Road & Track’s 2024 Performance EV of the Year

2024 performance car of the year
Road & Track’s 2024 Performance EV of the YearLisa Linke

From the Editor

We’ve known for a while that EVs can be blindingly fast in a straight line. All the torque all at once equals a sprint down a straightaway so fast you want to laugh. But speed in a straight line is just one component of many that make a true performance car. So the Road & Track staff waited—until the Tesla Plaid hype cycle passed, until the charging infrastructure inched forward just enough, until there were enough EVs on the market that think of themselves as serious sports cars. Finally, in model year 2023, the time arrived.

For the first time in the history of real automotive journalism, there is a benchmark award for Performance EV of the Year. We collected all the appropriate EVs on the market (excluding the ones that manufacturers didn’t want us evaluating for a number of reasons, mostly having to do with concerns about battery durability and charging infrastructure), and gathered them at a turnoff along 13.8 miles of Angeles Crest twisties.


We sorted the cars into two categories: under $100,000 and over. The contestants are the Kia EV6 GT, the BMW i4 M50, the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition, the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, the Mercedes-AMG EQE sedan, and the Tesla Model S Plaid.

Ladies and gentlemen, charge your batteries.

—Mike Guy, Editor-in-Chief

The Cars

Tesla Model S Plaid

Photo credit: Tim Mcdonagh
Photo credit: Tim Mcdonagh

On sale for more than a decade, the Model S is the Methuselah of the EV world. The Model S, particularly in Plaid form, has two impressive tricks: gut-slushing thrust and a frankly amazing price cut.

Price, as Tested $98,380

Motors 3 permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors

Output 1020 hp @ 1050 lb-ft

Transmissions direct-drive

Range (EPA) 348 miles

Curb Weight 4828 lb

0–60 mph 2.1 seconds

View Photos

2023 BMW i4 M50

Photo credit: Tim Mcdonagh
Photo credit: Tim Mcdonagh

A BMW isn’t typically the value-conscious option in a comparison test. But in this group, the i4 M50 is exactly that. It combines plenty of EV thrust with familiar BMW dynamic ability and steering at a reasonable price.

Price, as Tested $76,670

Motors 2 current-excited synchronous AC motors

Output 536 hp @ 586 lb-ft

Transmissions direct-drive

Range (EPA) 227 miles

Curb Weight 5063 lb

0–60 mph 3.3 seconds

View Photos

2023 Kia EV6 GT

Photo credit: Tim Mcdonagh
Photo credit: Tim Mcdonagh

Kia’s funky wagon gets the performance treatment before its Hyundai Ioniq 5 sibling does. The EV6 GT is a Kia with more power and a quicker sprint to 60 mph than a Lamborghini Murciélago. A Kia.

Price, as Tested $63,100

Motors 2 permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors

Output 576 hp @545 lb-ft

Transmissions direct-drive

Range (EPA) 206 miles

Curb Weight 4817 lb

0–60 mph 3.1 seconds

View Photos

2023 Mercedes-AMG EQS Sedan

Photo credit: Tim Mcdonagh
Photo credit: Tim Mcdonagh

Part of Mercedes’s broad EQ lineup of electric vehicles. This version of the EQE has enough power to merit the AMG name. But is an AMG an AMG without that familiar AMG sound?

Price, as Tested $126,640

Motors 2 permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors

Output 617 hp (677 hp w/ boost) @701 lb-ft (738 lb-ft w/ boost)

Transmissions direct-drive

Range (EPA) 225 miles

Curb Weight 5547 lb

0–60 mph 2.8 seconds

View Photos

2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Perform­ance Edition

Photo credit: Tim Mcdonagh
Photo credit: Tim Mcdonagh

The Mach-E has been on sale for a couple of years, and yet its combination of Mustang name, EV powertrain, and SUV body configuration is still plenty perplexing.

Price, as Tested $67,290

Motors 2 permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors

Output 480 hp @634 lb-ft

Transmissions direct-drive

Range (EPA) 260 miles

Curb Weight 5001 lb

0–60 mph 3.7 seconds

View Photos

2023 Porsche Taycan Turbo S

Photo credit: Tim Mcdonagh
Photo credit: Tim Mcdonagh

The Taycan looks like a squashed 911, and it mostly drives like one too. That’s a good thing. But it’s still a struggle to refer to the highest-­performance version of this EV as a Turbo S.

Price, as Tested $211,140

Motors 2 permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors

Output 616 hp (750 hp w/ boost) @774 lb-ft

Transmissions direct-drive (front) + 2-speed automatic (rear)

Range (EPA) 222 miles

Curb Weight 5184 lb

0–60 mph 2.4 seconds

View Photos

Hearst Owned

There’s no novelty left in electric vehicles. They aren’t oddities or freaks. They’re automotive background noise, trout in the traffic stream. Normal. Common. It’s why Teslas are often referred to as California Camrys.

