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.
See trim levels and configurations:
Single Speed Automatic
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.
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 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.
The most popular competitors of 2019 Tesla Model S Performance: