Tesla Motors introduced the Model S sedan for the 2012 model year, a few months after discontinuing its very first model, the Roadster. The all-electric sedan was met with huge enthusiasm, mostly due to its impressive performance figures and extended range, which reached up to 265 miles per charge.
The Model S came with three battery pack options that delivered up to 470 horsepower and performance figures that rivaled those of high-performance, gasoline-powered sedans. The Model S received only software and safety updates through the 2014 model year, but that all changes with the 2015 model year. For 2015, the California-based automaker rolled out the first extensive upgrade for the EV’s drivetrain, consisting of an additional electric motor that enables the Model S to become an all-wheel-drive vehicle with mind-bending performance numbers.
The update does not replace the RWD sedan, but adds three new models to the lineup. Highlighted by the use of “D” on their trunks, the AWD Model S’ bring enhanced performance and range into Tesla dealerships. Much-needed convenience and safety features are also offered for 2015, but everything comes at a price. Read on to find out more about the improvements Tesla has introduced for 2015.
From a visual standpoint, the Tesla Model S carries over unchanged into the 2015 model year. As a matter of fact, the sedan has yet to receive a facelift since its introduction in 2012, and that’s because Elon Musk’s company has focused on improving the car’s internals, software and safety. The only minor addition to the 2015 lineup is the “D” badge, which sets the new all-wheel-drive, dual-motor models apart from their RWD siblings.
Although the 2015 doesn’t bring anything new on the outside, the Model S benefits from a host of drivetrain upgrades and new technologies. That’s likely to keep customers happy until Tesla Motors comes up with visual enhancement for its popular sedan.
The interior of the Model X also remained unchanged for 2015. However, there are a few convenience and safety features that will help drivers have a more comfortable experience in the electric sedan.
The new Autopilot technology, essentially a semi-autonomous drive system, enables the car to detect road signs and other cars that drive nearby thanks to a system that consists of optical cameras and a 360-degree sonar. The 2015 Model S also has the ability to automatically change lanes at the flick of the turn-signal and brake by itself if the vehicles in front reduce their speed.
New features also include lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control. The hardware for the Autopilot system is included in the standard Model S, but the software upgrade for the Autopilot feature to work to its fullest is included in a $4,250 Tech Package.
Unfortunately, none of these systems can be retrofitted on older Tesla Model S vehicles, meaning existing customers will have to trade in their pre-2015 sedan to benefit from the new features.
Tesla’s most important update for the 2015 Model S lies in the drivetrain department. Although the RWD model we’re familiar with remained unchanged, the lineup now includes all-wheel-drive versions of each trim level, which bring new output and mileage figures.
The entry-level 60D model fitted with the dual-motor configuration benefits from 376 horsepower. Although that’s four ponies less than the RWD model, the equal distribution of power to the front and rear wheels resulted in improved performance and mileage. The AWD 60 kWh needs 5.7 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph and reaches a top speed of 125 mph. Those numbers mean the addition of AWD has enhanced acceleration by 0.2 seconds and top speed by five mph. Likewise, the range has increased from 208 to 225 miles for a single charge according to Tesla’s estimation.
Moving over to the mid-range 85D model, similar drivetrain changes have reduced the time necessary for the sedan to complete the 0-to-60 mph run from 5.4 to 5.2 seconds. Top speed now sits at 155 mph, a hefty 30-mph improvement, while range has increased from 265 to 295 miles.
Lastly, there’s the P85D performance model that comes with an unprecedented level of power for the Model S. The P85D’s front motor cranks out 221 ponies, while the rear unit sends 470 horses to the pavement. The total output sits at an astonishing 691 horsepower, making the Model S quicker that a handful of supercars. Although top speed is electronically limited at 155, a 25-mph improvement over the RWD P85 model, the 0-to-60 mph sprint can be achieved in a blistering-quick 3.2 seconds. This figure makes the P85D a full second quicker than its RWD counterpart and the fastest-accelerating production sedan. The good news continues in the mileage department, as the P85D can cover ten extra miles over the standard model for a total of 275 miles on a single charge.
Pricing for the 2015 Model S begins from $69,900 before any incentives. For that sticker, customers get to take home the RWD 60 kWh version. The cheapest all-wheel-drive model, the 60D, retails from $75,070. At the top of the range sits the P85D version, which fetches $120,170, meaning the AWD system and all the new technology adds a $26,770 premium to the RWD P85 model. Performance doesn’t come cheap.