by Adam Lynton
It's difficult to believe that the Tesla Model S has been around since 2012, yet it still feels like a car that's come fresh out of a Hollywood sci-fi movie. Tesla is continuously updating, upgrading, and developing new technologies and features, which means the 2019 Model S Performance is at the absolute cutting edge of electric vehicle technology, not to mention its capability to basically drive itself. We've come to love Tesla cars for their excellent performance, but the Model S Performance takes things to a whole other level: a possible 2.4-second zero to sixty time will make most people lose their breakfast, all while sitting in the lap of luxury. The Model S Performance is also a practical car, offering class-leading interior and cargo space, as well as a maximum range that can rival most high-performance full-size luxury sedans. The Model S Performance is the most accomplished car from Tesla yet, and if this is a sign of things to come, the old guard should be worried. But with Porsche hot on Tesla's heels, now more than ever before, the Model S Performance has to be exceptional.
It might seem like the futuristic Tesla Model S is still a futuristic car that's hot off the assembly line, but in actual fact, it has been around since 2012, which makes it a senior in the car world.
For 2019 Tesla has decided to do away with the 75D, 100D, and P100D models, instead offering only the Long Range and Performance model, which both offer improved range over last year's models. All cars come standard with all-wheel-drive, adaptive suspension, and a fully kitted-out interior. Newly available for 2019 is the option to pre-equip a computer system capable of what Tesla calls "Full Self-Driving Capability", but don't be fooled by the extremely misleading title, it's merely an extension of Tesla's Autopilot software that will enable semi-autonomous driving on city streets and recognition of traffic lights and stop signs.
The exterior design of the 2019 Tesla Model S Performance hasn't been altered significantly over its near eight-year lifespan, so you still get a sleek European-style sedan, which, according to Tesla, has the lowest drag coefficient of any car in its class, even going as far as to say "the lowest drag coefficient on earth", with a number of 0.23 cd; but, its arch-rival the Porsche Taycan claims a number of 0.22. The exterior features LED headlights, fog lights and daytime running lights, 19-inch Silver alloy wheels, with available 19-inch Sonic Carbon Slipstream as well as 21-inch Sonic Carbon Twin-Turbine wheels. Other exterior features worth mentioning are a carbon fiber rear spoiler and a black grille with chrome surround, a tinted glass roof, auto-dimming power-folding wing mirrors, rain-sensitive window wipers, and futuristic retracting door handles. Convenience features such as four-door curb lights, remote keyless access and a power liftgate add to the Tesla Model S Performance's appeal as a practical daily-driven sedan, and not just a side-show at cars and coffee events.
The Tesla Model S Performance is classed as a full-sized grand tourer sedan, and measures 196 inches in length, compared to the 198.3-inch Model X and 184.8-inch Model 3. Max width, including extended wing mirrors, comes to a wide 86.2 inches which again slots in between the X and 3, and it sits 56.9 inches off the ground, The Model S Performance shares its 116.5-inch wheelbase with the Model X. Thanks to a load of batteries tucked away under the bodywork, the Model S Performance weighs in at 4,941 pounds, making it one of the heaviest cars in its class, but the Model X outweighs it with a curb weight of 5,631 pounds.
There are surprisingly few exterior color options for the 2019 Tesla Model S Performance. New buyers get to choose from five different colors, one of which is at no cost. Pearl White Multi-Coat won't cost you a cent and does a good job of accentuating the Model S' shapely figure, as does the $1,500 Solid Black. The other three extra-cost options consist of Midnight Silver Metallic, Deep Blue Metallic, and a Red Multi-Coat, the latter costing $2,500. We'd go for either the Midnight Silver or Deep Blue; both colors give the Tesla Model S Performance a more exotic and performance-oriented look, which the sedate looking, yet blisteringly fast S so desperately needs.
