This Sunday I had a chance to visit the new Tesla factory in Fremont and test drive the Tesla Model S.
In a nutshell, after the short test drive, I was impressed. Really impressed. There’s a lot to like about the model S, and a few things I didn’t care for. Here they are:
The good (great):
1) Handling and Performance. This car drives like a dream. I tested the performance edition, which does 0-60 in 4.6 seconds (or thereabouts). It was so fast! I drive a BMW M6 with 509 HP so I am used to a fast car. This car seemed faster than the M, even though it is not. It’s the linear acceleration that makes it seem so quick. As fast as this car is, it was the handling that really took me by surprise. It drives like its on rails. Seriously amazing handling. You immediately notice the low center of gravity as there is almost no body roll, yet it is supple and smooth and there is no harshness to the ride. It is a completely different driving experience than any other car I have ever driven. It is this aspect of handling that completely wowed me and convinced me I have to have one. My friends and I compared the Tesla S to the M6 one after the next, and agreed that the S felt like a rocket ship ride, and the M6 felt like a bucking bronco. The S is smooth. The M6 is rough and wild.
2) Electronics. I’m a geek so I love this stuff. The google maps integration, the 17” screen. The awesome software. WOW. Getting back into the m6 felt like a prehistoric dinosaur by comparison. The electronics are just insane and amazing.
3) Obviously the electric motor, the range, the simplicity of design (mechanically), etc.
4) The styling. The exterior of this car is really beautiful. It reminds me of an Aston Martin. Not quite as refined (IMO), but still a great looking car. It also looks powerful and muscular, which is great.
5) The rear facing child seats. Nice touch. My expanding family will love these (when they are old enough)…
6) Storage space. More storage space than any other car in its class (im guessing here)
7) Sound. I thought I would miss the roar of a 10 cylinder engine with howling exhaust. I didn’t. The silent whine of the electrical engine is thrilling, and somehow I wasn’t missing the sounds of the gas guzzling M. Frankly, the jury is out on this one, but I’m sure my neighbors will appreciate the S :)
1) Interior fit and finish. Didn’t quite seem up to the quality of a 100k car like the M6. It was good, but it is not great. Examples: - the door handles are cool (they pop out when you touch them), but the pop out mechanism is subtly jerky - cool idea, needs better execution. - Interior door handles are sculpted, but felt like a cheap car. Hard to put my finger on why, just that is how they felt (I didn’t have much time with them). - there is a cross bar in the center of the roof in the panoramic glass roof model. The covering on this cross bar looked cheap. - the seatbelt buckles were large and clunky. Not normal for a luxury car. Hopefully they fix this. - I could go on, but I only had a few minutes, and these things stood out.
2) Seats. They design feels a bit cheap. Non adjustable head rests are odd.
3) The typeface for the “model S” badge. It’s a custom typeface. They seem to be copying the angular elements of their logo. To my eyes it looks cheap, poorly designed and clunky. I love the naming “model S” reminiscent of the “model T”. I hate the typeface. All the other typefaces used in all of their designs are fantastic, clean, element and modern. This one seems very out of place. I may have to simply remove this from my car when I get it.
4) The black plastic covering the grill. Looks cheap and fragile.
Frankly, when you look at a completely new 1.0 car and one of your biggest complaints is the typeface of the logo, you know the car is pretty darned great.
The car is a step change for the auto industry, and I am amazed at what this team has accomplished. The best thing I can say is that Elon and team have accomplished their goal: the Tesla S is by far the best car I have ever driven.