Tesla goes retro, reintroduces cheaper Model S 60 and new 60D

Want a Model S but can't quite swing the price? Tesla has a new, lower-cost version.

When Tesla launched the Model S in 2012, it was available in three configurations: 40, 60 and 85. These referred to the size of the battery pack in kilowatt-hours, with a higher number meaning more range. All three of those configurations have been summarily discontinued since then, but one is making a comeback, with Tesla announcing this morning that the Model S 60 is available again. There's a new, all-wheel-drive 60D option, too.

Until recently, the cheapest Model S available was the 70 kWh option, offering 234 miles of range and a 5.5-second 0 - 60 time for $71,500. Now, you'll be able to save $5,500 over that by going with the new $66,000 Model S 60, which offers the same performance but drops the maximum range down to 210 miles.

That actually compares quite favorably to the old Model S 60, which cost $69,900 at the time. Despite being more expensive, that model isn't compatible with Tesla's Autopilot system that I found to be quite compelling in the Model X, and lacks the interior and exterior upgrades that Tesla recently introduced.

Meanwhile, those who want some all-wheel-drive performance can step up to the new 60D, which costs $71,000. That compares to the previous cheapest AWD Tesla, the 70D at $76,500.

Interestingly, the battery packs in these new Teslas are not actually 60 kWh units. Like the former 70 and 70D, they're actually 75 kWh units software-capped to pretend to be smaller. This means owners can request a software update to unlock the full battery pack size. The cost for that upgrade? $9,000 -- plus a $500 service fee, which frankly seems a bit dear for someone applying a patch. However, choose a 75 kWh pack when ordering the car and the upgrade cost is $8,500.

As ever, you can fully configure yours Model S over at the Model S design studio and, with deliveries expected within a month on most configurations, you'll have plenty of time to get familiar with your new ride before the Model 3 rolls around.

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