Standard road cars used to be rather hopeless at tackling race circuits. Tires and brakes overheat, vast expanses of asphalt can make even brisk cars feel quite slow, and road-biased suspension means cornering felt like negotiating the Pacific ocean in an inflatable raft.
Recent performance road cars are surprisingly good on track, by comparison--though some are still out of their depth. Take Tesla Motors' [NSDQ:TSLA] all-electric Model S around the Nürburgring, for example, and you soon begin to find limitations that just aren't there when you drive it on the road. Racing driver Robb Holland has discovered just that, as the Model S he pilots in the video above struggles under its own weight.
In fact, after just a third of the 14-mile lap, the Model S went into a reduced-power mode to help preserve the battery. Even up to that point, things weren't exactly going swimmingly--Holland described the car to Jalopnik as too heavy (it weighs in around the 4,700 lb mark), too short of mechanical grip and devoid of steering feel. But he wasn't without praise for the electric sedan. Holland suggests the car is capable of a 9-minute lap if it doesn't overheat, and that as a brand new car from a company that didn't exist a decade ago--one not at all designed for track use--it's still an impressive vehicle.
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The other unique experience was traveling at Nürburgring speeds in relative silence--Holland and passenger, British car tuner Iain Litchfield, were able to happily converse with their helmets on. To Litchfield, the Model S represents "the future"--so it will be interesting to see what a man responsible for 750-horsepower Nissan GT-Rs can do with the darling of Silicon Valley...