Spoiler Alert: Updated Model S Drives Just Like the Old One
During our marathon shoot of the Model 3 at the Gigafactory, few of us spent much time with the updated Model S that Tesla trucked straight from the factory in Fremont, California. At one point, however, photographer Robin Trajano needed cornering shots of the face-lifted car and asked me to drive the Deep Blue Metallic sedan quickly past his camera.
After 10 fast passes on the access road, it occurred to me that I was the first member of the media to drive the refreshed 2016 Model S. How did it drive? Pretty much the same way a 2015 Model S drives. It’s quick, nimble, and incredibly easy to flip around for pass after pass.Once finished, I commented that the throttle tip-in was super aggressive on this new S. Kim Reynolds reminded me that Teslas have a “creep mode,” but this car’s was turned off.
While it doesn’t drive any differently, the striking new nose, subtly revised headlights, and other tweaks may be enough to send current Model S owners back to the Tesla shop for some plastic surgery.
Motor Trend and the Tesla Model S
Motor Trend has quite a history with the Model S, which was our 2013 Car of the Year.
Choosing the Model S was a unanimous decision from our judges, but even back then, the design was called “somewhat safe and conservative” by Wayne Cherry, former GM design boss and a consultant judge that year. Years before the 2016 Model S’ visual updates, Cherry suggested “the front end is a missed opportunity to establish brand identity.”
After 17 months and more than 38,000 miles (61,155 km) with a long-term 2013 Model S P85+, we came away very impressed, though we experienced a squeaking sunroof for some of our time with the car, which also got new suspension bushings and a steering knuckle replaced for free by dealerships. Daily driving a fully electric car capable of 4.0-second as-tested 0-60 runs is unusual, but nothing compared to the special Model S cars we’d test later. Before Tesla upgraded its top Model S from P85+ to P85D, and then P90 and beyond, we compared a 2014 Model S P85+ to a 2014 BMW i8. We found the boldly styled i8 more fun to drive, but the Model S held its appeal, too. Find out which car won that comparison HERE.
An all-wheel-drive Model S P85D accelerated our interest in the car with a 3.1-second 0-60 time (but also a $120,170 USD as-tested price). Once Dodge introduced the Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcat cars, we celebrated those 707-hp cars with one of our other American favorites, Tesla. Read the fun Tesla Model S P85D vs. Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat comparison HERE. Things got especially ludicrous with Tesla’s next Model S update, the P90D with the Ludicrous upgrade. In Motor Trend testing, the car broke the 3.0-second barrier for 0-60 times; get the full story HERE.