By on February 5, 2014

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As a relatively low-profile Czech motoring journo, I couldn’t expect Elon Musk to hand me the keys for a long-term press loaner. Or any other kind of “official” experience with Tesla, as they aren’t even sold officially in our country. But I did manage to get my hand’s on one via a friend’s father is an avid fan of EVs.  As soon as the Nissan Leaf entered the European market, he bought one even if it meant to order it in Spain (about two thousand miles away) and have it trucked here. And when he learned about the Tesla Model S, he placed an early order, which made him one of the first few people in this country to own a Model S (a fully loaded P85 version, no less). Now, there are probably a dozen in Czech Republic.

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The nature of the test somewhat limited my experience with the car. I wasn’t allowed to spend time with it alone, not I could take it very far – we had about and hour of driving. And since I had to sign an agreement that I’ll pay for any damage done to the uninsured car while I was behind the wheel, I wasn’t really hooning it. But still, it was enough for me to form an opinion about the car.

First Impression

They say the first impression matters most. When I came up to my friend’s house, the garage door opened and sleek, burgundy colored machine silently rolled out, I was truly impressed. This thing isn’t “pretty for an EV”. It’s just pretty. If you park it side-by-side with the current crop of the fashionable “four door coupes” like the Porsche Panamera, BMW 6 Gran Coupé, Mercedes CLS, Audi S7, or even supersedans like the Aston Rapide and Maserati Quattroporte, it will not seem out of place. It will hardly be the prettiest among them, but it will not look like an ugly duckling or a golf cart stumbled in the posh meeting accidentaly. And that is a nice start.

The thing is, Tesla doesn’t want to sell you this car because you need it – that’s not even really possible with an EV at the moment – but because you want it. And the show continues as you come closer. The door handles are hidden, and pop out as you approach with the key in your pocket. It improves aerodynamics, and it look wicked cool. I just wonder what will happen when those door handles malfunction after some time – which they surely will. They’re not even connected to the lock mechanism mechanically – it’s all electronic. I suspect that Tesla owners will start carrying bricks with them, just in case.

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The interior continues in the same vein. Old fashioned types who like tactile controls will be dismayed at the tablet-like interface of the Model S. Most auxiliary functions, starting with satellite navigation and radio, and ending with setting up the HVAC or opening the sunroof, are controlled via the giant iPad-style glass screen in the middle of the dashboard. It looks cool, but changing the temperature or tuning the radio at 70 mph and having to take your eyes off the road is more than a bit unsettling. I think that with the first facelift, Tesla will pony up some cash to buy a few more buttons and knobs from Mercedes (all the tactile items, like window buttons, steering column stalk and steering column shifter, are from current MB cars), and offer us real controls for HVAC.

And the rest of the interior? You can best describe it as “different”. It is certainly well made, on par with most competitors, but it keeps surprising you with strange shape and outside the box solutions. One of the more interesting is the absence of the centre console. Altogether, the interior is very much love/hate affair. You can’t criticize it for materials or assembly quality, but some people will just dislike it for being too moden. But I think majority of potential customers will feel right at home here.

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Driving

When you first put your foot on accelerator, the Tesla feels much like your typical hybrid in EV mode. If you’re not used to it, you’ll be fascinated by the noiseless movement and ever-present torque, noticeable even if you’re light on accelerator. But if you’ve driven, say, an Infiniti M Hybrid before, the silence, nor the strange power delivery will not surprise you. And in city driving, you can’t even find out anything interesting about suspension. You feel that the car is quite comfortable even on the low-profiles, and very stable due to its two tonnes of weight. But it’s nothing extraordinary compared with the likes of the aforementioned Infiniti.

But the interesting part comes when you pass the city limits. You’ve probably read that the Model S has 416 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. But here, you also have those 443 pound-feet of torque right from zero revs. Everytime. Without any lag. I have to say I’m not sure what to compare the Model S to. I have driven just a few cars with around 400hp, and none of them accelerates with such ferocity. It was much more similar to the 470hp Nissan GT-R. But imagine the GT-R operating in silence and serenity. If you’re not used to driving a really quick car, the Tesla Model S will shock you.

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With someone else’s $150k car, you don’t have much appetite for backroad hooning, so I can’t tell you how the Tesla behaves over  70-75mph. But both owner and son told me that over 90 or 100mph, the Model S runs out of steam very fast, so it will not be an Autobahn missile. If you were used to the heavy acceleration your German sports sedan offered above 120mph, you’re out of luck – it’s nearly the car’s top speed. And even just keeping it there will squeeze juice from the battery at alarming rate.

So what did I find during our backroad jaunt? Quite a lot, actually. And I was more than a little bit surprised. I fully expected the silent, serene experience. I was prepared to the brutal acceleration. But the revelation came when we entered the twisty stuff. The back roads in Czech Republic are usually not stellar, so most German sports sedans, or sporty, pretentious versions of ordinary diesel sedans, are awfully uncomfortable. They’re built for the Autobahn and smooth Teutonic roads, not for our cratered stuff. The Tesla? It was compliant, smooth, like it was flowing slightly above the surface. And yet, it wasn’t floaty in the way old American cars or Citroëns are. It was alert, agile and offered loads of grip, and fantastic traction out of the corners. It was possible to get the rear slip just a little bit, and with ESP off and more courage, it would probably go sideways nicely.

And it was fun to drive, even with these rather low limits in place. It didn’t feel heavy, and even the steering felt nice – not really feelsome, but nicely weighted. After a while, I started wondering: Who the hell did the suspension tuning on this thing? The Model S felt polished, refined… it felt finished. I’ve driven too many cars from established carmakers that felt like the development team just packed their bags at the 80% (cough, Alfa, cough) to believe that this was developed and tuned by a start-up car maker with no budget.

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With its combination of compliance and comfort with grip and agility, felt distinctively British. If I had to liken the Model S driving experience to any other car I’ve driven, I would say it’s much like the Jaguar XK – just a with maximum torque from 0 rpm. And it was not only similar to the XK, it was generally Jaguar-ish. And I would bet that the suspension development of the Model S took place on British roads, which are a lot like ours – broken, bumpy and unsettling to most German performance sedans. Bear in mind that the car I tested wasn’t equipped with “Performance Plus” sports package, which includes a stiffer suspension.

So, is the Tesla just another flash in the pan, or does it stand a chance of “making it”?  Will it be a fad, or are we looking at the automobile’s future?

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Frankly, I don’t know. This very much depends on many factors far beyond the scope of my review. The price, the cost of recharging, the real-world range, the development of better batteries…

But there’s one thing I know. If you can live with the range limitations – with a real-world range of over 200 miles (based on owner’s words), many two-car households can – the Tesla Model S is a great car. Would I choose it over an equivalent Jaguar, BMW or Maserati? I don’t know. But it would be a serious contender, based on driving experience alone. The feel of the electric motor may be a bit of a novelty, but I suspect it will also be very addictive. Competitors offer large V8 engines, burbling and gargling like some monster from the past. This feels like the future – and while I absolutely love the sound of a good V8, I would be tempted to trade it for this. For the first time ever, you can buy an electric car because you like it, not because it’s electric.

