are several driving modes with the i8 as you can choose between all-electric, dual combustion and electric or run strictly off the gas powered engine. There is also an option that toggles the combustion engine on or off depending on optimal conditions. To enable the all-electric option, the driver must push a button located just under the Start/Stop button. The current range on the BMW i8 on this mode is currently about 25 miles at a speed of 75 MPH. The electric engine is so quiet, BMW actually pumps in artificial engine noise to alleviate concerned drivers who thought it was too quiet.

The i8 has a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds; a whole second slower than the Tesla Model S. Where the i8 may lack the initial punch-it speed, it definitely makes up for it in comfort and design features. The most notable feature is the butterfly doors which welcome adventure seekers immediately before entering the vehicle. Despite what trim option you choose, the interior is a sophisticated and regal design. BMW has created a “members only” type of feel with this vehicle by creating the Pure Impulse World which comes complete with membership card, magazine subscription and invites to exclusive events. BMW also partnered with Louis Vuitton to create a tailor-made luggage collection which is also only available to i8 customers.

Our Picks for Winner:

Base Model: BMW i8

The BMW i8 base package is an all-or-nothing type of design as the mechanical components don’t change as you move in trim options. The impressive dual electric and combustion motor give the BMW a level of diversity that the Tesla Model S doesn’t offer. The range on the i8 base model is 330 miles while the Model S offers a 208 mile range. Advantage: BMW i8

Upgrades: Tesla Model S

When we comparing these two in terms up upgrade options, the Model S is the only one that truly offers a new bundle between the trim options as the i8 remains relatively unchanged. The Tesla Model S P85D is about as impressive of a car as you can look for in terms of sheer acceleration. The 3.2 second time is the fastest of any regular production vehicle. We like fast cars at Carsforsale.com!

Overall Winner:

Tesla Model S

The current Model S offers consumers a more affordable vehicle with an impressive range of 208 miles on a single charge. While the i8 continues to slowly address range concerns from consumers, the Tesla Model S is focusing on more advanced features (like a car that drives itself). The Tesla brand stalled in momentum as gas prices bottomed out at nearly $2.00/gallon. This premium electric sports car category is going to be a fun one to follow the next few years. Currently, we had to give the advantage to the faster, more affordable Tesla Model S with the uber-cool infotainment center with no buttons.

2014 Tesla Model S

Dustin "Dusty" Rhodes

A fan of nice round numbers and working on tiny European cars, Dusty is the proud owner of a '58 Lloyd 600, a '50 FIAT 500, and is currently on the hunt for a Vespa 400. And, despite all that repair work, he still finds time to write about cars. 

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