Driven: Tesla Model S P85D Review

Driven: Tesla Model S P85D Review

Here is the first drive review of the Tesla Model S P85D, the fastest electric car on Earth.

What is the Tesla Model S P85D all about?

The Tesla Model S P85D is the top of the range performance model from the American based electric car manufacturer. The Model S P85D features the 85kWh battery, as on the standard model, but has 2 performance motors, one at the rear which creates 470bhp and one at the front which creates 221bhp. Together that is a total 691bhp, meaning the P85D can get from 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds and can do a top speed of 155mph.

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Tesla has built an infrastructure of superchargers that can fully charge a Model S from flat in around one hour. These superchargers are only available in certain locations around the UK at the moment, but Tesla have plans to roll out more over the next few years.

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How does it drive?

The Tesla Model S P85D is incredible to drive, and the car has loads of fantastic elements to shout about, but first and foremost let’s tell you about the performance. The car has two modes, Sport and Insane. When you start the car it will be in Sports mode as default, but even with our short time with the car we were keen to test out the Insane mode as well. The Insane mode gives the car 100% of its power to create maximum acceleration; as the name suggests the acceleration is pretty crazy. The P85D is not only the fastest electric car in the world, but it is also the fastest 5-door car in the world.

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Doing the 0-60mph launch for the first time was unreal; the rush of acceleration takes you by surprise, your head is knocked back onto the head rest, and as you tightly grip onto the steering wheel you can feel your legs lighten as if the blood is moving back up them. It’s incredible! The car creates 1G of lateral force on full acceleration, literally breath-taking.

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The handling of the Model S P85D is incredible for a car of its physical size, with the base of the car lined with batteries the Tesla is very well balanced. The handling is also nicely tuned with some very clever electronics; it uses electronics to achieve traction via its all-wheel drive system. And the car uses an open differential at the front and rear of the car that electrically emulates a limited slip differential, using the brakes to control wheel spin and manage maximum traction. This setup works brilliantly and from a drivers perspective you are still very able to feel the levels of grip through the controls.

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Being an electric car the P85D has regenerative braking. This is the process of recharging the batteries whilst driving. Instead of using brakes to slow the car, the Model S can convert the kinetic energy into electric using an inverter. This means that it is able to extend the range of the car by capturing what would otherwise be wasted energy. The regenerative brakes automatically start working as soon as you come off the accelerator, this means that you have to adjust how you drive the car slightly to get the most out of the batteries, but it will only take a few miles for you to fully adjust to it. With regards to the conventional brakes, considering this car has 691bhp it can stop exceptionally well and really helps finish off that performance car feel.

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A key point to owning a Tesla is the charging, obviously; if you have a local Supercharger you have nothing to worry about at all, but if you don’t you have to do a bit more planning around how and when you would charge the car.

The Superchargers can fully charge the Model S in around one hour, you can expect to get around 250 miles range from a full charge, and they charge around 400v and up to around 300 amps. They are incredible and really help make the car a suitable replacement for a combustion engine. You could argue that there is not currently enough Superchargers in the UK to allow long journeys, but there are plans to build many more in the UK over the next few years.

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There are other ways that you can charge the car though, you can get home charging stations that are more than capable of charging the car overnight. There are also a range of electrical charge points that are accessible to the public; some of the higher power ones charge the car at around 60 miles per hour of charge time. If needed you can also charge the car from a three pin plug in your house, but you can only expect to get around six miles per hour from charging the car this way, and is not recommended as a suitable long term solution to charging the Model S.

What is it like inside?

You may have noticed that Tesla have ripped up the rule book for car interiors when they designed the interior of the Model S. For a company that has been producing cars for as short time as Tesla, the design, implementation and quality is impeccable. I mean we’re talking Mercedes quality interior from a company that has been making cars for less than 10 years.

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All of the controls are operated via a 17-inch high definition touchscreen; the interior is a gadget lovers dream. The 17 inch tablet style screen gives you access to lots of incredible features including full screen satellite navigation that uses Google’s imaging technology, a HD reversing camera, and full size web browser that has its own 3G connection built into the car. This is the most connected car in the world, and even has integration with both iPhone and Android apps to manage charging systems, temperature controls, door locks, remote start, GPS tracking, and it will even give you directions back to the car in case you can’t find it.

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The materials used in the car are of an exceptionally high quality and have some unique features that have never been introduced into cars before, such as the use of virtual buttons, smart phone connectivity and in car web browsing. I believe Tesla have been able to create such a brilliant interior because they had the ability to start from scratch, right from the ground up, but also they wanted to take an innovative approach to challenge the traditional car interior. As far as I am concerned they certainly succeeded.

The Experience

The Tesla Model S P85D driving experience is shockingly impressive. The instant torque that the car creates completely changes the game for performance cars. The P85D will match any supercar off the line to 60mph, without a doubt, and it does it without creating a single gram of C02 or without making a noise. This must be why they call it “Insane” mode, as there is no other way to explain it.

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With that instant acceleration, the Tesla Model S P85D gives the ultimate performance car driving experience, but it also has a lot of the other desirables that supercars can’t supply. Things like a refined ride, space for 7 people, and two boots for your luggage. The Model S P85D is the first practical car with true supercar credentials.

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Video Highlights


Tesla Model S P85D

  • Price: £ 86,180
  • Engine: Three-phase electric motor
  • Power: 692bhp
  • Torque: 931Nm
  • Transmission: Single Speed AWD
  • 0-62mph: 3.1 Seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Weight: 2,100kg
  • Range: 250 Miles Typical / 310 Miles Max
  • CO2: 0g/km

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Author: Paul Hadley