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Test Drive: Tesla Model S P85

Tesla Model S P85The luxury sedan for tech-savvy individual who can appreciate performance yet like to be mindful of the environment is definitely the Tesla Model S P85.   This is not your typical cutesy little electric car.  The Tesla Model S has style, space and acts like a full sized luxury car, add the P85 performance and this rivals other high-end luxury sports cars, it just doesn’t need mufflers. Tesla Model S P85+The Model S P85+ is the model I drove.   The plus stands for the P85 Performance + package with upgraded bushings, dampers, stabilizer bars and wider rear wheels.  Basically stuff which makes the car handle more like a sports car. 

P stands for PERFORMANCE

The P85+ has one speed, ZIPPY!  The acceleration on an upward curved highway ramp proved to be no slouch.  With 416 hp and a 0-60 mph of 4.2 seconds this rivals many top sports cars accept in one area, gears and emissions.  As an 100% electronic rear-wheel-drive automobile, go is the only gear and being electric there are zero emissions.  Let’s translate this into car-buying reality: sporty car but no gas guzzler surcharge.

I miss the noise, but as someone who buys cars with an exhaust package, I would say this.  Tesla does not have any plans to add electronic exterior noise enhancements like Fisker did.  Might sound silly but if you imagine someone walking down a street, the noise can serve as a audible warning rather than operating in stealth mode.

Other than no noise, the P85 was an exciting drive, for all the right reasons.  The handling was accurate with a nice tight turning radius.  The big Brembo brakes add a nice level of comfort, big horsepower likes big brakes.  Honestly I was very impressed, it does not drive like and electric car.  But it takes some getting used to.

The technology of additional performance is in the 85 kilowatt-hour battery and a high performance drive inverter which allows the car to operate as efficiently as the non-perfomance models.  But also increases the range from 208 to 265 miles.  Laymen’s terms:  after typical lead-foot driving, zooming around with lots of acceleration and hard braking tests, I expected the battery drain to be significant.  The opposite occurred, according to the onboard computer my driving actually proved more efficient than standard characteristics.

BLOW YOUR MIND TECHNOLOGY Tesla 17" control panelWhile the technology features on a Tesla are the type-A personality techno-nerd’s dream, let’s focus on us normal people.  A massive 17″ touchscreen captures your eye the moment one sits down.  Not that the other interior accoutrements aren’t appealing, they hit all the right buttons for comfort, visual and ergonomic appeal.  Charger and Tesla Superharger stations on NAVSpeaking of buttons, ever seen a car with only two buttons on the dashboard?  Hazard lights and glove box door were it.  Imagine, a screen which takes up almost one third of the dashboard, is easy-to-read and can be split to feature car performance, mapping and satellite radio information all at the same time.  Everything  you could need or want is in the beautiful touch screen: media, NAV, car controls, energy consumption tools (there is a fuel gage in front of the driver), camera, phone and yes, there is an internet browser so you can surf the web.

If you were not in love with technology before, after experiencing this screen, every other automobile seems like a dinosaur.


Tesla front trunkFirst off the Tesla, due to lack of a typical engine, has two trunks, front and rear.  What looks like a four-door sedan is in reality a super sleek hatchback.  Tesla rear trunk with extra seatsIf you’ve really got a lot to haul, the rear seats fold flat, but if it is people you need to haul there is an option for additional rear (rear facing) seating for two children.

NO FUEL, JUST A CHARGE Tesla chargingA Tesla comes with a everything required to plug-in to a 110V or 240V wall socket and an electronic charge port.  There are Supercharging Stations all across the country with more being added every day, these will give you a full charge in about 20 minutes.  OutletsWhile you don’t need a special 240V outlet in the garage, it is nice to have and 240V charges much faster than the standard 110V .  Any qualified electrician can install one, when asked, mine told me it’d be about $600, it all depends on the physical location and your electrical service.   Just like our bodies recharge while sleeping, when home for the evening put the car on the charger.

MATH IS REQUIRED  To understand the purchase price of a fully loaded P85+ ($123,920 as driven) one needs to consider all the money one is not spending during the cost of ownership.

