By Jody McCutcheon
If you thought the Insane Mode on Tesla’s Model S was, well, insane, it’s safe to speculate what you’ll think of Ludicrous Mode.
Even before this newest development, Tesla’s Model S was just about a perfect vehicle. Sure, its price tag forced many to take out hefty loans, but a ‘luxury price’ is justified by this luxury vehicle’s marvellous eco-friendly engineering, high performance and aesthetic triumphs. Obviously, none of that has changed.
Custom options abound, but the tricked-out P85D version offers supreme satisfaction. The Tesla Model S 2015 ‘s powertrain boasts dual motors—259hp in the front, 503hp in the rear—running on an 85kWh lithium-ion battery, producing 713 lb-ft of motor torque, a top speed of 250kph and a range of 405km. Gasless and emission-free, of course. (Upgrading to a 90kWh battery increases the car’s range by six percent.) All-wheel drive makes the Model S lighter, smaller and more efficient than its rear-wheel counterpart, with better traction and acceleration.
Why’s it called Model S? Perhaps because it’s a sleek, sexy, sustainable ride. Its aerodynamic form—even the door handles retract—isn’t just eye candy; it helps reduce drag, thus maximizing battery range.
The Model S is also among the safest road cars, posting five-star ratings in all National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash-test categories. The vehicle’s low centre of gravity enhances handling and minimizes rollover potential, while front and rear occupants enjoy the protection of eight airbags.
Another nifty perk is Autopilot mode, equally operable on open roads or in dense traffic. Several capabilities enable this feature, including radar, 360 degrees of sonar sensors, real-time traffic updates, a forward-looking camera and monitors recognizing pedestrians, stop signs, traffic signals and unintentional lane changes. Additionally, autopilot mode now utilizes auto emergency braking and blind spot warning, and even detects parking spots and auto-parks the car. Frequent software updates add new tricks as they become available.
Which brings us to a relevant concern. With connectivity—the Model S offers wifi and Internet—comes the rising risk of hacking. But rest assured. Contrary to recent media reports of vehicle hacking (see Fiat Chrysler, Jeep Cherokee), Tesla is one of the most secure vehicles on the market.
Rounding out the good news, all Tesla parts are sourced as close as possible to the company’s California-based manufacturing plant, reducing the transportation footprint and enhancing eco-friendliness.
And that Ludicrous Mode? Basically it’s an extension of Insane Mode, and costs an extra ten grand to upgrade. The bottom line is a ten percent improvement in acceleration, up to 1.1G’s of power, such that the Model S goes from zero to 100kph in 3 seconds—in theory, at least. A skeptical Consumer Report story suggests that the vehicle only achieved 0–60mph in 3.5 seconds in testing. Which still makes it very, very fast.
Environmental responsibility has never been so thrilling.