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Performance Plus (P85+) vs. Performance (P85) Test Drive and Review

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by Six, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. Six

    Six Member

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    #1 Six, Jun 11, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2013

    Comparison of a Tesla Model S Performance and Performance Plus

    One month ago today I took delivery of the first Tesla Model S Performance Plus in the Seattle area. I have made a couple of posts about it and posted a few pictures but thought I would take the time today to do a brief comparison review. The question I was most asked was: How did the improvements in the performance plus compare to the performance version of the Tesla? However, my only experience with a P85 was a single test drive months earlier and this did not really make a comparison possible. Today, thanks to my local Tesla store manager, after a month of driving the Performance Plus I had a chance to take a loaner P85 out for an hour or so. I drove the P85 on highway, on city streets, and on more rural hilly roads that I drive daily. I then drove the same route about 90 minutes later in my P85+.

    The Cars

    My Tesla is the P85+ version with 21" Michelin Pilot Sport tires with about 1700 miles and VIN # 10042.

    The test drive was a P85 with 19" tires (I am guessing Goodyear Eagles though I did not check) with about 7800 miles if I recall, and a VIN number of about 1247.

    The Route

    I drove in town, on Interstate highway, and up and down some steep hills with twisting roads that were not well traveled so I could push the car hard. I drove the route in the test P85 and then about 90 minutes later in my P85+ (and it is a route I drive frequently).

    Introduction

    First let me say the P85 drives amazingly well. It was a similar P85 test drive months earlier that convinced me to spend 3x more then I had ever spent on a car to buy my Tesla Model S. I do not need to sell anyone on the pure smooth acceleration of the Tesla. My favorite feature of the Tesla is the instant smooth power that is available at any time and at any speed, because of the lack of a transmission. When I first test drove the P85 I did not find the car lacking in any category. However, I had read magazine articles, dating back to last year, talking about Elon's personal upgraded car and when the chance to upgrade my Tesla order to the performance plus appeared I took it without a test drive.

    Prior to today's test drive I have spent a month driving my P85+ and loving every minute of it. The car drives like it is on rails. There are hills in my area that are steep with severe turns. I can throw the P85+ up the hills at maximum acceleration, slam in to a sharp turn and always feel in complete control. The steering is very stiff (in sport mode) and amazingly responsive. The acceleration, as any Tesla driver, knows is stunning. The only comparison I have is to the Linear Induction Motors that launch the top tier roller coasters, silently and instantly to high speed.

    I had read articles that described a "slight sway" when a Tesla changed lanes quickly, this did not apply to my P85+. While I wonder about the marketing on the Tesla Motors web site that claims that the performance plus package offers "super-car handling", I think it is amazing how much of a sport car feel can be transferred to the Tesla which is a very large and very heavy luxury sedan. I have no complaints about my car, its performance or handling, none.

    The Test Drive

    Based on memories of how much my initial Tesla test drive impressed me months ago, I was expecting that the P85 would show just minor differences with my P85+. I was wrong.

    Immediately I noticed a dramatic difference in the steering and handling, this was apparent in even slow driving in city streets. I was convinced that the P85 Tesla must not be in sport mode. I brought up the display and sure enough it was already in sport mode. So I drove some more. The P85+ steering in sport mode is very stiff but very precise, with great feedback and the ability to move the car quickly and exactly around corners, in turns and in lane changes. The performance plus has great handling. The P85 was fine but just not in the same class. As an example I actually began to wonder if test drive cars were maybe always locked in standard mode even if set to sport or comfort. I went so far as to shift steering modes several times between Sport, Standard and Comfort and sure enough it changed the steering feel and responsiveness. So back into sport mode it went. The precise steering is what I would miss most if I had to switch to a P85 full time from my performance plus. I have no idea how much of the steering differences were from the performance plus package, tires, or changes that were made to cars from when the 1247 VIN car was produced to my 10042 VIN which was built in May. I even hesitate to post this information at all because the last thing I want to do is make anyone have any concerns about the wonderful Tesla Model S they currently have or may soon buy. But for me the steering and handling was a big difference. A difference that anyone would notice immediately when driving the two cars. But like any difference some people may find the sport mode steering in the P85+ too stiff and too responsive.

