P85+ Loaner Report

My car unfortunately or fortunately had to go in for service.  Fortunately, the valet brought me a new P85+ loaner as the service was likely going to take more than one day.  In the end, I had the loaner car for four days.  This car has two significant differences between my own car.  The “P” part or faster motor and the “+” part for the improved handling.  This post will discuss the overall differences between my S85, the P85+, and the Roadster.  The second half will discuss other observations driving a different and newer car.

I decided to give my loaner a true test drive and headed over on some very winding roads over to the beach on a truly gorgeous day.   I ended up driving on a lot of twisty roads, a fair amount of freeways on subsequent day, and did run some errands in town on another day.  The paperwork with the loaner that you sign does say you can’t go over 80mph.  With the roads around here being relatively busy at all times during the day,  I find it difficult to go that fast but just following traffic at one point I did go 79mph.

Loaner at the Beach

Loaner at the Beach

My first impression driving the car is that for some reason this car is noisier than mine.  The noise could be from the tires or the suspension.  I would by no means call it “noisy” but my particular car is almost bubble silent.

On several occasions, I started from a dead stop to test out the low end acceleration.  Yes, definitely faster than my 85 but not nearly as elegant or fast as the Roadster.  The front end tips up a bit and the back wheels can slip a bit from a dead start particularly if you are turning.   I had a hard time finding places to accelerate on the four drives I took in the loaner car. I am not as crazy with the acceleration on the Performance as I was with the Roadster.  The Roadster had no awkward movements out of the gate, just pure complete straight shot.  I can’t replicate that exact same feeling with the Performance.

But I think I am in some ways comparing roller coasters and everyone has their favorites.  Flooring the vanilla 85 is still pretty darn fun and has no awkwardness and saved me money.  At least in the area where I live, I find it hard to take full advantage of this kind of acceleration and did not feel compelled to buy a Performance version.  I also like having a vehicle that I can floor without any likely jolts, noises or significant tire wear.

On the other hand, I love the “+” part of the equation and found it a reasonable price performance improvement for $6,500.  I went on some very windy roads that fortunately had very little traffic.  The “+” just really grips the road in a way my 85 with 21” wheels does not.  I think an interesting option would be to get the “+” without the “P”.  On my first long drive on very windy roads, I really enjoyed the “+”.  The third drive I was just doing a simple errand.  I started to really notice the uneven pavement on the roads I was driving on.  I actually missed the smoother ride of my vanilla 85 as the “+” felt rough in a reminiscent way of my Roadster.  Four years in driving my Roadster, I never took it on an overnight road trip.   Partially because the likely need to think about charging it, but more so because of the non-luxurious ride.

Since most of my driving is somewhat ordinary with a fair amount of traffic even during non-commute hours, I would find it quite challenging to find moments to utilize the capabilities of the “+”.  Perhaps up to once a month I travel on some twisty roads.  In these situations, I would prefer a “+” as it really handles these roads with a nice tight grip.  But my vanilla 85 also handles the roads very well.

Probably even more important for me is I do enjoy long road trips.  I think the overall profile of the vanilla suspension is much smoother and more appropriate for these kinds of trips.  So for me personally, I would still purchase the same car configuration if the plus had been available.  I am still interested in test driving a vanilla 85 with the new 19” wheels though.

One of 8 parking sensors

One of 8 parking sensors

A few other small notes on this newer Model S.  The valet service left the car in my driveway and I drove it about an hour later.  The temperature outside was about 70 degrees.  I was surprised how warm the car was already, definitely warmer than my grey car with a black interior.  So at least from this small data point, the exterior color seems to influence the warmth of the car more than the interior color.  I am still not particularly fond of the high contrast between the tan leather and the black interior elements.  I like light interiors but the Model S has far too much black on the doors, on the dash and on the floors to truly be a tan or grey interior option.  Whether or not the headliner is Alacantra or not, I really did not notice or care.

This car had several new features:  the parking sensors and the yacht floor.  Four little holes are in the cars bumpers for the parking sensors but I don’t think the software is yet available as I did not hear any audible clues nor could I see any dash indicators when pulling out of my driveway.  The physical parking sensors are visible but are not obvious.  The front bumper also is my least favorite part of the Model S from an aesthetic point of view with or without parking sensors.

The yacht floor has some trim in the floor between the seats where the standard configuration is black carpet which honestly I never notice as it is so dark or has a few items lying in it like a sunglass case and a phone.  I would not pay $500 for this feature.  I am more interested in a console where I can store these things

Yacht Floor Option

Yacht Floor Optionaway from sight.

The more obscure change I noticed was the change in cup holder design.  I love my cup holders.  They work perfectly for reusable containers and reusable coffee cups.  They have some nice cinchers that grip the containers.  The newer cup holders are the same size but don’t have cinchers!  My reusable water bottle was flying all around the loaner car.  I had to take it out of the cup holder and leave it on the seat as the noise was quite irritating.

Just for fun, I also took detail notes after charging it to a full non-range charge and this car with less than 1,000 miles charged to 237 miles.  The previous drivers also had kWh / mile usage of over 370.  My number was lower than that as I ended up behind some slow cars on the drive back from the beach and with freeway driving the car is reasonably efficient.

A handful of other folks with low VINs have stated that the build quality seemed better on their loaner.  I did not notice any difference in my 04xxx car and the 16xxx loaner.

I hope this review is helpful for new buyers in choosing between the different 85 versions.  I had also wrote this post when the new options were first announced.  The earlier post provides a general overview of the different 85 models.

Cup Holders With Cinchers

Cup Holders With Cinchers

Beautiful Bumper

Since the Tesla is such a small car, I found myself in a parking lot watching someone back into me through the rear view window.  I saw them backing into me and honked.  Fortunately they hit my bumper at only 1 or 2 mph.  With the fabulous bumper technology today, neither car had any damage at all – not even a tiny scratch.  The biggest lesson is how invisible the Tesla can be to other drivers.

The Offender

The Roadster was a bit dirty but not even the tiniest scratch.

Not Even the Smallest Scratch

Bumper Curb Clash

Tesla Bumper Next to a Concrete Curb

The Tesla Roadster is a very low car and the bumper has only 5.1″ of clearance.  The scariest thing on the road may be the concrete curbs in parking lots! Many of these curbs can scrape the bottom of the bumper instead of hitting the tire.

The curb in the picture to the right is a concrete curb protecting a tree.  The concrete shape is a square set on a diagonal.  The car itself meets the curb at a 45 degree angle.  As you can see from the photo, the Tesla will have a very difficult time clearing many of these curbs.  The clearance can especially be a problem when the parking spot is not completely flat, which can drop the Roadster’s effective clearance below five inches.  After a scrape or two at the bottom of my bumper, I have learned to park the car near the back of the parking spot.