► New entry-level trim for Tesla Model S
► Smaller battery packs, lower power
► 70D packs 4wd, £55,400 price
While all eyes are on Tesla’s SUV waiting in the wings for launch in summer 2015, the electric car wizards in Palo Alto are keeping our interest up with a new entry-level addition to the Model S range.
The Tesla Model S 70D is the cheapest EV yet from the Silicon Valley start-up and prices start at £54,500 – once you’ve lopped off the £5000 UK Government Plug In Grant.
Yes, Whitehall is still subsidising the cost of this high-tech performance saloon. Grab these discounts while you can, we say. They won’t last forever…
Click here for CAR's Tesla Model S P85D review.
The spec lowdown on the S 70D
That 70 stands for the kWh energy density of the battery, while the D reveals that the car runs two motors (one in each axle); D for dual means it is thus four-wheel drive.
Combined, the motors deliver the equivalent of 329hp - enough for a claimed 0-60mph sprint of 5.2 seconds. Tesla quotes a maximum speed of 140mph.
Read our guide to the best electric cars and EVs on sale in the UK
Not that you’ll be troubling the v-max if you want to realise the 240-mile range for the 70D. That’s down by 13-30 miles compared with the 85, 85D and P85D, but Tesla claims its gradually growing network of Superchargers will help keep owners on the road with shorter recharging times (new plug-in bays have just opened in London and Birmingham).
Autopilot technology: in detail
Like other Teslas, the Model S 70D packs a bunch of driving aids which effectively make this electric car one of the most advanced, semi-autonomous cars on sale today.
The latest autopilot driving mode that comes standard with the Model S 70D combines a forward-looking camera, radar and 360-degree ultrasonic sensors, letting the car perform basic manoeuvres by itself (where laws allow; elsewhere these autonomous features are switched off).
Changing lanes? Just tap the turn signal and the car will check the blindspots and pull into the next lane all by itself. Looking for a parking spot? When you reach your destination the car finds the right place and automatically parks at home. A pile-up ahead? It warns you and, in emergency situations, it can perform a full stop of its own accord.
Company founder Elon Musk recently told CAR how he plans to roll out more and more features to Tesla models with over-the-air software updates 'every three to four months'. Just like your smartphone, your software and tools will be upgraded regularly.
In stark contrast to the clever-clogs gadgetry on board, the Model S 70D also launches three new colours now available on any flavour of Model S: Ocean Blue, Obsidian Black and Warm Silver. How quaintly old-school…