Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S Performance Sedan

I’ve had the Tesla Model S Performance Sedan for two weeks, and wanted to share my thoughts with prospective purchasers.

In short, it is extraordinary. It perfectly combines the features of a luxury car, a sports car, a station wagon, and an iPhone.

With all the mass in the flat bed underneath, and almost no moving parts, the handling is impressive. Its  0-60mph time of 4.4 seconds makes it hard to control yourself. Even I, who am not a car nut, am constantly wowed by the cornering and acceleration. You can be stopped at a corner, and three seconds later you have completed a turn and are at the speed limit, all without a sound.

All this performance, and yet including the “frunk” under the hood it has 58 cubic feet of storage!

Plus, the user interface and ergonomics are remarkable.  The 17-inch touchscreen is beautiful, and the programming is completely intuitive.

It is amazing that they could get this much right on the first try. In fact, the only thing I’d change is the center console, which lacks storage and doesn’t have quite the right ergonomics.

There has been much discussion in the press about road tripping with this car. The whole conversation seems silly to me. That’s not what this car is for. With a 240 mile range (unless you max-charge the batteries for 300) it’s a great car for everyday use, which is 99% of the time. But the fact is it takes an hour on a 110-volt outlet to put 3 miles of charge onto the car. That means it takes 20 times as long to charge it as to use it. Compare that to gasoline, where in five minutes you can put 300 miles into a car. so gasoline is a factor of 1200 more time efficient! Even the home quick charger takes overnight to fully recharge the car. And the highway superchargers Tesla is installing take 20 minutes to put on 100 miles. While it makes touring possible, that’s not the same as practical. None of this bothers me, because it’s a misapplication of the car. It’s designed to refill itself every night in my garage, and that’s how I intend to use it.

The thing that most impresses me about the Tesla is the attention they’ve put into the smallest details. For example:

  • If you want the rear hatch to open no higher then a certain level, you push it to that spot and hols the close button down for thee seconds, and it sets that spot as the maximum height.
  • When programming a smart garage door opener that requires pressing a button on the opener, the car blinks its lights to indicate success.
  • When you near any GPS location where you’ve programmed a garage door code the instrument panel automatically offers you that location’s buttons.
  • Using Slacker Radio, the music system interface lets you play any song from the Internet, and offers an interface that puts the Lexus to shame.
  • The web browser works while driving, meaning owners have written applets just for the car, such as a Tesla-themed clock: http://dash.time4tesla.com
  • During navigation, in addition to the center console map (which can be expanded to 17 inches, and includes satellite images) the left dash display shows a forward looking map perspective as if you were flying in a glider.
  • The iPhone app lets you turn your climate system on before you walk to the car, and has many other useful features, such as a map to show you where it is in the parking lot.
  • Electricity is efficient. The equivalent cost is 90 miles per gallon.

When I picked up the Tesla in Tampa,  we filmed the training session, which I’ve posted it to a YouTube playlist.

In short, the Tesla is a remarkable car, that will bring a smile to my face every time I climb in.