If you want to know what Tesla’s top of the line performance Model S feels like, simply board a bullet train in either Japan or France and you too can experience the world rapidly pass you by with barely a hiss.
How fast is it? With the ‘Ludicrous Speed’ upgrade that our test car was fitted with, you’ll hit 100km/h from standstill in just 2.7 seconds thanks to the combined power output of the dual engines at 567kW. This makes the P100D one of the world’s quickest production cars.
The instantaneous torque, no gears, and seemingly unending acceleration make it a very different experience to, say, a Ferrari or AMG Mercedes.
Available in a number of variants, the Model S is the most common Tesla you’re likely to see around, but the version we tested is the rarest variant of the Model S. The Model S P100D is a $240,000+ sports sedan that takes everything notable about a Tesla and dials it up to 11. That means a bigger battery, more power, and a bevy of options that can take the price north of $300,000 without too much effort. The model we tested was $306k on the road.
So what exactly do you get for that considerable chunk of change? A sports sedan that can outperform most supercars in a straight line, enough battery life to virtually eliminate range anxiety for most of us, and oodles of gadgets and high-tech systems to make the driving experience easier and more automated, if you want it to be.
Inside the Model S, the first thing you notice is the giant screen that makes up the centre console – at 17-inches, it’s massive and controls all of the functions of the car, including navigation, entertainment and settings. It didn’t take us long to get used to the screen and it isn’t distracting as one might think. While the form factor is nice, some more physical buttons would have been handy for tweaking things when you don’t want to take your eyes off the road.
The interior of the Model S is unlike any combustion powered car you’ve been in. Since there’s no hump in the middle to accommodate the transmission, you get a flat bottom and plenty of interior space. Boot space is also plentiful, with lots of room in the rear boot, and even a small 150L storage space in the front boot.
With the P100D’s 100kWh battery, you’ll be able to wring out close to 570km on a single charge – that means as a daily driver around the city, range anxiety is simply not a concern. And with all that boot space, plus AWD thanks to the dual motor setup, the Model S P100D is an admirable performer for short road trips. Tesla is also rolling out a network of high speed ‘Superchargers’ along the eastern seaboard, which should make longer road trips possible in the not-too-distant future.
The exterior styling is a nice step above from the lower Model S range with big 21” ‘turbine’ alloys wheels and carbon rear spoilers, but we feel Tesla could have done more to differentiate this ‘hero’ model.
In terms of safety features, the P100D offers up plenty of active safety technologies like crash avoidance and automatic emergency braking, as well as over-the-air updates to improve the functionality of the systems. All Tesla models also have the hardware required for fully automatic driving, however we weren’t able to test this on our car. Tesla has promised us a demo in the near future, however.
The P100D redefines what it means to be an “eco-friendly” car. You get all the benefits of electric drive, the cool factor of being an early adopter, and a top notch performance sedan that will rival the quickest internal combustion powered competitors. It’s certainly an interesting proposition in this top end of the market.