Tech

Tesla updates Autopilot

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Written by Kamil Arli

According to the Forbes’s writer Peter Lyon, the Tesla Model S is officially the world’s fastest road-going car.

Remember how 100-meter sprinting sensation Usain Bolt made history by shaving 0.14 second off his 9.72-second Olympic world record when he posted that earth-shattering 9.58-second time in Berlin back in 2009? What the newly updated pure electric Tesla Model S P100D has achieved is just as mind-bending. Maybe more.

It’s official folks. The new Model S is the fastest production car in the world. Company CEO Elon Musk recently tweeted that it will do zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, but with a downloadable software update called “Ludicrous +,” the luxury sedan could reach 60 mph in 2.4 seconds. However in a test that shocked the automotive world, America’s Motor Trend magazine conducted an independent test and managed to push the sedan to a sublime time of just 2.28 seconds, making Tesla’s Model S the quickest car ever.

Elon Musk recently tweeted that a software update called “Ludicrous +” would enable the luxury sedan to accelerate from zero to 60 mph of 2.4 seconds. Now that's quick.

Photo by Yoshitada Moro

Elon Musk recently tweeted that a software update called “Ludicrous +” would enable the luxury sedan to accelerate from zero to 60 mph of in 2.4 seconds. Now that’s quick.

 It’s faster than the Ferrari LaFerrari, Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Aventador or Porsche 911 Turbo S

That means it’s faster than the Ferrari LaFerrari, Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Aventador or Porsche 911 Turbo S. But we have to be careful here. The Tesla we’re referring to above is the latest Model S P100D sedan with the very latest “Ludicrous +” software, a combination that is not yet available in many markets.

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So let’s just turn the volume down a couple of notches and come back to the real world. The standard P100D, which I drove last week in Japan – and does have the “Ludicrous mode” (but not “Ludicrous +” which adds 33 hp), can blast through the 60 mph barrier in 2.7 seconds, which is plenty fast enough, thank you very much Mr Musk. Even that time is surreal and on par with Japan’s fastest machine, the Nissan GT-R.

 I engaged the Ludicrous mode

On a secluded straightaway that Tesla had set up for our zero to 60 mph test, I engaged the Ludicrous mode, put my head back firmly on the headrest – so I wouldn’t get whiplash – and floored the throttle. With absolute instantaneous acceleration as power leapt to all four wheels, every cell and strand of DNA in my body momentarily fused with my seat and the scenery started to blur. I was reminded of the Star Wars scene in which Han Solo punches his Millennium Falcon spaceship into hyperspace. The stars blurred and he and his cohorts were thrust to ridiculous speeds. Oh and yes, on my test, 60 mph came up in 2.7 seconds.

On the first 0-60mph sprint run, I forgot to press my head against the headrest on takeoff. Not a mistake you make twice.

Photo by Yoshitada Moro.

On the first 0-60mph sprint run, I forgot to press my head against the headrest on takeoff. Not a mistake you make twice.

The secret to the Model S’s incredible performance can be put down to two main characteristics

The P100D is the most advanced evolution of the Model S sedan to date. The secret to the Model S’s incredible performance can be put down to two main characteristics; its groundbreaking and sizeable 100 kWh battery pack that sits low in the car’s chassis, and the car’s 4WD powertrain featuring dual electric motors. Just to give you an idea of how far we’ve come in the last few years, the battery pack in a tiny Mitsubishi iMiEV electric car rates at 16 kWh, making the P100D’s battery more than six times more powerful.

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Even though the Model S weighs a hefty 2,242 kgs, the car’s total system power of 603 hp and 713 lb-ft of torque channeled through twin electric motors to all four wheels are more than enough to deliver world-beating sprint times. But if you’re willing to show restraint and drive with a feather-touch right boot at 65mph on a 70-degree day, then Tesla claims you can drive 337 miles per charge. Drop your speed back to 55mph and range jumps to 409 miles, while in heavy traffic with more regenerative braking you can extend your range even further. Those mileage figures are world-beating just like its 0-60mph time.

It often gets compared to other large luxury sedans like the BMW 5-Series or Audi A6

Given the Model S has four doors, it often gets compared to other large luxury sedans like the BMW 5-Series or Audi A6. But after a quick blast up a road in central Japan, I’d have to say this machine is more akin to the handling of a Nissan GT-R. It is not only lightning quick off the mark, but with its 4-wheel-drive grip on sticky 21-inch Michelin rubber, low center of gravity, sturdy chassis, well-sorted air suspension and responsive steering, the Model S handles like it should not.

With poise, precision and pace. Obviously it is heavy and does not have the chassis rigidity of the Nissan GT-R, but dare I say it? Pushed hard up a twisty mountain road, it could give the GT-R a real run for its money. If the Tesla had bigger brakes that is. It’s all about weight and power vs brakes. The Model S weighs around 500 kgs more than the GT-R and delivers roughly the same power but its brake package is significantly smaller. In normal driving conditions, the Model S delivers sufficient stopping power, but given its lightning quick acceleration potential, I’d like to see a bigger 6-piston caliper and larger rotor setup.

That acceleration time means the Model S is faster than the Ferrari LaFerrari, Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Aventador or Porsche 911 Turbo S.

Photo by Yoshitada Moro.

That acceleration time means the Model S is faster than the Ferrari LaFerrari, Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Aventador or Porsche 911 Turbo S.

The Model S is not just a pretty face with a bent for speed. It incorporates soft Nappa leather seats, brushed aluminum materials on the doors, the largest dashboard touch display on the planet, as well as an industry first – a bio-weapon defense mode. Yes, you read that right. Employing a system thought to be similar to that used on the U.S. president’s bullet-proof “Beast” limousine, the Model S has a medical-grade air filtration system which effectively stops all allergens, bacteria and God forbid, biological agents from reaching the cabin.

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 The AutoPilot system is by far the most advanced autonomous driving technology

Experienced on the original Model S, the AutoPilot system is by far the most advanced autonomous driving technology I’ve ever tried on a production car. It doesn’t just feature the common adaptive cruise control seen on so many other cars that accelerate and brake according to traffic conditions, but it will change lanes for you while watching your blind spots and even applies the emergency brake when you don’t. Only now, on the latest P100D, Tesla has upgraded the camera compliment – from one to eight – meaning that the Model S is not only the fastest vehicle on the planet but the car most likely to redefine autonomous driving in the next few years.

In Japan, China and Korea, both the Model S and Model X SUV are selling well. But because of its more appealing sedan-like proportions, better visibility and performance and more compliant ride, the Model S is the one leading the sales figures in most Asian countries.

About the author

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Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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