Shin Takei Reviews The ‘Ludicrous’ New Tesla Model S P90D
Posted: Friday, February 12, 2016 – 4:59 PM
By Shin Takei
What is ludicrous? 762 horsepower, 713 lb-ft torque, 0-60mph in 2.6 seconds, that’s what.
And it’s quiet because there’s no internal combustion engine burning fossil fuels. Most boys grow up playing with slot cars or remote control electric toy vehicles like race cars and off-road trucks. The Tesla Model S P90D is not too different except its life size and you’re inside driving it. It even sounds similar to it. Elon Musk the CEO of Tesla as well as Space X is only 44 years old has already made quite a name for himself.
How could a brand new car company build the world’s fastest electric vehicle and make it attractive for many affluent former customers of traditional luxury manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar, Lexus and Cadillac to flee from their beloved rides? We figure, if you can shoot a rocket into space and land it back on earth, you can build a pretty good car. Yes, there were some glitches on early cars but Elon fixed them all for subsequent production cars just like you would have to if you’re going to ferry people to space and back. That’s the beauty of his creation. Both software and hardware are constantly updated to make the car better.
In fact owners will wake up in the morning to find that the software has been downloaded, updated and new features added while they were asleep. Model S P90D with an underline means it has a dual 90kWhr 240 mile range battery, all-wheel drive with Ludicrous feature. Elon Musk must have had a super car or super sedan and commissioned his design team to come up with a sleek profile that’s aerodynamic and fast looking.
Although it was designed in 2008 and production began in 2012, the Model S still looks good and wouldn’t look out of place parked next to a supercar. The flush door handles that pop out and the charge port door that opens and closes automatically when you need it are neat features. The standard wheels are 19” but the car really looks good with optional 21” grey Turbine wheels. Looking from behind there are no big in-your-face exhaust tips because there aren’t any. The all glass Panoramic Roof has wind deflectors and opens wide. However, once you sit inside, it’s hard not to notice the huge vertical 17” capacitive discharge display which is the command center of the Model S. At the top you have a home icon, time, outside temperature and who the car is configured to.
Below that is a row of app icons like Sound System, Navigation Map, Calendar, Energy Consumption, Internet, Rear View Camera and Phone. The screen can be split to top and bottom and you can switch the screen top to bottom and visa-versa. When we asked if Tesla was compatible with Apple CarPlay they said NO. After looking at what they’ve got, we think Tesla beat Apple to it and no wonder they don’t need CarPlay. However you can connect your iPhone or Android device and your calendar function and address list work together with the Nav System to guide you to that location.
From this screen you can open and close your sunroof, set your Steering Mode from comfort to sport, set your Suspension from very high to low and activate Automatic Lowering for high speed runs. We love the Creep feature (not creepy) which makes the car creep forward like in normal automatic transmission cars which keeps you alert to have your foot on the brake when at a stop. There’s Regenerative Braking when turned on applies the kinetic energy back to the battery. You can feel this immediately when you stop pressing the accelerator pedal as the car starts to slow down without depressing the brake pedal.
The optional Autopilot feature is our first step towards autonomous vehicles. You can set it and let go of the steering wheel as Auto Steer and Auto Lane Change allows you to flick the turn signal switch and the car changes lanes when it determines its safe and there’s enough space. This does take a little time to get used to as taking your hands off the steering wheel and the car turning by its self is alarming at first.
But any touch of the steering wheel will negate the system and you’re back in control. To keep you safe, there’s Forward Collision Warning, Side Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Speed Limit Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking. And our favorite is setting your Acceleration Mode to Sport or Ludicrous, which of course consumes more battery power.
To prevent damage to the 90kWhr battery, the main battery pack contacts are made of Iconel a super alloy to increase the current flow rate from 1300 to 1500 amps. A special fuse with its own electronic wizardry and lithium ion battery harnesses the difference between the normal current and the ludicrous current so nothing melts down or heats up out of control. The effect is just awesome acceleration.
So how does it drive? Acceleration is instantaneous and one can be sucked back into the seats. The cars you left in your wake becomes smaller in the rearview mirror quickly as you look at the speedometer and realize you’re going 120mph in an instant, OOPS! Freeway on ramps, passing other cars and just getting up to speed is a breeze. The handling is quite good with no drama to worry about especially for a car weighing 4,647lbs.
The build quality is first rate inside and out with a simple and clean design for the dashboard. We did not notice any NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) for a car that was built by such a new company. The charger is built into the car and a 220 Volt Wall Connector is another $750. When taking long trips your Nav will tell you how many Supercharger Stations you need to visit as well as how many miles you have till you run out of juice. Because the battery is located below the car, it can be swapped out in 9 minutes at some charge stations. A Tesla App can be downloaded so you can always be connected with your car.
The GPS will allow for current car location on map, honk the horn, flash lights, vent the car, set charge time and limit and turn on climate control among others. There are only two gripes. Because there is no ICE (internal Combustion engine) or gas tank, there’s abundant space for luggage but there are no storage bins. It has a glove box but only two cup holders for the front occupants, none for the rear.
There are no door pockets and just a tray between the front seats. And for a car costing over $130K we would like soft-close doors. The most difficult thing about driving the P90D is self-discipline of not forgetting to let your right foot off the accelerator pedal. An investment in a Radar Detector may save you from a speeding ticket. However, as the fastest sedan on this planet that’s made in the USA, the 2016 Tesla Model S P90D Ludicrous is more than Ludicrous, its Sensational!
A recent software update 7.1 allows for the Summons feature that lets the owner control the Model S go in or out of a garage space. Additionally you can make it parallel park all by itself. For more information, visit: www.teslamotors.com
Editors note: Shin Takei has been an automotive enthusiast since he was born in Tokyo. His grandmother needed only to take him to a nearby busy street to baby sit him as all he wanted was to look at cars go by. The first words out of his mouth were names of cars.He is now writing to drive, test and review luxury and sports cars for a few publications and is an Executive Committee member of the Checkered Flag 200, a support group for the newly renovated Petersen Automotive Museum.