The Model S Performance might not look that impressive from the outside, but it delivers supercar levels of performance and acceleration that will scare the living daylights out of most people. The S Performance is only available in AWD, which is an absolute necessity considering the amount of torque being sent to the wheels almost instantaneously when the accelerator is pressed. What makes electric cars such as the Tesla Model S Performance feel so fast is the fact that the majority of its power is available from the word go, unlike gas-powered vehicles who need to wait for the revs to build up and V-Tec to kick in (what's up, Honda boys?). Combining the front and rear power outputs, Tesla claims power figures of around 770 horsepower and an insane 840 lb-ft of torque. The Model S Performance comes standard with the Ludicrous mode installed, which allows the Model S Performance to accelerate to sixty in a blistering 2.4 seconds, down from the standard three-second mark, and continue on to a top speed of 163 mph.
The AWD system is fed by two electric motors that send power to the front or back, depending on road conditions and slippage. In the front, you'll find a permanent magnet synchronous motor that's been liquid-cooled and features variable frequency drive, and In the rear, there's an induction motor that features the same liquid-cooled variable frequency drive. Total outputs between the two total 770 hp, while the torque figure is monumental at 840 lb-ft. This near-silent combination delivers devastating acceleration at any speed and takes a while to get used to for drivers who've never experienced driving an electric car or golf cart. The single-speed fixed-gear transmission happily sits in the background and effortlessly transfers mountains of torque to where it needs to go. Despite its large luxury sedan classification, the instant throttle response makes the Model S Performance feel like a small zippy city car: it hunts down gaps in traffic and merges onto the highway with almost no effort on the part of the driver, all while barely making a whisper. It's mind-altering to experience this combination of speed and silence out in the real world.
There are so many driving modes available on the Model S Performance; it makes one's head spin. In full-on chill mode, the S Performance delivers a silky-smooth ride with linear power delivery, which is most suitable for ordinary city driving. The adaptive air suspension is adjustable between feather-pillow soft or sports car stiff and everything in between, and it also features self-leveling, manual ride height adjustment for when you're driving on rough road surfaces, or when you're backing out of a steep driveway. Sport mode gives a good balance of acceleration, which continues to lean towards a more performance-oriented driving experience as you progress through Insane, Ludicrous, Insane Plus, or Ludicrous Plus, which increases peak torque by 60 percent and automatically heats up the battery for the utmost in electric power delivery.
The AWD system offers tons of grip when cornering hard, and thanks to a low center of gravity, the Model S Performance does a great job of hiding its weight. Steering weight varies between driving modes but tends to fall on the light side. The combination of AWD, instant throttle response, and sticky summer tires equate to a car that shouldn't drive as well as it does for its size. The brake system does an excellent job of bringing the Model S Performance to a halt and features regenerative braking. The standard autopilot system gives the Model S Performance the ability to accelerate, brake, and steer without driver input while keeping an eye out for other vehicles and pedestrians. This system works well, but requires the driver's undivided attention, as accidents and even fatalities have been recorded since its unveiling.
The 2019 Model S Performance gets a total battery capacity of 100kWh, of which 95 kWh is usable. This gives the Model S Performance an EPA estimated range of 348 miles, which according to Tesla, is the longest range of any electric car in the world, and a single 15-minute charge will afford you a range of 130 miles at a Tesla Supercharger. The Tesla Model 3 offers up to 310 miles on its long-distance model, and will offer 172 miles on just 15 minutes worth of charging, while the Model X will offer a max range of 328 miles and up to 115 miles on a 15-minute charge. For those not in a rush, Tesla offers an optional 10 kW onboard charger for a total of 20 kW of charging when using an 80 amp Tesla wall charger. Tesla has pushed its network of charging stations, which is pivotal to its expansion into new markets both locally and abroad. At this point in time, Tesla has established over 14,000 charging points along well-traveled routes across the globe.
