Ride quality of P85 vs P85+

Ride quality of P85 vs P85+

I have a deposit in for a Model S but I haven't confirmed it yet because I am trying to decide between the P85 with the 19" wheels and active air suspension and a P85+ which comes with the 21" wheels and multiple suspension changes. My concern is the trade off between ride quality and handling. I certainly want the car to handle well but not at the cost of a harsh and choppy ride. I can't really tell from the description of the package what the engineers were trying to address with the changes. Is the standard suspension very floaty and soft with poor turn in and road holding? Does the active air suspension improve the basic suspension and improve handling? I have a C63 AMG Mercedes that is fast, handles fairly well, but has a very stiff non-compliant ride. I certainly don't want that sort of ride in this car. I also have a concern about range. The 21" wheels come with a range penalty, that for me living in a land with no Superchargers, and one day a week where I drive 190 miles, may be a concern. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

simplesolarinc | September 1, 2013

P85+ with 21" will ride better than the C63. It is complaint ride for a car that has big wheels. 19" will ride better, but without the plus the car feels not as planted.

richard_grenier | September 1, 2013

When I purchased mine (standard 85) I deliberately chose not to buy the P85 because they forced AS on you. My experience with AS is that it's delightful while it works, but then 5 or 6 years out it becomes a very expensive repair. I've had to Lexus LS autos, each with AS, and the repairs were $5K+ for each (front and back as/when they need to be replaced). I'm not sure it's worth it.

But Motobones has a great opportunity now to go for P85 and skip the AS, if he chooses.

cwmenne | September 1, 2013

My MS with AS & 19" wheels is a little softer than I would call perfect, but the ride is VERY nice. I just had a P85+ loaner and it rode almost equally as smooth, had slightly more road noise, but the cornering difference was phenomenal. Tesla should win an award for how great that suspension is! It will ride like a dream compared to your C63, don't be afraid of it being too harsh, it definitely is not. The ONLY negative is the extra road noise (and I suppose tire cost).

cwmenne | September 1, 2013

Oh, by the way, I love the air suspension and wonder if I will ever have a car without it now. The difference in unsprung weight (and smoother ride) is very noticeable. Sure, potential extra repair cost, but worth it for the smooth ride.

chrisdl | September 1, 2013

I would have ordered a P85+ but, at the time, couldn't reasonably defend an 11% uplift on an already expensive car just for a better suspension. I could've bought a small additional car for the price of that + upgrade.

If money were no issue, I'd have taken a P85+.

nick-r | September 2, 2013

I have had the P85+ for two days now. I don't think the ride is hard at all. It feels like you're gliding smoothly on the road. Far better than my previous Audi S4. My wife, who gets car sick very easily, commented that she doesn't feel like she's going to be sick riding in the car.

lph | September 2, 2013

My results from just recently trying P85 with 19 and 21 and also P85+. I am no expert as some others on the forum are, so these comments are subjective. All had air suspension.
The 85+ definitely handles superbly at speeds approaching 90 and during high powered acceleration through curves the car had more confidence than I did and was way more planted than a late 2000's Chevy corvette i drove the same way in the same place IMHO. The ride is very compliant and comfortable and it gives tactile informational sense of the road. There is however considerable road noise at speed on bad surfaces. (Seattle has some of the roughest surfaces in the country due to metal spiked winter tires used here).
At the other end of the spectrum is the standard air suspension with 19" wheels. Noticeably the quietest (almost eerily so) although some road noise still gets through on them Seattle highways. However, the handling although still quite good, does not seem to communicate tactically and feels numb by comparison. Ride quality was silky smooth and reminds me of a Rolls Royce.
The 21" wheels on standard P85 was a little better than the 19's in the handling department and seemed about a third of the way between the 19 and P85+ mentioned here. Noise also seems about half way between. The ride seemed closer (about 2/3 of the way to) the P85+. Having said that, the differences in ride quality between the 19's and the P85+ seemed relatively small to me.
If you live in an area where the road surfaces are relatively smooth then the P85+ is a no brainer if you can afford it. On bad road surfaces like in Seattle, then it is a harder decision to make and depends own what you value most.

