In October Elon Musk put the auto industry on notice with the Tesla Model S P85D, a 691 horsepower electric rocket that blasts from 0 to 60 MPH in just 3.2 seconds. But Elon isn’t the only guy that likes to go fast, and Car & Driver has gotten more details on the 670 horsepower BMW 5 Series GT plug-in hybrid engineers call “The Thing.” Is it a Tesla challenger, or just another pretender?
What makes The Thing so special is that its Power eDrive plug-in hybrid drivetrain is scalable depending on your current driving desires. BMW has put a 200 horsepower electric motor at the front wheels, a 270 horsepower motor at the rear wheels, both of which can be joined by a 230 horsepower turbocharged gas engine that joins in as-needed. Sounds a lot like the BMW i8 if you ask me.
Using just the electric motors, that’s 470 horsepower of twist to play with, more than the discontinued Model S P85, and with the gas engine the 670 horsepower in theory rivals the P85D. But with a 0 to 60 MPH time quoted as “in the low four seconds”, it’s probably a second or more slower than the Tesla.
Not that I’m complaining mind you, but at least in terms of pure acceleration, the Model S P85D still holds a distinct advantage. Were it not for the Model S, would BMW even bother building “The Thing” in the first place? One can’t say for certain, but Elon Musk has stated time and again his ultimate goal is to encourage the auto industry to embrace electric cars, and the growing performance battle between plug-in cars is reminiscent of the horsepower wars of the 1960s.
It’s a great time to be a car enthusiast.