Insane: (adj) in a state of mind which prevents normal perception, behaviour, or social interaction. That’ll be the new Tesla P85D then.
It’s Tesla that’s calling the new car insane, not us. The epithet comes right from the top, too. Other car companies have ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’ buttons, but, at Billionaire owner Elon Musk’s insistence, the Tesla Model S P85D’s performance choices are ‘Sport’ and the aforementioned mental state.
The car’s name might be reminiscent of a tax form, but with six-hundred-and-eighty-two bhp – you read that right: 682 horses – and 687 pounds feet of pulling power from zero revs along with all-wheel drive, the P85D is crazy-fast, and then some.
This is acceleration as grievous bodily harm. It may be no quicker than a McLaren P1 off the line but there’s something about the explosion of thrust – utterly instant, silent and drama-free – that makes this a rather violent experience. Even if you brace yourself for a full-bore start, the hit you take in the solar plexus, and the snap of your neck muscles, is very real indeed.
And when going at a fair lick already on the open road, the right foot doesn’t so much unleash accelerative force as an apparent ability to teleport you, Star Trek style, to a distant point farther up the road.
Insane? It’s the right word. The Tesla P85D really can alter perception and change your behaviour – it is of course totally addictive in that regard. And, as for a shining example of responsible social interaction, well not really, as the magistrate will be only too keen to point out…
The sense of unreality is heightened by the fact that all this is going on in a five-seat luxury saloon that weighs over 2.2 tonnes. And is, of course, powered purely by ‘lectricity. Lots and lots of batteries under the floor and whopping great motors back and front.
‘This is acceleration as grievous bodily harm.There’s something about the explosion of thrust – utterly instant, silent and drama-free – that makes this a rather violent experience.’
It’s just coming up for 12 months since the Tesla operation set up electric shop in the UK with the Model S. An American start-up manned by people more familiar with circuit boards than motor circuits, the Model S has confounded those who expected it to fail in areas like NVH, ride and handling. Things that can make you fall out of love with a car very quickly, however fast it might be.
Not a bit of it. The Model S has astonished not just the road testers but also the big manufacturers. Who must, surely, be feeling a tad embarrassed about how clever this car is. The bottom line is the Model S offers a thoroughly decent drive, something GRR was pleased to be able to confirm when we went along to the Tesla store near Gatwick for a go in the P85D.
That’s P for performance, 85 as in 85kW/hour battery, and D for dual motor, so all-wheel drive. Quite clever all-wheel drive too; with independent torque control front to back, though whether that justifies Tesla’s claim of ‘the most capable road holding and handling of any car ever made’ is open to question. There’s no way of telling the hot one from other Model Ss apart from the red calipers (which all P models get) and the badge on the back.
We don’t know how many Models Ss have been sold in the UK in the first year – Tesla are cagey about figures – but whatever it is it’s easy to see the total rising. That’s because, as well as the P85D, there’s a new, gullwing-doored, seven-seat electric SUV out at the end of the year. And yes, it will also be insanely fast.
Starting price for a P85D is £79,900 after the government’s £5k contribution. With options including air suspension, 21-inch wheels, glass roof and other bits, the car shown comes in at £98,780.
There’s no road tax, very low 5% benefit in kind for company car drivers (most owners run a Tesla on the company) and enough juice for a range of 300 miles on official figures and still 240 miles or so as reported by owners in the real world. Which isn’t bad for an electric, and hardly any different from a regular model, Tesla.
You can power up at home, or anywhere there’s a suitable power outlet, including one of a dozen or so Tesla Supercharger points around the country, which are quick (and even free) to use. A full charge at home might cost a fiver. Right hookers arrive in June and you will be able to check the car out at the Tesla stand at the Festival of Speed from June 25-28.