Tesla Motors has been in the news lately. Its new car, the Model 3, attracted 275,000 orders in just three days – and £30,000 saloon cars, however they’re powered, don’t normally threaten to break the internet and jam up the phone lines to quite the extent that this one did.
Things have been going quite well for Tesla, then. The company has started up, moved off, set about building the largest single factory in the world and is about to change gear.
In 2013 it paid back every dollar it owed to the US government and became the top-performing business on the New York Stock Exchange’s Nasdaq 100 index.
It expects to deliver close to 90,000 new cars this year and an ambitious 500,000 a year by the end of the decade.
Meanwhile, Tesla has been making incremental improvements to the car with which it blazed a trail three years ago when it set about proving that the electrically powered luxury car’s time had come.
Since our 2013 road test, the remarkable Model S has been in receipt of more power and performance (neither of which it really needed), more battery capacity and cruising range, a second front-mounted electric motor and consequent four-wheel drive capability and a new Autopilot feature that extends beyond the abilities of most car makers’ lane keeping and active cruise controls.
All good reasons for another full Autocar road test – and this time, in a right-hand-drive, UK-registered car.
The Model S range now starts with a sub-£55,000, 312bhp rear-drive model, moving up to include four-wheel-drive options of both 324 and 411bhp and either 70 or 90kWh of battery capacity.
Here, we’re trying the top-of-the-range P90D, complete with ‘Ludicrous Speed’ upgrade – all 525bhp, 713lb ft and £97,000 of it.
We donned our Spaceballs movie costumes to investigate Tesla’s key 2.8sec 0-60mph performance claim.