Photo credit: Ondřej Zeman, www.rallyphotos.cz

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a borrowed Lincoln Town Car. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

 

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132 Comments on “Review: Tesla Model S...”


  • avatar

    I was one of the first people to drive the Model S Performance – which I videoed for Youtube ( keywords: tesla high speed) And I’ll be one of the first videos for the MODEL X as soon as we get one. I actually called up Tesla NYC and explained to them who I was and they set the appointment up at Roosevelt Field Mall – and even let me hold a Model S Performance for a weekend after they were pleased with my written review and video. They were even showing the video in the store. I was so hyped.

    #1 I love the exterior, love the retracting handles and love the hatchback design. Looks better than the Audi A7 in my opinion. What I wish is that they’y make the wheel finish and handle finish match.

    Why aren’t the wheels chrome if the handles are?
    Why can’t I get black chrome handles and black wheels?

    #2 The interior feels unfinished. The seats lack ventilation and feel overly hard on a long drive (I did 275 miles one way) The materials look good but feel HARD.

    I wasn’t crazy about the Mercedes sourced wheel or shifter. A car like this deserves the ZF-8speed monostatic shifter (like the Audi A8) and a steering wheel like the one in the W221 S-class with more buttons for more functions so you don’t need to take your eyes off the road to look at the screen.

    Having that giant tablet in the car sounded cool, but because its angle can’t be adjusted, over a long drive, I found it a headache to actually use.

    #3 The rear most jump seats lack ventilation from the HVAC. Don’t even try putting kids back here. My cousin Terrance complained and brought it to my attention.

    #4 The Model S is awesome for an electrified full sized car, but for the price they demand, you could so easily get a standard I.C.E. and not have any worries whatsoever about range anxiety.

    #5 A SILENT Performance car that does 0 -60 in about 4 seconds – and looks exactly like the next guy’s.

    When I spend money on a performance car: #1 I want it to be LOUD and #2 I don’t want it to look like what other people are driving.

    #6 Does the MODEL S offer the “luxury” of a W222 or BMW7 series? I’d say “no”.

    It’s awesome if your a “greener” trying to show off how “environmentally friendly” (and rich) you are, but ultimately, all that Electricity had to come from somewhere and it probably wasn’t a “clean” energy source unless you happen to live in one of the few places solely relying on Nuclear or Wind energy.

    And even then, I have to ask: how many birds died at the blades of those windmills? How much fossil fuel energy is being used to store, transport and guard nuclear waste? How many kids had to be enslaved by some evil Ming Dynasty villain for the Lithium in your battery pack?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I haven’t driven one, but I did check out the interior and all the features inside. I completely agree, the interior feels sparse and unfinished. I want a comfortable interior for my 100k, not one that looks and feels like an iStore.

      The back seat is miserable for someone my size. Not because the seat in front was cramping me, but because the floor is so shallow to make space for the battery pack. I felt like I was being forced to sit in the fetal position. Maybe I could put a yoga mat down and sit criss cross.

      If the Tesla powertrain could be mated to a 300C without the space compromises, I’d be far more interested in a EV sport sedan.

      • 0 avatar

        Danio

        I don’t think I could consider an electric 300 until the technology got a hell of a lot cheaper and the range got a lot longer. I’m talking a minimum of “300” miles per charge with a cost around $40,000…

        The last long distance run I did was 200 miles one way.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The 200 mile range itself isn’t a deal breaker as I’ve had plenty of gaslone powered cars that got less than 300 miles to a tank. The issue for me with the EV is the refueling time.

          • 0 avatar

            Danio

            Yes – Refueling time is probably the biggest benefit to driving an ICE over an EV. Tesla claimed their “battery replacement system” would eliminate this, but I’ve yet to see it in real-world action, nor would I spend so much money on a car just to get stuck with someone else’s battery.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            One hour really isn’t that bad, since it is recommended that you stop for personal rest every 200 miles or so anyway. It’s also a good time to take care of nature and get a bite to eat/drink while you’re at it. Even with an ICE, your typical long-distance-drive fill up takes a minimum of 30 minutes due to all of the above.

          • 0 avatar
            probert

            Less than a half our with the superchargers – and free.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          The Tesla can already do that ‘last long distance run’ on a single charge and still have charge left over for local driving. Hooking up at a 220 volt charger would give you a full recharge in 2-3 hours while a Supercharger can recharge you in one. If you’re spending the night, even a 110 volt outlet can fully recharge the car for the next day’s return trip.

          • 0 avatar

            Alas, the Tesla Model S apparently charges at 3mph at 110v, meaning an 8 hour charge is only going to get you 24 miles :(. (Tesla’s spec says 5mph but multiple sources are reporting real-world figures of 3mph).

            I am as puzzled about BigTruck’s curious change of mind from a Tesla advocate to a Tesla enemy as you are, and most of your points are spot-on. But we should definitely not be telling people that an overnight charge at 110v is going to work well for people.

            Incidentally, I tried the Tesla touch screen in person and thought it was absolutely lovely. Huge touch points and an outstandingly clear user interface lead to a really nice experience. I would not expect them to change it.

            The only thing I really hate about Tesla is its incredibly slow depreciation. I was looking forward to buying a used Model S that was two or three years old for typical depreciated prices around $40k and so far the used price has barely budged from how much one is new.

          • 0 avatar
            Kinosh

            @ David

            I freaking love the units on recharging times. It was very disconcerting to hear 3mph recharging speed, but it checks out!

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            That really depends on the recharge source. You can plug into ordinary wall voltage (slowest), the washer/dryer outlet (faster), standard charging port (even faster) and Supercharger (full charge in one hour. Fastest).

            Other brands have similar issues–without the Supercharger advantage.

    • 0 avatar
      This Is Dawg

      Especially since this car isn’t aimed at new drivers (read: tech-obsessed) the tablet controls seem really out of place to me. I think the option to have more physical controls with a smaller screen would be widely appreciated once the “Check out how big the screen in my car is!” stage is over. That being said, I’ve never actually been in one so what do I know.

      Also I’d totally get a bumper sticker that says “This car runs on sliced birds.”

      • 0 avatar

        I was extremely excited when I first drove it. 100 miles in – I didn’t like it any more. It didn’t offer the luxury features of my car which cost HALF as much – nor can you get the same safety /convenience features.

        “The feature adjustment is over $4,000 when comparing the Model S to an Audi A7 because many features commonly offered on luxury cars aren’t available on the Tesla. On the performance front, you cannot get all-wheel-drive, at least not yet. This plus the lack of a geared transmission account for half of the difference. But this still leaves a couple grand. Features offered on the Audi but not the Tesla include cooled front seats, automatic climate control for the rear seats, adaptive cruise control, and a slew of safety nannies. Though you can get a rearview camera on the Tesla, you can’t get obstacle detection. The feature some people will miss most: illumination for the visor mirrors.” – True Delta

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          Why would an electric car have a transmission?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Sheesh! Aren’t we all the gadget lover! COOLED front seats? Exactly how many different cars offer that? Geared transmission? While I can see a benefit for it, it’s also more load on the batteries AND more to break down. AWD? How many people–especially truck drivers–ABHOR AWD, preferring RWD as the driver’s ultimate performance setup? Adaptive cruise control? Still relatively rare except on the highest-end models of the more expensive non-electric brands. Safety nannies? What other car warns you to pull over and GET OUT when it detects a problem? Obstacle detection–again, how many already have it?
          And finally visor mirror illumination–are you really that vain that you have to have a light on your vanity mirror *in broad daylight?* No, I really doubt most people will miss that and quite honestly the visor mirror itself has become a distraction hazard–or haven’t you noticed how many women drivers are putting on their makeup as they drive–making themselves a worse road hazard than a foot-deep pothole in the fast lane.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            All of those features are exceedingly commonplace on 100k cars, which the Model S is.

