Tesla. The name conjures up the great electricity race of the late 19th century where Nikola Tesla and Edison fought over two great ways to generate and consume electricity, which are still in use today. Tesla was also an inventor of many things electric- and radio-based. He lived a good life off his patents until his death in 1943.
Today Tesla is a small car company taking after its namesake by building electric-only cars that have become viable and even sexy, with curves and power and handling and high technology.
The Tesla car company story began with the Roadster (2008-2012), a Lotus-based two-seater that was purported to go 245 on a single charge. One guy even made it across the United States in one! Albeit kind of slowly by gasoline car standards.
Starting in 2012 Tesla began making the Model S, a sedan variant with a bigger battery, more room (four seats and plenty of storage) and a style that puts it above many of the luxury brands out there. It’s long and swoopy and looks great from every angle.
Powering the Model S is two different battery sizes: a 60 kWh battery good for 208 miles and an 85 kWh battery that should eke out 265 miles per EPA ratings. There’s no transmission on the model S, just a reduction gear. Luckily, it doesn’t affect how the Model S runs; expect a top speed of 120 to 130 depending on the battery and which variant you choose. More on that in a bit
Horsepower ratings across all three Model S variants are respectable considering the league of competition in this class. The base Model S 65 gets a 302 horsepower motor good for 0-60 in 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 120 miles per hour. There are two versions of the Model S 85, the regular variant (362 HP, 5.4 seconds 0-60 and 125 MPH top speed) and the Model S P85+ (416 HP, 4.2 seconds to 60 mph and 130 mph top speed). We drove the Model S 85 and it felt as powerful as it should have.
Inside is an opulent setting for five adults (plus two kiddos with the optional rear-facing jump seat in the hatch the features five-point seat belts no less) with leather surfaces and soft touch materials at every point. The instrument panel is one big LCD that is configurable and easily readable. The center stack, where the radio and climate controls are in most cars, is another LCD panel…a rather large one that is the place for every control, whether changing the radio station, the interior temperature or even surfing the Web. Full specs can be found here.
Driving a Model S is a rare treat and a surreal experience since there is no key nor start/stop button nor any noise letting you know the car is ready to drive. Once you get in, all you do is select a gear, reverse or drive, and go. Simple as that.
Once you’re moving, the Model S drives like any car on the road today. The only thing that seems different is the lack of engine noise and lack of transmission shift points. Power delivery is instant and forceful when you push the pedal to the floor, like any 300-400 horsepower car should do. Cornering is also a strong suit with the Model S, as it should be in this price range. It is truly motoring at its finest.
Prices start at $69,900.00 for the 60, $79,900.00 for the 85 and $93,400.00 for the P85+, none of which include the $7500 federal tax credit nor any upgrades like $2500 for a panoramic glass roof or $4500 for 21-inch “turbine” wheels or $1500 for leather (or upgrade to sport seats for another grand). THere are other options like the tech package ($3750), dual chargers ($1500) and many others! If you max out your Model S, as most Americans would love to do, expect a final price of almost $125,000.00!
The bottom line is this: The Tesla Model S is a cool vehicle with awesome tech features, a striking profile, drop dead gorgeous looks and exclusivity. The only drawback is the “limited” driving range. It’s only a matter of time before more electric cars hit the mainstream, as long as their range keeps improving and costs keep coming down. The exception is Tesla. HIgh-end cars are always a bit eccentric and that is truly something to revel in.
On a side note, There is no key for the Model S. You get a fob shaped like the car that activates the door handles when you walk up to it. Coolest tech we’ve seen in a while!
And here is the actual car we drove, in it’s home, getting charged up:
And some pics of the center screen and the rear hatch!