$45,980 - $64,821

2015 Tesla Model S Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 Tesla Model S was new.


Performance: 9.1

Critics write that the 2015 Tesla Model S is an incredible performer, with outstanding acceleration, a smooth, quiet ride and poised handling.

  • "The low-mounted battery makes it highly maneuverable, and the quick steering and excellent power delivery make it downright fun to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 2015 Tesla Model S is unlike every other electric car on the road. You may have experience with quirky podlike electric cars, electric golf carts or even economy car-based EVs, but the Tesla doesn't drive like any of those." -- Edmunds
  • "So yes, the battery architecture enables a level of performance, of over-the-road mastery, that is thus far unmatched by any other electric, and the S even betters many conventionally fueled cars." -- Car and Driver
  • "What sets the Model S apart from every other electric car on the market is that it matches or betters its gas-powered rivals in terms of performance, technology and value while requiring little compromise in terms of driving range." -- Left Lane News

Acceleration and Power 

The 2015 Model S 70D has two electric motors that provide 329 horsepower. It earns an EPA rating of 101/102 mpg-equivalent (mpg-e) city/highway and has a 240-mile range. The Model S 85 has a single electric motor and 362 horsepower, and it is rated at 88/90 mpg-e and a 265-mile range. The 85D model has two electric motors that produce 422 horsepower, and it is rated at 95/106 mpg-e and has a range of 270 miles. A single-speed transmission is standard on all models.

The high-performance Model S P85D model has two electric motors that generate 691 horsepower. According to Tesla, the P85D has a top speed of 155 mph and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds.

Reviewers report that the Model S has exhilarating power in all driving situations, especially when starting from a stop. They comment that the high-performance P85D model feels as quick as some high-performance supercars, although they add that continual enthusiastic driving will drain the batteries quickly. They note that the Model S is incredibly quiet at speed.

  • "Acceleration is both quick and eerily quiet. With all the torque being immediately available, under full acceleration it's like being shot out of a gun barrel -- with a silencer. The P85D model, in particular, provides supercar acceleration with an estimated 0-60 time of just 3.2 seconds and nearly 700 hp on tap. Energy use will suffer quite a bit if you're lead-footing it away from every stoplight, but getting up to speed quickly in the Model S is one of the most exhilarating experiences you'll ever have in a car." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2015 Tesla Model S P85D model offers three acceleration mode settings: Normal, Sport and Insane. Seriously, it has an 'Insane' mode, and a 5,000 pound electric car accelerating from a standstill to 60 mph in only 3.2 seconds is completely bonkers. That's not just quicker than virtually any other production sedan, it's quicker than a lot of so-called supercars as well." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Plentiful traction at the drive wheels means the Model S can take advantage of its electric powertrain's instant torque, beaming away from a stop like a big-block Chevelle on mute. You don't waste time shifting because, of course, there's only one gear." -- Car and Driver
  • "It goes beyond the impressive spec: It's the immediate rush of off-the-line acceleration that buries you in the backrest in ways gas-powered cars don't - even if their zero-to-60 times match." -- Cars.com (2012 Model S P85)

Alternative Fuels/Charging

The 2015 Tesla Model S is equipped with a charger that has adaptors for 110- and 240-volt outlets, as well as an adaptor for public charging stations. The Model S gets 3 miles of range for each hour of charging with a standard 110-volt outlet, according to Tesla, while a 240-volt outlet gets the Model S up to 29 miles of range for each hour it charges. An available dual charger provides 58 miles of range per hour of charge time when using a 240-volt outlet. Tesla also has supercharger stations throughout the country that provide 170 miles of range in 30 minutes. Supercharging capability and lifetime Supercharger access are standard on all models.

Handling and Braking

The Tesla Model S comes standard with all-wheel drive (the Model S 85 has rear-wheel drive). It also has an optional Smart Air Suspension system that raises and lowers the car's height based on driving conditions for a smoother, more streamlined ride. Test drivers think the Model S has incredibly poised handling when cornering, thanks in part to its low center of gravity. They add that the steering is precise, the ride is smooth and that the Model S' brakes bring the car to a stop quickly.

  • "Whether you're hustling down an on-ramp or meandering home from your tech incubator, the Model S feels through-bolted to the earth's mantle, its center of gravity close to the pavement. And because the weight is so low, Tesla can run softer springs while still preserving good roll control, so the ride is relaxed." -- Car and Driver
  • Braking is also praiseworthy, not just because the pedal feels like one from a conventional car, but also because it gets the Model S stopped with authority. The well-tuned steering and suspension further add to the experience, with a sharpness and accuracy not typically found in an EV. This big luxury sport sedan is good around corners, too, with the low-slung weight of the batteries keeping it balanced and the sharp steering giving the driver lots of feedback." -- Edmunds
  • "With the battery packs in the floor and no heavy combustion engine up front, the Model S retains a low center of gravity that, coupled with its quick steering ratio, permits extreme stability in turns with very little lean." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)
  • "The Model S Signature and Performance models ride on height-adjustable air shocks that soak up every bump. We didn't once encounter a pavement imperfection large enough to strike the bump stops. Body motions are controlled so well we had a hard time even noticing any." -- Road and Track (2013)

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