    During the test drive I drove at highway speeds and purposely made hard and abrupt lane changes. The P85 had a very slight sway or over correction. It felt like when I quickly changed lanes the body went just a few inches further then "bounced back". My description here is more dramatic sounding them the actual feel in the car. I am just trying to give people an idea of what the differences were. This slight "sway" is not felt in my P85+ but in my opinion this is a minor difference. I am sure if I had not been used to the P85+ and looking for differences I would not have noticed it for a while. (i.e. this is a difference that I found by looking for a difference. Unlike the steering difference that I noticed immediately).

    The last major aspect of the test drive was driving at maximum acceleration up a hill and purposefully hitting the turns very hard. In this case the minor differences I notice in the side-to-side suspension while lane change became more pronounced. I am not sure the car had that much more sway then lane changing on the highway. But that small extra side to side movement going into a sharp turn at speed came back to me as a driver as a feeling of less control. It gave me the impression that there was movement that I did not want and thus I felt less in control. I don't think the car was any less safe or stable then the P85+ but just felt that way. The P85+ takes high speed turns as if it was on rails, in the P85+ I felt in complete control even when taking the corners at speeds much faster then posted.

    The one area I did not get to test much was straight ahead acceleration. (What is more sad then being first in a lane at a red light, on a road with a 55 MPH speed limit and no traffic ahead, where a 4.5 second 0-60 stares you right in the face, and in the lane next to you ..... A POLICE CAR).

    I will say that a P85+ floored at a light with no traction control activation and maximum acceleration is completely smooth, no dips, no side motion, nothing except smooth instant acceleration. Acceleration that HYPOTHETICALLY could keep you right on the tail of a Porsche sports car trying its best to pull away from you as the light goes to green and it can't gain an inch. Or (also hypothetically) chasing down another Porsche from on ramp to empty highway so smooth that a glance to the speedometer somehow shows 95 when it felt like 55. Not that I know any of this first hand :)

    Driving Same Route in a P85+

    About 90 minutes after the P85 test drive I drove the same route in my P85+. This basically just confirmed my memories of P85+ handling that I describe above.

    Steering and handling in a P85+ is tight and near perfect in sport mode. The P85+ had rock solid lane changes, and gave another drive up a sharply turning hill road as if on rails.

    The Tesla web site says of the Performance Plus:

    Performance Plus takes one of the world's best sedans into supercar handling territory, while also improving ride quality and range

    I certainly agree the Tesla Model S is one of the world's best sedans. I am less sure if it is into the supercar handling territory, but it handles extremely well. I can definitively say that the VIN 10000, P85+ I drive is a very significant upgrade to VIN 1250 era P85 I drove today. A bigger improvement then I expected. I can not say how much of that is because of the performance plus package, the improved tires or changes in Model S production in about 5 months between the builds. I would guess a lot of it is the performance plus package and improved tires.

    Advice for People Who have not yet Ordered

    If you are planning on ordering a P85 with 21" wheels: Buy the Performance Plus. Its incremental $6500 price above what you have already ordered is well worth it IMHO. Have fun, take a test drive if you can find a P85+, but I do not think you need to, order with confidence.

    If you are ordering a P85 with 19" wheels, then the incremental cost rises to $10000. In addition you have to figure in some of the down sides to 21" tires. The low profile tires provide a somewhat rougher ride (though still quite smooth), are much more expensive to replace, you have to replace them more frequently, and they are more susceptible to road hazards. At this point I would suggest you try and find a P85+ to test drive if you think you can afford the difference.

