The Tesla Model S P100D gets its moniker thanks to the addition of a 100kWh battery. It's a hardware upgrade for Elon Musk's company, which can usually be relied upon for an almost constant supply of revisions and software upgrades over the air.
If the official figures for the Model S P100D are to be believed, a range of 381 miles is available from a fully charged battery. Even taking into account the kind nature of official NEDC tests, the real-world range of this electric vehicle should comfortably exceed 250 miles if you drive carefully.
The trouble is that being careful is trickier than you might think. As well as increasing the range, Tesla has increased the Model S's performance to hypercar-hassling levels. A software update for cars with the Ludicrous Speed upgrade (standard on the P100D) now means you can access Ludicrous Plus mode.
This additional technology comes at a hefty price. Allied to a recent 5% price hike blamed on Brexit, the P100D costs £132,700 not including the Government green car subsidy. In other words, it costs nearly twice as much as the basic rear-wheel-drive Model S 60 model.
An eminently likeable and capable small car with good dynamics but a limited...
What's it like?
We could start this section by talking about the increased range, but let’s face it: face-bending acceleration is far more interesting. Three power levels are available: Sport if you’re ferrying your in-laws around, Ludicrous if you want to scare your passengers, and Ludicrous Plus if you want to give someone a mild panic attack.
To engage Ludicrous Plus, you need to hold the icon for Ludicrous mode on the touchscreen for a few seconds before releasing it. You then get a Star Wars-style animation of what a warp drive might look like. Select the ‘Yes, bring it on’ icon (not the one marked ‘No, I want my Mommy’), and you can finally get full power.
At this point, it doesn’t really matter if you use launch control or just flatten the throttle pedal, because the way the Tesla gains speed is borderline scary. If you’re not careful, your head is thrown back against the seat's head rest violently as your mind attempts to make sense of what’s happening.
You feel the mountain of torque’s effect on both ends of the car. The steering wheel might not be writhing in your hands, but you have to add some lock as the nose of the car starts drifting to one side under full-bore launches.
On the road, you barely have to touch the accelerator pedal to make reasonable progress. If you think you can use anything close to full performance, you’re much mistaken. Even the briefest of heavy pedalling results in the car charging forward with instantaneous response. The acceleration tails off the faster you go, but there isn’t much that could keep up in a straight line.
The Model S has strong regenerative braking that lends itself to a relaxed driving style. With some forward planning, it’s possible to only touch the brakes when you’re coming to a stop or if an obstruction suddenly appears. This manner of driving conserves the battery's range, too.
The ride isn’t quite as relaxing. With standard-fit air springs, the Model S tends to ride better the faster you go. While it deals with crests and compressions well, potholes and pimply roads reveal a secondary ride that’s quite busy and lacking the fine damping of, say, a Porsche Panamera.
Tesla might explain that this is because the Model S is a sports saloon, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark here either. The steering has plenty of weight in Sport mode without being too heavy, but you won’t find any feedback as you load it into a corner. If you’re hoping to use all that power for some sideways shenanigans, forget it. The stability control can’t be turned off, or switched to its own less-intrusive Sport mode.
Inside the car there are plenty of rich feeling materials, but Tesla still hasn’t quite worked out how to put them together yet. There was the odd squeak from the interior trim when on the move, and some very large gaps around a cubbyhole’s lid. Mind you, at least you do now get a cubbyhole and some additional storage between the front seats - the tray that used to live there was very good at sprinkling the interior with your belongings as soon as you drove in a spirited manner.
Should I buy one?
If the question here was simply ‘should I buy a Tesla Model S’, then the answer might well be yes. There may be a few bits of questionable trim inside, but it’s still a fine way to travel. Given the range, low running costs and addictive rush of instant torque; it makes a tempting luxury saloon.
Recommending this P100D derivative is trickier, however. Ignoring the fact that the name evokes memories of the old Ford pickup, you can’t even scratch the surface of what this car is capable of on the road. If you attempt to, the available driving range also tumbles heavily. Extended periods at motorway speeds don’t help, either – we used around half of the battery’s capacity in about 110 miles. No doubt near-freezing temperatures wouldn’t have helped either.
Then there’s the price. A Tesla 100D that has more range but can ‘only’ crack 60mph in 4.2sec is just under £91,000 before incentives. Adding the P reduces range and brings the price up to an eye-watering £132,700. The P100D is good, but not £40,000 good.
2017 Tesla Model S P100D
Location West Sussex; On sale Now; Price £132,700; Engine Twin electric motors; Power 603bhp (total system output); Torque 713lb ft at 0rpm; Gearbox Single-speed, direct drive; Kerb weight 2239kg; 0-60mph 2.4secs; Top speed 155mph; Range 381 miles (NEDC tests) CO2/tax band 0g/km, 7%; Rivals Porsche Panamera Turbo, Mercedes-AMG S 63 Coupe
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