“2014 Tesla Model S P85+”
It goes almost without saying that a large percentage of our nation’s automotive community holds the electrification of the automobile as somewhat of a pipedream. They obviously have never experienced the driving experience, and they would be wrong.
Tesla began its production foray into electrification with a two-seat roadster version that was based on the Lotus Elise. The production was limited and the roadsters have now become somewhat of a collector’s item. The next model to emerge was the award-winning, luxurious Model S, which is a four sedan that seats five adults and offers an optional two rear-facing child seat package. Soon, there will be a Model X – a seven-passenger SUV, and a dual motor, AWD Tesla Model D that scoots from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds.
Tesla gets its name from the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) who developed today’s widely used alternating-current electrical systemand who discovered the rotating magnetic field, which is the basis for most AC machinery.
But I digress – the topic of this review is the Model S P85+, which I finally had an opportunity to put through its paces. The aluminum-bodied Model S initially came in three models, based on battery capacity (kWh) and range level. The lower level was the 60 which has been dropped from the lineup with only two remaining – the 85 and the Performance version or P85 which represents the top of the line and provides the highest range. Specifications for the old 60 were 302 horsepower, a 208 mile range, a 0-60 time of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 120 mph. The 85 ups the ante to 362 horsepower, the range increases to 265 miles, 0-60 time is 5.4 seconds and thee top speed is 125 mph. The P85 performance version offers the same range as the 85, while horsepower increases to 416, 0-60 time is cut to 4.2 seconds and the top speed increases to 130 mph, while adding a high performance drive inverter, a carbon fiber rear spoiler, Tesla Rd brake calipers and an Alcantara headliner. An 8 year, unlimited mile battery and drive unit warranty, supercharging and 19-inch tire upgrade is included with both the 85 and P85 models. The P85 also includes priority delivery.
Available options include: a Tech Package with onboard maps and navigation for North America with free updates for 7 year, daytime LED running and cornering lights, automatic keyless entry, lighted door handles, electrochromatic mirrors, power folding and heated side mirrors, a power liftgate, GPS enabled Homelink and memory seats, mirrors and driver profile; Smart Air Suspension; Parking Sensors; fog lamps; Ultra high fidelity sound system; extended Nappa leather trim; Rear Facing child seats that increase occupancy to 7 passengers; premium interior lighting; a Subzero Weather Package; a Parcel Shelf; a 19-inch Michelin Primacy tire upgrade and a Paint Armor treatment.
Tesla Model S vehicles come with an onboard charger, a mobile connector, a standard household outlet adapter, a 240-volt adapter and a J1772 public charging station adapter that charge at up to 29 miles for each hour (40 amps). The Model S 85 includes supercharger enabling which is designed to replenish a 50 percent charge in as little as 20 minutes at no cost. Dual chargers are available for the Model S with a second onboard charger for up to 58 miles of range per hour of charge when combined with an 80-amp Wall Connector the quickest and easiest method for home charging. The Wall Connector doesn’t require Dual Chargers, but won’t reach the maximum 80 amp capability without them.
The Tesla Model S P85 + 5- passenger sedan is powered by a three phase, four pole AC induction motor with a copper rotor and liquid-cooled powertrain including battery, motor and a drive inverter featuring variable frequency drive, regenerative braking system, and gear box. The battery is a 60 kWh microprocessor-controlled, lithium-ion battery with a 10 kW capable on-board charger and a mobile connector with 120 volt, 240 volt and J1772 adaptors plus supercharging with the following input compatibility: 85-265 V, 45-65 Hz, 1-40 A (Optional 20 kW capable Twin Chargers increases input compatibility to 80 A). Peak charger efficiency of 92%. Horsepower is rated at 416 (310 kW) at 5,000-8,600 rpm, while torque is 443 pound feet (600Nm) from 0-5,100 rpm. Motive force from the rear engine reaches the rear wheels through a single speed fixed gear with a 9.73:1 reduction ratio. The charge port is cleverly hidden behind a section of the left rear tail lamp assembly.
Suspension componentry for the Tesla Model S consists of double wishbone with virtual steer axis coil springs up front, with independent multi-link coil springs aft. Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control are standard. The electronic power steering is a variable ratio, speed sensitive rack and pinion system. Slowing the Tesla Model S are power-assisted four-wheel ventilated discs with ABS and an electronically actuated parking brake. The Model S P85 rolls on Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires – P245/35 ZR 21 in front and P245/35 ZR21 101Y in the rear, mounted on 10-“turbine blade”- spoke Graphite painted alloy wheels.
