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Published on November 10th, 2014 | by James Ayre


Tesla Model S P85D Test Drive Blows Motor Trend Away

November 10th, 2014 by  

The Tesla Model S P85D — the all-wheel drive version of the popular sedan — has apparently blown the pants off the folks at Motor Trend, during the magazine team’s recent test drive.

Given that they’ve got (or have had) access to pretty much every high-end, high-performance vehicle out there, the value of their praise is certainly high, and speaks to the impressive qualities of the new “Tesla Dual Motor Drive.”


I guess that we shouldn’t be surprised, though — Elon Musk has been hyping it from the start, stating that the purpose behind it was to build a car with the same acceleration as the infamous Mclaren F1 HyperCar. And Musk does tend to deliver, doesn’t he? (Though, I have real doubts about his goals with regard to making it to Mars….)

Back to the Tesla D: that purpose was achieved, as the new vehicle can accelerate from 0 to 60 MPH in 3.2 seconds — providing a “rail-gun rush” of shiftless acceleration, as Motor Trend put it. The D also possesses three driving modes — including one dubbed as the “Insane” setting.

Motor Trend seems to get a bit carried away with excitement in its breakdown. For example: “The torque impacts your body with the violence of facing the wrong way on the train tracks when the whistle blows. Within the first degree of its first revolution, 100% of the motors’ combined 687 lb-ft slams the sense out of you. A rising-pitch ghost siren augers into your ears as you’re not so much accelerating as pneumatically suctioned into the future. You were there. Now you’re here.”

Gas 2 provides slightly toned-down commentary (only slightly, though):

While some might bemoan the lack of sound, it seems to me humanity adapted to the uncouth manner in which our automobiles adopted, relating on some primal level the relationship between power and noise. But the quiet confidence with which the Model S accelerates speaks to another level of automotive enthusiast, the kind that doesn’t have to show off his two-ton metal penis every chance he gets.

I tend to agree — it certainly seems like there’s a potential market there for a more low-key high-performance vehicle. And the Model S P85D certainly delivers on all fronts — high performance, a classy low-key look, and it’s electric as well. What more could you ask for?

Image Credit: Tesla Motors

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About the Author

James Ayre’s background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • MorinMoss

    If I’m not mistaken, the Model S needs improvement in terms of its performance durability. What I mean is that the system appears to heat up too quickly to keep up those impressive raw numbers over repeated hard driving or when being pushed out on the track.
    I don’t expect or need it to be designed to be at the top of the charts in every category but it should be competitive in its class or price bracket, especially when so much has been made about its performance.
    And many, if not most, of the folks who are willing to spend the money for the P85, +, D, whatever, justifiably expect a car that will hold its own against any comparable ICE.

  • noliving

    Curious but why is the Mclaren F1 considered infamous?

    • Bob_Wallace

      The F1 held the speed record for production cars for a while. 3.2 seconds 0-60 in 1994. Ten years later Ferrari beat its time by 0.06 seconds. Thirteen years before someone beat it by a second or more.

      Plus Elon owned one…

  • Tesla Fan

    the greatest car ever made

  • shatner

    Nothing beats The ‘D’

  • Guest

    Musk reveals his ‘D’ 😉

  • Pieter Siegers

    I do have the feeling this is just the beginning of the EV era and that is awesome. Great developments!
    I do hope current falling oil prices do not blind people though. It only means demand (consumption) is lower, and that is a good thing. We MUST leave those fossil fuels in the ground!
    I future EVs charging while driving around. There will be no need for superchargers then as regenerative technologies take care of maintaining sufficient battery power.
    And of course future batteries will charge much quicker than today’s ones.
    As I said, awesome developments, good for our planet, good for us.

  • spec9

    The ‘D’ has been a great story of taking lemons (the delay of the Model X) and making lemonade (putting the dual motors in the Model S and getting it to market now).

  • Gbrandstetter

    You could ask for a sane price. However thats unlikely
    About the relationship of speed to noise. Have seen the cheetah hunt. No noise. Have seen the Israeli gazelle bolt and run, leaping 6-10 meters. Noiseless. So that association of speed and noise is entirely fraudulent, spawned by inferior technology

    • Bati Tsogtsaikhan

      But they all run from the ferocious roar of a lion.

      • jinglejangle

        Lions don’t roar at their prey. Would sort of defeat the purpose.

        • Bati Tsogtsaikhan

          Notice how you said ‘prey.’ That’s because the lion’s the predator. They are the motherfucking alpha top dogs that make anything else in their vicinity shit their wild asses with a single roar.

