As if the Tesla Model S Performance’s 0 to 62mph time of 4.2 seconds was too slow, there’s now an all-wheel drive variant that pushes the all-electric machine into supercar territory without losing its practicality or eco credentials.
The Tesla Model S P85D was thought to be a different model, but instead it complements the existing Model S range. The main difference is the addition of a second smaller motor to provide all-wheel drive, instead of the typical rear-wheel drive. D stands for Dual Motor.
Clever people in white coats at Tesla have done this without eating into the range too much. 275 miles is reported, which is less than the 312 miles you can do on a single charge in the Model S, but still hopefully enough to keep range anxiety at bay.
Helping keep the Model D efficient is a system that can transfer power between the front and rear motors in milliseconds so both motors only really come into force as and when needed.
That extra traction and a bump in power ─ Musk says it’s half again on the 420hp P85 ─ means the 0 to 60mph time is a ridiculous 3.2 seconds. Even if a little over-inflated, anything less than four seconds for a heavy vehicle is a marvel. That’s faster than some supercars. Top speed is now 155mph.
Tesla Motors boss Elon Musk also announced the Model S will be intelligent. A set of new sensors will offer lane departure warning so you will get told off for drifting out of the lane you’re in. Meanwhile adaptive cruise control and the ability to read speed signs and adjust accordingly hint at Musk’s autonomous plans. It can even read traffic lights, stop for pedestrians and park itself in a garage.
Musk admits the revised Model S is unable to fully drive itself, but a clever 360-degree ultrasonic sonar that can see through fog and snow will do its best to keep you on the road and will react to obstacles that get in your way.
Try to steer into an approaching car, for instance, and the steering will resist. More impressive, however, is the Model S will come and pick you up if summoned using the Autopilot system.
Much of the technology is likely to come from Mercedes, which makes sense when a number of models (including the GLA crossover) offer elements of self-driving already. Tesla and Merc also have a partnership. All Model S cars built in the last two weeks feature the new technologies, according to Wired.com.
In some ways we should have seen this coming. The forthcoming Model X is a SUV, which would be a bit odd if it only came in front or rear-wheel drive. Traction is a big part of off-roading.
It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth for existing Model S owners, admittedly, but it puts the model on a more even keel with its competitors. We’ve approached Tesla for comment on whether existing cars can be upgraded.
All-wheel drive will be an option on the Model S. Based on a US to UK currency conversion, it will cost around £4,000. The Model D comes in at around £75,000 ─ about £7,000 more than the standard Model S P85. UK pricing will be available today when the website is back up and running. You will have to wait until Spring 2015 to own one, but can put an order in now.
A cheaper Model S – known as the Model III – was recently announced. A 2016 unveiling has been reported for the BMW 3-Series rival.
We’ll update the story when Tesla gets back to us on a few facts. Feel free to read our full review in the meantime and watch the unveiling below.
Update: The official specs just landed on our lap. The Model D P85 has a range of 275 miles, 691hp and a staggering 910Nm (687lb/ft) of torque, while the Model D 60 and 85 have 376hp and 490Nm (362lb/ft) of torque, with the former capable of 225 miles and the latter 295 miles.
The addition of the second motor adds 80kg for the Model D 60 and 85, while the P85 is 132kg heavier at 2,239kg. A Tesla spokesperson said it will not be possible to retrofit the new sensors to an existing Model S.