Tesla Motors introduced the Model S sedan for the 2012 model year, a few months after discontinuing its very first model, the Roadster. The all-electric sedan was met with huge enthusiasm, mostly due to its impressive performance figures and extended range, which reached up to 265 miles per charge. The Model S came with three battery pack options that delivered up to 470 horsepower and performance figures that rivaled those of high-performance, gasoline-powered sedans. The Model S received only software and safety updates through the 2014 model year, but that all changes with the 2015 model year. For 2015, the California-based automaker rolled out the first extensive upgrade for the EV’s drivetrain, consisting of an additional electric motor that enables the Model S to become an all-wheel-drive vehicle with mind-bending performance numbers.

The update does not replace the RWD sedan, but adds three new models to the lineup. Highlighted by the use of "D" on their trunks, the AWD Model S’ bring enhanced performance and range into Tesla dealerships. Much-needed convenience and safety features are also offered for 2015, but everything comes at a price. Read on to find out more about the improvements Tesla has introduced for 2015.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Tesla Model S.

Exterior

2015 Tesla Model S High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Tesla Model S High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Tesla Model S High Resolution Exterior
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From a visual standpoint, the Tesla Model S carries over unchanged into the 2015 model year. As a matter of fact, the sedan has yet to receive a facelift since its introduction in 2012, and that’s because Elon Musk’s company has focused on improving the car’s internals, software and safety. The only minor addition to the 2015 lineup is the "D" badge, which sets the new all-wheel-drive, dual-motor models apart from their RWD siblings.

Although the 2015 doesn’t bring anything new on the outside, the Model S benefits from a host of drivetrain upgrades and new technologies. That’s likely to keep customers happy until Tesla Motors comes up with visual enhancement for its popular sedan.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 116.5 Inches
Length 196.0 Inches
Width 86.2 Inches
Height 56.5 Inches
Font Track 65.4 Inches
Rear Track 66.9 Inches

Interior

2015 Tesla Model S Interior
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2015 Tesla Model S Interior
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2015 Tesla Model S Interior
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The interior of the Model X also remained unchanged for 2015. However, there are a few convenience and safety features that will help drivers have a more comfortable experience in the electric sedan.

2015 Tesla Model S Exterior
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The new Autopilot technology, essentially a semi-autonomous drive system, enables the car to detect road signs and other cars that drive nearby thanks to a system that consists of optical cameras and a 360-degree sonar. The 2015 Model S also has the ability to automatically change lanes at the flick of the turn-signal and brake by itself if the vehicles in front reduce their speed. New features also include lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control. The hardware for the Autopilot system is included in the standard Model S, but the software upgrade for the Autopilot feature to work to its fullest is included in a $4,250 Tech Package.

Unfortunately, none of these systems can be retrofitted on older Tesla Model S vehicles, meaning existing customers will have to trade in their pre-2015 sedan to benefit from the new features.

Interior Dimensions

Head room (front/rear) 38.8/35.3"
Leg room (front/rear) 42.7/35.4"
Shoulder room (front/rear) 57.7/55.0"
Hip room (front/rear) 55.0/54.7"
Seating capacity 5 adults
Total cargo volume 31.6 cu ft
Rear cargo volume (seats up/down) 26.3/58.1 cu ft
Front trunk cargo volume 5.3 cu ft
Turning circle 37 ft
Curb weight 4,647.3 lbs
Weight distribution (%, front/rear) approx. 48/52

Drivetrain

2015 Tesla Model S Exterior
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2015 Tesla Model S High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Tesla Model S High Resolution Exterior
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Tesla’s most important update for the 2015 Model S lies in the drivetrain department. Although the RWD model we’re familiar with remained unchanged, the lineup now includes all-wheel-drive versions of each trim level, which bring new output and mileage figures.

The entry-level 60D model fitted with the dual-motor configuration benefits from 376 horsepower. Although that’s four ponies less than the RWD model, the equal distribution of power to the front and rear wheels resulted in improved performance and mileage. The AWD 60 kWh needs 5.7 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph and reaches a top speed of 125 mph. Those numbers mean the addition of AWD has enhanced acceleration by 0.2 seconds and top speed by five mph. Likewise, the range has increased from 208 to 225 miles for a single charge according to Tesla’s estimation.

2015 Tesla Model S High Resolution Exterior
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Moving over to the mid-range 85D model, similar drivetrain changes have reduced the time necessary for the sedan to complete the 0-to-60 mph run from 5.4 to 5.2 seconds. Top speed now sits at 155 mph, a hefty 30-mph improvement, while range has increased from 265 to 295 miles.