  • Peter T from Oz

    Thanks Bob and Koenraad. I have now read the article at the link provided but it is very light on detail. I am not sure the claims for braking would be accurate as most EVs use some form of regenerative braking, which if my understanding is correct, uses the actual motor to help slow the vehicle down. If my understanding is correct then logic would suggest that the level of brake dust emitted by an EV would/should be quite a bit less than an ICE vehicle.

    • Koenraad Coel

      That’s what I found strange as well. A Tesla driver once told me that he used his brakes so seldom that the techs had to teach him some trick to ‘rub’ them from time to time.
      What they do claim is that weight is directly related to particulates created by tire friction. EV’s generally having quite heavy batteries this accounted for a lot of the difference I guess. But then I don’t understand how that could be more then a gasoline engine emits. or is it only diesel engines than emit particulates?

      • Peter T from Oz

        As per my original post Koenraad, all ICE vehicles emit particulates. The research I consulted found that particulate levels increase significantly as a vehicle ages as most people slacken off on regular maintenance. In addition, the cold running of a vehicle is yet another major factor in the overall level of particulates emitted.

        I would have to say that I am not at all convinced that any additional weight found in an EV would have such a marked effect on particulates as is claimed. Besides, the weight of batteries is often offset by the absence of an engine and other bits and pieces normally found in an ICE vehicle. I am not sure what the average differential might be here but I would be really surprised if it is significant (thinking specifically of the Nissan Leaf here).

        • Bob_Wallace

          I don’t know much about the luxury car zone so I looked for a comparibly priced Lexus and found the Lexus 600h L. (A bit more money than the fully tweaked out Model S.) It weighs 5,159 lbs.

          The Tesla Model S 85D weighs 4,936 lbs.

          • eveee

            That comparison makes it clear what a bargain the Model S is and how it competes against all cars, not just EVs.

  • VFanRJ

    Forget the 3.2 sec level of acceleration, an AWD EV has got be an amazing drive on the snow. Where I live that is a big deal.

  • Most of the key parts here, mainly batteries, motors and motor controllers, can become much cheaper due to mass production and cumulative design improvements. It seems reasonable to believe that this sort of performance might become available on vehicles costing half as much within five years, although such a vehicle might not have as many luxury features.
    It’s taken a century to bring the internal combustion engine to its current level of performance, a large part of which is a culture of engineers who have invested their entire working lives into engine design. The electric motor isn’t new either, but electronic motor control is more recent, and there’s probably lots of potential for improvement.

    • Gbrandstetter

      you can get better performance on an electric motorcycle at 15% of the price. see the Zero SR

      • Peter Mortensen

        If all you want is the rush of a few seconds of acceleration, you are right. But then I could as well recommend you just go to an amusement park and get what you need even far cheaper. Model S is a sedan that can serve not only as an aggressive sports car but also as a family car with plenty of space when you do your big shopping in Costco or elsewhere. Enjoy your motorcycle.

        • eveee

          Yea. Yea. Thats right. Honey we need that family sedan right over there. The one marked Tesla. We need it for safety.

  • Bob_Wallace

    It should be online now. Was trapped in the Spam folder. (You haven’t made enough comments here for the software to recognize you as a ‘regular’.)

    • Koenraad Coel

      Thanks Bob. I thought it would be something like that.
      I’ve read the summary by now (in dutch) and I must say that I’m not very convinced either. It did however peak my interest in this aspect of cars in general. I’m a big fan of EV’s, dying to be able to buy one but I don’t have off the street parking and I travel long distances regularly. So I would like to know more about particulates and EV’s.

  • Peter T from Oz

    Thanks Koenraad. I will definitely have a read if the link works. You have now peeked my interest but I doubt it will change my desire to own an EV …. hopefully a Tesla one day. Cheers mate 🙂

  • Koenraad Coel

    In Belgium a recent study showed that EV’s produce an equal amount of particulates as a gasoline car. Due to their weight, more particulates are created by braking, tire friction,… It was still some way below that of a diesel, but the researchers were already speaking against incentivizing EV’s. I’m curious if you guys have some more info or thoughts on that.

    • RobS

      Care to link said study? Considering EV’s almost never use their friction brakes and the amount of tire tread lost to friction is measured in grams per year and the increase from a heavier car would be measured in milligrams per year I find it VERY difficult to believe increased tire wear makes up for all the particulate emissions of an internal combustion engine.