The Tesla Model S P85+ is stunningly elegant in its design, sitting low over the wheels, and ranking right up there with the Jaguar F-Type, Maserati Quattraporte and Aston Martin’s Rapide S in its beauteous appeal. The inverted oval grille sits low in the front, flanked by the headlamps and just above the horizontal air intake with side air inlets and integrated fog lamps. The rakishly sloping hood covers the Frunk (forward trunk), which rises to the sharply angled windshield, followed by a gently curved roofline that slips gracefully to the short deck. The sedan serves up a coupe-like profile with its blacked-out “B” pillar and chrome glass surround trim. Even the custom designed key fob is unique – it is shaped to resemble the car and it commands the door handle to unlock as you approach, waiting for a simple tap to present itself, and with it on your person, it turns the Model S on as you settle into the driver’s seat and buckle up.
My test 2014 Tesla Model S P85+ wore a Pearl White exterior coat and featured seating executed in Tan with Grey piping along with Charcoal and Carbon Fiber trim elements. The base sticker price was set at $93,400 which included the 85kW battery, Alcantara headliner, Parcel shelf, Supercharging capability, Red brake calipers and Carbon Fiber rear decklid spoiler. Extra cost options included: Performance Plus with Air Suspension, 21” Grey Performance + wheels, the Pearl White paint, the all glass panoramic roof, parking sensors, the Tan Performance leather seats, fog lamps, extended Nappa leather trim, Premium interior lighting, carbon fiber door accents, the Tech Package, the Ultra high fidelity sound package, rear-facing child seats, twin chargers, Yacht floor, Subzero Weather Package and destination and regulatory Doc fee which combined, brought the final count and amount to $131,270.
SUMMARY: The Tesla Model S is an incredible electric-powered luxury sedan that delivers a host of standard feature content. At the heart, or perhaps brain would represent a more appropriate representation of the car’s major control operation, is a 17-inch touchscreen panel that resembles an oversized iPad which serves as the nerve center for controlling virtually all of the car’s settings and functions including: audio, climate, navigation, lighting, panoramic roof, charging control and much more. The system is complex and takes a little getting used to, but after practice, becomes more intuitive than other high performance luxury sedans. A week’s test is certainly not enough time to master a totally efficient operation. The screen display was a little bright for my taste – especially at night, and I’m sure that there was a way to dim it, but it escaped me.
The cost may seem exorbitant to some, but this is a lot of car folks, and the price is not unreasonable for what you get. There are no discounts available when purchasing a Tesla Model S – even Tesla employees pay the full price. What you don’t get is questionable though – there are some significant safety options that are missing and that are not even optionally available, such as Blind Spot warning, Cross Traffic Alert, Pre-collision Mitigation and more. There is strong possibility that such features will be added in future production models, but be that as it may, somehow we all got along without these things for nearly a hundred years of motoring.
The Tesla Model S P85+ rides, drives and handles like a dream. In essence, it is a high performance luxury sport sedan. It is comfortable, stable and fast with no range anxiety to contend with. A cross-country trip is possible at no operational cost, and with a little pre-planning, one can virtually get half a charge whiie having a meal along the way. Charging with a 110V plug is another story – plan on a couple of days for a full charge – the Wall Connector with Dual Chargers is the best way to go when a Tesla Supercharger isn’t available.
Electric vehicle incentives range from $7,500 up to $21,000 depending upon your state, county, and some cities. Then there are gas savings, parking fees and other issues that enhance ownership while offsetting the initial cost. With everything taken into consideration, the acquisition of a Tesla Model S may not be that expensive after all.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2014 Tesla Model S P85+
|Price as Tested:||$131,270.|
|Engine Type and Size:||Three phase, four pole AC induction motor with copper rotor and liquid-cooled powertrain including battery, motor, drive inverter with variable frequency drive and regenerative braking system, and gear box. 60 kWh microprocessor-controlled, lithium-ion battery. 10 kW capable on-board charger, mobile connector with 120 volt, 240 volt and J1772 adaptors plus supercharging with the following input compatibility: 85-265 V, 45-65 Hz, 1-40 A (Optional 20 kW capable Twin Chargers increases input compatibility to 80 A). Peak charger efficiency of 92%|
|Horsepower (bhp):||416 (310 kW) @ 5,000-8,600 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||443 (600Nm)@ 0-5,100 rpm|
|Transmission:||Single speed fixed gear with 9.73:1 reduction ratio.|
|Drive Train:||Rear motor / Rear-wheel drive.|
|Suspension:||Front – Double wishbone, virtual steer axis coil spring.
Rear – Independent multi-link coil spring.
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel vented Brembo discs with ABS. ESC, TC and regenerative braking.
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 – P245/35 ZR 21-front / P245/35 ZR21 101Y rear mounted on 10-“turbine blade”- spoke Graphite painted alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 116.5 inches
Length Overall: 196.0 inches
Width: 82.6 inches – 77.3 with mirrors folded.
Height: 56.5 inches
Curb Weight: 4,647.3 lbs.
No fuel – fully electric.
EPA Mileage Estimates: EPA 5-Cycle Certified Range 266 miles
Drag Coefficient: Not listed.
0 – 60 mph: 4.2 seconds. 130 mph top speed electronically limited.
Review by Arv Voss, Auto Impressions
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.