Tesla is a fascinating company – I remember first hearing about their electric vehicles many years ago thinking it’ll be a fly by idea and Tesla would be a name long forgotten once their initial budget ran out – How wrong could I be! Despite the media storm the BMW I8 created, Tesla is working on something rather special by comparison.
I’ve been following their progress for a while now and Tesla is leading the way in electric power supply innovation in both vehicles and home energy sources. I’ve produced some information on how Tesla can power your home here – well worth a read for those interested in cutting energy costs and helping the environment.
But back to the point, and the reason for this post – I was pleasantly surprised to receive a newsletter from Tesla to say they are hosting some open days and inviting people to test drive the Tesla Model S. It didn’t take me long to arrange my test drive!!
Before divulging my experiences driving the car, some awesome technical details for the Tesla Model S:
- Three battery capacity options – 70kWh, 85kWh and 90kWh
- Equating to 260-275 miles, 305-330 miles respectively for each size of the battery – at least double the distance of any competitor out there.
- 0-60 times are staggering – 3.1 seconds to 5.4 seconds OR 2.8 seconds with Tesla’s self-labelled “Ludicrous Speed and Range Upgrade” – Available in the premium model with this ‘ludicrous speed’ it’ll do the quarter-mile in 10.9 seconds!!
- Available in both RWD and AWD formats – The RWD models are cheaper and produce a lower power output.
- Autopilot Mode will follow the curves of the road and control the pace of the car in accordance with vehicles around it, it will park itself too.
- Euro NCAP 5-Star Safety rating
- Storage space front and rear (No engine!)
- 0 CO2Emissions
So the bit I have been waiting for; what is this thing like to drive – all the stats look amazing but does it stand up to the potential?
Invited to a local golf club for my test drive, I pulled up to be welcomed by a handful of Tesla S vehicles which as you can see look stunning in the promotional pictures, they look even better in person!
Walking up to the car, you hold the fob as you’d expect – the fob is a silhouette of the vehicle itself and has responsive buttons to open different sections of the car.
Without actual keys, as you walk towards the car the door handles simply pop out to allow you to open them, creating a smooth finish when they retract. There is no ignition barrel with the car clever enough to know when you are sitting in the seat so no push-button start either – cute touch! Just put your foot on the break and it lights up, drop it into drive and you are ready to go.
You immediately notice the centre console when you sit in the car – a huge 17-inch screen consuming the entire centre section – everything is controlled via this interface and I was surprised to see only two physical buttons, the hazard lights and an open button for the glove box. From the little time I played around with it, it seemed perfectly user friendly, using Google Maps as the navigation system to great effect and has internet access.
Looking around, I thought the storage space found under the bonnet to be a little surreal but an obvious advantage. It’s worth also noting no physical transmission components so a huge amount of space is made available inside too, including no bump to negotiate in the rear footwell, the car seats 5 people better than anything else out there.
No gears also made for a very interesting driving experience…after a tentative start, you immediately begin to build confidence in driving it. With no engine note, all you hear is a distant whoosh of the electric engines which is very bizarre, especially after years of driving 6 cylinder engines with huge Japanese style exhausts!
As a result of the aforementioned lack of a gearbox, there is no loss of power through gear changes and torque is available straight away, with various outputs, all 300 + BHP – this thing flies in all models! Its resulting power curve is perfectly linear and I’m left wondering if there is anything I can find fault with. The drive shocked me, whilst beautifully smooth low speeds, move into “Insane” mode and the beautifully smooth experience continues yet fires you out of the barrel of a gun. Until now, cars knew if they wanted to be driven slowly or quite the opposite. The Tesla S seemed perfectly comfortably at either end of the scale and the acceleration is simply breath-taking, over and over (and over) again!
Driving in a straight line I was hooked on unleashing the power it had time after time – It just didn’t get boring. I’ve driven some cars capable of a 0-62 times of sub 5 seconds but doing it in 3 seconds simply took my breath away and took my driving experiences to whole other level…I started thinking if I could legitimately purchase one. It pulls and pulls and pulls and with its centre of gravity coupled with next to no road noise, I could have quite easily been sitting at 40mph rather than rocketing up to and passed the national speed limit – the brakes work well too!
The battery pack makes up the base of the vehicle so its provides a perfect centre of gravity and stays flat to the ground wherever you go, some understeer if you really push it but with a 50/50 weight ratio, it handles very well.
Put the car in park and simply walk away – the car secures itself…for another test drive, I should imagine.
I felt like I was driving a Mercedes most of the time, and a Nissan GTR the rest of the time. If and more likely, when Tesla finalises their enormous gigafactory in Nevada and are able to mass-produce their storage technology, creating this for the mass market then I’ll certainly have my name down on a list and I would encourage others to too. Whilst BMW’s I8 is a spectacular car, BMW made it look like it was from the future – a mistake, in my opinion, the Tesla a better prospect all round – a genuine game-changer that I am sure represents the next generation for motoring.