    If you are ordering a 60 or regular 85 then the incremental price becomes quite large ($25,000 or more). It is really difficult to suggest a change just for the performance plus. (and you may be better off not knowing what you are missing so be careful of a test drive :))

    Thoughts for existing Model S Performance Owners

    Based on the P85 test drive and a month of driving my performance plus I can say that the difference between the two cars I is significant. This I am sure is a combination of the improved suspension and handling that comes with the performance plus package, the 21" performance tires, and probably the differences of my car being built 8500 cars later in the production cycle. I am not sure how much each of these contribute.

    So it is a good news/ bad news story I am afraid. The good news is the best car out there just got better, the bad news is we do not know how effective the proposed upgrade package will be. If they can get close to the improved handling and steering and tighten up the feel of the slight sway by even 50% of the factory performance plus version I think the upgrade could be a very good improvement. Tesla has said they think they can get roughly 80% of the plus package benefits in an upgrade. Though unfortunately at a fairly high upgrade cost of $13,500, if I recall. I really hope an upgrade package is available soon so people can test it and find out.

    If you have the resources and a strong desire to have the best possible Tesla Model S you will not be disappointed in the P85+. I think you will find it worthwhile to try and find a P85+ you can test drive in your area.

    Unsolicited advice for Tesla Motors

    I believe Tesla Motors should keep at least one Performance Plus test drive demo car available in its key regions (SF bay area, So Cal, Seattle, NY, etc.) Not only can this demo car help make new sales, but I believe it can also save possible lost sales as well. Most drivers will be amazingly impressed by a P85 test drive. A P85 drives better then other top luxury sedans. But I believe Tesla will find some drivers who will not step up to buy unless they have a car with a "sportier, tighter" feel. In those cases Tesla can break out a test drive in the regional P85+ test car.

    Tesla should as quickly as possible do a sample upgrade or two of existing P85s to performance plus using the upgrade package. They should focus on what they can do to improve the steering and handling in addition to the work on the suspension. Then let current P85 drivers have test drives and post the results. I am optimistic that if done with care the upgrade can give existing owners a chance to get a significant percentage of the improved performance plus experience. But this will only be known when the upgrade is done and tested.

    Final Thoughts

    Procrastination is usually a bad thing, but in my case waiting to place my order for a Tesla Model S worked out really well. At first delaying my order seemed to only have a down side since I waited until the price hikes were in place. But the delay allowed my to order the color I wanted (multi-coat red). Then the delays in getting the multi-coat red Teslas produced allowed me to pick up the performance plus package when it was announced. I was probably only a couple of days from having my car in production at the factory when the Performance Plus Package was announced. Luckily I decided to order it and Tesla allowed me to change my order at the last minute. I am very glad I did, never more so then today. Driving my Tesla is crazy fun each and every day. I am looking forward to being in the BC2BC EV Rally in July and driving the Tesla from the Canadian border to the Mexican border and back.
     
  2. Aussie

    Aussie Member

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    Thanks for the review, Six! Makes me want to upgrade my P85 and give it a little +.
     
  3. Blurry_Eyed

    Blurry_Eyed MS Sig #267, MX Sig # 761

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    #3 Blurry_Eyed, Jun 11, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2013
    I thought I would chime in here and that it would be worth it to double post this reply both here and in the P85+ in the real world thread (Mod's feel free to delete or merge if you think appropriate). I did the exact opposite today. I have a P85 and test drove a P85+ today for about an hour as well. I would agree with everything that Six said and add the following (again sorry for the double post, but I thought it would be helpful for current and prospective owners to have this in both threads):

    WARNING, READING THIS MAY CAUSE YOU TO SPEND MORE MONEY ON YOUR MODEL S!

    My car is a P85 (Vin #532) with 21 inch Continental tires all around.

    Update: I did some critical driving in my P85 after driving the P85+ and I think I found why I felt more confident in the P85+. For me it comes down to this: I perceive less pitch, roll and yaw in the P85+ when compared to my P85.

    Example 1: Under hard straight line acceleration: The P85 will pitch slightly nose up at first and then settle relatively level while under constant load, then when you lift off the accelerator it will pitch slightly nose down. I didn’t perceive nearly as much nose pitch up or down while under acceleration or while under regen. I believe that gave me a perception of more straight-line acceleration because I was pushed directly back into the seat of the P85+.

