I think the best way to do this is to cut straight to the chase. What the hell is an electric car doing on Speedhunters?
We, the purveyors of performance in its purest form driving what is being referred to as the future!? This isn’t the future we are interested, right? We want the future to be about lighter cars as composites materials become the norm; we want good old fashioned combustion engines mated to slick and precise manual transmissions.
That said however, we still need cars that function as daily modes of transportation. In a perfect world we would all drive to work in Super GT race cars and set lap times on the way there so that we can try and break them the next day. But commutes are not like that. For daily driving you need a car that does a lot of things well, and it helps if it comes with enough excitement to make even the dullest of journeys interesting.
Such a vehicle exists, and it’s called the Tesla Model S.
This is not the first time I have driven a P90; I had one for a day about two years ago when I was doing a story for Motor Head magazine. As eye-opening and as interesting as I found that car, I didn’t think it warranted a story on Speedhunters.com. This all-new and refreshed Model S P90D does however, and it’s all thanks to something called ‘Ludicrous’ mode.
I’ve seen all the hype about how the twin motor version of this car performs, especially with the fastest acceleration mode engaged. The sheer number of videos floating around on social feeds is staggering, and it was actually getting to the point of being annoying. That was until I tried it for myself. If this is what the future of motoring looks like, I’m in!
Sure, the car is heavy and it isn’t as great of a steer as a fully specced up BMW M5 or Audi RS6 would be (which are about the same money as the test car I drove in Japan), but for the way I’d use a car like this in a city like Tokyo I wouldn’t care, as 99 per cent of the driving is mundane. The P90D’s acceleration is brutal, and the more I came to grips with the instant torque delivery the more I wanted to drive it.
And at the end of the day, isn’t this what we all want in a car? I found myself looking for excuses to drive the Model S, and that left me feeling conflicted. After all, electric cars have no soul or character, right? They’re like an android that does everything so well and efficiently, yet lack the most important traits that would make them human. Is a car like the P90D the automotive equivalent of an android? I was torn, I didn’t know what to think any more.
I just wanted to drive it more and feel the rush of acceleration. I wanted to lower the windows and hear all four tyres generate the grip needed to effortlessly catapult me down the road. Yes, that’s right – in an electric car you actually get to hear the tyres do their thing. It’s quite bizarre but strangely satisfying at the same time.Pleasing To The Eye
What to make of the P90D’s looks, though? The Model S has been around for some years now and has a pretty flowing and eye-pleasing shape. Here it’s been restyled with a new front bumper and grill treatment to make it a little more like the bigger Model X. This will have to do for the foreseeable future as Tesla concentrates on the X and the much anticipated 3, which its collected a staggering number of pre-orders for, not to mention fight off the competition from big premium German manufacturers like BMW, Porsche and Audi as they get on and ramp up their electric car offerings.
For now however, the Model S seems to be enjoying a monopoly-like grasp on the premium EV sector. It offers an impressive package with very impressive range, a big cabin, seating for 5+2 and an image that early adopters can’t get enough of. There’s a catch though: all this comes with a pretty hefty price tag. The car I was driving had a few extra options and ran the equivalent of US $160,000 in Japan. That’s a big number, regardless of the type of car you’re talking about.
But affordability isn’t the point here, that’s something the Model 3 will address. What I want to talk about is that despite the naysayers and the instant dismissal from petrolheads, electric cars can be fun and exciting. They just deliver the grin-factor in a different way.
The ‘D’ in P90D is a reference to Dual, as in dual motors, meaning that there is a smaller electric motor in between the front wheels giving AWD to the Model S. We all know the benefits all-wheel drive can bring in highly powerful cars.
What I like about Tesla is the way it doesn’t make a big deal out of the fact that its cars are electric. The designers even went as far as to stealthily incorporate the charge port into the side of the taillight.
The P90D’s cabin is spacious and well appointed, if only lacking a little character. But that’s probably down to the fact that Tesla is concentrating on minimalism rather than over-designing details and features just to stand out.
After all, the gigantic vertical center touch screen is as unique and individual as it can get. I’d love to see more colour options in the trim, but aside from that the P90D delivers a very nice interior.
The seats are supportive, but I did find it strange that there are no roof-mounted grab handles included, front or back. It’s a curious omission, especially seeing how fast this car is.
The optional satin-finished carbon accents on the dash are a nice detail.Instant Acceleration
Once you learn how to read it, the LCD main dash layout offers a wealth of information, and you really do feel like you are driving some crazy futuristic concept car. And that’s a feeling I liked; I get why people fork out big money to get a taste for this type of thing. It’s different; it gets your juices flowing for different reasons.
And the ‘Ludicrous’ acceleration setting is a huge part of it all. The characteristics of electric motors is what makes this car so much fun, and you can’t help but dive deep into its monumental reserves of torque. You want it all and you want it now, which is exactly how it’s delivered. One prod of the accelerator redefines ‘instant’ acceleration. It makes any, and I do mean any, combustion engine equipped car feel broken in comparison. There is just no way a conventional piston engine can muster up such urgency, so quickly.
During my time with the Tesla, I decided to do an experiment with my little resident mini Speedhunter, who at the tender age of two and a half has had the fortune of riding in a number of fast cars. He knows what’s up, and he was loving the P90D. See his reaction? See how he wants more?
Well, I was the same. That sums up the Model S P90D’s driving experience to me.
So no, electric cars haven’t been sent to earth from hell to destroy all we enthusiasts love and cherish about cars. They can be just as fun, but in a different way. In a huge metropolis like Tokyo, which has embraced EVs in a way no other city in the world has yet, it makes even more sense. All that needs to happen now is for this sort of thing to become affordable.
Dino Dalle Carbonare