            You might be willing to accept excuses for this car’s shortfalls, but most luxury car buyers aren’t.

          • 0 avatar

            Those features are not only common on $100,000 cars – THEY ARE COMMON on $50,000 cars.

            Most of that stuff you can get on a Malibu or Sonata for less than $35,000.

            And to answer DAVID DENNIS:

            I AM NOT AN ENEMY OF TESLA. So long as they keep my Tesla shares upwardly mobile.

            I love the car, but criticize where I must.

          • 0 avatar
            hgrunt

            The Model S does have a transmission, but it reduces the motor slightly and doesn’t really have a speed. I think it was done to increase motor life or something, I don’t quite remember.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      “big truck,” I was disappointed not to read you complaining about the apparent fact that, apparently, such plebian cars as a VW TDI will run away from this thing on the autobahn . . . and its not like any of us on this side of the pond haven’t run triple digit speeds from time to time. About 20 years ago when I-68 was opened between Hancock and Cumberland MD, the road was absolutely deserted. I would regularly make that run cruising at 100+.

      I see a number of Teslas around here in DC metro. From the outside, they are at least as good as anything at the price and better than such cars as the Panamera.

      But, with a 200 mile range, they are little more than an expensive toy and/or commuter car . . . a Leaf on steroids.

      • 0 avatar

        The main point of a Model S isn’t “speeding”. It’s supposed to be “driving an Electric car”. Unfortunately – it’s NOT COMFORTABLE. Model S 2.0 needs to have an interior at least as comfortable as the Cadillac XTS for what they’re demanding.

        Even though I can do 0-100 cruising in less than 8 seconds, there’s no place I can do it legally. My car normally cruises highways with ACC activated at 85mph when I get tired of using my foot.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Strange that you say “it’s not comfortable”, because most reviewers have pointed out that the interior is quite luxurious and comfortable. Exactly what is your idea of comfort? The Cadillac? The Tesla’s interior has been reviewed as least as good if not better.

          You say the mass market isn’t ready, but it’s purposeful misinformation like yours that keeps the mass market from even trying to learn for themselves.

          • 0 avatar

            Vulpine

            The Cadillac XTS has more comfortable seats than even the W222. Up until the XTS, I’d felt that my W221 had the most comfortable seats EVER with heating/cooling and massage.
            Yes it’s subjective, but the other reviewers agree that the ATS, CTS and XTS all have very comfortable interiors. I’m sure they’d take those over the Tesla’s.

            You call me “misinforming” but I Don’t think it’s misinformation to think the emass isn’t willing to pay Model S prices and then not have a place to charge their vehicles.

            If I was wrong, the sales across the board for EV would show that I’m wrong.

            The fact is that without the government subsidies, neither the Leaf, Volt, Model S or Fiat would be moving off lots very well.

            Especially the Volt.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            The reason most EVs aren’t moving as well as they might is as much due to misinformation as to the fact that EVs are so new to the open market; a lot of people need to see them on the road and ask direct questions of the owners before choosing to buy one themselves. I’m proof of this myself as I purchased one of the first available Saturn Vues back in ’02 and for almost a year was fielding questions about it from total strangers.

            I’ll grant that the Model S price is higher than most people are willing to pay; I’m included in that group. That doesn’t mean I don’t want one nor does it mean I won’t strongly consider one when the price comes down to a more average price for the overall class of car (sport sedan). Actually, with Musk hinting at an EV pickup somewhere around ’20, I may find that far more interesting.

            Obviously the government subsidies are there to make the purchase more appealing. Don’t forget that all these companies are having to pay off some extensive R&D costs–the Volt especially. Remember that GM intended the SSR for the Camaro class of driver and simply priced the thing right out of the intended market. Without the subsidy, the Volt was seeing the exact same problem. Fiat and Nissan are having a little more luck than you might think, though its hard to know when that Fiat 500 passing you is an EV or a conventional model–except the Abarth which has obvious sport graphics.

          • 0 avatar

            Vulpine

            #1 as far as an EV TRUCK – I’d be really excited to see one considering how much torque it would be able to offer and how effective it would be at a construction site where a 220-volt charger is actually present for power tools. I imagine being able to charge it during the workday or at home fairly easily since people who do manual labor and construction would better acclimate to the requirements of an EV than your average consumer.

            Thing is – what would it cost? If a car the size of the Model S costs over $60,000, then how could they make an EV truck affordable instead of simply buying a diesel powered F-series?

            #2 I understand there are many people who need more info and will never drive one until they can buy one – and need more hands on info…but my problem is, most reviewers don’t criticize as harshly as I’d like, or spend enough time with these products to criticize them. One of my family members has a Karma and another has a Model S Performance. I can get more info any time and drive them whenever I want. Many people don’t have that access.

    • 0 avatar

      TWO quibbles with your otherwise fascinating and useful comments, with the proviso that I do not consider myself at all a fan.

      1. the Tesla’s styling may not be loud, but it’s very noticeable in a subtle way. For a car in its class, that’s probably better than being loud.

      2. birds and wind turbines–a red herring. First, if one is worried about birds, cats and tall buildings kill orders of magnitude more birds than wind turbines, and that would still be true if we had enough wind turbines to provide half our electricity. Second, global climate disruption will kill far more birds than wind turbines if we don’t hurry up and replace coal plants with alternatives that emit less or no carbon.

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      The Tesla is both the beneficiary and victim of an all-too-common response regarding new product. That is, to give it extra props or criticisms based on the fact that it’s new: New car company, new car, new technology (for most of us) and a new market niche. It’s hard to compare the Tesla against anything else. But if we do, it seems that the car does some things well, but nothing exceptionally so. It also has weak points, but nothing fatal. Ultimately, the car has Elon Musk to keep us entertained and a media that can’t help but tout the next “big thing”.

      As for me, I’ve leased a Chevy Spark EV (range about 80 miles) and have a 2008 Cadillac SRX for the occasional long trip. The EV’s 400 ft-lbs of torque make for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride with the torque-steer, which is fun now-and-then. It’s got an OK ride, spongy brakes, sufficient infotainment and takes no gas. Around town, it can be fun enough, and parks anywhere.

      But, to me the EV is still a limited novelty, and the Tesla makes too many compromises for the price. When I trade the SRX next year, it will be for a CTS V-sport, not a Tesla.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      @bts…. “I have to ask: how many birds died at the blades of those windmills?”

