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2016 Tesla Model S P90D Quick Drive Review

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 5/5/2016 Brian Vance, Zach Gale, Robin Trajano

During our marathon shoot of the Model 3 at the Gigafactory, few of us spent much time with the updated Model S that Tesla trucked straight from the factory in Fremont, California. At one point, however, photographer Robin Trajano needed cornering shots of the face-lifted car and asked me to drive the Deep Blue Metallic sedanquickly past his camera.

After 10 fast passes on the access road,it occurred to me that I was the first member of the media to drive the refreshed 2016 Model S. How did it drive? Pretty much the same way a 2015 Model S drives. It's quick, nimble, and incredibly easy to flip around for pass after pass. Once finished, I commented that the throttle tip-in was super aggressive on this new S. Kim Reynolds reminded me that Teslas have a"creep mode," but this car's was turned off.

2016 Tesla Model S P90D side in motion 02© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Tesla Model S P90D side in motion 02

While it doesn't drive any differently, the striking new nose, subtly revised headlights, and other tweaks may be enough to send current Model S owners back to the Tesla shop for some plastic surgery.

Motor Trend and the Tesla Model S

Motor Trend has quite a history with the Model S, which was our 2013 Car of the Year.

2016 Tesla Model S P90D front end in motion© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Tesla Model S P90D front end in motion

Choosing the Model S was a unanimous decision from our judges, but even back then, the design was called "somewhat safe and conservative" by Wayne Cherry, former GM design boss and a consultant judge that year. Years before the 2016 Model S' visual updates, Cherry suggested "the front end is a missed opportunity to establish brand identity."

After 17 months and more than 38,000 miles with a long-term 2013 Model S P85+, we came away very impressed, though we experienced a squeaking sunroof for some of our time with the car, which also got new suspension bushings and a steering knuckle replaced for free by dealerships. Daily driving a fully electric car capable of 4.0-second as-tested 0-60 runs is unusual, but nothing compared to the special Model S cars we'd test later. Before Tesla upgraded its top Model S from P85+ to P85D, and then P90 and beyond, we compared a 2014 Model S P85+ to a 2014 BMW i8. We found the boldly styled i8 more fun to drive, but the Model S held its appeal, too. Find out which car won that comparison HERE.

2016 Tesla Model S P90D front three quarter in motion 04© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Tesla Model S P90D front three quarter in motion 04

An all-wheel-drive Model S P85D accelerated our interest in the car with a 3.1-second 0-60 time (but also a $120,170 as-tested price). Once Dodge introduced the Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcat cars, we celebrated those 707-hp cars with one of our other American favorites, Tesla. Read the fun Tesla Model S P85D vs. Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat comparison HERE.Things got especially ludicrous with Tesla's next Model S update, the P90D with the Ludicrous upgrade. In Motor Trend testing, the car broke the 3.0-second barrier for 0-60 times; get the full story HERE

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