Tesla Model S P85D Test Drive Wows Motor Trend


The gearheads and scribes over at Motor Trend are pretty familiar with cars that go fast. There probably isn’t another magazine in the world (with the exception of Top Gear) with access to as many vehicles with otherworldly acceleration. So when they are struck speechless by the acceleration of the Tesla Model S P85D, you’d better pay attention.

Elon Musk didn’t mince words during the announcement of the Dual Motor Drive system, declaring that his goal was to build a car with the same acceleration as the famous Mclaren F1 hypercar. He did just that, enabling the Model S to accelerate from 0 to 60 MPH in just 3.2 seconds in what test director Kim Reynolds calls a “rail-gun rush” of shiftless acceleration. As promised by Musk, the three driving modes does indeed include an “Insane” setting for ultimate acceleration. Reynolds goes on to describe how it feels to slam the pedal down in the quiet electric supercar, saying;

“The torque impacts your body with the violence of facing the wrong way on the train tracks when the whistle blows. Within the first degree of its first revolution, 100 percent of the motors’ combined 687 lb-ft slams the sense out of you. A rising-pitch ghost siren augers into your ears as you’re not so much accelerating as pneumatically suctioned into the future. You were there. Now you’re here.”

While some might bemoan the lack of sound, it seems to me humanity adapted to the uncouth manner in which our automobiles adopted, relating on some primal level the relationship between power and noise. But the quiet confidence with which the Model S accelerates speaks to another level of automotive enthusiast, the kind that doesn’t have to show off his two-ton metal penis every chance he gets.

The Tesla Dual Motor Drive also has the added benefit of giving drivers an all-wheel drive system, more power, and in non-performance models, a few extra miles of driving range as well. Musk also announced the addition of the first batch of Autopilot features, with the promise of more in the next few years that will make the Model S 90% autonomous (at least during highway driving).

But it’s the outright acceleration that makes the Model S P85D such a thrilling vehicle, outpacing some of what had once been considered the pinnacle of performance cars. And Musk has done it just two years after building and delivering the first Model S, a car the conventional auto industry said couldn’t be built. Is there anything Elon Musk and Tesla Motors can’t do?

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.