Tesla’s leapfrogs explained: advanced driving aids and McLaren-like performance image

We just told you that Tesla unveiled a suite of enhancements for the Model S electric sedan – new features that CEO Elon Musk sees akin to airplane’s autopilot and an all-wheel drive system.

Now it’s time to dive a little deeper inside the novelties, and see what game changers have been brought by the very capable US automaker. After an initial stock valuation (IPO – initial public offering) back in 2010, the electric-only automaker has taken the world by storm with only one car – the Model S. And this is only their second model in existence, after the (now axed) Roadster.

To keep interest up for the car until the Model X crossover comes next year, Musk has unveiled a range of exotic driver assistance and safety features – and the best part is that they can be retrofitted to the cars already sold.

The suite of features now offered to Model S clients are partly catching-up to rival systems – such as keeping the car in its lane or steering it back if it drifts away or securing the same distance to the car in front even if it brakes or accelerates. Others are highly innovative and pave the way to automated driving.

Using a forward-mounted radar, a camera and 12 sensors that can each see 16 feet around the car, the Model S ties the new systems into the steering, braking and GPS. With them, it can move the car in another lane if the driver uses the turn signal, it can read signs (such as speed limits) and adjust accordingly and it can even park itself. That means the driver gets out and watches his prized possession going inside the garage alone – or the car can meet the owner when he’s ready to leave, with temperature and sound adjusted to his/her preference.

Then there’s the dual setup that allows for all-wheel drive. The Model S features two electric motors instead of one, and although the new version is naturally heavier than the rwd Model S the buyer gets a 10 miles bump in range as well. Besides that, the top of the line P85D version has on board no less than 691 bhp (515 kW) and 687 lb-ft (930 Nm). That’s because the 470 hp rear motor is mated to the new 221 bhp & 244 lb-ft in front and both allow the Model S to compete with supercars such as the hybrid McLaren P1 – reaching 60 mph (96 km/h) in just 3.2 seconds.