TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker and becoming a Supporting Member. For more info: Support TMC

To D or Not To D - Driving Pleasure

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by Carl Leermakers, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. Carl Leermakers

    Nov 24, 2013
    After around nine months of people driving D's, and three years of people driving non-D's, and probably a lot of people who have switched between the two or have had loaners of the other type, and also knowing that statistics now say that around 70% of new Tesla buyers buy D's: what are the pro's and con's of D vs. non-D in terms of driving pleasure (i.e. not safety/range/acceleration/supercharging or whatever - but just driving pleasure!).

    I can imagine that:

    - a D would take you through a curve as if it were more glued to the road than a non-D;
    - a non-D would perhaps give a better feeling of what the front wheels are doing (even if they're probably doing their turning less efficiently);
    - conversely, the steering of a D would be a bit heavier and perhaps less responsive than that of a non-D;
    - a non-D would seem to accelerate more like a Ferrari, even if the D would beat the non-D by more than a second on 1-100km/h.

    What are your experiences?
  2. msnow

    msnow Active Member

    Jul 14, 2015
    Wouldn't agree with your 3rd and 4th points. Feels a lot more responsive to me, faster too. Also accelerates faster that a non-D IMHO.

    Increased range would be another plus. I'm sure others will chime in.
  3. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

    Sep 21, 2013
    San Mateo, CA
    I have driven both (2 years with my RWD S85, multiple hours in an 85D) and the only significant disadvantages I can see to the D version are:
    1) Increased cost
    2) Decreased frunk space
    Obvious multiple advantages: better handling, faster acceleration, increased range (more efficient).
    If I was buying a new or used S right now to replace my 2013 car I would definitely get a D. No question.
  4. Rockster

    Rockster Active Member

    Oct 22, 2013
    McKinney, TX
    Having owned P85's for more than two years and driven a number of D's, I'd definely choose a D for my next one, if possible. Even if I had to forego the "P" to do it.
  5. PJF000

    PJF000 Member

    Dec 26, 2015
    AWD's I find perform noticeably better than RWD's. The only factor I could see for not going D is price, but if you are splurging on a Tesla then don't hold back.
  6. Eclectic

    Eclectic Member

    Nov 8, 2014
    Bay Area & Montana
    I had a P85 for a year or so before getting the P85D at the end of 2014, so I've had about a year in each. Your first point is exactly the case. Your second point is not something I've experienced...I'd say front wheel road feel is about the same. The D's steering is not at all heavier than the P85, but it could likely be that the suspension settings have improved so much that any negative effect from the front motor has been counteracted. I haven't driven a Ferrari, so I can't say which one feels more like that car, but I really didn't like the way the rear of the non-D P85 stepped out under hard acceleration. So if a Ferrari tends to wag its butt really hard when you jump on the gas, then the non-D is similar to the Ferrari. The D is a much more manageable car under acceleration.
  7. NDR

    NDR Member

    Feb 5, 2015
    South Florida
    I own a P85D and have driven a 85 and P85 and an 85D extensively.
    I would without question rank the 85d over a p85 or 85
    Of course I would rank the P85D over all others.
  8. tiblot

    tiblot Member

    May 22, 2013
    Herndon, Virginia, United States
    So, I just upgraded from a early 2014 S60 --> late 2015 85D.

    The D has much, much better handling - noticeable in every way. It has a much better turn radius, tighter handling, and feels more like a sports car. The steering does NOT feel heavier at all, or less responsive. I can't really think of a disadvantage at all (except for cost obviously).

    Increased range over a RWD 85 is negligible. I never used the frunk so the loss of space didn't matter to me. These might matter to some people though.
  9. Muzzman1

    Muzzman1 Member

    Feb 8, 2014
    Los Angeles
    I drove 33k miles with my S85 before getting the 85D. In every single respect the D is better. For me it goes like this:
    1.) Significantly better acceleration from 0-60. 60-on the same. My S85 would plant you in the seat only if you "floor" it at about 40. The D does it from any speed starting at 0. (My P85D is on a whole different level in this regard, but It's not my daily car)
    2.) Better handling when you are putting it through its paces, with sharp turns and hard acceleration. The D rarely activates the traction control, while the S, pulls so much power for traction that it kills the momentum.
    3.) Im in SoCal, but drove my D all the way from Nebraska to bring it to CA. I drove through Colorado in a pretty nasty snow storm. I REALLY took it easy, but knowing the AWD was there gave me a much higher level of confidence. In the rain, I can barely break the wheels loose.

    I will never buy a non-D Tesla again. It's better in so many ways. WELL worth the extra $5K or whatever they charge for it now.
  10. jerry33

    jerry33 (S85-3/2/13 traded in) X LR: F2611##-3/27/20

    Mar 8, 2012
    When on trips, we use the frunk space all the time. It's nice to have zero luggage showing. There's also the motor noise of the front motor that some complain about (I don't have any experience with this).
  11. Niclas

    Niclas Member

    Jun 26, 2014
    Steering feel is superior on RWD. Quite a big difference imo. AWD steering feels synthetic. But AWD had better traction. Which is more important to you?
  12. Lee Tsui

    Lee Tsui Member

    Oct 2, 2014
    Hong Kong SAR China
    I've driven both (had a P85 loaner whilst my 85D was in repair for a week)

    I can say this hands down:

    D makes the car far more stable when rapidly accelerating p85 skid out alot when accelerating hard every time almost.

    Corners don't feel hairy in the D model as the car seriously grips to the road whereas you do feel a little skid out if accelerating whilst cornering with the RWD.

    Also I found that having the D drive train in the front made the car a little louder on the whizzing noise when accelerating hard. This for me just makes the car sound even more awesome, the regular P85 was a little quiter when accelerating.