      You should research how many birds are killed by wind turbines. It may seem like a lot, but in context, it’s a fraction of a percent of the number killed by cats, for instance. Let alone habitat disturbance or any number of other bird killers.

      • 0 avatar

        Not small birds… I’m talking about large, predatory birds like Bald Eagles (you know – the national symbol)

        440,000 birds and 10,000 bats PER YEAR is a number that makes me sick.

        Not to mention the unspoken of noise pollution caused by low frequency vibration. It gives humans migraines and does God knows what to wildlife.

        Reminds me when the Navy started testing more powerful sonar years ago and whales “mysteriously” beached themselves.

        Alternative energy is doing more damage than oil and coal.

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          “Alternative energy is doing more damage than oil and coal.”

          Unfortunately, a lot of people agree with you.

          Which is why the fossil fuel industry is spending untold billions on advertising – it works.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      You make some decent points, besides conveniently omitting all of the horrors enabled by the petroindustrial complex (birds getting diced in windmills, really?), but I find it hard to believe that someone gave you a free t-shirt let alone an ealrly test drive based on the shaky videos taken at car dealerships that I have seen on your constantly pimped YT channel. And your criticisms that every car isn’t an SRT or AMG are tiresome and repetitive.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The Model S shows the entire industry how to bring electrified motoring to the car buying public. Advanced tech has always been introduced on luxury cars first and trickled down to the masses, but for some reason EV tech is being jammed into tiny, ugly cars with the lowest possible prices – getting ever lower. Why?

    • 0 avatar

      #1 the mass market DOES NOT WANT and IS NOT READY FOR EV.
      -They aren’t ready to pay the higher upfront finance costs when there are so many I.C.E. vehicles for so much less money.
      -Many of them have NO PLACE TO CHARGE ONE.
      -Range anxiety is the biggest concern. They are afraid of running out of energy on the road and without the gas generator of the Volt/Karma/ELR, an EV simply doesn’t make sense.

      Why are they crammed into small ugly cars?

      Because to make a full sized EV is more expensive and to drive one as an everyday driver is impractical.

      Sure there are some people out there driving very few miles per day with garages and office buildings to charge them, but $65,000 is pretty steep for the bottom 80%.

      Unless you plan on keeping one of these cars well past 150,000 miles, you may never break even.

      Why would I spend $65,000 – $100,000 on a car just to save money on fuel???

      Why not buy a similarly sized car for $30,000 and use the other $30,000-$70,000 for “other things”???

      This is a mindset you’re being sold.

      • 0 avatar
        NN

        This is an old and tired argument, if we all bought on needs only we’d all drive Corollas. The 300 that you so love is there to satisfy your wants much more than your needs (i.e. “mindset”). The Tesla is no different, and the market very much wants it–beyond their existing production capacity as a matter of fact.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “Why not buy a similarly sized car for $30,000 and use the other $30,000-$70,000 for “other things”???”

        Then why not just buy a Versa and spend the rest of hookers and blow?

        What a stupid argument.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “Unless you plan on keeping one of these cars well past 150,000 miles, you may never break even.”

        What’s the break even on the SRT vs. the Pentastar?

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        That’s my point. EVs aren’t wanted by the general public because they are not practical as a sole vehicle. But the major manufacturers keep pushing the prices lower trying desperately to get regular people to guy them, no doubt incurring heavy losses. The Model S proves that people with money will buy EVs. Imagine if the major luxury brands all had beautiful, fast EVs for sale ( the i3 doesn’t count). There would be plenty of EV sales at that point.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “they are not practical as a sole vehicle”

          What percentage of new car buyers live in 1 car households? If you need to take a roadtrip – take your wife’s SUV. The other 99% of the time when you aren’t driving 200 miles a day – you drive your own car.

          • 0 avatar

            EV won’t be “practical” until you can get an EV the size of a Sonata/Malibu/Camry/Fusion/200 for $30,000.
            With a range of at least 200 miles per charge.

            The thing dogging EV most is the interior space. Next is the looks. Third is the range.

            Many people could get by with a 100-mile range (and a gas backup), but aren’t willing to pay more for less interior space and less features.

            AWD will also be a must-have. This “Polar Vertex” is teaching people exactly why they “must” have AWD.

            Me – I easily get the Jeep out, but I just turn the 300’s ESC off and FLOOR IT!

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          An EV with sufficient range–meaning 150 miles or more–is eminently practical as a sole vehicle for well over 90% of people; for longer trips they usually ride the train or fly. Sure, infinite range may be the eventual goal and even Tesla has already addressed that by making it possible already to drive coast-to-coast. Better, they’re actively making multiple coast-to-coast, border-to-border routes accessible so you only need to make a semi-conventional ‘fuel stop’ to continue on your way beyond the Tesla’s 200-265 mile range.

          I’ll grant that each person’s needs are different, but when the national average for driving mileage comes out to only about 12,000 per year, that’s an average of only 250 miles per WEEK; well within the current range of the 85kw Model S even without nightly recharging right at your own home.

          However, it is at the higher mileages that the Tesla will truly shine. Had I a Tesla 14 years ago, the $65K price would have quickly been balanced by the fuel savings–even at the then price of $2 per gallon. Driving 150 miles per day meant I could only go about 2 days on a 16-gallon tank and I worked at that place for years. I put 160,000 miles on that car before it died–at only 6 years old. The engine gave up–a victim of a blown head gasket and a corroding aluminum block in the cylinders. The electric motor of a Tesla would not have died in that way. (Ok, work it out for yourself. 16 gallons x 2.5 fill-ups per week x 52 weeks x $2/gallon equals…? That’s right, over $4,000 per year not even counting any other driving I might have done. With today’s price of $3.30 per gallon that’s almost $7,000 per year.) At that rate, the Tesla would have paid for itself in less than 10 years and still be going strong compared to that Camaro. It would also have been a lot more comfortable while offering similar performance to that same Camaro.

          EVs are VERY practical vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            But how many battery packs to go that far? Teslas batteries DO wear out. There is nothing miraculous about them, they are the very same cells that do diddley in your laptop after a couple years. And to get that extreme performance, they run them HARD. And what is the effect of regular Supercharger use?

            I think Tesla has an interesting product, but it is also a long way from being ready for the Camry driving masses.

        • 0 avatar

          >>>Imagine if the major luxury brands all had beautiful, fast EVs for sale ( the i3 doesn’t count). There would be plenty of EV sales at that point.

          I doubt it. I suspect most of the people that want such a car are already buying the Tesla. Why not? It does everything exceptionally well except addressing range anxiety and recharge times.

          No other luxury brand is going to have the cachet of a Tesla. It’s brand new.

          And, by the way, this notion that everyone who can afford one of these things is married is undoubtedly way off.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “#1 the mass market DOES NOT WANT and IS NOT READY FOR EV.
        -They aren’t ready to pay the higher upfront finance costs when there are so many I.C.E. vehicles for so much less money.
        -Many of them have NO PLACE TO CHARGE ONE.
        -Range anxiety is the biggest concern. They are afraid of running out of energy on the road and without the gas generator of the Volt/Karma/ELR, an EV simply doesn’t make sense.”

