Tesla has taken the industry by storm, shattering all expectations and continuing to surprise everyone. I remember about a year ago when Tesla shares were around $120 and many analysts were saying that was far too high. Well guess what, today shares are selling for $218.
Elon Musk’s can-do spirit permeates through the Tesla brand. That charisma associated with the brand seems to appeal to many customers as much the car itself does. Lately, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing Teslas everywhere in my area. For a high-end luxury car, they are selling like hotcakes.
The Model S P85D is surely the most multi-functional vehicle that I’ve ever experienced, and that is what surprised and impressed me the most about it. In fact, I’d say it’s like having four distinct cars in one…
Tesla Model S P85D = Audi RS7
This is probably the most obvious comparison because the Model S P85D is marketed directly against the Audi RS7, BMW M5, and Porsche Panamera Turbo. The P85D is very much a super-performance sedan.
With a total of 691hp on tap (yes you read that right), the Model S P85D can squirt to 60mph in just over 3 seconds in its “Insane Mode”, and I can personally vouch for that! The best part is how easy it is, you just floor the accelerator from a stop and it heaves forward with a truly addictive vigor. It literally feels like you have your own personal Kingda Ka launch. Off a stop light this is definitely one of the quickest cars on the road.
The Model S P85D feels very similar to other modern super-sedans in the handling department. That is to say it is extremely heavy, but very well composed in corners. There is no getting around the 4,900lb curb weight of the Model S P85D, but if you make sure you get it set up well on corner entry, you’ll find it can hold quite a good pace.
The sport seats are also fantastic with a nice mix of soft comfort and snug support for harder driving.
Tesla Model S = Audi Q7
Like the Audi Q7 SUV, the Tesla Model S can seat up to seven people! Buyers have the option of two rear facing seats in the rear cargo area, much like in an old Volvo Station Wagon. Tesla says the seats are recommended only for children, but, of course, they have to say that. As a man who has ridden in the trunk of a Volkswagen New Beetle, I’m sure they could be made to fit two adults with enough creativity and discomfort.
What’s more, even with the rear cargo area occupied by people, there is still a good amount of space available in the “Frunk”, or front trunk. Because the Model S has no engine up there, the space is used for additional cargo storage, just like in a Porsche 911.
The Tesla Model S P85D is also all-wheel-drive like the Audi Q7. While I wouldn’t recommend taking the Tesla off-roading, it will certainly get you to the mall during a blizzard the same as a Q7 would.
The point is the Tesla Model S P85D has the same practicality as a big 7-seat SUV does. For my family, that could mean being able to take one car to the beach instead of two.
Tesla Model S = Lexus ES
The Lexus ES is a boring, mundane luxury sedan for people who get paid too much to be seen in a Toyota, but still want to drive a Camry. How on Earth could this near-700hp fun machine have anything in common with something so boring?
In my mind, this is one of the most impressive parts of the Model S P85D — It doesn’t have to be a monster if you don’t want it to be. Turn off “Insane Mode” and slide the car’s setting over to comfort, and the car totally loosens up. I say it’s like a Lexus ES because it actually feels like driving a Lexus ES in comfort mode.
The electric motor is fantastic for a luxury cruiser because it is whisper quiet, silky smooth, and supplies effortless power for navigating traffic. When the car is out of “Insane Mode” the throttle response is very progressive. It would be easy for the average, law abiding, driver to operate the P85D without terrifying themselves. It also has a giant iPad-like screen in the center that runs all of the infotainment, and pretty much the entire car. I didn’t play with it too much, but it felt a lot like an iPad in the way it operated, and that’s high praise.
You could actually drive granny to church in a Model S P85D, and she would love the quiet smoothness of it all. By contrast, if you tried to take her to church in a Dodge Charger Hellcat, you’d give her a heart attack the minute you fired the ignition.
The Tesla Model S P85D is superb as a relaxed luxury cruiser.
Tesla Model S = Nissan Leaf
If a gas-powered car has 700hp, you can forget about the fuel economy. An electric car, on the other hand, doesn’t have fuel economy because it is powered by electrons. This means that the Tesla Model S P85D doesn’t have the sort of drawbacks you get with a powerful gasoline-powered car.
You can even use the Model S as an economical and environmentally-friendly runabout. It’s just like a Nissan Leaf, except leagues better in every single way, and around $100,000 more expensive. For the extra dough, the EPA says you get 253 miles of range to the Nissan’s 84 miles. That said many Model S owners easily see over 300 miles on a single charge, and the record stands at over 400 miles.