TeslaOwnerBlog | September 2, 2013
village33 | September 2, 2013

I have a P85 non-pano and got a P85+ pano loaner. For me, mine's better hands down. The P85+ had a slight coffee grinder sound at all speeds and a pano hum at high speed (both nothing compare to ICE noise). It was a hot sunny day and the pano felt like being in a fryer (roof closed) with the AC running full to keep up. As a detail matter, the carpet center console holds thing much more conveniently than the wood bottom console and the new windshield air vents cause a heads up vent image in the middle of your front view. The P85+ pano still blows away any ICE but I found it to be a solid second fiddle to the 1Q13 P85 non-pano.

Motobones | September 3, 2013

Thanks for all the replies. It's going to be a hard decision. I know I want my Tesla to ride better than my C63, I just don't know how far toward luxury and away from performance I want to take the handling. I'm pretty sure the difference between the P85+ and my C63 would be large. I'm going to try to test drive a P+ and a P with 19's if possible, then decide. Great input, Thanks!

Brian H | September 3, 2013

make very sure your 19" are at rated pressure. You might get suspension tightness checked the next time you are "in", too. Softness can be a symptom of something.

rainman50 | May 8, 2014

@ Motobones
Did you get the P85+. I'm in the same situation deciding between the P85 with air and P85+.

dcpalmer | May 8, 2014

I think it really depends on what you are used to. Coming from a Jaguar XJ8, I found the P85+ borderline acceptable in the ride-quality department. The P85 on 19" tyres was much, much better for me.

The recent Autocar review wasn't particularly enamoured of the P85+ handling, and suggested that the softer suspension, combined with the 19" tyres, might better suit the car.

Ultimately, one has to prioritise ride comfort and refinement, versus flat cornering. My take was that the Model S is still a big, heavy car - not a Lotus Elise - and so ride and refinement won out...

carlk | May 8, 2014

It's not a land yacht ride but I feel my P85+ with 21" rides very smoothly other than some tire noise when hitting road irregularities. My previous car is a Porsche Cayman S which has harsher ride even at the soft suspension setting compares to the P85+. I don't think anyone with sports/sporty car experience will have a problem with the P85+ ride.

SoCal Buzz | May 8, 2014

Coming from an A7 with sport suspension and 21" tires, I can tell you I far prefer the 19" non-AS on MS. My wife use to feel ill driving in the A7 because you could feel every jarring bump. And driving on most freeways with those subtle divides between cement would cause constant noise / vibration. Unless you are driving on perfect roads, the 19" are more comfortable but still handle extremely well at speed on curvy roads. The low center of gravity and weight distribution make a huge difference in cornering, and 19" are more than sufficient for performance driving.

Lycanthrope P85 | May 8, 2014

My P85 was at SC for a day and they loaned me a P85+ Unfortunately it rained non-stop for the duration so I couldn't play much, but it was an interesting experience nevertheless.

My conclusion? Really happy to get back in my P85 as I personally found the 85+ harsh and unrefined by comparison. For sure it handled better, no doubt and given better weather I could have appreciated it more, but I missed the silky silence of my car.

Bear in mind that I live in Brussels - capital of Belgium with atrocious roads and cobbled streets to contend with.

I'm rather pleased actually because I was having doubts at not going for the +, but my mind is now at rest.

Suturecabre | May 8, 2014

I kept a P85+ demo for a weekend after a test drive with P85, and while I thought the handling was excellent, the ride harshness and road imperfections transmitted through the wheels was too much for me considering the cost. I came from a car with 18" wheels and air suspension so I wasn't demanding the absolute best in handling, so I went with 21" P85, which still has great handling and I have more options in terms of tires and rotation.

Lycanthrope P85 | May 9, 2014

@KalOrtPor - that's interesting, running 21" on a standard P - how does that compare with the 19" on the P and with the P+? Do you also get a lot of road noise? Is the ride supple, is the handling improved?

Perhaps there's a thread cover in this already in existence, if someone could point me in the right direction...

NO2PTRL | May 9, 2014

The main reason that I did not upgrade to the P85+ was because having owned several sports cars with larger back tires, you can't rotate the tires, and from what I have read on this site, rotating the tires on the MS is a must considering it's weight.

The sales people at the store also seemed to think that other than taking the car out on the track, you really wouldn't feel the difference.

That the larger back tires are more expensive to replace, and without the ability to rotate making the tires wear out faster, the P85+ would add $$$$$'s to the cost of driving the car.

zwede | May 9, 2014

I find the ride of my P85+ to be extremely smooth and comfy. But then I'm coming from muscle and sports cars.