        @BTR: 100,000 Leaf drivers is a pretty massive market, I’d say, and they would disagree with you.
        As for charging, if your house has electricity, you have a place to charge an EV. My Leaf recharges every night in the garage, but I could have mounted my charger outside if needed. Apartment dwellers – now that’s another story.

        As for range anxiety – I don’t have any. How many EVs have you seen stranded on the side of the road? EV drivers plan accordingly. If I drove an SRT, I’d have wallet anxiety.

        “Why are they crammed into small ugly cars?
        Because to make a full sized EV is more expensive and to drive one as an everyday driver is impractical.”

        My Leaf seats 5 regular people. Granted, some people may think it’s ugly. But it pulls out like a V6, so it’s not one bit hazardous to drive anywhere.

        “Sure there are some people out there driving very few miles per day with garages and office buildings to charge them, but $65,000 is pretty steep for the bottom 80%.”

        As you know, the Leaf isn’t $65k; it’s roughly half that. I’ve put 12k miles on it in 16 months, at a total ‘fuel’ cost of $360. One Leaf driver has put 100k miles on his car in 3 years:
        http://green.autoblog.com/2013/12/18/seattle-nissan-leaf-owner-surpasses-100000-miles/

        Don’t let your preference for a loud, thirsty, fast car cloud the fact that many, many people enjoy driving a practical, affordable, quiet car every day. The Model S is my wannabe car.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Is it advanced tech? Its my understanding that Tesla really didn’t do anything ground breaking when it came to engineering the car but rather leveraged existing technologies to good effect.

      Nothing wrong with that mind you, its the way I’d do things if I were going to do a car.

      • 0 avatar
        hgrunt

        I think the other key thing they did was that they built a car that isn’t embarrassing to be seen in, and isn’t a bad place to be in.

        Contrast that to Coda, which is basically looks like an electric Corolla, or an Aptera which looks…distinct.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        The advanced technology in the Tesla is this: harnessing 7000 “18650” lithium ion cells into a useable power pack. There are countless challenges in doing this – cell balancing, thermal management, power delivery, charging, manufacturability, safety, supplier sourcing, cost, etc.

        Many critics have said ‘anyone could have done that’, but TTAC is that nobody did.

        Then, getting the rest of the car right enough to sell to the public is another hurdle that very few choose to attempt, let alone clear.

  • avatar
    NN

    This is probably the single best car on the planet right now. Not by any exact performance measure, but by a combination of capabilities, long-shot origins, and by how it is changing people’s perceptions on what a car can be, worldwide. It really does seem like an Apple rising in the automotive world, and it’s being verified by the success in European markets it is just barely getting into. In one month, Tesla sold more vehicles in some countries (Norway, for example) than Cadillac has ever sold–despite there numerous attempts to continue to re-market and re-try the brand there.

    What’s more, although the Model S is expensive, when Tesla introduces their less expensive model in the near future, then they may be the first purveyors of desirable, affordable electric cars. Consumer Reports says based on $0.11/kwh, it costs less than $0.05 per mile to electrify this vehicle. It costs me $0.20 per mile to drive my current vehicle, just on gas alone. That math doesn’t do much when the Model S is $100k, but on a $30k-$40k car, people will stand up and notice.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “This is probably the single best car on the planet right now.”

      You aren’t alone when you put this car on that pedestal, but I disagree. It’s probably the best novelty car for sure. As a conveyance, there are plenty of other cars that are more confortable, much more cost effective, more convenient and more capable.

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        “As a conveyance, there are plenty of other cars that are more confortable, much more cost effective, more convenient and more capable.” But don’t forget to factor in the sense that you’re better than everyone else on the road because your car produces no emissions. I know that’s condascending to everyone that buys a Tesla, but come on. It’s not like it never occured to them why the car costs so much. If car buyers have the money and that’s a priority, this is the only car out there that checks every box.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        That’s a personal point of view. My own father said, “A car is ONLY transportation, you don’t need anything fancy.”

        Ok, maybe I don’t need anything “fancy”, but I want what I want and it’s usually because I WANT to be different. I own a Jeep Wrangler right now because of its capabilities and its looks. I could have bought a Liberty which was more conventional, a Ford or Chevy which are almost ubiquitous and also have 4×4, but I didn’t want any of them. On the other hand, my pickup truck is “just transportation” for bulky loads that won’t fit in the Jeep. I wouldn’t pay $45K or more for a pickup truck unless it’s something really special and not even the Ford Raptor is *that* special.

        The Tesla Model S offers something no other car in the world offers right now: a gasoline-free driving experience that exceeds the range needs of almost every driver on the roads here in the US on a daily basis. It’s comfortable, easy riding yet able to get out of its own way when necessary. Sure, there’s cheaper BEVs and even the EREV (Volt and others) are cheaper, but they offer from ½ to 1/5th the operating range. Had I a Tesla 14 years ago when I was commuting 150 miles PER DAY I would have saved money over the 1996 V6 Camaro I was driving and which I put 160,000 miles on in a mere 6 years.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          It’s not a personal point of view, it’s a factual one. There are cars available that do what this car does better, at a better price. In a general sense of comparison, it’s not “the best”.

          It might be the best choice for buyers looking specifically for a luxury EV, but that isn’t representative of a significant part of the car market. So “the best” needs to be put into context.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Show me one single car that has more range AND more performance on electricity alone at ANY price.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Show me one single car that has more range AND more performance on electricity alone at ANY price.”

            You didn’t read/understand what I wrote.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            “There are cars available that do what this car does better, at a better price.”

            No car does quick, *quiet* acceleration better than the Model S. None.

            If that’s what makes luxury for a given person, the Model S is the best luxury car in the world for that person.

            That’s why your statement is a value judgment, not a fact.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Sales data gives us a pretty good indication of what people want.

            For all of the buzz, the Model S is a tiny, tiny, tiny (add a few more tinys) sliver of the car market.

            And even with the high price tag, the price point still isn’t high enough to produce a profit, which is a necessary evil if a product is going to be able to survive in the marketplace.

            People vote with their dollars; that’s a fact, not a value judgment. And the fact here is that there aren’t enough of them, voting with enough dollars to make this a sustainable car in its current form. Even the current customers who are paying six-figure prices aren’t paying enough to make this work.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Pch101:
            “Tesla Motors Already Ranks As #5 Car Brand, According To Consumer Reports
            Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2014/02/06/tesla-motors-already-ranking-top-ten-consumer-reports-annual-car-brand-perception-survey/#DlTQPuPeueWwuPW0.99”

            “Tesla: 20,000 Annual Model S Sales Needed to Ring in Profits”
            Read more: http://wot.motortrend.com/tesla-20000-annual-model-sales-needed-ring-profits-21396.html#ixzz2sevahsqw
            * A number, by the way, significantly exceeded in 2013 after only 18 months on the market.

            Yet again you seem to believe that “market share” is everything despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary in every market.
            By the way, there’s 2% of your one-million-unit market growth right there.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          The Model S gets its range partially because you can empty the battery more than other EVs. When most EVs are “empty”, theres still some juice left in order to help with battery longevity.