Relative to most modern luxury sedans, the Model S Performance's interior looks downright barren, but in a chic modernist way, which most advertising executives and architects will adore. The interior is dominated by the massive 17-inch touch screen display, but more on that later. Just because the interior looks like its gone on a serious diet doesn't mean that its skimped out on features: most of the controls can be activated via voice control, the back-up camera offers excellent visibility thanks to that gigantic display, there's a HomeLink universal gate opener, and 4G Wi-Fi keeps all systems updated and running smoothly. Tesla is very proud of its climate control system, which offers hospital-grade air filtration via a HEPA filtration system, and also has a dog-friendly setting to keep your best friend happy when you need to step outside. LED ambient lighting gives the interior a sci-fi-like sheen, and combined with noise suppression, which offers recording studio type silence, the cabin feels genuinely futuristic.
The Model S Performance's front seats get 12-way power adjustability with memory, and offer good support while not being too obviously sporty, and all occupants get to enjoy heated seats. Ventilation is a Model S Performance exclusive. Visibility is fantastic, especially out the front and sides, and a massive reverse camera display makes backing up a thing of beautiful simplicity. The overarching feel of the cabin is one of airy, almost outdoorsy levels of space. The Model S Performance offers 42.7 inches of front legroom and 38.8 inches of headroom. The adjustable ride height and generous door openings make getting in and out of the S Performance a breeze. Rear legroom is measured at 35.4 inches, and the headroom comes in at 35.3 inches: six foot-something passengers will have a good time in the front and back.
The range of materials used in the Model S Performance feels every bit as luxurious as its competitors. Tesla cars form part of the greater push for environmentally conscious transport; thus you won't find any real leather upholstery, but the leatherette material used in the S Performance feels every bit as good as the real thing and should last as long, too. Tesla offers five different color and material combinations for the Model S Performance, the All Black and Ash Wood combination being the only no-cost option. A striking white, black, and dark Ashwood combo looks more 2030 than 2019 at a cost of $1,500, and there's also the sporty all-black carbon fiber ($500) or white and carbon fiber option ($2,000) for those who want the cabin to better represent the performance capability of the S Performance. Cream upholstery with Oak Wood Decor is also available at $1,500. Some professional reviewers have noted minor interior fitment issues, but Tesla seems to have ironed those out, and the end result is an interior that looks and feels every bit as luxurious as the big Germans.
When it comes to total trunk and cargo space, the 2019 Tesla Model S Performance outshines every other full-size luxury sedan on the market. Due to the lack of an engine under the hood, the space can be utilized for extra storage space (it's called a frunk by the way), and in the Model S Performance offers 5.3 cubic feet of space; big enough to fit a full-sized suitcase. The trunk is absolutely enormous, especially for a full-blown luxury sedan; you get 26.3 cu ft of space, which is double the size of most other offerings. With the 60/40 split rear bench seat folded down, that space increases to a handy 58.1 cu ft, which is more than enough space to fit a hoverboard and a bag of Whole Foods goodies for each member of the family.
Small-item storage in the front is taken care of by an open bin that flows between the front seats, which can quickly become a quagmire of loose change, old crisp packets, and broken vape pens. Back seat drivers will have to keep their belongings on their person.
Tesla's premium luxury sedan is offered with most of the features you'd expect to find on a modern luxury sedan but misses out on top-tier goodies such as massage seats, power sunshades, and other over-the-top favorites. Notable exterior features include a power liftgate, rain-sensing window wipers, cool-looking retractable door handles, and auto-dimming mirrors. Keyless entry allows you to step inside, where your hands and buns will be kept warm via a heated steering wheel and seats, while the ambient LED lighting and standard glass roof create an overwhelming sense of space that's hard to find in any other car in its class. The back-up camera on the Model S Performance is one of the best around, and the climate control system keeps the air you breathe as fresh as an early morning jaunt up the Swiss Alps. 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity keeps all occupants connected to twitter at all times, and a location-aware HomeLink garage door opener makes every homecoming a pleasure. Tesla's mobile app is another cool feature that allows owners to communicate with their cars remotely and allows them to check up on charging progress, adjust interior temperature, and more. The autopilot feature takes personal transport into the next age and makes the Tesla Model S Performance able to navigate the wild jungle of public roads with minimal human intervention.
