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Tesla Model S P85D reviews are in, and they are breathless

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Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP/File

(Read caption) Guest test-drive the new Tesla Model S P85D after Tesla Motors Inc., announced its new all-wheel-drive version of the Tesla Model S car in Hawthorne, Calif., last month. Car critics are raving about the Tesla Model S' latest iteration.

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Been searching for stratospheric levels of soaring, over-the-top, heavens-rattling hyperbole lately?  

You will do no better than the recent road test of the Tesla Model S P85D, published on Monday by Motor Trend.

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That's the new dual-motor all-wheel-drive version of its signature electric car, revealed last month by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.

MT writer Kim Reynolds liked the car, to put it mildly.

And he really liked its acceleration.

At the P85D's splashy intro event, Musk explained that the design goal of the P85D was to match the 3.2-second 0-to-60-mph time of the legendary $1 million McLaren F1 supercar--one of which Musk had owned (and crashed) in his younger days.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk reveals Tesla Model S 'D' all-wheel-drive system, Oct 2014

Reynolds was lucky enough to have tested the F1 back then, and described its 0-to-60-mph experience this way: "It was among the most shattering few seconds of my life ... I just hung on as the world melted into a smear ... Launch one of Musk's Falcon 9 rockets horizontally, and you'll get the idea."

(Not quite: A 0-to-60 time of 3.2 seconds equates to 0.86 G acceleration. A Falcon 9 v1.1 launched horizontally would theoretically pull about 1.15 G--the equivalent of 0 to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds. But who's counting?)

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Astonishingly, in the Motor Trend test, the Model S managed to beat the F1's time by one tenth of a second--without all the noise and commotion.

"It's instead a rail-gun rush down a quarter-mile of asphalt bowling lane," Reynolds writes.

Tesla Model S P85D leaked (Image via Tesla Motors Club)

"The torque impacts your body with the violence of facing the wrong way on the train tracks when the whistle blows." (We assume that means getting hit by a train from the rear.)

He goes on to say that the P85D's acceleration "slams the sense out of you ... you're not so much accelerating as (being) pneumatically suctioned into the future."

Insane mode

The P85D has three different driving modes: Normal, Sport, and Insane.  (Yes, it literally says "Insane" on the touch-screen mode selector.)

Comments Reynolds,   "...as insane goes, [the P85D] makes Charlie Manson look like Charlie Rose."

The Motor Trend test runs in the P85D were so fast that the magazine's high-frequency GPS data loggers couldn't keep up. It handily beat the fastest-accelerating sedanthat MT had previously tested, the Audi RS7.

(Ironically, the Audi A7 series is almost a gasoline clone of the Model S: a sleek five-door hatchback of virtually the same size, power, and price. Note to MT and other car magazines: How  'bout a side-by-side comparison test?)

An interesting tidbit from the article is a quote from Musk. He claims that, on average,Tesla implements 20 hardware changes per week (hopefully all improvements) on the Model S.

That amounts to 1,000 changes per year, and a total of 2,500 or so since production began.

Reynolds ends his article by effectively anointing the P85D the new king of the high-performance sedan world--currently populated by Mercedes-Benz AMG, BMW M, and Audi RS.

"Game over, guys," he writes. "The quickest accelerating sedan in the world isn't German anymore."

"It's from California. As they say in Palo Alto: Auf Wiedersehen!"


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