Tesla Model S P90d Quick Review

The Tesla Model S flagship is fast, futuristic and cheap to run, but even at $202,000 you don’t get all the available options.

Tesla Model S
Gallery3

TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR

Electric car maker Tesla continues to capture the public’s imagination despite an extremely limited product line-up. The Tesla Model X SUV arrives locally towards the end of the year, so for now it is still just the Model S sedan – available in a range of variants. Here, we test the most potent version, the $202,875 P90D.

Tesla Model S
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STRENGTHS

  • Jaw-dropping – and almost neck-bending – standing-start acceleration from P90D’s “Ludicrous Speed” mode, which lives up to its name. Tesla quotes a supercar-rivalling 0-100km/h time of 3.0 seconds using the mode (though it’s a $15,000 option).
  • Seamless, hushed and instantaneous all-wheel-drive performance thanks to dual electric motors – one for the front wheels and an even higher-powered one at the rear wheels.
  • The Model S offers the longest range of any all-electric vehicle currently available, with 509km quoted for the P90D.
  • Tesla says the Model S will cost between $8 and $15 to fully charge via a regular household power supply, which makes it theoretically cheaper to run than rivals running on petrol or diesel.
  • Vertical 17-inch touchscreen simplifies infotainment, nav and vehicle settings into one vast display.
  • Progressive updates/upgrades for the car are possible via sim-card-based in-car wifi.
  • The conventional rear boot is not only large and features an extra hidden storage compartment under the floor, there’s an additional, albeit much smaller, ‘boot’ up front where a combustion engine would normally reside. Tesla quotes a maximum cargo capacity of 894 litres with the rear seats folded.
Telsa Model S
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WEAKNESSES

  • Faster charging options for the home (and the car) can cost up to several thousand dollars, offsetting any savings made on fuel.
  • Still plenty of expensive options even on the flagship P90D.
  • Tesla’s Supercharger network - designed to allow long-distance travel – is still in an embryonic phase in Australia. Sydney to Melbourne (and vice versa) is reasonably well covered but the network is otherwise limited.
  • The ride quality of the P90D’s air suspension isn’t as smooth as the vehicle’s steering or acceleration, feeling consistently lumpy on typical Australian urban roads.
  • Autopilot system not always perfect at keeping the vehicle centred in lane – car can wonder close to extremes of lane markings before steering automatically corrects.
  • Battery pack positioning creates high cabin floor that compromises front seat slightly (higher than ideal) and rear seat badly (average adult forced to travel with knees splayed).
  • The Model S is composed on winding roads, though not as involving to drive as a BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF.

ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER

There are no direct rivals powered by electric motors alone for the Model S. Otherwise, aside from other similarly sized executive cars such as the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, while the more expensive Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche Panamera could also be classed as competitors.

 

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Jez Spinks
Journalist

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