      • GregW

        I think the prior poster has mistakenly conflated two different studies. I found an efficiency study from Belgium that’s just about a year old, and a pollution study from China that predates that. Nothing recent from Belgium about particulates. The Chinese study did talk about that quite a bit, but it’s not really relevant. In that case we’re looking at fairly mediocre (and older) EVs, and an electrical grid that was at the time 90% fossil-fuel-based. And generation was the source of pollution. Not the vehicles directly.

      • Koenraad Coel

        Disquss apparently won’t let me post a url, but the study was done by Bruno Van Zeebroeck of the Transport & Mobility Leuven (TML) research bureau. You can google their website, can’t seem to provide better link for now.

        • watchingfromabove

          Let’s get real. It has been stated that Tesla tires wear out a bit faster than most cars in its class-maybe 20% faster. That being given, four tires at most contribute maybe 6-8 kilograms of tread over a slightly shorter period than the ICE car-so maybe 2 Kg of particulates over the life of 4 tires or about 28,000 miles compared to maybe 36,000 for the ICE mobile. And these generally aren’t airborne particulates. The only other particulates that I can even think of is a tiny amount of iron oxide from the brake discs over the life of the car and the Tesla wins this battle. Meanwhile ICE cars (especially diesels) continue to spew particulates on a daily basis. Someone has to be confused. Maybe its me but I can’t see it.

          • QKodiak

            I have known several people with high performance BMWs. All of them have had to replace their tires at around 20,000 mile intervals. I think tire misalignment and exuberant inputs of instant torque are the cause, not so much the weight of the vehicle. If that were true, S-class tires would be wearing out faster than the Model S’s.

      • Gbrandstetter

        Soun ds like nonsense to me. Car exhaust is seriously liked to Autism, and the enormous increase in the prevalence of Autism since the catalytic converter made nono-particles out of big visible particles

    • Peter T from Oz

      I totally agree with RobS here. I have personally compiled some extensive research of other leading researchers into the particulates of Light and Heavy gasoline cars and trucks as well as diesel aspirated vehicles also as a comparison to the emissions of modern wood heaters. The research would blow your mind away as to the real level of emissions that occur from normally aspirated vehicles.
      What most people don’t know is that even modern vehicles require a period of time to get up to operating temperature before their catalysts or diesel filters begin to work properly (normally takes at least 20-30mins). Typical emissions can range from 200-800mg per mile travelled but some research I consulted found some heavy vehicles emitting anywhere up to 11g per mile travelled. The cold start and running conditions of vehicles is further exacerbated by turning on a vehicle’s air-conditioning (typical in colder weather in order to defrost windows) and the command enrichment when powering up a steep grade just tops it off. I couldn’t imagine for a minute that even the softest tire or the emissions from brake pads on an EV would contribute anywhere near to the emission levels of normal ICE vehicles.

      • Peter T from Oz

        PS I would love to own a current Tesla but as a disabled veteran the price is just totally out of my reach. Perhaps a Model 3!!??

  • Michelle F. Becker

    Beautiful car, i want one!

  • PeterNemere

    The way Telsa are going, creating cars which are an epic leap ahead of everyone else and vastly different… I think in 10 years time kids won’t refer to them as “cars” but as “Teslas”… Just like how MP3 players became “ipods” to the masses. They’ve blown the tits off the rest of the car industry, made a mockery of them! Doing what they have achieved in such a short space of time… I’m in awe.

  • David in Bushwick

    Around the world, the idle rich and their children will NEED this car.
    Musk knows this is how you get everyone to stop thinking of an EV as a golf cart.

    • Bob_Wallace

      He absolutely does. And he knows that spending money on product quality replaces spending money on advertising a mediocre product.

      • David in Bushwick

        Imagine if the Big 3 put all those advertising billions into R & D along with true quality manufacturing. The media does the advertising…

    • Peter Mortensen

      The performance distance between Model S P85D to a golf cart is far greater than the distance between any gas powered car to a tractor. Thus we could as well start thinking of gas powered cars as some sort of noisy and polluting tractors.

  • JamesWimberley

    My two-ton lithium penis beats your merely steel one ….

    • Bob_Wallace

      I understand what you’re saying. But, honestly, if I found out I had only a few months left to live I think I’d sell off some stock and buy one. I couldn’t justify that sort of spending on a car otherwise, but a few months of driving a an incredible machine might make the end a bit sweeter.

      (I’d also move to Paris. Keep the car out of town and acquire massive speeding tickets around Europe….)

      • patb2009

        move to Berlin and smoke BMW and Porsche on the Autobahn,
        now that would be nice.

        • Pieter Siegers


      • GregW

        Look at TCO, rather than just purchase price. It makes the Model S much easier to rationalize.

    • eveee

      Yes. And thats the toned down comment. Right. LOL.

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