The main focal point of the Model S Performance's interior is the large 17-inch touchscreen display mounted to the dashboard. It's so big that some find it distracting, but it does look good and cleans the interior of traditional dials and buttons. Standard features include Bluetooth streaming, navigation with live traffic visualization and internet browsing, and two USB ports. SiriusXM satellite radio is offered as an option. One major oversight is the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, but the overall experience is a positive one; the system feels responsive, and menus are logically laid out. The sound setup features an 11-speaker system and an eight-inch subwoofer which delivers solid bass and clear treble notes. A recent update adds support for Netflix streaming which is only accessible when the car is stationary, a karaoke mode, and Spotify Premium access.
In the last two years, the Tesla Model S has been recalled once and was subjected to an official investigation. The investigation dealt with battery management software updates that were alleged to shorten the range of certain Model S and Model X cars. A recall was issued in 2019 for a missing warning label regarding airbag safety. Tesla covers the 2019 Model S Performance with a competitive four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which includes a 12-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty, an eight-year drivetrain warranty (covering the electrical components too), and four years or 50,000-miles worth of roadside assistance.
Tesla, as usual, created quite a stir when their Model S was tested by the NHTSA in 2013: although the sedan scored a perfect five out of five stars, the company went on to publish a score of 5.4 stars on their website, forcing a response from the NHTSA, who wasn't happy with the California-based automaker over-exaggerating and publishing wholly untrue statements. Despite the grand claims, the Model S can be regarded as a safe car; a 2017 test by the IIHS revealed that the Model S struggles with front overlap collisions and underperformed in the headlight category, but performed well overall. The 2019 model scored a perfect five out of five on the NHTSA scale.
Basic safety features include eight airbags, electronic stability control, three second-row LATCH attachments, as well as a rearview camera. The standard autopilot system includes active driver assistance systems such as forward collision alert, emergency front braking, and side collision warning. The available enhanced autopilot package adds even more advanced safety systems such as adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring, but most importantly, it takes the whole self-driving concept to the next level: the Model S will now be able to perform auto lane changes on the highway, auto park in parallel and perpendicular parking spots, and also gets a new feature called Summon, which allows your Tesla to self-drive itself to your location - as long as the car is within eyesight. An upcoming update will enable Model S cars to recognize and respond to traffic signals, and self drive on city roads.
As a newcomer to the automotive world, nevermind the luxury sedan market, it is astonishing to see how far Tesla has come in providing a competitive offering in a market that has been dominated by manufacturers with histories stretching back well over a century. Tesla has gone even further by becoming the leader in the EV marketplace, and the Model S Performance is a crowning testament to that. This car has made waves on the internet, thanks to its astonishing levels of performance. It has also made a name for itself as a frontrunner in the race for autonomous driving, and at this stage, it's doing a better job than most of the major manufacturers. The Tesla Model S Performance looks excellent from the outside, but looks even better on the inside, and offers an interior design unlike anything we've ever seen before. The driving experience, too, is off the charts, and although it might not drive or handle as some of the more traditional luxury sedans on the market, it does well enough to sit at the table with them. What makes the Tesla Model S great is its accessible performance, great electric range, and self-driving tech that, although in its early stages of development, has given us a delightful taste of what is to come.
The 2019 Tesla Model S Performance starts with an MSRP of $99,990 excluding a destination fee of $1,200, although the Tesla website includes a $1,875 federal tax credit, a $2,500 EV rebate if you live in California, and an estimated six-year gas savings amount of $5,500, but notes that all savings will be experienced after purchase. With all the most expensive options ticked off, the Model S Performance will set you back a healthy $114,990. Tesla's entry-level Model 3 starts at $30,815 for the standard range model and climbs up to $48,315 for the performance model if you're looking for a cheaper Tesla, and by way of further comparison, the Model X comes close to the S Performance with an asking price of $95,315. The price jump between model trims has left some perplexed: the Performance Model S asks a $20,000 premium over the long-range version, the same goes for the Model 3 and Model X.
