Singapore - Prior to my test-drive of the Tesla Model S, the only time I ever came close to one was back in 2015 while holidaying in Hong Kong. Teslas are extremely popular over there with the rich and affluent, and at that time I had no clue why.
Then came last year’s series of Tesla Model S Youtube videos where an owner took his factory-standard car to the local drag strip, removed all his seats and single-handedly won just about any purpose-built dragster that was foolish enough to challenge the EV.
Now we all have probably heard of the Insane mode that has been built into the Model S performance range with each variation being significantly faster than the other.
My previous experience with other EVs have thought me that thanks to the zero lag between prodding the throttle and the immediate power delivery from the electric motor, EVs are actually pretty quick off the mark.
But absolutely nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced while test-driving the Tesla Model S, let me reiterate that again - Nothing I have driven (EVs and traditional combustion engine vehicles) could compare with the acceleration from the P85D I tested - and this isn’t even the most powerful version.
I had almost zero clue what it was like as I climbed into the cabin of what was about to happen as I shifted the car into drive and started toggling with the massive 17-inch digital control panel that allowed me to customise just about everything in the Tesla, from steering response, electric motor performance, climate control, infotainment options and even how many percent I wanted the sunroof to be opened.
Anyway back to the car, the P85D is a monster in ever sense of the word. Its blindingly fast, pretty energy efficient even when in Insane mode, eerily silent, comfortable and very spacious (there’s no transmission tunnel so that frees up the centre area for even greater versatility.
The best part is, it feels more car-like than EV offerings from reputable German car-makers that give the impression I’m driving an appliance while on the move, but more on that later. As I glided out of Hong Seh’s showroom, a gentle press of the throttle in Sport mode would have left 90% of cars in the dust.
Do the same in Insane mode and that remaining 10% of supercars will be disappearing in your rear-view mirror. I kid you not, its that fast, nothing I have driven accelerates like the Model S, its instantaneous, the jump from 45km/h into 130km/h happens in a blink of an eye - its like the Tesla was teleporting across stretches of tarmac, my mind and eyes were struggling to make sense of how this seemingly normal-looking four-door EV sedan can outrun some of the fastest cars in production to date!
Looking at the specifications, it begins to makes sense. The electric motors in the P85D pump out a whopping 691 horses for a 0-100km/h timing of 3.3 seconds!
Now if you take the Tesla’s kerb weight of 2.1 tonnes into consideration, that’s mightily fast! And because the power is directly transferred to the wheels, there’s no performance loss whatsoever, just pound the ‘happy’ pedal and brace yourself for one heck of a surge that plants the back of your head into the headrest and doesn’t let up till you release the throttle.
The acceleration is relentless and if I had continued gunning it I would probably be three times over the speed limit in a matter of seconds. Talk about split personalities, switch over to Chill mode and the Tesla is more than happy to potter around town in absolute bliss and silence.
I finally understood why this was all the rage in Hong Kong. You see, the Tesla Model S P85D is a fantastic everyday driver (with a range of over 450km on a full charge) when you want it to be and will slay supercars on a whim if you fancy it.
The feeling is surreal though, with that much power and torque at your foot, you feel almost like a automotive celestial being - a cut above anything else on the roads. Its an amazing experience, the fact that it still feels very car-like (dynamics wise) minus the growl and vibrations from a combustion engine is a feather in Tesla’s cap.
The same can’t be said for other EVs I have driven that bordered on sitting in a washing machine with four wheels during a spin-cycle. Space wise, the Model S is a big car, front and rear passengers get an abundance of head, shoulder and legroom. The cabin itself exudes high levels of build quality and everything within feels rock solid.
And with that we have come to the final point in the P85D’s arsenal of features. True our island’s charging infrastructure might still be in its infancy, but there are already a multitude of Type 2 Charging Stations available across all regions for you to charge the Tesla.
A full charge from 5% to full will take a little over four hours and with a range that extends over 400km, a single charge should easily last you two days at least compared to what other EVs get, I think the Model S is peerless in this aspect.
To wrap it up, the Tesla Model S P85D is probably my favourite EV to date and easily ranks up there on my list of favourite cars that are close to perfection. The combination of mind-blowing power and all-wheel drive dynamics allow for a car that bends the laws of physics to its will, leaving me grinning from ear to ear.
The fact that this beast was built by a company with less than a decade of experience in the business will definitely give the big boys plenty to worry about.