Lastly, there’s the P85D performance model that comes with an unprecedented level of power for the Model S. The P85D’s front motor cranks out 221 ponies, while the rear unit sends 470 horses to the pavement. The total output sits at an astonishing 691 horsepower, making the Model S quicker that a handful of supercars. Although top speed is electronically limited at 155, a 25-mph improvement over the RWD P85 model, the 0-to-60 mph sprint can be achieved in a blistering-quick 3.2 seconds. This figure makes the P85D a full second quicker than its RWD counterpart and the fastest-accelerating production sedan. The good news continues in the mileage department, as the P85D can cover ten extra miles over the standard model for a total of 275 miles on a single charge.

Drivetrain/Specifications

Model 60 kWh 85 kWh P85 kWh 60D kWh 85D kWh P85D kWh
Driving range 208 miles (EPA) 265 miles (EPA) 265 miles (EPA) 225 miles (Est) 295 miles (Est) 275 miles (Est)
Output 380 HP 380 HP 470 HP 376 HP 376 HP 691 HP
0 to 60 mph 5.9 seconds 5.4 seconds 4.2 seconds 5.7 seconds 5.2 seconds 3.2 seconds
Top Speed 120 mph 125 mph 130 mph 125 mph 155 mph 155 mph

Prices

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Pricing for the 2015 Model S begins from $69,900 before any incentives. For that sticker, customers get to take home the RWD 60 kWh version. The cheapest all-wheel-drive model, the 60D, retails from $75,070. At the top of the range sits the P85D version, which fetches $120,170, meaning the AWD system and all the new technology adds a $26,770 premium to the RWD P85 model. Performance doesn’t come cheap.

Tesla Models S 60 kWh Battery $69,900
Tesla Models S 60 kWh Battery AWD $75,070
Tesla Models S 85 kWh Battery $79,900
Tesla Models S 85 kWh Battery AWD $85,070
Tesla Models S P85 85 kWh Performance $93,400
Tesla Models S P85D 85 kWh Performance $120,170

Competition

Lexus LS 600h

2010 Lexus LS 600h
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No electric car today can honestly compete with the Model S, so you have to look into the world of hybrid sedans. One of them is the Lexus LS 600h, the most powerful hybrid that’s not a supercar. Motivating the executive is a 5.0-liter, V-8 engine that produces 389 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque, and two electric motors. One acts as a generator and engine starter, while the other one spins the rear wheels and handles regenerative braking.

Combined output sits at 438 ponies, which is enough to send it from naught to 60 mph in just under six seconds. Top speed is limited to 130 mph. As far as fuel economy goes, the LS 600h returns 19 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined. Pricing is set at $120,060, not exactly encouraging when compared to the P85D’s sticker.

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

2015 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The second high-performance hybrid sedan you need to consider is the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid. The new hybrid four-door shares its exterior and interior bits with its gasoline-powered siblings, but carries an electric motor under its shell. The 95-horsepower unit mates to the already familiar 3.0-liter, V-6 engine for a total output of 416 ponies and 435 pound-feet of torque.

Although its less powerful when compared to the Lexus, the Panamera S E-Hybrid is considerably quicker, needing only 5.2 seconds to get to 60 mph from a standing start. Its top speed sits at an impressive 167 mph, making faster than both the LS 600h and the range-topping Tesla Model S. The electric-only range is estimated at 22 miles and Porsche claims it can return 25 mpg combined using both gasoline and electric power. The base price of the Panamera S E-Hybrid is $96,100, but customers need to fork more than $130,000 with all the fancy options added.

Conclusion

2015 Tesla Model S High Resolution Exterior
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The 2015 Model S might look like the same all-electric sedan we’ve been getting since 2012, but Elon Musk’s brainchild enters a new era technology-wise. The year brings the highly anticipated AWD Model S to the market and a host of new and much-needed convenience and safety features. The 2015 updates improve the already spectacular Model S in nearly every aspect, and the lack of visual enhancements can be quickly forgotten considering the massive performance upgrades the all-wheel-drive system brought to the sedan.

Sure, the P85D is rather expensive compared to the RWD P85, but bear in mind that the former is quicker than the Corvette C6 ZR1 or the Ferrari 599 GTO from naught to 60 mph.

  • Leave it
    • * No visual updates
    • * Technology upgrades not available for older Model S’
    • * Expensive range-topping AWD model
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