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Tesla D is a Dual-Motor, All-Wheel-Drive Model S

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 10/9/2014 Erick Ayapana

Tesla Motors just revealed the most significant improvements to the Model S to date. Last week, CEO Elon Musk caused quite a ruckus when he announced that his company would release a new model called, “D,” along with with “something else.” Well, that time has come. As many speculated, the new model is an all-wheel-drive version of the Model S. The "something else" is the introduction of a suite of advanced driving technology dubbed Autopilot.

Here, "D" stands for dual motor, with the addition of an electric motor at the front axle. This is obviously a big deal for folks living in wet and snowy climates who were on the fence about the Model S due to its lack of all-wheel drive grip. But what Tesla is emphasizing here, and rightly so, is the boost in performance. Let’s start with the Model S P85D, which will sit at the highest spot in the Model S hierarchy. Forget the M5 because the P85D will now keep pace with quicker supercars like the GT-R.Tesla says the P85D will run to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, which is likely a conservative number considering we’ve consistently hit 3.9 seconds in the rear-drive P85+ We had the opportunity for a short ride in a P85D, with a Tesla engineer in the driver's seat. The engineer wisely advised us to rest our heads on the headrests before mashing on the accelerator pedal. CEO Elon Musk would later describe it as your own personal roller coaster ride, and his description is spot-on.

© Provided by MotorTrend According to Tesla, the rear motor powering the Model S P85D is the same as the current P85+, with output rated at 470 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. The front motor is smaller, and makes 221 hp and 244 lb-ft. That puts the combined system output to 691 hp and 687 lb-ft.

Speaking of which, once the P85D arrives, it will essentially replace the rear-drive P85+. The Model S 60 and 85 will still be offered in rear-drive format, as well as all-wheel drive (60D and 85D), though with smaller motors (188 hp and 181 lb-ft for both the front and rear motor). When it comes to curb weight, the P85D tips the scale at 4936 pounds (weight distribution is a 50/50 split on the front/rear axles), which is about 300 pounds more than a P85+. The 60D and 85D are 175 pounds heftier.

Tesla says the powertrain is biased toward the rear motor for maximum efficiency, but can quickly summon the front motor when more grip or acceleration is needed.

Interestingly enough, the 60D and 85D will be more efficient than their rear-drive counterparts, with range estimated at 225 and 295 miles, respectively. Those numbers represent a 10-mile improvement over their rear-drive models. A number of factors contribute to the boost in efficiency. The front motor, for example, now provides the powertrain a second source for recuperating energy. The performance-oriented P85D, however, takes a slight a hit in range at 275 miles, which is just 10 miles less than the outgoing P85+.

Meanwhile, the Autopilot system finally gives the Model S advanced, semi-autonomous technologies that have long been staples of its competitors. Among them is a forward collision detection with auto braking system, which will detect most everything from stopped cars to pedestrians. An adaptive cruise control system will not only keep pace with the car in front of you, but also control the steering wheel to keep you in your lane. It’ll detect and read speed limit signs, too, and adjust accordingly. Autopilot consists of ultra-sonic sensors (six in each front and rear bumper), a camera mounted above the rearview mirror, and a radar mounted within the front bumper. Tesla Model S Dual Motor© Provided by MotorTrend Tesla Model S Dual Motor

We got to see Autopilot in action during a short ride-along, and the system did its job, keeping the Model S within its lane and changing speeds according to the mock-up speed limit signs. Even more impressive is Autopilot’s ability to safely change lanes, a feature the driver calls on with a simple flick of the turn signal. The system will also self-park the Model S, and Tesla says it’ll eventually be able to park itself in your garage after you exit the car. Look for Tesla to expand and tweak Autopilot features in the future. The same goes for the dual-motor system, which, like most everything else on the Model S, can be updated via over-the-air software updates.

Tesla also took the opportunity to make other improvements. The front and rear seats, for example, are more supportive and comfortable, while the revised sun visors are larger.

Tesla has already completed factory retooling to include the dual-motor Model S sedan in the production line. First to launch is the P85D, slated to arrive by the end of this year, followed by the 60D and 85D next February. Finalized pricing details will come later, but Tesla says the 60D and 85D will command a $4000 premium over their rear-drive counterparts. Meanwhile, the P85D will be a $14,000 option loaded with most of the performance bits found in the outgoing P85+ including larger rims and the active air suspension. Tesla Model S Dual Motor© Provided by MotorTrend Tesla Model S Dual Motor

Tesla Model S Dual Motor© Provided by MotorTrend Tesla Model S Dual Motor
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