The car that (almost) drives itself

The Tesla Model S can change lanes without the driver touching the wheel. It's able to keep pace with surrounding traffic, which partially offsets the need for braking and accelerating. It can even hold its position in a lane. And it does all of this autonomously via a sophisticated mix of software, cameras and 360-degree sensors.

2016 tesla model s p90d interior

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How good is it? Here's what drivers say.

"The Model S positions itself nicely in the lane, maintains a safe gap between other vehicles and constantly monitors the surroundings in a way which cultivates trust."
— Sam Charlwood,

"The thing is, Autopilot seems so bloody good that, after a short while, you gain faith. The way it scribes an arc around sweepers without pinballing from left to right within its lane is hugely confidence-inspiring."
— Andy Enright, Wheels Mag

"It’s very smooth in autopilot mode, although there are a couple of quirks I'm not convinced about."
— Ollie Marriage,

Prepare for Ludicrous Speed

Dubbed Ludicrous mode, this astonishing extra will get the Tesla Model S from zero to 100km/h in 3.0 seconds. The car will reach 161 km/h (100mph) in 7.7 seconds; which for reference is about as fast as the Dreamworld Tower of Terror thrill ride. Unlike the ride, however, the Tesla will go on to a top speed of 250km/h.

2016 tesla model s p90d driving

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Of course, there are very few places where you can safely and legally reach these speeds. But, if you're an adrenaline junkie, with access to a race track and a large bank account, this very well may be the new performance vehicle of choice.

How it feels according to the drivers

"The car basically goes from standstill to warp speed in the time it takes to blink. It's a mind-blowing, face-wobbling, trouser-threatening experience."
— Leon Poultney,

"A full ­cardiac work-up is recommended for ­anyone interested in experiencing Tesla’s ­latest abuse of common sense."
— Don Sherman,

"It’s astonishing. There’s no wheelspin, just an electrical whine and this vast, even pressure shoving you forward. It’s utterly relentless up to about 70mph, but after that it starts to tail off."
— Ollie Marriage,

A futurist's dream

Just about everything on the Tesla Model S P90D looks as if it's from the future. From the sleek body shape to the 17 inch touchscreen bolted directly into the dash, the whole car exudes modernity. Both inside and out, it's quite unlike any other four door saloon on the market. It's striking and unlikely to be mistaken for one of its combustion engine counterparts.

2016 tesla model s p90d alloys

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2016 tesla model s p90d console

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The critics verdict

"Elon Musk has once again given the world a car that is among the most thrilling things on the road, not just for what it delivers, but for what it promises."
— Alex Davies, Wired

"No production car can astonish quite like the Tesla Model S P90D. (...) Autopilot and Ludicrous mode together combine to make internal combustion rivals feel utterly antediluvian."
— Andy Enright, Wheels Mag

"This Tesla’s exploitation of Newtonian physics tops anything you’re likely to encounter this side of an amusement park or the Navy’s flight school."
— Don Sherman,

2016 tesla model s p90d rear

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In closing

The 2016 Tesla Model S P90D is a premium-priced performance vehicle, with future trimmings and everyday practicalities. It's a car that demonstrates what is possible with the latest computers and technology. While its price tag puts it out of reach for most Australian drivers, it is an exciting look at what could be the future of automotive vehicles.