    Example 2: Under hard acceleration in a sweeping turn: My P85 has a bit of roll and a bit of yaw when cornering hard. Also when I start to lift off the accelerator, the car rolls and yaws in the opposite direction it was going while under load and depending on how aggressively I lift off, the opposite direction roll and yaw can require a bit of attention to correct for. No real roll or yaw to speak of in the P85+. It seemed very neutral regardless of the accelerator position and that inspired more confidence in me as a driver. Now I don’t know if it actually leads to better actual cornering for a skilled driver, but for the average driver, I would say a car that inspires more confidence allows the average drive to push the car more and control the car better because it isn’t doing something you have to correct for plus it just feels more solid.

    Example 3: Quick left to right turns: My P85 has roll and yaw that are apparent when doing such maneuvers. The car can be a bit like a see-saw (which some people have described as a float or wallowing feeling). Again, the P85+ has minimal roll and yaw under quick turns (at least compared to the P85). I felt very confident in the P85+ and not as confident in my P85.

    Now realize that this is all relative. I feel like the P85 is a very competent handling car and I enjoy driving it tremendously, but now that I have a P85+ as another data set to consider, my P85 is no longer my reference standard.

    I also think Tesla achieved a minimization of pitch, roll and yaw in the P85+ without sacrificing any ride comfort or quality. In fact, I think the lack of pitch, roll and yaw while maintaining ride compliance actually improves the ride quality. The additional movement that is in the P85 suspension causes the body to pitch, roll and yaw over bumps and road imperfections more than the P85+. It’s this additional movement that causes me to perceive the ride quality to be lower in my P85. I feel the car shudder and undulate a bit more over bumps and I feel it roll and see-saw more over uneven roads compared to the P85+. I don’t know much about suspension setups, so I’ll leave it to the experts in the forum to come up with the technical reasons on how Tesla achieved this, but achieve it they did and I’m impressed.

    I could see how some might feel that the lack of movement of the car over varying road surfaces might make the car feel numb. But I think the car feels solidly connected to the road like it’s on rails and your steering inputs direct the rails in what ever direction you want the car to go.
     
  4. CapitalistOppressor

    CapitalistOppressor Active Member

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  5. dennis

    dennis P85D

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    I've been lobbying for the past month to get an Upgraded P85 for demos in the SF Bay Area. Spoke with Ownership, local sales, local service manager, regional sales manager and Performance Plus program manager. All have been supportive so I think it is just a matter of time and resources.
     
  6. Six

    Six Member

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    I considered posting in an existing thread, I know we do not want to clutter the forum with duplicate topics. However, given the number of requests here and in the teslamotors.com forums for a direct comparison and review of the performance plus vs. the performance model S, I thought it would be better to post in its own thread. I worried that it would be hidden and not easy to find in a longer, multi-topic, older thread.

    But I leave it to the moderators to make a final decision.
     
  7. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    Thanks for great review(s)!

    I keep wondering how much of the difference can be attributed to the upgraded suspension and how much to the 21" wheels with wider rears. I'm guessing the suspension is the important factor. I absolutely did not want 21" wheels and hence have a regular P85 on order. I wish that Tesla had offered upgraded suspension without 21" wheels in the same package. I will look in to aftermarket upgraded, or whatever Tesla may offer as later upgrades.
     
  8. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    Johan,
    One small data point on wheels/tires. My test drive was a P85 with Continental tires on 21" rims. My car was delivered with Pilots on 21" rims. The Pilots provide a much better feel in comparison to the Continentals with less sidewall flex. It was immediately noticeable even after the several month gap from driving the Conti shod car.
     
  9. swegman

    swegman Member

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    That is my thought also. My car originally had the Conti's. The SC replaced them with the Pilots for me, which I feel provides better handling. So I am still left wanting to know whether the difference Six describes is due to the tires (the P85 he drove had 19 inch tires, not even the 21 inch Contis) or the suspension changes.
     
