YOU put your foot down, all the way to the floor, and you hear nothing. But you find yourself pinned to the seat pulling G forces you would expect from a high powered race car. That’s the experience of driving the 2015 Tesla Model S.
This car is insanely quick, handles like it’s on rails, and is as comfortable and classy as an AMG E63 or an Aston Martin.
There are no emissions from the Tesla Model S, no sound either – just the noise of the road. There’s no exhaust pipe, no gearbox and, wait for it … no engine.
It’s electric. Literally. It pumps 315kW straight to the rear wheels. It’s powered by an 85kWh battery, has a range of 502km on standard ‘speed limit’ type driving and can plug into a power point at home to recharge (a 6% increase on that range is available as an optional extra with the 90kWh battery upgrade). Let’s not forget the speedo that goes to 250km/h if you want it to, and the sub 5 second 0-100 statistics (the addition of “Ludicrous” mode, announced mid July 2015, makes the top of the line P85D capable of 0-100 in a sweet 2.8 seconds, with a quarter mile in 10.9 seconds).
It’s definitely one of the most amazing cars on the road today, with a touch panel that looks more like a vertical
17 inch computer monitor than your average 7 inch in-car display. It’s the key to integration within the Model S 85, allowing you to control everything from ride height, to the position of the panoramic sun roof. It’s also the navigation system, radio (including internet radio), charge meter … literally every function this high end, luxury car and its incredibly comfortable leather interior are capable of, can be controlled at the touch of a screen.
It’s list of standard features includes free charging on a growing network of super chargers that can see you in and out, from almost flat to fully charged, in less than 75 minutes, a rapid charging system for your home, and 24 hour road side assistance (even if it’s just to change a tyre – there’s no spare). It’s also fitted with KERS technology that feeds charge back into the batteries when you brake or lift off the accelerator.
Add in free navigation maps for seven years, WiFi, a HD reversing camera, heaters in all five seats, lumbar support front and rear, a 12 speaker stereo system that includes a sub woofer, loads of storage in the two boots (remember, no engine) and every other conceivable luxury you would expect from a high end car of this calibre.
The car is even capable of auto updating its operating system and remembering GPS locations where you had to raise the ride height (and will do it automatically for you next time round).
It’s got a five star ANCAP safety rating and is loaded with driver warning systems for everything from lane drifting to impact possibilities, as well as having active cruise control. It’s built in the USA and fully imported into Australia, runs Mercedes Benz components (Daimler is a part owner in Tesla), and is hard to fault in almost all of our test areas.
Are there drawbacks? Of course. Start with charging. The lack of Super Charger locations (for a rapid charge) restricts where you can drive it (a Super Charger station is being built at Goulburn as I type), and the slowness of home charging if you’re just plugging into a standard power point (think mobile phone charger slow, or worse).
Add-ons are expensive too. These wheels, for example, are worth more than $6000, and the upgraded sound system, executive rear seats and automatic ride adjusting air suspension carry $3000-plus price tags.That’s each, by the way.
The specification we drove – the Tesla Model S – included the all-glass panoramic roof, 21 inch, grey turbine wheels (to go with the Titanium Metallic paint work) and ultra hi-fidelity sound, and would set you back a cool $145000 (made up of a base price of $123000, the massive luxury car tax slug of $15000, plus a few other on-road costs).
There are, of course, areas for improvement in the Tesla Model S 85, but if this is where the bar is set for the future of electric cars, then motorists, particularly those with a bit of cash in their pocket, have a lot to look forward to. This car is a game changer. If I was an oil company, I’d be buying shares in battery manufacturers.
Our test vehicle was provided by Tesla Motors Australia. For more information on the 2015 Tesla Model S, contact your nearest Tesla Centre.
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