Update: Newest Tesla Model S Is Semi-Autonomous, P85D is World’s Fastest Accelerating Sedan

By Bradley Iger

October 10, 2014

With every bold claim made and delivered upon, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk inches closer to becoming a modern day Howard Hughes (sans the socially crippling OCD). Back in September, Musk proclaimed that Tesla would be producing fully autonomous vehicles by the close of the decade, an assertion that seemed lofty at best. But at last night’s unveiling of the newest product from Tesla Motors, the all-wheel-drive Model S “D”, not only did Musk unveil the quickest production sedan from 0-60 mph that money can currently buy (in the form of the top-spec P85D), he also debuted the semi-driverless operation features of the new car – features installed in every new car rolling out of the factory as of two weeks ago – by letting each P85D at the event drive itself around a road course set up at Hawthrone Municipal Airport.
To begin, the D stands for “Dual” – as in dual motors. There will be three trim levels of the D, and each will carry a smaller motor up front driving the front wheels. The new motor outputs an additional 188hp in the 60D and 85D, and 221hp in the P85D, bringing the high performance model (with combined with its 470 hp motor out back) up to Dodge Charger Hellcat levels of grunt at 691 horsepower and 687 pound-feet of torque.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the P85D is fast – really fast. Musk said that Tesla used the legendary McLaren F1 supercar as a performance benchmark, and it shows. 0-60 mph is dispatched in 3.2 seconds, quicker than any other production sedan currently on sale. The quarter mile is taken care of in 11.8 seconds, and the P85D tops out at 155 mph. The P85D also comes with a unique suspension tuning, 50/50 weight distribution, and yields 1G of maximum lateral acceleration.
Despite the additional mass, all D models also get a 10 mile bump in range due to the all-wheel drive system’s real time intelligent power distribution, bringing the 60D, 85D and P85D ranges up to 225, 295 and 275 miles, respectively.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the D is the new Autopilot features Tesla also debuted during the unveiling. After showing off the formidable launch capabilities of the P85D, the car is placed into a semi-autonomous mode which utilizes cameras and 360-degree sonar to interpret the situation around the car and act accordingly. The system is capable of adjusting vehicle speed according to road signs, making lane changes by just moving the turn signal, keeping the car on the correct path on a curvy road, and coming to a complete stop in traffic, all without any input intervention by the driver.
Most importantly, this isn’t a prototype demo – this tech is installed on every new Tesla car rolling out of the factory, right now. Check out the video below to see the P85D in action: