Tesla Model S P90D combines ludicrous performance with a crystal ball to the future of automotive technology
What we like:
- Neck-snapping but completely manageable power
- Excellent radar guided cruise control and automatic braking system
- Minimal range anxiety
- Almost perfect ride quality
Not so much:
- Autopilot steering system feels slow to react
- Some front end squirm under hard acceleration
- Range is realistically 300 kilometres in Ludicrous mode
- Interior storage issues remain
Motoringuru has tested three versions of the Tesla Model S: the rear-wheel drive and single motor P85+, the monstrous dual motor 515kW P85D and now the new 568kW P90D. We’re testing the P90D for a couple of reasons: to look at the drivetrain with that 90kWh battery and to sample Tesla’s autopilot technologies and to see if they effectively take the monotony out of driving.
On The Road
Let’s start with some figures, because numbers can be fun: 568kW and 967Nm along with a 0-100 time of 3.0 seconds when Ludicrous Mode engaged. The quoted 0-100 sprint time isn’t the work of Tesla’s marketing geniuses either, it’s very much a reality.
And yet strangely, like the P90D’s predecessor, the P85D with its “paltry” 515kW, the P90D’s all electric drivetrain can be serene, docile and soothing when one wants it to be. But the car takes on a distinctly different persona when you flick on Ludicrous Mode and mash the right pedal into the thick, soft carpet and your head will be well and truly nailed to the headrest.
Acceleration is ferocious yet creamy smooth – there’s no power band remember – and despite the savage rate in which the scenery is passing you by, the Model S P90D always feels manageable and as if it wants to work with you, rather than terrify you into submission. It’s addictively grin inducing. Is a four door, five seat luxury car with 568kW and 967Nm completely necessary? Well, if we’re honest, not really. But if you buy one it’ll give you bragging rights over your pals with their AMGs, BMW M models and hot Audis.
More importantly, Tesla is constantly reminding us how quickly electric car battery technology can develop.
Tesla says that the P90D has 509 kilometres of a full charge, but this will be significantly reduced when Ludicrous mode is utilised.
The other element of the P90D and the updated Model S showcases is Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance technology. A tug on the cruise control stalk will engage the car’s distance control and automatic braking which we found worked remarkably well – the preselected distance was maintained at all times and braking felt gradual and natural and took the tedium out of bumper to bumper peak hour traffic.
Tug that cruise control stalk two more times and the automatic steering is engaged. This system is designed to follow the curves of one’s lane and ensuring the P90D is centred in its lane at all times, requiring the driver to only have a passive role in the driving process. Both hands on the wheel are necessary at all times, as indicated by the disclaimer when this system is activated.
Although the system is brilliant at keeping the car within its lane and scanning surrounding traffic, with neighbouring vehicles displayed on the digital instrument cluster, we felt it wasn’t so great at following bends and we often felt the need to resume control, perceiving the robotic steering as a little too slow to react. A good concept, but it may require a little polish.
When one arrives at their destination, there is also automatic parking to guide the P90D into a car space of choice.
The Tesla Model S P90D starts from $197,738 plus on roads and options.