With one motor mounted on each axle, the newcomer can do 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds
With one motor mounted on each axle, the newcomer can do 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds

Tesla Model S 70D, car review: Latest incarnation brings four-wheel drive and larger battery

Official theoretical range increases to 275 miles – in reality 150-200, depending on how hard you plant your foot in the floor

Sarah Bradley,Autocar
Thursday 17 December 2015 00:35
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Time doesn’t stand still in the world of Tesla. Most manufacturers revise models perhaps once a year, but updates from the Californian e-tech king are coming thick and fast.

Its latest all-electric product is the Model S 70D, which gets a larger battery – of 70kWh, hence the name – and the option of two 259hp motors in place of the regular 70’s single 377hp motor.

The resulting four-wheel-drive machine boasts a total of 328bhp, with an instantly accessed 387lb ft of torque. Official theoretical range is increased to 275 miles – in reality between 150-200, depending on how hard, and often, you plant your right foot in the floor.

The car boasts a total of 328bhp, with an instantly accessed 387lb ft of torque

With one motor mounted on each axle, the newcomer can do 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds. That’s not as fast as the ridiculously quick 4WD P85D, but grip is just as tenacious, even on the most slippery surface.

Tesla Model S 70D

  • Price: £55,000 (after £5000 Government grant)
  • Engine: Two electric motors
  • Power: 328bhp
  • Torque: 387lb ft
  • Gearbox: Single-speed, direct drive
  • Kerbweight: 2108kg
  • Top speed: 140mph
  • 0-60mph: 5.2sec
  • Range: 275 miles
  • CO2/tax band: 0g/km, 0%

For an additional £2200, the optional Autopilot function uses info from radar, cameras and GPS to allow the Model S to automatically lane-change and park itself. This, along with all other software upgrades, is carried out via wi-fi, providing – quite genuinely – the ultimate hands-off ownership experience. The revision can be retro-applied to existing Teslas for £2600.

Using Autopilot on the move is an arresting experience; not literally, of course – used responsibly, it’s all perfectly legal. It’s best experienced on fast dual-carriageways or motorways blessed with clear lane markings; simply set the adaptive cruise function, initiate the relevant control and let the 70D do its thing.

The initial sense of detachment as the steering wheel moves itself will intrigue all but the most enthusiastic driver, while lane positioning and distancing from the preceding vehicle are excellent and notably superior to those afforded by similar but less accomplished systems from Mercedes and BMW.

Using Autopilot on the move is an arresting experience

Elsewhere, the ride, handling and steering are better than ever, and body roll is superbly controlled. The cabin can seat five or, optionally, seven, and it is a great place to spend time, with much better seats than in earlier cars, improved build quality and a superbly, if rather dominating, 17in central touchscreen.

With an ever-improving charging infrastructure – you can obtain an 80% boost in 30 minutes from Tesla’s Supercharging stations – and the useful £5000 Government grant bringing the list price down to £55,000, the latest Tesla makes EV saloon ownership more viable than ever. A diesel 5-Series will carry you three times the 70D’s range on one tankful, but it won’t feel nearly as special.

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