When Saleen announced earlier this year that it was working on a tuned version of the Tesla Model S, nobody was sure what to expect. The Saleen FourSixteen was officially unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance last month, and since then just about everyone in the automotive world has formed an opinion on it.
So what does $152,000 get you? X-CAR got up close and personal with Steve Saleen himself to find out the thought process behind the FourSixteen, and what they did to make it stand out in a world gone mad with horsepower.
Typically Saleen aims to add horsepower to the muscle cars they tune, but with the Saleen FourSixteen they focused more on handling, battery management, and aerodynamics. The black-and-white interior is also a departure from the norm, and while it may not to be everyone’s tastes, at the very least Saleen has improved the cupholder placement (if nothing else). The Model S is great at many things, but Saleen found a way to improve acceleration without touching the battery management or electric motor systems. Saleen also improved the cooling of the drivetrain, which could improve its on-track performance, which has become a bit of a controversial point.
Despite all of this, Saleen says the aerodynamics improved the airflow of the Model S so much that these changes don’t have any detrimental effect to the range. The Tesla is already a surprisingly slippery vehicle thanks to its perfectly flat bottom. If you’re a fan of either Tesla or Saleen, you should probably check this out. Having a performance guru like Steve Saleen on the side of electric vehicles is like having a native ambassador spreading the good word among muscle car fanatics.
Not everyone will become a believer, but Saleen commands decades of respect among American can enthusiasts, and perhaps he can sway some skeptics where others have failed.