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2015 year Tesla Model S
P85D AWD Unregister
Hawthorne Airport is just about exactly under the flight path of LAX, and you'll see a big red sign with Tesla's name on it stretched across one of the larger hangers there. Next door is SpaceX, Elon Musk's rocket factory. It's a little slice of what California was like in the golden era after the war, and Musk is doing an impeccable impression of Howard Hughes. That's where I am for the unveiling of the Tesla Model S P85D and its less nutty siblings. It's a monster.
The dual-motor setup Tesla shaves a second from the already quick P85's 0-60 time. The P85D hits that mark in just 3.2 seconds. That's faster than a Dodge Charger Hellcat or a Porsche Panamera Turbo S. The quarter mile mark arrives in 11.8 seconds. It feels incredible from inside the car—electric motors hum hard and then 60 happens. Almost instantly. Musk said that they benchmarked the McLaren F1 for acceleration performance. If not for the badge in back and the red brake calipers, you'd be hard pressed to tell the P85D from the regular single-motor P85
Both the 60D and 85D shave two tenths off their acceleration and quarter-mile times and add 10 miles of range, the latter thanks to the additional regen capacity from the second motor. The 85D will now travel 295 miles on a single charge—tantalizingly close to the magic 300-mile mark. The 60D will travel 225 miles before needing to be plugged back in.
There's autopilot too, a spookily sophisticated semi-autonomous drive system. The car senses road signs with optical cameras, and a 360 degree sonar keeps an eye on barricades and traffic. When traffic slows, so does the Tesla, even to a dead stop. Lanes can be changed with a flick of the turn-signal indicator stalk. When the car isn't doing the driving, the Model S will provide feedback through the steering wheel if your merge isn't up to snuff.
The brakes bring big news, too. Rather than use a vacuum brake booster, Tesla uses an electromechanical brake setup. The feeling under your foot comes from the resistance of a spring and an electric motor. Tesla VP of vehicle engineering Chris Porrit says it's like a steering rack on its side. The Porsche 918 is the only other production car using this system. The arrangement gives Tesla great flexibility with the automatic brakes in autopilot mode. The car can call for high-g braking in panic stops or gentle, chauffeur-style slowdowns. Concerned about brake feel? Tesla can tune it.
Musk says "there's an expectation of a driver in the loop" with the new autopilot tech, but we can expect a fully autonomous car in the next five or six years. It's scary and exciting at the same time. After all, we humans are increasingly incidental to the driving experience. Right now, things are at the limit of what regulations allow.
*rm 800k with GST from selling price *