A couple of weeks ago, Elon Musk tweeted a typically vague message to his followers hinting that there would be some major new announcements in store at Tesla. Speculation ran wild with many assuming the “D” model Mr Musk referred to in his tweet would indicate an entirely new model. However, we can reveal today that the “D” denotes an additional option for Model S in the shape of all wheel drive.

Rather than the standard rear wheel drive, Model S is now available with all wheel drive using an additional motor positioned between the front wheels. Whereas in a more conventional internal combustion powered setup this would entail a loss in economy, due to the additional drive arrangement from a single power source, in Model S the additional motor actually improves not only the range but performance too. The 60 in rear wheel drive guise offers 0-60mph in a swift 5.9 seconds, whereas the new 60D all wheel drive model achieves this in 5.7 seconds. Likewise, the already exceptionally fast P85 rear wheel drive Tesla achieves 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds while the all wheel drive P85D reduces this time to a neck breaking 3.2 seconds. Higher speed performance is also increased with the top speed of the P85D rising to 155mph from 130mph. The keener eyed amongst you will notice the P85+ is now missing from the Model S line-up as it has effectively been replaced by the P85D. Not quite the same ring to it when spoken as D has been commonly used to denote diesel, rather than performance.

Tesla Model S

The all wheel drive option will be made available on all Model S, i.e. from 60 through to P85+ models but does of course incur an additional charge over the standard rear wheel drive option. In reality, the all wheel drive is unlikely to benefit most road users who adhere to the speed limit and use their car for commuting purposes, but all wheel drive setups have long been famed for their superior handling when weather and other factors influence the amount of grip available. As such, those living in cooler climes such as the Nordic countries are likely to welcome the option as it may make the difference between being able to clamber up an icy drive or not.

The addition of all wheel drive to the Model S should not come as too much of a surprise, however, as the still-in-development Model X has long been purported to feature all wheel drive and utilises the same chassis design as Model S. In other words, the car was designed from the outset to be able to accommodate the additional motor at the front. The Model X was purported to have extremely advanced off-road capability too as the two separate motors introduces new levels of power distribution to the front and rear, unlike a conventional internal combustion powered all wheel drive setup. It will be interesting to see what the all wheel drive system does for Model S, aside from contribute to tumbling 0-60 acceleration times and perhaps more even tyre wear front-to-rear.

At present, UK pricing is yet to be announced but will be made available imminently. However, the US pricing is simple enough to follow as the all wheel drive option costs $4,000 extra for the 60 and 85 models. However, the P85 requires a not insignificant $14,600 extra. Pricing is as follows:

Model Price $ *
60 85,570
60D 89,570
85 93,570
85D 97,570
P85 105,570
P85D 120,170

* Prices stated may be eligible to EV incentives, saving $7,500 in certain US states.

Tesla Model S AutopilotAutopilot

Tesla haven’t just made the singular announcement concerning their all wheel drive option as they have been busy rectifying one of Model S’ early criticisms regarding its relative lack of technology for automated driving aids. Dubbed, “Autopilot” the new optional system introduces a forward looking camera, radar and 360 degree ultrasonic sensors which actively monitor the road ahead. The system is similar to that which you might find in rival offerings from the likes of Infiniti and essentially combines lane following with collision awareness as well as distance control, meaning for long motorway trips particularly, driving is all but automated.

At AutoVolt we gave this technology a test in an Infiniti Q50 and initially found it to be very disconcerting. However, given the right road circumstances, it brings a new level to the popular cruise control option. Tesla themselves state the new technology is designed specifically for motorway (highway) use and will be added to via over-the-air (OTA) updates and, “will enable sophisticated convenience and safety features that use these sensors to respond to real world conditions.”

The new option is available across the entire Model S range which now includes the following different models; 60, 80, P85, 60D, 80D, P85D. Unfortunately, at time of writing and as with the all wheel drive option, UK prices are not yet available. However, in the US the option adds $4,250 to the asking price on each model.

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