The Model S Performance is a standalone model which slots in above the Model S Long Range. What separates the Performance model from the Long Range version is the more powerful rear motor and Ludicrous mode, which decreases acceleration times from the standard 3.7 seconds to a supercar-like 2.4 seconds and pushes the top speed to 163 mph from the stock 155 mph. Opting for the Performance model does, however, drop the estimated maximum range from 373 miles to 348 miles. Other unique features on the Model S Performance include a carbon fiber rear spoiler and enhanced interior detailing. Otherwise, you get standard multi-way power-adjustable leatherette seats, multi-zone climate control, Tesla Autopilot, and a massive 17-inch infotainment screen.
Single Speed Automatic
The options list is kept short, but there are a few interesting additions that are worth considering. On the exterior, new owners have the choice of paying for exclusive paint colors such as Midnight Silver for $1,500 or the $2,500 Red Multi-Coat. Optional wheels include 19-inch Sonic Carbon Slipstream wheels for $1,500, or why not go all out with a set of 21-inch Sonic Carbon Twin-Turbine wheels for $4,500? The interior can be kitted out in Cream and Oak Wood for $1,500, or you could go the Fast and Furious route with a Black and White carbon fiber theme for an additional $2,000. The most significant optional extra has to be the somewhat misleading $7,000 Full-Self Driving Capability package, which adds automatic driving from the moment you get onto the highway until you get back off as well as auto parking and summon functionality, which lets your Model S drive itself right to your feet when parked in a parking lot.
The Model S performance slots in above the Long Range version and is a standalone model, so it is an obvious choice of performance and reduced range over the more economical, but slightly detuned car. The reasons for buying the Model S Performance are bountiful: it offers levels of performance that are unlike any gas-powered vehicle you've ever driven. It matches, or even betters, the range of gas-powered cars in its class, and it is packaged with cutting edge technology that is pushing the boundaries of personal transport as we know it, thanks to a series of advanced autonomous driving systems. Not only does the Tesla Model S Performance accelerate at hyper speed and drive itself, but it's also a luxurious and practical full-size sedan with an excellent ride, and most of the modern features you'd expect to find in a car in this class.
The Tesla Model 3 is the California based manufacturer's attempt at an entry-level EV car that aims to break into the mass market. Power comes from a similar Interior Permanent Magnet synchronous motor and produces between 283 hp and 473 hp depending on configuration, and allows the standard Model 3 to sprint to sixty in 5.3 seconds if you opt for the Standard Plus, or 3.2 if you go for the Performance model. In Long Range guise the Model 3 has an estimated range of 310 miles, which is 38 miles less than what the Model S Performance offers. The Model 3 shares a lot of its features with the Model S Performance, such as 12-way power-adjustable seats, tinted glass roof, LED fog lamps, and premium seat material and trim. The Model 3 is a smaller car and offers less interior space and cargo space but is just as enjoyable to drive, especially in Performance trim, which adds upgraded brakes, lowered suspension, and a track mode setting. The Model S Performance is almost double the price of the Model 3 Performance, so those who don't need the insane performance or extra space will do well opting for the Model 3.
The Model X is Tesla's attempt at a crossover SUV that offers higher ground clearance, an impressive towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, all-wheel-drive, and a zero to sixty time of 2.7 seconds in Performance trim. The Model X has a maximum estimated range of 328 miles in long-range guise, dropping to 305 for the Performance model. The differences between the Model S Performance and Model X are glaring: the one is a full-size luxury sedan, and the other a crossover SUV with crazy Batman doors, so the choice will simply come down to what the buyer's needs and requirements. The model X boasts 88 cubic feet of cargo space, which is a much better bet for those who have larger families and plan on ferrying the kids, their school bags, and the dog around. The S Performance is better suited to the bachelor or young executive.