On the various Tesla forums there is a lot of discussion on merits of the Performance and Performance Plus options. I thought a blog post in summary of the differences would be helpful.
Speed – High performance drive inverter.
The performance option decreases the 0-60 mph time of the car from 5.4 to 4.2 seconds with the use of a high performance drive inverter. The torque ratings are 362hp for the 85kWh version and 416hp for the performance version. Conflicting accounts on the forums exist in what speed range the performance improvement exists. In comparison to the Roadster I drove for four years and my 85kWh battery version of the Model S, the clear difference to me is from 0-30 mph.
Since the Roadster was so new in the electric car world, I took a lot of people for rides. I am very familiar with the shrieks and fear of the acceleration off the block. I had to always search for an open stretch of road without traffic to demonstrate the amazing acceleration. Although the Model S without the performance option is very fast, in the 0-30 range the acceleration is simply not as fast. I do not notice the difference above 30mph.
Cost Difference Performance
The simple cost difference is $15K on the surface if you look at the package pricing of $72,400 vs $87,400. The performance package also includes the beautiful 21” tires for $3,500, napa leather for $1,500 (in 2013), and active air suspension for $1,500. Assuming you want all these options, the inverter costs $8,500 dollars.
A few cosmetic things are also included in the performance package: carbon fiber trim, contrasting piping on the leather trim and a Alcantara headliner. Alcantara has the look of suede but is made out of polyester and polyurethane. I personally don’t particularly care for the two toned leather treatment. I feel as it detracts away from the bare bones “Steve Jobs” aesthetic. I also did not find the carbon fiber or alcantara headliner trims compelling.
Cost Difference Performance Plus
Add in another $6,500 and you get improved handling, range and a more comfortable ride. Tesla has improved versions of dampers, bushing, stabilizer bars and tires. The improved acceleration occurs on low grip surfaces, and the range improves 6 to 12 miles.
Using the Higher Performance
I live in a community that has a fair amount of traffic, a ton of bicyclists, some pedestrians and fair amount of wildlife. For the most part it is simply unsafe to really enjoy the full performance aspects of a car. To show of the Roadster, I always had to search out an un busy stretch of the road. I am unlikely ever to go to a racetrack, and rarely go somewhere just to go on a drive without a destination.
Occasionally I do miss the full acceleration of the Roadster in cases where I am going from zero to freeway speed with no other cars in sight. I still get the G forces I like above 30mph. I can also pass other cars and get around them with more than enough ease and fun. On country roads it feels almost instantaneous to pass a slower driver.
Handling of the Standard 85kWh Battery
I am more than happy with the handling of the 85kWh battery version. I actually like the way it handles better than my Roadster. I have no interest in the performance plus for the type of driving conditions in my location. For handling, my biggest concern is simply the width of the car. I would prefer a car about 10” narrower. It feels like it takes up every inch of the road leaving no wiggle room.
I always consider the opportunity cost of spending money. Even if you have the available cash, how else could that money be used? Not necessarily for a purchase for yourself or those close to you but how about charity? $8,500 can provide 4,722 meals at the Star of Hope Soup Kitchen in Texas. $8,500 can keep a homeless person off the streets in Fort Lauderdale for 8.5 months. And the additional cost of both packages will increase your insurance by an amount.
Occasionally I had regret pangs in the first month not getting the performance version as it did miss the head snapping zero to 30. As a child I loved roller coasters. But after a while, I made the right decision for me. My driving conditions simply do not justify the opportunity cost of $8,500.
Since I initially wrote this post, I have driven a Performance Plus for 4 days. I have reviewed it on this post.