But common transportation is never enough. This inaugural Performance Electric Vehicle of the Year (PEVOTY) contest uncovers the EVs that are entertaining to drive. Not merely fast or quick, but also satisfying. The electrics that matter to people who wake up eager to drive.

2023 tesla model s plaid and 2023 kia ev6 gt
Lisa Linke

Set aside range anxiety. Stop fretting over charge time or wondering whether the “auto­pilot” system works. All of those mitigating issues will be addressed sometime, somewhere, but not now and not here. This is about driving.

Because this is the first PEVOTY test, every performance EV on the market qualified for entry, even the ones that have been around a while. Six cars from BMW, Ford, Kia, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, and Tesla. Each equipped with at least two electric motors and all-wheel drive. Three under $100,000 and three above. Two winners, one from each side of that price point.

2023 porsche taycan turbo s
Lisa Linke

Some close cousins were excluded from consideration. While the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 share substance, there is no equivalent to the EV6 GT trim on the Hyundai’s menu. At least not until the Ioniq 5 N arrives in driveways, which it hadn’t at the time of PEVOTY testing. And Audi’s RS e-tron GT peaks at 637 hp, but its platform-mate, the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, whooshes along at 750 hp, so it’s redundant.

Starting at a Vons supermarket parking lot (glamour, thy name is car testing) at the base of Angeles Crest Highway in La Crescenta, California, and rising into the San Gabriel Mountains, the 13.8-mile PEVOTY course was designed to extract insights. It’s a legendary road clogged on weekends with squidly hyperbikers and flocks of Miatas squashed over stanced suspensions. But on a weekday—between the rush hours when commuters cross between Palmdale and Pasadena—almost empty and sensuous. Perfect.

2023 bmw i4 m50
Lisa Linke

Unlike Road & Track’s Performance Car of the Year testing, this evaluation has no racecourse element. Hard time on a track would wreak havoc on batteries, overheating them, draining them. Without an adequate charging base, the return to civilization would involve a fleet of diesel-­fired flatbeds. Also, as equipped, none of these machines is built with track intent anyhow. We measured consumption and recharging speed, but only to look for outliers. All opinions are subjective. The winners were determined by free-for-all verbal combat and executive editor Daniel Pund’s arithmetic skills.

Two winners, one with a five-figure price and the other stretching to six.

map of angeles crest highway
map by chris philpot

Over $100,000

Tesla Model S Plaid: To understand the Tesla Model S Plaid is to know violence. The suspension is okay, many of the body panels and trim pieces align with one another, and the design is approaching that dreaded cliché “iconic.” But the brutal, shameless, unhinged viciousness of its acceleration makes it indelible. This is a 1020-hp, three-motor, 4828-pound trench shovel swung at the base of the driver’s skull. This thing wants to frag you.

Sure, the Plaid bombs to 60 mph in 2.1 seconds. That’s a good trick. But otherwise, it’s old (the Model S was first shown in 2009), most of its controls are pointlessly eccentric, and the steering yoke should be buried alongside fascism and Jenny McCarthy’s acting career. “The steering is video gamey in the worst way,” said staff writer Brian Silvestro. “No feel.” Others noted the underdamped suspension and gooey brakes.

2023 tesla model s plaid
Lisa Linke

“Swiping on the center screen to change gears might be worse than the yoke in terms of bad design,” asserted senior reporter Chris Perkins. “This is a very fast car wrapped in a series of consciously bad decisions.”

Back in 2021, R&T drove a Model S Plaid that carried a base price of $131,190. This Turo-rented 2023 model starts at $91,380, including a $1390 destination charge. That’s a nearly $40,000 price drop which is... astonishing. But add any option, including the $6000 “enhanced Auto­pilot” or the $12,000 “Full Self-Driving Capability,” and it’s more like $100,000. The steering yoke is, thankfully, now just an option ($1000). The truth is, whether this car is over or slightly under the price cutoff doesn’t really matter. Put the Plaid in either group, and the result is the same.

2023 porsche taycan turbo s
Lisa Linke

So, the Model S Plaid isn’t cheap, but much of it feels cheap. And oddly archaic. The Model S is the most important car of this century, but now it’s an artifact of a bygone time and not a fully talented performance car.

Porsche Taycan Turbo S: “To go from my 718 Spyder to this makes total sense,” reported editor-­at-large Matt Farah after exiting Porsche’s Taycan Turbo S. “It’s instantly familiar.” Also familiar is Porsche’s bold pricing. As in, this thing bases at $188,850, including a $1450 delivery charge. So, yeah, it ought to be ridonculously good. The only EV most judges prefer over internally combusted alternatives. “The only car in this test,” Silvestro wrote, “that I qualify as a legitimate performance car.”