  10. GlennAlanBerry

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    I would suspect that quite a bit of the difference is due to the different tires and wheel size. If someone could drive a P85 and a P85+ with the exact same tires and wheels, back to back, that would eliminate a huge variable and focus on the suspension differences. Even better would be a blind test, where the driver does not know which one they are driving until after the drive and after they have given their impressions of the drive.
     
  11. johnmodels

    johnmodels Member

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    Thank you SO much for your review. I love to hear the contrast and am considering a + for my second MS. I have a S85 now. Mine came with the 19's (which I later upgraded to staggered 20's). Those tires are anything BUT performance. They are all-weather goodyears. I test drove a P85 with 21's and bought a S85 with 19's and the ride was night and day. Cornering had twice the sidewall flex, roll and pitch. Since everything else was the same, that can be contributed SOLEY to wheel/tire combination. Now that the + had pilots and wider rear wheels with the 21" combo I can only imagine that with nothing else done to the suspension the review would be raving compared to the 19's.

    Has anyone compared a P85 with 21's with a P85+ with 21's?

    FWIW I also have a e92 M3 with Bridgestone RE11's as tires. I have tried Handcook as well as other mid-grade (no offense) tires. Simply changing the tires completely changes the handling and feel of the car, especially if the car in performance oriented!!!
    john

    - - - Updated - - -

    OK that's weird!!! We were thinking the exact same thing and placed the post at the same time! LOL

    John
     
  12. Kaivball

    Kaivball Member

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    There is definitely a difference in driving dynamics between 19" Contis and 21" Pilots.
     
  13. DrComputer

    DrComputer Member

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    Tires do make a big difference to handling. I have a P85 with the original Continental tires. My rear tires were getting pretty warn and just had them rotated. Prior to rotation when accelerating from a dead stop I would get brief tire spin and traction control correcting. Now after rotation to tires with more tread I can stomp on it and get no tire spin. So comparing a P85 with 19" tires to a P85+ with 21" wider tires isn't really the best comparison.
     
  14. Blurry_Eyed

    Blurry_Eyed MS Sig #267, MX Sig # 761

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    I have a P85 with the 21" Continental tires and drove the P85+ for about an hour yesterday. Here are my thoughts:

    P85+ in the real world - Page 15 (Post #147)
     
  15. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    in clarification, my comments were based on 21" contis on the test drive car and 21" Pilots delivered on my car; the rim size was the same with only a brand change.
     
  16. ckessel

    ckessel Active Member

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    I'm envious since the P85+ wasn't available when I got to purchase. Then again, the P85 was already a bit beyond a stretch so I wouldn't have gotten the + anyway.
     
  17. Zextraterrestrial

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    My 19" 275 potenza re11 rears compared to the 21" contis (hankooks now) don't even compare. Tires make a huge difference! The 245 potenza on fronts also makes a giant difference in road feel and steering. I'll let everyone know my real impressions of a standard P 19" staggered setup after autoX this weekend since I had the 21" conti's the first time I autox'd ..

    I never planned on the P either and am pretty glad the + wasn't available in December because I would have needed to sell some T stock
     
  18. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    I'm a little slow and thus a bit confused by the numbers you're providing. Exactly which tires/rims do you have on the front and rear of your car and what have been your observations with different combinations?
     
  19. dennis

    dennis P85D

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    I own a P85 with 21" Contis and test drove a P85+ with 21" PS2's. The handling of the P85+ is amazingly better. My post on the comparison is here.

    I spoke to a product manager at Tesla HQ about the contributors to the improved handling of the P85+. Here is his take:

    40% - New control arms and links with revised bushings
    40% - PS2's including wider rear tires and wheels
    20% - Revised dampers and sway bars

    That implies that the P85 retrofit will provide 80% of the improvement of the P85+. None of us have been able to verify that yet because AFAIK there are no P85 retrofit demo cars available.
     
  20. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    @dennis - Which 20% is missing from the retrofit?
     

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