Let’s be real here. If you can afford to spend $130,000 on a car, then saving a few bucks on gas every week is not your primary concern. But many folks do like having a green car that doesn’t produce emissions. For rich tree-huggers, the Model S P85D is the dream car to end all dream cars.
A Different Sort Of Power
691hp is not just 691hp. It is how a car delivers its power that defines it’s experience. Being electric, the Tesla feels very different in how it delivers its power because it’s electric motor delivers all of its torque instantly. Let’s put things in perspective, though.
Take a Lamborghini Aventador, which also makes 691hp. It’s V12 engine doesn’t produce 691hp all the time, though. In fact the Aventador only makes its 691hp around 8000rpm. That means you have to be going a minimum of 60mph in 1st gear before you can experience 691hp-worth of thrust.
The Tesla on the other hand will give you its 691hp-worth of thrust basically from a dead stop, and then keep it going all the way to up near its 155mph top speed without interruption. It is 691hp that is frighteningly easy to use in the real world. 0-40, 0-50, or 0-60 off of a stop light will make you grin every time!
It can also make a nice old lady swear like a sailor (NSFW):
The Tesla’s power feels strong like a turbocharged car, but with no lag at all, and with sharper throttle response than a naturally aspirated car. With 221hp going to the front wheels and 470hp going to the rear wheels, the Tesla’s systems help put its power to the ground with sheer grip. It just accelerates, viciously, and effortlessly.
Keep in mind, there is also very little power loss in the drivetrain. That means 691hp is very near 691awhp. For a comparable Audi RS7 to make 691awhp, it’s engine would need to produce around 800hp.
The Model S P85D is right up there with some of the quickest cars I’ve ever driven. It has a hell of a lot of horsepower, but it also has to haul a hell of a lot of weight. Even so, under 100mph, I would say it is every bit as quick as the Dodge Viper, Ferrari 458 Italia, and Lamborghini Gallardo I’ve driven. It is certainly quicker than a Porsche Panamera Turbo S or a BMW M5.
Money and Maintenance
$130,000 was the price for the well-loaded Model S P85D that I drove. The base price comes in around $98,000 after the incentives.
That may sound like a lot of money, but it’s actually a fantastic value when you consider the Model S’s wide dexterity and brutal performance. I mean, Porsche wanted $240,000 for the Panamera Turbo S I recently drove, and that can’t do half the things this Tesla can. So it all depends on what you want. There are also cheaper Model S variants available, if you don’t fancy having 691hp in your daily life.
In green terms, the most direct competitor to the Tesla Model S P85D has to be the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, which I’ve also driven. The Tesla is greener, faster and more practical, but the Porsche doesn’t have a limited range. Which one you should choose really depends on how you would use the car. Both are great options.
As for Tesla’s somewhat iffy repair record, let’s take a look without any hype. Tesla is a new car company; of course their products wont be flawless. If GM can’t perfect their cars in the 100 years they’ve been around, how could Tesla do it in under a decade. Perfection is never a realistic expectation.
What is important is how a company handles reliability issues. Tesla has shown to be very strong in customer service. Many software issues have been fixed over the internet, and if tangible repairs are required, Tesla comes and picks your car up.
When it comes down to it, the Tesla is a pretty simple car underneath. There are two electric motors, each connected to two wheels. A conventional car is much more complex, and has hundreds of moving parts in its engine and drivetrain. Over time, the electric car is a much safer bet in terms of reliability because it is a much simpler machine.
Tesla also covers all of their cars under an 8-year / unlimited mile warranty. So those buying their car brand new can rest assured. As for the used market, there are a lot of questions still up in the air that only time can answer.
The Telsa Model S P85D blew my mind. The performance was insane, but that I expected. What really got me was how versatile it was, as well as how useable its 691hp could be in the real world.
I can see why Teslas are selling well. They look great, feel great, they’re practical, fast, comfortable, and as “green” as a tree.
I also credit Tesla with not using the “green” appeal as a crutch to make an otherwise sub-standard product. They put in the real effort, and made the Model S a fierce competitor on all fronts. The P85D is only the icing on the cake, but I must admit that I am now completely sold on the idea of the electric car.
-Review by Nick Walker
WoM Score: Tesla Model S P85D
Primary Function: Performance: 2
Secondary Functions: Luxury(2) Practicality(2) MPG(2): 2
Visual Appeal: 2
Build Quality: 2
Value for Money: 2
Final Score: 10/10
The Tesla will make you feel exactly like this!