The Tesla Model S sport sedan, overcoming the financial troubles of its owner, long delays, pricing increases and bad press, has been named as the 2013 Automobile of the Year by Automobile magazine.

“It’s the performance that won us over,” said the magazine’s editor-in-chief Jean Jennings when announcing the award. “The crazy speed builds silently and then pulls back the edges of your face. It had all of us endangering our licenses.”The magazine’s road-test editor Christopher Nelson was equally impressed. “Driving the Model S is decidedly not like piloting a Nissan Leaf or an electric Smart,” he said.

One of Automobile’s contributors, Ezra Dyer arranged a race with a 560-horsepower, $89,900 BMW M5 sports sedan, seeing which vehicle could first reach 100 mph (161kph). The Model S – a $78,750 version with an 85-kilowatt-hour battery – bested the bimmer.

Automobile editors were further impressed by the “body control and vacuumlike grip” of the 4,643-pound sedan as well as the  “appealing, Bauhaus simplicity” and its 17-inch touchscreen display.

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