Tesla has been hard at work debunking the general public’s misconceptions of electric car’s range, charging times and luxury. Now Tesla has taken the Model S’ performance in to super car territory. New for 2015 is Tesla’s top of line Model S P85D, a 691 hp all wheel drive luxury rocket ship that can go 0-60 in 3.1 seconds and comes with a 253 mile range.
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When one looks for a long range pure electric car, Tesla has no equal. This is due in large part to its huge 85 kWh battery located in the floor of the car. Combine the Tesla’s 253 mile range with their ever growing Supercharger Network and you literally have the ability to drive pure electric across the United States. Tesla’s Supercharger can deliver a charge of 80 percent in 30 minutes. In other words, it can add about 170 miles of range in those 30 minutes and owners have been setting record cross country times for pure EVs.
Elon Musk was right to call the P85D full on acceleration, “Insane Mode.” The first time I nailed the throttle in the P85D my cell phone went flying out of the cubby hole and I got pinned to the back of the seat. Think amusement park ride launch, as in Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster’s blast out of the chute at Disney. “Please secure all loose objections and keep your hands and legs inside the ride at all times.”
The Tesla P85D is supercar fast off the line. Motor Trend recently did a head to head with the Tesla P85D and the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat both of which had claimed to be the fastest sedans. Sure enough, Elon Musk’s claims of the P85D being the fastest sedan rang true. The P85D smoked the Hellcat 0-60 by half a second and managed to beat the Hellcat in the quarter mile drag race as well. The Hellcat does, however have a higher top speed and can handle repeated launches whereas the Tesla limits the number you can do at a time due to heat build up.
When it comes to tech, the Tesla Model S is near the top of the pack. When you approach the P85D with the key in your pocket, the retracted door handles slide out. Once in, merely step on the brake and grab the Mercedes-sourced gear stalk, pull down for D and you are off. There is no stop/start button.
While under way, the Tesla has lane departure warnings that give a gentle shudder to the steering wheel when you drift out of the lane. Tesla has an Autopilot option that uses cameras, radar and sonar to keep the Tesla safely on course even with traffic, though the P85D I drove was missing the feature. Tesla does update their cars software over the air so they can add or enables features when required.
Though there is an LCD screen in the dash by the steering wheel which shows speed as well as two other choices; the real focal point of the Tesla’s cabin is a 17 inch screen. This touch screen allows iPad style touch input which I found very intuitive. Through it, you access climate control, audio controls, suspension settings, heated seats, panoramic moon roof operation and energy consumption. The 17 inch screen can be split to run more than function at a time including a fantastic Internet-based navigation that takes into account your range including topography and lets you know where Supercharger are. I programed in Denver as a destination and it told me the time to destination, including time of charging at the Superchargers along the route. Very cool! Tesla recently updated to 4G/LTE in June from 3G connections. Full internet is at your fingers though it will not display videos.
The Tesla surprisingly has a few Tech Disappointments and omissions for it’s class. The most notable is its lack of LED headlights, choosing instead Xenons. Second, while parking in a tight spot, I noticed the lack of a front facing camera, though there is a graphic sensor as BMW implemented about ten years ago. No front camera, means there is no top or side view display.
The Model S also has no auto-parallel park, yet but they say it’s coming. The P85D I drove was optioned with the the $4,500 Grey Turbine 21” wheels and they had already been curbed, so to me these 360 views are really helpful when parking.
On the navigation side, there is no Head-Up Display, but given how huge the 17 inch screen, I didn’t miss it. Strangely, if the rear seat passengers want to activate the heated rear seat, they need to get someone in the front. The function is only available through Touch Screen or via Tesla’s mobile app. Lastly, the keyfob is not programmable for different drivers, though there are different driver profiles that you can store.
Lots Of Power
When it comes to driving dynamics, the P85D delivers unholy thrust. Full power is available immediately from throttle tip in and can be even more surprising because of how quiet the P85D is. Driving the P85D was like having my own amusement park ride at the beck and call of my right foot. Yet, power is nothing without control. Fortunately, the Tesla has extremely good traction control because of its power to all four wheels. Even driving in rain I couldn’t get the P85D out of shape.
The benefit of the new P85D’s dual motor is not only faster acceleration, but also better handling of bad weather along with higher efficiency. Despite the increased mass added by the second motorm added efficiency yields a 5 mile longer range. Tesla’s dual motors put the power down directly to the wheels as opposed to your typical all-wheel drive that decreases fuel mileage and has power train losses.
When it comes to handling, the P85D is a car that has to deal with some serious mass. You would never know it, however, because the Model S has an extremely low center of gravity with the battery in the floor of the car. Further, the adaptive suspension, and some huge summer tires 245/35R21 front 265/35R21 rear don’t hurt either. Pitching the car into tightening corner on an on ramp, the P85D stayed squat, composed and on line. As soon as I was able to unwind the wheel, I fed in more and more power launching the 4900 lbs P85D onto the rain soaked freeway. The ride is rather firm without being overly harsh and the Tesla has almost no body roll.
Standard Features And Options
I preferred the standard brake region, insane mode for acceleration and suspension set low. I did try the creep mode which allows movement of the car when releasing the brake as one would expect in a normal ICE (internal combustion engine) automatic and it seemed strangely out of place in an electric car. When creep is off, the Model S will slide backward at a stop sign on a hill as there is no brake hold. My favorite settings were easily configured through the 17 inch touch screen, even though I’d never used one before.
The optional $2500 Next Generation Seats and the $3000 Premium Package are a welcome upgrade to the Model S’s somewhat spartan cabin. For the exterior size of the P85D, the interior volume seems small. The headroom in the rear is pretty tight with the optional glass roof which you need if you want to be able to use a roof rack. Speaking of options, add every option and you can end up paying $56,000 on top of the base price of a 70D model. Porsche, the king of option inflation of base price, would be proud.
Overall, the Tesla P85D is a phenomenal car. It manages to compete against the fastest sedans on earth, and yet still be a zero tailpipe emissions full electric car with a 253 mile range. When you add the safety aspect- 5 Star rating, the highest – and an ever expanding network of free Superchargers, one can see why Tesla has such fiercely loyal owners.
The base price of the Tesla Model S P85D is $105,000 before options and less $7,500 federal tax credit and other state incentives. Tesla has an eight year infinite mile battery and drivetrain warranty.