All variants use the same chassis, same rear-mounted electric motor driving the rear wheels. It's so high-tech, both inside and outside. An all-wheel-drive model is mooted for the end of the year, but there's no news about it for Australia just yet. The Model S tips the scales at just over 2100kg, so it's no featherweight, but most of that weight is made up by the low-slung lithium battery and shouldn't negatively affect the car's handling at all.
Australian warranty for the Model S covers a four year period as standard, or 80,000km of travel — whichever comes first. That warranty only covers the chassis and motor and interior, though; there's a separate battery warranty that guarantees 8 years of service or 200,000km of distance covered — again, whichever comes first.
There's a caveat: the majority of this info comes from the US version of Tesla Motors' website. Most figures are approximate until we can get Australian confirmation; you'll know as soon as we do. Until then, take it as a general overview of the difference between the cars.
Model S: 60kWh
The cheapest Model S to purchase, the base model car has a 60kWh battery capable of up to 370km range on a complete charge according to Tesla's testing (229mi, sitting on a constant speed of 89km/h). The US EPA more conservatively rates it at around 335km range (208mi). The electric motor is tuned for roughly 225kW, and it'll scoot from 0-100km/h in a spritely 5.9 seconds. The car is limited by its gearing to a 195km/h top speed.
At probably under $100,000, the 60kWh Model S really is priced to compete with the BMW 5 Series that most potential buyers will be comparing it with. Access to the Supercharger network is, at least in the US, an additional cost for 60kWh owners.
Model S: 85kWh
Stepping up to the 85kWh battery guarantees you another healthy dollop of range, with 480km of travel on a complete full charge (Tesla's ideal 300mi figure). The US EPA, again, says 425km is more realistic (265mi). Performance is similarly increased to a 5.4 seconds dash from a standing start to 100km/h, with a solid 270kW from the electric motor. Top speed rises to 200km/h, but we don't know whether it'll be limited when it arrives on Australian shores.
Supercharging is included in the price of the 85kWh Model S in the States; it should be the same deal here.
Model S: 85kWh Performance
Undoubtedly the coolest Model S on offer, the P85 takes the same underpinnings as the standard Model S 85kWh and tweaks the electrics for a ridiculous 4.2 seconds 0-100km/h. A solid 310kW and 210km/h top speed is possible with that battery and motor tuning combo, but it's not just a powertrain upgrade — you'll also be treated with some optional cosmetic tweaks like a carbon fibre rear spoiler and red brake calipers (because hey, why not?) and an alcantara interior roof lining.
Range is apparently the same as the non-Performance S85 — 480km at Tesla's most efficient driving, 425km using US government standard testing. Australia's climate shouldn't affect Model S range significantly — the car performs perfectly well in the chilly climes of Norway, where it's actually the best-selling car (on and off). You should get Supercharging as standard. Performance models also get priority delivery in the US, although we're not sure whether that'll apply to Australian customers — especially since any stock will be so limited for such a long time.
Model S: Optional Accessories
Like any luxury car, the Tesla Model S can be kitted out with a huge range of accessories and optional goodies. Here's an exhaustive list; you need some accessories selected to purchase others, so it's not as granular as it possibly could be, but you can still pick and choose from a goodly range.
There's a probably-about-$200,000-total Performance Plus pack for the top spec model — lucky owners of which refer to their cars as P85+s — that adds stiffer bushings and dampers, thicker anti-roll bars and stickier, wider rear tyres to the Model S's suspension setup. The adaptive suspension can be set to a stiffer, sportier mode that aids speedy cornering. You even get a 10-to-20km bump in maximum range.
Beyond the actual performance pack, you can kit the Model S out with a carbon fibre spoiler and shiny red brake calipers (only on the existing Performance 85kWh variant, though).
If you have a 60kWh Model S, buying access to the Supercharger network costs you a cool US$2000 — in Australia that should translate to around $2500, but don't expect the option any time soon, since we don't actually have any Superchargers installed anywhere just yet.
There's a nifty feature that installs a second internal charger in the circuitry of the Model S, doubling your at-home charge rate if you have the wiring to support it. It'll take quite a while to charge the Model S's capacious 60kWh or 85kWh battery, so dual chargers is probably a smart box to tick if you're planning on doing any long-distance driving.
There's a basic 40-amp charger included with the Model S, compatible with the single charger pre-installed in the vehicle. If you opt for a dual charger, you'll only get the higher maximum rate of charge by choosing the optional 80-amp external wall charger too.
Here's all the good stuff. The Tech Package has to be almost mandatory for the Model S, surely — it adds guaranteed mapping support for seven years (although we've heard the car might be moving to Google Maps soon), keyless entry, memory seats, heated electrochromatic side mirrors, LED running and cornering lights and so on.
You can add smart, computer-controlled air suspension to the Model S as long as you have the Tech Package, which lets you adjust the ride comfort and height of the Model S as you're driving around. This is one of those features that was probably going through a fair bit of ADR testing; we hope it's available in Australia.
Beyond the tech and suspension, the other big upgrade comes in the form of a more powerful 12-speaker sound system, which includes an 8-inch subwoofer (hidden somewhere) and promises a significant boost in audio fidelity. Various interior options let you make the Model S as plush inside as it looks outside — for example, there's a luxe nappa leather pack that covers the armrests, doors and steering wheel.
You can kit any Model S out with optional 21-inch wheels, although apparently the 19s give better range and a slightly comfier ride — they don't look as swish, though. Parking sensors, fog lamps, fancy interior lights, paint armor are all extras you can purchase when you're putting cash down for a Model S.