It is SO difficult to compare the Tesla Model S P85+ to any other car we’ve reviewed because it’s simply so unique. I knew it was coming. Electric vehicles aren’t exactly a new concept, but I was pretty keen to check one out that wasn’t the vehicular equivalent of whitegoods. I don’t know whether to start with the very limited similarities or the enormous differences this all-electric car has compared to a “normal” car. One thing that I can say however, is that within minutes of sitting in it, about 6 different people including myself stated with utter conviction: “This is the future”.

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Tesla P85+

Tesla P85+

The initial impression is that it’s an attractive vehicle with its large wheels and sloping roofline, despite being a 4-door family sedan. As you continue to move around it, you begin to appreciate the aggressively clean lines and European-esque styling. You’ll also note the fact that there’s no visible filler flap, given that there is obviously no requirement for said fuel. The only body styling I didn’t like was at the bottom of the doors is a chrome strip that intrudes on the side skirt giving the impression on the white Tesla that the doors end further down than they actually do. Splitting hairs really.

Tesla P85+

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The P85+ is Tesla’s mid-range offering, but hides red 4 piston brake calipers inside huge optional 21-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport rubber (265/35/21 rear and 245/35/21 front). These are super wide and super sticky, yet barely enough to contain the mountain of torque.

Tesla P85+

Tesla Model S

I went to open the door and noticed that the handles had retracted to be flush with the body panels. I held the ‘key’ in my hand, a miniature black effigy of a car, with no discernible features or buttons, just a silver Tesla logo. Once I was in range of the car, the square edged door handles extruded neatly from the doors, projecting a faint courtesy lamp downward for both driver and passengers.

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Tesla P85+

Tesla P85+

If you look down when you enter, ‘Model S’ is emblazoned on the doorsill, but your attention will be drawn immediately to the 17-inch portrait orientated touch screen. You can count the amount of actual buttons in this car on one hand, so this screen is the single port-of-call for the car’s main functions, which at first was strange but quickly became convenient. Imagine your iPad controlling every function of your car – climate control, ride height, digital radio, boot release and so on.

Tesla P85+

Tesla P85+

Tesla P85+

It’s as if you could have guided the Mars rover from the comfort of the leather drivers seat. Everything works perfectly, intuitively. But that’s not why you’re reading this, is it.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

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You don’t need to start the car, just get in and tell it whether you want to go forwards or backwards. And when you do use the go pedal, your jaw drops. the performance is a little difficult to describe in words. It’s mind-bendingly fast not just because of that mountain of torque, but the way it’s unleashed. It’s instant in a way that no petrol motor could ever be, all while being completely silent.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

There’s no waiting for the motor to respond when you floor it, your brain and eyeballs are simply and savagely pushed into the back of your skull. It’s like being thrown out of a slingshot, or takeoff in a jet, but silent and utterly unrelenting. My mind tells me that there should be some sort of let up, some sort of slowing of acceleration, but there just isn’t any. It’s like nothing else I’ve ever driven or been in.

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Tesla Model S

If you’ve decided the acceleration is too much, the Model S features a type of Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), which converts up to 60kW of kinetic energy to charge the batteries on board. This also means less time spent leaning on the brakes, as the KERS slows the car down quite effectively with no throttle input.

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In terms of the practicality, I had many people ask me about the range, and look a little deflated when I told them.. While the claimed 500km from a charge may be a little ambitious, when was the last time you did more than 200km in a day? And how does your average performance vehicle compare with that? I know the S2000 only has about 550km in a full tank, let alone something turbo on E85.. Realistically, I think the range would be plenty for almost all occasions.

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Tesla P85+

Tesla Model S

In just over 24 hours, I’ve managed to completely fall in love with this car, despite my preconceived notions toward electric vehicles. I wanted to remain professional and completely objective, but it’s impossible. I’m currently trying to figure out how I can convince Tesla to let me do a long-term road test just so I have more time to experience this little gem, or preferably in the insane P85D version. Hint, hint, Tesla – we need some insane mode in our lives.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

As photographed and reviewed for DownshiftAus by:

Matyas Fulop
Daniel Sharp
Luke Greensill
James Dean Kiernander

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