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Probably the best electric car so far; Tesla's Model S all-electric luxury car is frantically quick in P85 D all-wheel drive guise. James Fosdyke reports.

Byline: James Fosdyke

THE Tesla Model S is arguably the most practical electric car on sale today, but now its American manufacturer has added four-wheel drive and more power to make the P85 D - a Model S that has gained extra capability without really sacrificing anything.

The best electric car yet? Quite probably.

Let's be clear here; the addition of four-wheel drive does not make this Model S into any kind of SUV. The ride height is no greater than that of the standard car, and there's no rugged-looking body cladding as found on soft-roading estate cars like the Volvo XC70.

Instead, the P85 D's four-wheel drive is there for performance and traction purposes, in much the same way that all-wheel drive is now offered in the Jaguar F-Type range - a fact highlighted by the sport button marked 'Insane.'.

Provided by using one electric motor on each axle, the four-wheel drive system not only increases traction but also power. While the new bottom-spec 70 D makes do with just 329PS, the P85 D gets a massive 691PS, split roughly 30/70 between the front and rear axle.

All that power gets this top Model S to 62mph in just 3.1 seconds - as fast as the mental Porsche 911 Turbo S. It'll match most of the Germans at full chat, too, with a 155mph top speed. Even the electric car's Achilles heel, range, is addressed, with the P85 D managing 300 miles between trips to the plug.

Tesla claims that this Model S has been designed to look like an endurance athlete, with its taut lines and muscular haunches, but what the Tesla really bears some resemblance to is a sports coupe. There's something of an Aston Martin DB9 about the hind quarters, and the hatchback tailgate is a little bit Mercedes AMG GT-like or perhaps reminiscent of a Jaguar FType Coupe.

With the extra doors, though, the Tesla is much less in-proportion than the pretty AMG GT or the drop-dead gorgeous F-Type.

When viewed from the side, the closest facsimile we can think of is the Aston Martin Rapide. Comparing the Tesla to an Aston is high praise indeed.

The interior is clean and classy and the enormous 17in central touchscreen houses all the buttons that make normal cars so cluttered, giving a minimalist, almost Bauhaus look.

With the P85 D, Tesla has, quite simply, taken the Model S - a car which already held the title of the world's best electric car - and made it even more versatile. Putting extra power and fourwheel drive in the Model S was probably unnecessary.

It's hard to imagine anybody taking a look at the standard P85 Model S variant and thinking: "Nice, but surely it could do with much more power and four-wheel drive".

Still, although that may not have been the question we were asking, we should be grateful that Tesla has answered it. With two motors providing 691PS between them and driving all four wheels, Tesla's P85 D is the Model S capable of tackling pretty much anything.

It's now a fully fledged super saloon, with the ability to carry the whole family even when a light dusting of snow falls.

Add in the 300-mile range and you're left with what would appear to be the most capable electric car to date.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 12, 2015
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