          Tesla bypasses this since longevity is a small interest to them compared to impressive marketing numbers, ironic for a “green” car.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            At the other end of the range, Tesla also tops up the battery to something close to 100%. That also improves the range while reducing battery life.

            Toyota won’t do that, as it has a reputation to maintain. And sure enough, its Tesla-powered RAV4 EV has the same low range as does every other EV.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Try again, Ryoku. Even the Tesla offers a 25-mile ‘reserve’ when empty.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Not surprisingly, Ryoku’s point was lost on some people.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Just as my point blew right over your head, 101. Too many people are too literal–including yourself.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Your comment (“Even the Tesla offers a 25-mile ‘reserve’ when empty.”) made it quite obvious that you completely missed his point.

            You did not understand what he was saying, at all. Zero percent comprehension of the argument being made.

            He was not referring to the equivalent of a “low fuel” light, but to the discharge cycles of the battery and the ill effects that deep discharging has on battery longevity.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Thank you for clarifying my point Pch, from what I know the Tesla Model S targets the rich demographic that swaps cars every few years.

          • 0 avatar

            @Ryoku: Impressive marketing numbers are one reason to let the battery drain completely. The other reason was for California ZEV credits. A 200 mile range is worth 4 ZEV credits, each worth $5000. Tesla demonstrated battery swap cause “fast recharging/refuelling under 30 minutes” is worth another 3 ZEV credits. Each Model S sale nets them 7 credits worth $35,000 even though Tesla neither has the infrastructure nor have any customers cars had their Model S battery swapped. If you remember almost all of the profits Tesla generated in 2013 were from ZEV credits. California is reviewing if they should stop Tesla claim the 3 ZEV credits for quick refuelling Outside of a few demonstrations there have been zero battery swaps.

            I fail to see a long term business case when Tesla sells a $70K car and sells ZEV credits worth $35K for that sale (total $105K per sale) and still loses money. Telsa builds a great product that probably outsold the Volt for January, which is not saying much but the Volt only costs half and owned 70% of the US plugin market not too long ago. Too bad they spend most of their time worrying about short term stock returns and deceptive accounting. Nothing the company does gives me confidence that they are in it for the long term or want it to be sustainable. Letting the battery fully drain, booking future revenue from lease payments in whatever quarter they like to, asking customers for down payments right before quarterly results are a few I can think of.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @PCH: Yet again the comment goes right over your head.

            And no, that extra reserve is NOT the equivalent of a “low fuel light”, you have to manually access that reserve just as you would in a motorcycle.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Gorgeous car.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      I finally saw one for the first time recently. I was far enough away that I could not read the badges on it; so I was sitting there wondering “what the heck is that; I know my cars; but I don’t know what THAT is.”

      Without seeing any badging; the front clip was definitely a newer car with the teardrop headlights and the large, lower mounted grill. But the side profile and rear reminded me of a c.2000 Buick; like a Park Avenue, Riveria, or even a toned down and more practical Cielo. It was only later that I learned it was a model S.

      I freely admit to my Ford bias; but this is the best looking sedan on the market today bar none; in my opinion. Beautiful, graceful lines without all the creases and folds that most cars have today. It looks like a modern interpretation of the original aero cars of the 1980s-1990s. I love it.

      If you took the touch screen out; the interior also looks 1990s; too bad there is no bench seat in the front. :)

      BTSR, jump seats were never comfortable places with A/C and other goodies; whether you are talking about the Model S, my Taurus wagon, or the rumble seat in the Ford Model A. They also have flat, uncomfortable cushions, and not everybody likes facing to the rear while driving along. But they made good extra seating in a pinch; and back in the day when my kids were smaller and not spoiled by the features of the second and third seats in an SUV, they loved it. Many kids now days would not because they don’t have vents, don’t have a cupholder for their large soda, and don’t have a plug for their electronic devices. In other words, they don’t appreciate the good things in life. ;)

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    This is the kind of review I like to read; not one that emphasizes hoonage but real-world impressions both inside and out. Give this writer credit for a great review!

    I like the Tesla, too. This review makes me want one all the more because of what he said.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “not one that emphasizes hoonage but real-world impressions both inside and out.”

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      Add me in. Votja’s recent reviews have been very high quality, without having the writer’s personality and preferences get in the way. The worse offenders are those who laden their writing with pop culture metaphors that add nothing to content.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I concur. And fully agree on the reference laden, wordy reviews of which you speak.

        • 0 avatar

          Count me in for praise of Vojta’s review, but those “wordy” and “reference-laden” reviews are here to stay. If you don’t like them, don’t click on them.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You seem to have really taken a personal offense to my critique of the Regal review. I just don’t like the review style and I think it would have been better without all that extra stuff. Never implied he should go away or lose his writing job.

            He’s here to stay – ok. Heard that the first time.

          • 0 avatar

            It’s very easy to sit behind a computer and anonymously criticize someone’s work. If you think you can write a better car review, please email me at editors at ttac dot com.

            Otherwise, keep your criticisms constructive and polite. You can say whatever you want to Jack and I, but you must be respectful to the rest of the staff who work long and hard to bring you a quality product, free of charge.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I didn’t feel my comment was disrespectful, I called out something I didn’t like just like I might anywhere else on this site. I also handed out some compliments in other places, if you notice. Again, it was never directed at him as a person, only the writing.

            DeadWeight criticizes everything Alex writes, and I haven’t seen this sort of admonishment on his commentary.

            For the record, I don’t like that I should now suddenly need to be more careful about what I say on other authors than I would for you or Jack.

          • 0 avatar

            You don’t need to be more careful, just bear in mind that someone is working hard to bring you something for free, and there should be a measure of respect for that.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’ll try. Also FWIW I really enjoy that you editors and authors get involved in the commentary regularly – and actually read what the peanut gallery says. Most places don’t do that, and it’s one of the things which caused me to stick around and click on things.

          • 0 avatar

            We love being a part of it and we read every comment. You guys make the site what it is.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    One thing surprisingly few people seem to realize, but that makes a big difference on your driving impressions: full-throttle acceleration is silent.

    Normal people barely use any of the capabilities of their cars because they hate the noise. They think they’re going to break something if they exceed 4000 rpm, and when they hear another car at full throttle they get upset and think the driver is a maniac. A silent EV is going to feel like a rocket to those people.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Saleen is working on a version of the Model S. It should be interesting – and expensive.

    Electric vehicles are a genre of vehicles. Complaining about the fact that you could get an ICE for the same money is sort of like complaining about a Corvette having only 2 seats and you could get more space in an Altima for less money. What about someone that buys a Model T, do you ask them why they spent their money on an old car and suggest that they could have bought a Versa for the same money?

    Electric vehicles have a following, just like classic muscle cars, 2 seat sports cars, city cars, 12 cylinder Italian exotics, and brown diesel station wagons. If you’re an EV fan and want one, you’ve worked out the range issues and probably understand that a drivers seat that weighs 300 lbs probably isn’t a good idea in an electric vehicle. Just like Corvette buyers pretty much understand that there is no rear seat. They all know that there are drawbacks to certain vehicles and their desire for that particular genre overrides those issues.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Has tesla gone bankrupt yet? I’m really hoping they do because that’s the only good news that this company with their pipe dream cars can produce. The cars are jokes

    • 0 avatar
      This Is Dawg

      Thank you for your valuable input. How dare a company build something that doesn’t appeal to you!