2023 mercedesamg eqe at the 2023
Lisa Linke

What’s best about the Taycan is that it’s a Porsche. It steers, brakes, and rides like a Porsche. And with its tall, voluptuous front fenders and low hood, the view outward is so 917. It’s a great car that’s priced like it.

Mercedes-AMG EQE: The Mercedes-AMG EQE feels like a car Mercedes engineered without putting its heart into it.

2023 kia ev6 gt
Lisa Linke

“Driving this car fast around corners is a complex exercise in weight management,” noted digital director Aaron Brown. “Its suspension works hard to mask its weight, but pushing through decreasing-radius corners, you wonder if the tires will give up and throw you down into the valley.”

With its twin motors driving all four wheels with up to 677 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque in the Sport+ overboost mode, the AMG EQE should be intimidating. It hustles to 60 mph in only 2.8 seconds and is determined to keep anyone from feeling it. The best AMGs feel like muscles busting the seams of a Brioni suit. This one is muscles in a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man costume.

road track volume 20 electrified
Lisa Linke

The AMG EQE has encouraging elements. The interior is beautifully constructed, the effective rear-steering system means it drives smaller than its 122.8-inch wheelbase suggests, and the braking is astonishing. But Mercedes-AMG needs to add emotion to this $108,050 equation.

Under $100,000

Kia EV6 GT: Yes, this is the quickest Kia ever. Arguably, it’s also the best looking. And it has something few electrics offer: character. Most startling of all, it’s a 576-hp Kia that starts at $62,925 in dual-motor, all-wheel-drive GT trim.

2023 bmw i4 m50 and 2023 ford mustang mach e gt performance
Lisa Linke

“The EV6 GT is what I was looking for, but didn’t get, in the Mach-E GT,” Farah asserted. “Superb body control, big changes between sporty and comfort modes, and brilliant behavior at the limit. All on garbage tires that emphasize the excellent on-limit behavior of the chassis.”

There’s a playfulness to the EV6 GT that doesn’t exist in many electric cars. It’s eager. “Higher center of gravity than the Porsche by far,” Pund said. “But still riotously fun in corners, and the regen is smooth, so you can drive without ever touching the brake pedal.” As Perkins noted, “It’s much closer to a Taycan than a Tesla.”

2023 porsche taycan turbo s and 2023 kia ev6 and 2023 mercedes amg eqe
Lisa Linke

Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition: With its direct feel and controlled body motions, the Mustang Mach-E GT is almost analog in its driving dynamics. Computers aren’t intervening in the conversation between car and driver. Usually.

“It is odd to sit so high after spending all day in sedans,” said Perkins, with some writers conceding that the SUV-ness of the Ford did temper expectations somewhat. But this all-wheel-drive machine is also held back by its relatively modest 480 hp—the lowest of any vehicle at the event—and 634 lb-ft of torque delivered by its two motors. And at 5001 pounds, it’s chubby.

2023 ford mustang mache gt performance and 2023 bmw i4 and 2023 tesla model s plaid
Lisa Linke

“It feels very front-drive-like,” Silvestro said. “You can feel a lot of torque from the front motor. You really need to hack it to get any sort of rotation. It’s perfectly fine at six- or seven-­tenths, but after that it gets unpleasant. The chassis isn’t very cohesive, and the suspension is a bit too stiff.”

“They benchmarked Tesla,” Farah concluded. “And then they built a better Tesla.”

BMW i4 M50: Hit the right buttons and the i4 M50 will make synthetic sounds reminiscent of BMW’s most beloved straight-six, the 3.2-liter S54 used in the soulful 2001–06 M3. That may not be authentic, but it sets expectations high.

2024 performance car of the year
Lisa Linke

“This car has a decidedly chill attitude,” Silvestro said. “Most times, it feels no different from a gas-powered 3-series. Straight-line speed isn’t explosive, but you can carry so much of it through the corners.”

“I like this one,” Brown asserted. “It feels the most normal.”

Actually, with a combined 536 hp from its twin motors, the i4 M50 is quicker than an M3 in a straight line. The 0–60 time of 3.3 seconds is blazing by internal-combustion standards.

“Surprised!” said editor-at-large A.J. Baime. “I loved it.” A bigger surprise is that the i4 M50 starts at under $70K, and with some restraint, the price can be kept under $75,000 after options.

All these electrics are fast and refined in ways that would have been science fiction a decade back. But there is an echelon beyond them; cars that rise above “good.” Cars that are special. Cars that are exciting and emotional. There have been electric cars for as long as there have been cars, but now, finally, here are driver’s cars, that happen to be all-electric. And both use 800-volt architectures for quick charging. This was a heavy investment that’s finally paying off.

2024 Performance EV of the Year Winners:

Over $100,000: Porsche Taycan Turbo S

Under $100,000: Kia EV6 GT

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