Like every Tesla Model S, the 70D’s acceleration is instantaneous and unending. With no shift points or drops in torque, planting your right foot forces your passengers into their leather seats as the numbers on the digital speedometer soar. All-wheel drive now comes standard on the base Tesla Model S, as the 70D replaces last year’s rear-wheel-drive Model S 60 at the bottom of the food chain. The extra traction helps our car hustle away from a stop on rain-slicked pavement with no drama.
As the name suggests, the car’s battery pack has been enlarged from 60 kWh to 70 kWh, and driving range on a full charge climbs from 208 miles with the outgoing Model S 60 to 240 miles with the 70D. The dual-motor powertrain also means quicker acceleration (5.2 seconds to 60 mph versus 5.9) and a greater top speed (140 mph instead of 120 mph) than the outgoing Model S 60.
Electric propulsion comes with more benefits than just smooth, torquey acceleration. Without an internal combustion engine, the 2015 Tesla Model S 70D is eerily silent on the road; we can eavesdrop on pedestrians’ phone calls at crosswalks and we barely need raise our voices to hold our own conversations. You don’t even need to use brake pedal very often, as the regenerative braking kicks in as soon as you lift the accelerator to slow the Tesla as briskly as you’ll need for city driving.
What’s most impressive about this 2015 Tesla Model S 70D is that it proves electric cars don’t have to be toys. Though it’s built by a startup known for a quirky Lotus-based electric sports car, Tesla’s Model S sedan is refined enough to compete with cars from long-established automakers. And with more than 67,000 copies sold worldwide, the Model S is starting to look like more than just a fad.
“More than any other Tesla before it, the 70D strikes me as a legitimate competitor to cars like a BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes-Benz E-Class,” said associate web editor Joey Capparella. “Before, it seemed like a pie-in-the-sky early-adopter’s toy, but now I can see many more buyers considering a Model S.”
As much as we enjoy driving the Model S, we also like that it makes life easy for its driver and passengers. The Model S boasts super-intuitive controls on the touchscreen (only the hazard lights, transmission, windshield wipers, and power windows have physical switches), build quality rivaling a Lexus, and a comfortable ride that soaks up the worst potholes we can find. Fitting five people into the Model S reminds us how easily the Tesla could work as a family sedan, especially given the generous sizing of the front and rear trunks.
“This cabin is airy, spacious, and thoughtfully packaged,” said senior editor David Zenlea. “The center console is scooped out in the back to provide more room for the middle-seat passenger, and there is no transmission tunnel to eat up his or her legroom. Small details, but it’s part of what makes the Model S special.”
2015 Tesla Model S 70D Specifications
|Engine:||Twin electric motors/329 hp, N/A lb-ft|
|Layout:||4-door, 5-passenger, front-/rear-engine, AWD sedan|
|EPA Driving Range:||240 miles|
|0-60 mph:||5.2 sec|
|Top speed:||140 mph|
|L x W x H:||196.0 x 77.3 x 56.5 in|
|Headroom (first/second row):||38.8/35.3 in|
|Legroom (first/second row):||42.7/35.4in|
|Shoulder room (first/second row):||57.7/55.0 in|
|Cargo room (rear/front trunk):||26.3 / N/A cu ft|