      • 0 avatar
        Z71_Silvy

        If it were viable it certainly would be cool and appealing.

        When the car is out of juice and I can recharge it in about 10 minutes like you can a gasoline vehicle, then we can talk. But this drive it for a short while and now it has to sit for a gazillion hours to recharge is pathetic.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      They only thing that is a joke is the giant iPad in the dash. If they fixed that with more standard combination of buttons/controls along with a touch screen nav it would be brilliant. Good looking, quick and silent, whats not to like? As long as you don’t plan on driving very far the Tesla S in a winner in my book. I’d assume that most people who can afford one travel by air for any distances and have a second “toy” for the weekend, like maybe a 911.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Before I say anything let me just say that I have no issue with EVs outside of trivial things (simulated sound, reverse speed limiter), but the technology itself deserves more work and time put into it.

    That being said I hate the Model S, its styling is more generic than a Camry (on par with Codas), the interior is pure cheapness and gimmicry, and pop out door handles? Great, more electricity used up, I could see them freezing up easily in the winter too.

    Plus they’ll burst into flames on accidents on occasion, thats never good.

    Ugly or not, it’d be nice ro see a mass produced EV that embraces its unusual nature rather than trying to fit in.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      >> Plus they’ll burst into flames on accidents on occasion, thats never good.

      Good thing gasoline cars never do that.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Did anyone of you actually read my comment beyond my fire part? That wasn’t even my main point.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Actually, Ryoku, I did. Your ‘fire’ statement was nothing but sour icing on a rancid cake. You made it quite clear that you don’t like it–and that’s perfectly your right. But trying to imply one vehicle is more prone to a certain kind of issue than another better have evidence behind it–which that argument does NOT.

          So far the ratio is thousands to one between ICE and BEV fires.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          The main point seemed to be the technology needed to mature. I do not disagree. I also don’t like the idea of riding around in immature technology.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            And yet both of you are arguing a minor point I made and effectively turning my argument into a straw man. I said that Teslas can catch on fire, and then suddenly I’m saying that gas engines are better and safer.

            It was pretty much that 28D, that EVs need to mature and that the Model S is just a gimmick.

        • 0 avatar
          healthy skeptic

          I did read it. I either agreed with the rest, or it was your own opinions (which is fine), but I thought that one line was too absurd to pass up.

          C’mon, you have to admit your fire argument is really stretching things, even if you don’t care for the car otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “Plus they’ll burst into flames on accidents on occasion, thats never good.”

      And ICE cars don’t–even without the help of an accident?

  • avatar
    masers

    “Jaguar-ish” is quite the understatement. The Model S is as obvious a clone of the XF as could be. Its prototypes became more and more “Jaguar-ish” after the C-XF concept debuted. Not that Tesla should be faulted for copying Callum’s beautiful work- the XF is still the classiest, most stylish sedan/”four door coupe” on the market. The Model S is a bit less sophisticated looking, but it does look great from pretty much every angle minus the front end- a missed opportunity to establish the “face” of the brand.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I see a bit of 1948 Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa in it. Take a look at Jaguars at the time and see who is the original. Face it, there are a finite number of attractive front ends for cars. Exactly what are they supposed to do, follow Toyota with an hourglass grill?

      http://www.europeancarweb.com/events/epcp_1207_2012_greystone_mansion_concours/photo_14.html

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      I see a bit of Maserati in the front clip – not a bad look at all.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Electric cars are currently about where cell phones were in the mid/late ’80s. New, expensive and severely limited compared to their conventional contemporaries.

    I believe that the technology will get better and within 50 years, electric cars will be fairly ubiquitous and have much greater ranges.

    That being said, they are still an an evolutionary phase right now vs one of refinement. Modern conventional cars are in a refinement phase and a golden age.

    If I drive 900 mi in my gasoline car, I can stop at any old gas station in Nebraska/Iowa/etc, fill it up in 5 min and be on my way. If I had an electric car, I would have to plan my trip to hit quick recharge stations, which is an inconvenience. Also, any backwoods mechanic can fix a conventional car enough to keep it limping along, trouble with the Tesla’s propulsion system and you have to be towed to the dealer.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Vojta this is your best article yet, and your writing is notably improving! Great work!

    I’ve seen some (four or five) Model S’s in the flesh, and they come off very slick and sexy – in dark colors. One of them I saw was in a blue-green type color (think a shade darker than 1st gen Equinox blue-green) and didn’t look great. Lighter colors also generally reveal some really bad panel gaps, at least in photographs as I was looking around on Ebay.

    I’d take mine in black or navy, if I were shopping them.

    How do the doors feel/sound when they close? Is it a mechanical heavy thunk, or do they latch electrically like an S500 might?

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      Thanks! I’ve been writing for quite a few years now, but writing in English is still quite a new thing for me, so I hope I’ll keep getting better for some time.

      As for the doors – there’s no electric latch, and IIRC they close with a solid “thump”.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Your English is better than that of the vast majority of the native-born American population. You don’t owe any apologies for that.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I concur with Pch101, be proud you have effectively mastered it.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Vojta,

        Good job. Great review. Thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        @Vojta: Hope you won’t feel attacked, then, by one little hint to improve your English even further: There could have been a few more “the”-s, and the occasional “an” or “a” too.

        I’m guessing the Slavic languages, like the Finnish one, don’t have articles in the same way a Germanic or Romance language would? At least I notice this same problem in many Finnish-speakers, and Finnish doesn’t. (Here’s the same point in “tankero-English”: “Am guessing Slavic languages, like Finnish one, don’t have articles in same way Germanic or Romance language would?” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tankero )

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    Considering I live in Tesla’s 2nd biggest market (SoCal is still #1, thanks AppleFacebookGoogle!) my opinion is going to be a bit biased…

    The ‘Rich’ neighborhoods around Denver are downright flooded with these things. My BMW dealer was saying they saw a distinct drop in 6-series sales when the Model S started shipping, and I personally know someone who isn’t going to buy another A7. I personally would hate to be stuck in one for more than 30 mins, but I am 6’5 and can’t drive most things smaller than a 5’er comfortably. The interior is trimmed to the target customer demo, and when they do a midcycle redesign and get rid of that stupid tablet, there are a LOT of people at Mercedes and VW who need to start sweating.

    The commentariat can bitch about how ‘people don’t want electric cars!’ all they want, but if the upper class continues to drive taste for the next decade, people will convince themselves they want it. Most city and suburb dwellers do not drive more than 100 miles a day, and if you have an actual honest-to-god commute of 175, there are other life decisions you have made that preclude an EV.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      Apple, Facebook and Google based in Silicon Valley, 400 miles north of Southern California. If I had to guess, the bay area is the #1 market, because Tesla is based there and the car has a lot of appeal to the techie set, followed by SoCal proper, because people there like shiny things, and the Tesla is very shiny.

