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2015 Tesla Model S

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 5/19/2015 Stefan Ogbac

New for 2015

The most significant addition to the 2015 Tesla Model S is the new P85D model, which has an upgraded electric powertrain that generates a whopping 691 hp and 687 lb-ft of torque. However, its estimated range is lower than 85D variants, at 253 miles. The seats inside the Model S have been updated for 2015 and now have improved bolstering and support for front and rear passengers, and a new 70D model replaces the previous base model with a 60-kWh battery pack.

Vehicle Summary

The 2015 Tesla Model S is a large extended-range electric luxury sports sedan now only available with all-wheel drive (previous models were offered with rear-wheel drive). In addition to the P85D, the car’s electric powertrain comes in two other power levels: the 70D has an estimated range of 240 miles and the 85D has a 270-mile range on a single charge. A single-speed transmission is the only gearbox available in all models.

Overview

Even the 2015 Tesla Model S flaunts its green credentials, the large four-door hatchback has excellent driving dynamics and blistering acceleration, with an as-tested 0-60 time of 3.1 seconds on the P85D model. Despite weighing over two tons, the car handles beautifully due to its low center of gravity, which is the result of the battery packs positioned under the passenger cabin. However, ride quality suffers due to the use of alloy wheels ranging from 19-21 inches in size and wrapped in low-profile performance tires.

The 2015 Model S’ pièce de résistance is its gigantic 17-inch central touchscreen, which controls various functions including navigation, infotainment and climate controls. Space inside is generous, with seating for five adults unless you opt for the available third-row rear jump seats that are cramped and best suited for small children. Cargo volume, on the other hand, is generous with up to 58.1 cubic feet of space when the rear seats are folded down. Fit and finish isn’t sacrificed in favor of efficiency, with cabin build quality and refinement that’s on par with offerings from luxury marques.

In NHTSA crash testing, the 2015 Tesla Model S earned a five-star overall safety score (out of a possible five stars).

What We Think

The all-electric and fun-to-drive Tesla Model S continues to impress. In a First Test review of the P85D trim, we said that the car’s impressive straight line performance thanks to all of its torque being available from zero rpm. Handling is also another strong point and even with the P85D losing its near-perfect weight distribution, the car remains an excellent driving machine with high levels of grip. One knock on the car’s driving dynamics is sometimes it feels ponderous, “like a motor home.” The available low-profile summer tires also contribute to a rocky ride on less than perfect surfaces.

Interior space is another 2015 Model S strong point with well-bolstered seats for front and rear passengers. In a comparison test against the BMW i8, we were impressed by the car’s ultra-high fidelity sound system, which can play music sourced directly from the internet or a personal media device. Additionally, the front and rear cargo holds make the Model S surprisingly practical for family duty and for hauling large items. While the i8 was more fun to drive, the Model S’ combination of providing nearly the same levels of driving enjoyment and practicality allowed it to win.The Tesla Model S was Motor Trend ’s 2013 Car of the Year.

You’ll Like

  • Excellent handling
  • Insane acceleration in the P85D's Insane mode
  • Slick central touchscreen

You Won’t Like

  • Available third row jump seats are near-useless
  • Still doesn’t have the same range as gas, diesel, or hybrid vehicles
  • Harsh ride due to low-profile tires

Key Competitors

  • Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
  • BMW i8
  • Mercedes-Benz C350e Plug-In Hybrid
  • Toyota Mirai
  • Cadillac ELR

Rating

4 star

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