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Tesla Model S P90D review

We get behind wheel of the Tesla Model S P90D: an all-electric saloon with supercar performance

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

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Even the most hardened supercar collector can’t fail to be impressed by the Tesla Model S P90D. Performance is eye-watering (literally), while if you take it gently, over 300 miles on one charge is perfectly achievable. It may lack the handling finesse or quality of a Mercedes-AMG E63, but as a family-friendly continent crosser it’s a taste of the future right now.

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How quick is quick? It doesn’t seem that long ago that cracking five seconds from zero to 60mph put you into the realms of the supercar. Nowadays you can get a hot hatch that dips into the four-second bracket.

Last week we were behind the wheel of the £321,000 6.5-litre V12-powered Lamborghini Aventador SV that went from 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds. And now we’ve sampled the Tesla Model S P90D…

Sat in any car park, the Tesla Model S looks like a mild-mannered four-door saloon. It’s all-electric credentials are well known and so is its penchant for putting performance cars to shame.

But this one takes performance for four-door, five (or seven) seat cars to a new level. In a straight drag, the P90D will almost beat that aforementioned Lambo – sprinting from zero to 60mph in the same time it takes the Aventador to get to 62mph. Bonkers. Or even Ludicrous, which is the mode Tesla has introduced for maximum attack in a Model S.

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To be fair, the old Insane mode in the P85D was quick enough, but the P90D adds a 90kWh battery which not only drops that 0-60mph time below three seconds, but also adds six per cent to the car’s electric range – making it a fairly sizeable maximum of 330 miles. So long as you avoid Ludicrous mode.

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So how does it feel? Incredible. Tesla reminds you that there’s no need for launch control with four-wheel drive and instant torque, and as you’re encouraged to just stamp down on the throttle, your head is jolted back against the headrest and you feel your face doing those funny things when you’re skin is pushed backwards to give you an instant face-lift.

And the power keeps on coming – you’ll pass the quarter mile in 10.9 seconds on to way past 100mph. Of course, you don’t get the dramatic soundtrack you get in a petrol-powered supercar, but the whirr of the electric motor and the whoosh of the wind round the mirrors is almost as intoxicating.

But ultimately, it’s just the sheer shove this car’s got that has you looking for an opportunity to bury the accelerator and hurtle forwards. Overtaking has rarely been less of a problem.

Other than the power, performance and range upgrade, which combined add £10,800 to the P85D’s price (totalling £85,700) the P90D is pure Model S. In spite of the straight-line performance, this isn’t a sports car to throw around – the weight of the batteries, although sat low in the car, see to that.

• Best electric cars to buy now

The steering is meaty enough, but lacks real directness, too. The ride is pretty comfy, though.

Inside, the sleek dash is dominated by the huge touchscreen that gets updated via your Wi-Fi and can control some advanced autonomous features – this car is also as close as you will currently get to full autonomous driving. There’s plenty of space for two in the back, while a third person is able to squeeze in between without a nasty transmission tunnel to worry about.

And with Tesla’s free-to-use Supercharging network growing to over 1,000 chargers across Europe, crossing the continent has never been cheaper, more comfortable or quicker.

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Editor-in-chief

Steve Fowler has been editor-in-chief of Auto Express since 2011 and is responsible for all editorial content across the website and magazine. He has previously edited What Car?, Autocar and What Hi-Fi? and has been writing about cars for the best part of 30 years. 

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