While most people were still in Valentine’s Day mode, my Valentine and I were invited by Tesla Motors to their “Double Black Event” showcasing the new P85D model. Not only were we excited to learn about the new dual-motor AWD machine, but also to get behind the wheel and put it through its paces.
Our scheduled time slot was at 1pm on the Sunday long weekend and upon arrival we were greeted by the kind Tesla Motors staff. After a brief photo-op, we were lead into a lounge area with refreshments and a slew of Tesla displays.
The “Design Studio” display was a build-to-your-taste showcase. Whether you’re a current Tesla owner or not, here you could setup your ideal electric ride however you wanted.
For those itching to grab some Tesla merchandise, there’s plenty available ranging from the usual t-shirts and hats, to more unique items like duffel bags and snowboards. There was even a Supercharger station on display (see far right).
After some time in the lounge, we (along with a handful of others) were brought into a conference room for a brief information session on the P85D and the test track. Unlike the standard Tesla Model S, this new ride boasts a great deal of improvements – most notably, the dual-electric motor and all-wheel drivetrain. Not only will one have the confidence of traction from all four wheels, but with a 691 horsepower output (221hp front and 470hp rear) the car launches from 0-60mph in just 3.2-seconds! Yes, you read right – that’s Ferrari Enzo comparable!
With the instructional session complete, it was time for us to get behind the wheel and experience what this radically new Tesla Model S was all about. Right outside the Allstream Centre on the CNE grounds were a selection of test rides ready for the test track experience.
Only a short drive away, we arrived at the test track that the staff had put together as part of the Double Black tour. The track consisted of three major sections, each designed to showcase the handling and performance characteristics of the P85D. Starting the course was the “Insane Acceleration” portion setup as a make-shift drag strip, followed by a technical section of corners for the handling aspect, and ending with a snow-covered area to demonstrate the advance technology found in the Tesla AWD system.
In late January 2015, Elon Musk (founder of Tesla Motors) sent out a message on social media that the “Tesla P85D 0 to 60mph acceleration will improve by ~0.1 sec soon via over-the-air software update to inverter algorithm.” To some, this news might make little sense, but to others it put a smile on their faces. This new update allows for something called “Insane” mode in the Controls > Acceleration menu. With an adjustment in the algorithm, the P85D is able to harness the dual-motor power allowing for 3.2-second launches! So, how fast is the “Insane” mode you ask? Very… especially when you watch the video of a P85D destroying a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat on the drag strip!
Once behind the wheel, it was time to test out this “Insane” mode and see if there’s truth to this software update and dual-motor setup. With my hands on the wheel, I hammered on the throttle (as instructed by our Tesla test driver) and held on for a launch like I’ve never felt before. By the time I reached the end of the “drag strip” section, I had reached 85km/h – from a standing start! Okay, so video footage would prove my point better, but we’ll just have to wait for our test vehicle for that.
After going through the handling section of the course, it came time to navigate through the snow part and intentionally try to get the P85D stuck like a beached whale. Even after coming to a complete stop with all-season tires, the Tesla carved through the two-feet of snow as if it were a snowmobile – no joke. The AWD system and on-board computers were working away to ensure that each wheel applies power as needed resulting in snowy drive unlike any other all-wheel-drive vehicle thus far.
By the time 3pm rolled around, it was time to say good bye to the beloved and performance-packed P85D. Overall, the experience was incredible on both the technical front and fun factor so much so, that I didn’t want to give the Tesla back. So, is this new Model S all it’s cut out to be? Absolutely. My only real gripe with the Tesla is the weight of the vehicle which can be felt with spirited driving, until you realize that it is zero emissions and you’re able to smack talk an supercar owner! Hopefully this is just the first of many experiences behind the wheel of this incredible machine and something which truly is the wave of the future.
For more information, please visit Tesla Motors