  • Start with an immediate $7,500 federal tax credit, could be more depending on where you live
  • No oil changes
  • No fuel cost – figure typical luxury sedan averages 29 mpg at 12,000 miles per year times $4.007 average price per gallon for premium (according to AAA the day this was written) which adds up to roughly $1,658 per year in fuel costs
  • The annual inspection costs about $600 but they come to you, pick up the car and leave you a Tesla loaner*
  • Tesla will buy the car back in 3 years at a guaranteed residual value

Tesla underbody and batteryOwnership takes a little figuring, it isn’t like comparing apples to apples especially when you throw in Elon Musk, Tesla CEO is personally guaranteeing the buyback rate.  Pegged to follow a Mercedes-Benz S Class currently this is about 43% of sticker.

Any other CEO want to guarantee the value of the cars they produce and offer to buy them back?  LOL (maybe LMAO – laugh my ass off is more appropriate) this concept is incomprehensible by typical carmakers, especially the American ones.

What more can one say about the quality of the product and value for the dollar?  With Mr. Musk’s guarantee, nobody can beat it.

*Same valet service applies to any service calls or issues with the car.


How would you feel about a car which received the highest crash test rating ever?  The Tesla Model S rates higher than any other car  tested.  This car is the best.


Think about this for a moment… a car nobody can steal.  Without the key, not a key by normal standard but more of an electronic key fob, one can’t get in the car.  The door handles raise from their flush aerodynamic positions as someone with the key walks up to the car, they recoil to flush after a few minutes or when the door is locked.

But wait there is more, without the key fob, a thief has nothing.  They can’t hot-wire a Tesla.  They can’t put the car in neutral and roll it onto a truck.  No key, no car, gotta love built in safety like this.

Go ahead, the MC Hammer dance is completely appropriate. Tesla Model S in MilanTesla is the one American car company taking Europe by storm.  While in Milan recently, we counted at least three, and I was not on the road.  Last year in Amsterdam I spied one or two also. Tesla clearly has something nobody else has, items no other car company has.

If you are looking for an electric luxury car, from a company which truly stands behind their product, a Tesla Model S is your car.  For the performance lovers, the P85+ is worthy.

Thank you Tod at Tesla Motors, Easton for your hospitality. 🙂


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8 Responses to Test Drive: Tesla Model S P85

  1. your hubbie...

    fun stuff – I still enjoy our carbon footprint though…

  2. Great review Lisa!
    Tesla is such an amazing company. Glad to hear you loved the car 🙂 I’ve read they’re planning a more “affordable” version to launch in three years. Its really amazing technology – would be cool to see more of them on the road. Just read they’ve released all their patents too, to help build a larger industry based on their tech. Pretty inspiring!

  3. Hee hee hee, yes my dear we made the right choice on the carbon footprint. No kids allows us plenty of horsepower and still be less than most. XOXO

  4. Thanks Janet, they have crossover coming out soon which will be lower priced too. It is pricey but as a young company, if this is all they are rolling into their cars as a portion of R&D we are lucky. Unlike the Volt, where GM is subsidizing the cost of the car which makes it entirely inaccurate in terms of comparisons when the wallet is involved. Always buy they best quality car you can afford, and if you can’t afford quality – wait, don’t buy crap it’ll cost more in the long run. XO

  5. So jealous you got to drive one of these! Where’s the video? (If you’re going to go all car blogger on us, you have to come home with video LOL!)

    So true about paying for quality. Even so, at maybe 3x – 3.5x the cost of a Volt, you’re getting waaaaay more car for your your money if you buy one of these!

  6. You are too funny, a video… you don’t think videos of other people driving are boring? I’ll think about it. The Tesla is a pretty amazing car.

  7. Probably video of driving a Volt would be boring, but the Volt doesn’t have 400+hp.

    You could even make 2 videos, one with engine noise faked, ha ha!

  8. Ha ha, first of all I wouldn’t even get into a Volt on principal alone. We have standards. 🙂

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