    For me I would always choose the D model. Especially because in Hong Kong we have a lot of steep hills and rain, I couldn't get out of my car park even with the RWD model because it would wheel spin trying to exit it.

    I think also because of efficiency gains and better regen it's worth the D overall for me for one of those reasons alone.
  13. Zybane

    Zybane Member

    Oct 22, 2015
    Washington D.C.
    D con's:

    1. Less Frunk Space
    2. More whine
    3. More costly

    D pro's:
    EVERYTHING else.

    D is definitely the way to go. RWD is only for those that want the least expensive Tesla.
  14. eyespii

    eyespii Member

    Feb 6, 2015
    Orange County, CA
    The D has a much more noticeable and audible whine from inside the cabin compared to the non-Ds. It's not loud by any means (and certainly nowhere near the sound of an ICE), but I've had passengers ask about it.
  15. 3mp_kwh

    3mp_kwh Active Member

    Feb 13, 2013
    True. It is a faster car, in every respect but that isn't what you asked.

    I don't notice this as much, and bet a ball-jointed late S85 feels better than an early rubber S85, to be fair. I'm talking about the upper arms.

    There all pretty heavy, even in Comfort IMO, and all need excess effort to unwind.

    If you like the subtle experience of lifting before the apex, which lightens the rear end, and then exiting on throttle, go for the non-D. D's are more nannied. They don't allow you to turn traction control off, stability control interrupts sooner and power (especially off-apex) is influenced by the steering wheel's position. If getting close to traction limits is something you wouldn't dare try, then go for the D. We went for the D for AWD, and because a Tesla isn't a car I feel lulled into going that hard with. I've owned S, P, and PD 85's.
  16. Thud

    Thud Member

    Jun 25, 2014
    My next one will be a D (another MS or maybe model 3), but I can say after moving into a new house across town a couple weeks ago -- the enormous frunk really comes in handy when you have to haul cargo. I had my MS loaded up with more than my wife's MDX could handle. Multiple trips back and forth to move stuff that the movers didn't move.

    Let's see... on one trip my frunk contained 5 shelves of a wire shelving unit PLUS a wooden fold-up table (the "tv dinner" kind that serves one person), in addition to two large trash bags full of linens. You can cram a lot into that little microwave cubby. The rear seats were folded down and the back was completely full as well.

    Also keep in mind if you have the 3rd row seats and kids are sitting in them, the frunk is your only cargo storage.
  17. Zextraterrestrial

    Mar 11, 2010
    Humboldt/Los Altos
    this was my feeling too but I haven't autocrossed a P85D, only drove it a little bit. Feels like it pushes into corners a bit.
    but anything in a straight line under 30 mph is much better
  18. DMage

    DMage Member

    Dec 14, 2015
    Orlando, FL
    Not a lot of experience here, just recently drove the Model S for the first time. Ended up getting an extended loaner of a P85D for a few days. Realistically my budget is either a P85+ CPO or a 70D new. The performance and handling side of me says P85+, and the technology side says 70D for the AP.

    After driving a P85D for a few days, returning it, and then immediately driving a P85 for the first time, my feeling is - if you like to feel more involved in the car, and your idea of fun is spinning the rear tires and breaking loose a bit, the P85 (or P85+ in my case as I want the upgraded suspension) is the way to go. After doing a dozen insane launches for friends over my time with the P85D the car is amazing, planted, knows what it wants to do and where it wants to go, but almost felt too easy for me. Did I have a hell of a fun time with the launch? Of course. But, I never smiled as much as when I launched the P85 and had the rear tire spin.

    Just my opinion. Decided P85+ CPO is the way to go for me. Plus funds for rear tire replacements. :)
  19. Worand

    Worand Member

    May 14, 2015
    United Kingdom
    Have you tried it with range mode off. It's much more quiet.
  20. Eclectic

    Eclectic Member

    Nov 8, 2014
    Bay Area & Montana
    I have to update my response based on the trip I'm on right now. We were driving from the San Francisco area up the coast yesterday in some fairly wet weather. This is a trip we take often (up Highway 1 to Sea Ranch, specifically) but this is the first time we've done it during a real rain storm in the P85D (we've done the trip in rain in our previous P85 a number of times).

    About 30 miles from our destination there was a nasty accident that caused the CHP to close all of Highway 1 for several hours, so we had to find a side road to bypass the closed section of highway. The only available route included what can best be described as a glorified ranch road (Kruse Ranch Road). It's a one lane dirt road that descends from the forest above the Pacific to Highway 1 and in good weather it's probably an easy drive for a sedan. In a strong winter storm, however, it's a real mess. I hunt in this area and these wet ranch roads are a handful for a 4WD pickup, so I was a bit concerned about the P85D making it.

    I put the suspension at its highest setting and started the descent and I have to say that it was shockingly drama free. Considering this car does NOT have tires that are made for muddy trails, the fact that we didn't slide or lose traction once speaks volumes about the efficacy of Tesla's AWD system. The interesting thing is that the strong regen is almost the equivalent of having a low range 4WD in the mud...the car basically crawls itself down the trail so you don't have to hit brakes (which will cause slides) and you can just ease through corners with a touch of power to keep the wheels moving in the direction you want to go.

    Granted, this is not a normal use of a D, but you never know when you are going to get stuck in this type of situation. In addition, once we got back on Highway 1, the D excelled in some spirited driving on a wet road with sweeping turns. The old P85 was not confidence inspiring in those conditions.

    I guess if you like going sideways, the non-D is the way to go, but I'm actually floored by how well the P85D handles nasty trail conditions. It won't replace my F150, but it really got me thinking about how smart the regen system is for slow speed off roading.

Share This Page

  • About Us

    Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.
  • Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.