      Even a Volt’s electric only range would’ve been enough to cover my own commuting needs every day. I think what will really drive it are economic decisions. When electric cars are cheap enough, more regular commuters may move to them because it’ll cost $30 a month, instead of $30 a week to commute.

      I’ve gotten stuck in 4am middle-of-nowhere commuter traffic filled with people who live 100+ miles from where they work. I’d rather pay more rent and live closer to work than suffer through that every day.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The Bay Area is also a near perfect environment for an EV. The weather is mild, speeds are relatively low, and even long in time commutes tend to be fairly short in actual distance. You look great going slowly in heavy traffic.

        A Tesla would not work for my use case of that sort of car, but I can see the appeal for many.

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        My bad, I spend too much time in Effectively-Southern-Oregon California, and typically refer to anything south of Sacramento as “SoCal” – and end up pissing off or confusing many people. Then again, I don’t see very many differences between people in the Valley and people in The Hills…

  • avatar
    mor2bz

    Thanks Vojda for your honest assessment of this car. TTAC lack of a review prior to this was very conspicuous.

    How in the hell would you have repaired this car if you did damage it?

    I agree on your opinion of the door handles. And the lack of knobs.
    Nothing as ergo as a few knobs.

    Does the seat position one low? I hate that. Anyone with back problems
    should try a high seat. I drove a Mazda 3 recently and was delighted
    as to how high the seat could be jacked up.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    From the review:

    ” And I would bet that the suspension development of the Model S took place on British roads, ”

    As a resident of the Bay Area, I can proudly say you’d probably lose that bet. We have plenty of shoddy, under-paved, pothole-ridden roads of our own that can hold up to the worst the world has to offer. Particularly in the East Bay, home of Tesla’s factory. I don’t think they’d have to drive much past the factory gates to torture-test their suspension.

  • avatar
    carguy949

    Terrific review, Vojta, thank you. I had the chance to test drive one and I loved it. I thought your description of the suspension was spot on. Did the one you drove have the Adaptive Air suspension?

    I would add one more point about the powertrain. You noted the silence and instant torque of it, but the lack of a transmission means no shift shock ever. The nicer cars may have shifts that are nearly imperceptible, but no shift at all makes this powertrain an order of magnitude smoother still. It really is fantastic.

  • avatar

    I had an opportunity to spend a good amount of time with a Model S around the middle of last year. (You can read my impressions here: http://www.eastwestbrothersgarage.com/2013/05/test-drive-tesla-model-s-performance.html)

    I too was impressed with how well the car drove and how easy it was to utilize the regen braking to balance the car in turns. The quiet cabin certainly did not hurt the impressions of luxury and having the ability to carry on a conversation with rear seat passengers without needing to raise your voice is a nice added bonus.

    But if you are comparing this to an S-class or A8, you are thinking about its competition from the wrong perspective. Think of this as being more like the Porsche Panamera. For the GTS model that most closely matches the Model S in performance, outfitting it with a few basic options to match the Model S carries a $116k price tag and the Panamera definitely gives up quite a bit of interior room. That is more the kind of competition. Sure you lose out on the aural enjoyment of the ICE, but you gain a bit more peace and quiet in return.

    Of course, the Model S is a first mass production vehicle for Tesla and will fund its ability to work on the more populous embracing Model E that is supposedly going to be closer to the $35k mark and still deliver 200 miles of range. Technology will continue to improve along with Tesla’s cars. I think that as Americans in big cities move further and further away from relying on cars for daily transportation, EVs from companies like Tesla will start to make more and more sense for urban dwellers.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Speaking of the Model E, for some odd reason Ford applied for the Model E trademark a few months after Tesla. Ford’s going to lose the battle, I don’t know why they’re even bothering. Tesla has also applied for Model Y, which I’m assuming will be the truck. So far Ford hasn’t challenged it.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    The price of this car is outside my comfort zone, otherwise I would buy one.

    In fact, I’m surprised that I’m really ready to buy something like this.

    We do an annual long trip and the recharge time would make that a nuisance (two 30+ minute recharges per day restricted to a few specific location – not a winner), so we have a Prius for that. But we also run down from the Twin Cities to South Central Wiconsin about once a month and it’s a surprise to realize that there’s an EV which could do that with minimal inconvenience – and the charging situation will only improve as time goes by.

    So, we’ve got a Prius for the super long trips and this EV could do absolutely everything else. I’m ready. I didn’t expect an EV at any price could be practical for me for another dozen years; I’m very surprised.

    Also, it’s a great review that makes the car sound very appealing. I wish I could comfortably afford it.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    In theory the Tesla is great, in reality it is crap and overpriced. I am sorry that interior is just junk. It is not even worthy of being in a $50,000 car. No door pockets, really? I love the luxury of my S Class and would never trade it for this. With regards to traveling long distances, I can drive 600 miles in a day no problem so the range is not acceptable for me yet and I don’t want to be stuck for 30 plus minutes at a charger. Plus I hate being tied to a specific route, what if you need to or want to deviate from your route, you can’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Door pockets; really? Door pockets are so gauche! They’re utilitarian ugly–not luxury. Your argument sounds like you want a cheap commuter car, not a comfortable, economical luxury car.

      Sure, any of us can drive a car 600 miles in a day–I do it a minimum of twice a year. Interestingly, I could do it with a Tesla Model S, if I owned one. I already know that I could do it in just three stops and actually take the time to give my wife’s back a break from sitting 12 hours in a car. (Ok, 11 hours. I do tend to pay attention to speed limits.)

      As for diverging from planned routes; I almost never do that simply because I AM on a schedule when I make those cross-country trips and don’t have time to divert unless absolutely necessary–and with the reserve available between Supercharger stops, I could go a fair distance out of my way on a detour and still reach the next one with range to spare. Of course, I’d rather the route be down I-81 instead of I-95, but that’s only because I-81 is the more direct route for me. That day will come soon enough.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Venom makes a valid point that the Model S is missing key featurs that other 100k cars have. You might be fine with marginalizing the wants of luxury car buyers from where you sit, but from the perspective of luxury car buyers, this car falls short in many ways. That’s why it isn’t “the best” at anything except being a luxury EV, which is a tiny sliver of the market.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I’m not sure door pockets is the best example of something “gotta have” for lux buyers. All my cars have had door pockets, I’ve never used them except maybe to temporarily hold a receipt from something til I get home. My pocket would have worked too.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          I suspect that the customer base is going to start thinning out in about 2015-16, once the pent-up demand has been fulfilled. There will also be downward pressure on the ARPU (which is quite high at the moment), which won’t be good for earnings.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            By the way, PCH, read my comment to your earlier statement above. It really doesn’t look like growth is going to ‘thin out’ in 2015/’16 the way you think.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          My 1990 F-150 has “door pockets”. I keep bed tie-down rings, straps and spark plugs for the engine in them.
          My 2008 Jeep Wrangler has “door pockets”. I keep a tire gauge, a multi-headed screwdriver and a few other odds and ends in them. By NO means are they a “luxury item”.

        • 0 avatar
          carguy949

          Good points, but 20,000 cars a year isn’t that tiny of a slice. It outsells the A8 and 7-Series by a pretty wide margin.


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