by John Tallodi
Casual observers may be forgiven for thinking that the Tesla Model S was available in just one, supercar destroying derivative. While the sheer acceleration numbers of the range-topping P100D are indeed newsworthy, so is the technologically advanced electric drivetrain and cutting-edge features that can be found in even the base models. A recent update in performance figures and an increase in battery life has been carried out and the range of available battery capacities has also been trimmed down.
The Model S is all about futuristic design and while the exterior may be accused of not being revolutionary enough, the interior really does tread new ground in both style and functionality. Quality levels are good although not quite up to the levels of similarly priced European sedans.
The first thing most people will notice is the button free dashboard, the vast 17-inch touchscreen controls all vehicle functions and other than a few satellite controls on the steering wheel you will have to access the infotainment system for just about everything. Thankfully the menus are intuitive and a section at the bottom of the screen mimics physical buttons.
The second thing you may notice is the space, thanks to the flat-packed batteries and chassis design, the Model S is very spacious for its size. Standard models offer seating for five while a third row offering two smaller seats is available. An executive four seat option can also be specified which limits the rear seats to two very luxurious chairs.
The rear trunk is spacious and above average in size while the front trunk size is dependent on whether the vehicle is fitted with a second electric motor or not.
Steering feel is generally quick and light, it may not be as tactile as some older-style non-electric setups but not much is these days. The braking feel is good for an electric car and the grip levels are aided by a very stable chassis and wide tires. All models feature a smart air suspension setup although smaller diameter wheels can aid the ride comfort as things can get quite firm over bumpy surfaces.
Refinement levels are good with very little sound finding its way into the cabin, a good thing considering that there is no internal combustion engine to mask irritating little squeaks and rattles.
The base 75D is equipped with a 75kWh battery which provides a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 4.2-seconds and a range of up to 259 miles. The 100D is equipped with a 100kWh battery and the range increases to 335 miles and it cuts a tenth off the acceleration figures. Both models are all-wheel drive and offer class-leading acceleration figures, the speed does taper off once you hit triple digits but in most conditions the performance is instantaneous.
There are two different variants in the Model S range below the P100D (which is covered in its own review), they are the 75D and 100D. The numbers denote the battery capacity while the D is for the dual electric motors which make the Model S all-wheel drive.
Both models feature the same basic specification levels and notable items include LED Headlights, 17-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, WiFi connectivity and HD radio (but no Apple Car Play or Android Auto), navigation system, power liftgate, self-presenting door handles, heated power front seats and keyless entry.
Safety is particularly well-catered for and you get blind-spot warning, automatic emergency braking, rearview camera, lane departure warning and parking sensors as standard.
A Premium Package adds a medical-grade air filtration system, 11-speaker custom audio system and a sub-zero weather system featuring heating for all seats the steering wheel and windscreen washer fluid.
Practically fully-autonomous driving capability can be achieved with the Enhanced Autopilot and Full-Self Driving Packages. Current abilities include self-parking and autonomous highway driving although some features will be activated at later dates.
You also get over-the-air software updates, real-time navigation information, 400 kWh of free annual Supercharger credits and the battery is covered by an 8-year infinite mile warranty.
The Tesla Model S has been around for some years now and improvements to the car as well as the electric charging infrastructure make it even more viable now than at launch. A very spacious and technologically advanced interior as well as plenty of standard features are plus points but the touchscreen-only control method and sporty ride quality may require some acclimatization.