Since its introduction in mid-2012 as a 2013 model, the Tesla Model S has forced the industry to rethink the luxury car segment. Rather than adhering to traditional model years, Tesla makes running changes as needed throughout the calendar year. 2015 sees the introduction of a new trim level as well as the welcome addition of an all-wheel drive system. Rather than employing a traditional all-wheel drive system, the Tesla Model S D simply adds another motor to the drivetrain, this time powering the front axle (hence the D for "Dual motor.") Adding all-wheel drive in such a manner has other consequences however. With an extra motor comes extra power, and the performance version of the Model S now features close to 700 hp in addition to four driven wheels.
The Tesla Model S comes with one of four basic powertrain choices. The standard Model S comes with 60-kWh or 85-kWh battery options. The 60-kWh version is powered by a 380-hp electric motor and has an EPA certified range of 208 miles. The 85-kWh Model S ups the range to 265 miles and is also available in all-wheel drive "D" configuration, which further increases the range on the car by another 5 miles. The Model S Performance also comes with two motors and all wheel drive. However, the new performance model now makes an almost ridiculous 691 hp, meaning that the top of the line Model S offers acceleration that super cars can only dream of.
All three versions will go from 0-60 in under six seconds, but the Performance model is the quickest with a 0-60 time of just 3.5 seconds. The Model S also handles much better than its size would suggest thanks to an extremely low center of gravity, made possible by the low, flat battery pack stored under the floor.
The interior of the Model S is as groundbreaking and unconventional as the rest of the car. Where traditional cars have a vast array of buttons and knobs on the dashboard and between the front seats, the Model S simply has a huge 17-inch capacitive touchscreen. All of the media, communication, infotainment and in-cabin controls function through this screen, resulting in an amazingly uncluttered interior.
The standard feature list is extensive on the Model S, and includes 19-inch wheels, a 200-watt stereo system, Alcantara headliner, driver seat detection sensor for start/stop functionality, LED map and rear reading lights, Wi-Fi readiness, and the 17-inch touchscreen in the dashboard. The options list is also quite lengthy. A variety of charging options are available, including a twin charging system to help reduce charging times, as well as access to Tesla's "Supercharger" network, the infrastructure Tesla is currently building all around the United States. Free access is optional on the base car and standard on the other models, and Tesla claims that a Supercharger station can give the Model S a 50-percent charge in just half an hour.
Other interesting options include a glass panoramic sunroof, two rear-facing jump seats, a 580-watt stereo and 21-inch wheels. An optional tech package consists of xenon lights, memory seats, a power rear lift gate, keyless entry, a high-definition back up camera, GPS navigation and electrochromic side mirrors.
Tesla has also done its best to make sure that the Model S is an extremely safe vehicle. The batteries are spread out beneath the floor of the car, actually helping to improve chassis stiffness while simultaneously lowering the center of gravity. Tesla were also able to design a front crumple zone unhindered by the need to fit an engine in the front of the car, further improving safety. Of course, safety features such as anti-lock brakes and traction control are standard, as are eight airbags.