In a supercar the big engine rumbling in your ears prepares you for powerful acceleration but in a Tesla Model S … you can’t hear a thing!
There is nothing to beat the thrill of acceleration. My test car can sprint from 0 to 100kph in just three seconds – that is faster than most supercars. If, like me, you ride motorcycles you’ll know there are very few cars that come close to a modern powerful bike for thrilling acceleration… but the high performance Tesla Model S P90D does.
The fact that the car doesn’t have a huge internal combustion engine makes the experience even more astonishing. In a supercar the big engine rumbling in your ears prepares you for powerful acceleration but in a Tesla Model S… you can’t hear a thing! Floor the throttle and BOOM… the back of your head will plant itself into the head restraint as the ‘faster than falling’ G Force makes you giggle out loud. It’s a surreal experience and in an instant you suddenly ‘get it’ and understand why the Tesla S has become such a hit globally.
So let’s decipher the Tesla naming code… ‘S’ is the car model. The Tesla Model S is a five-door five-seat Jaguar XF sized machine. There is also the option of two additional rearward facing kids seats (like an old Merc or Volvo estate) in the boot area – making it a 7-seat MPV!
Tesla S is a clever package as it was never an ‘engine’ powered car so there is a big space under the bonnet and in the boot. Model S comes with two power outputs – an entry point 328hp, rear-wheel drive, Tesla Model S 70 (70kWh rechargeable battery pack) or our test car features the bigger 90kWh battery that DELIVERS 691hp. ‘P’ stands for performance and ‘D’ stands for all-wheel drive.
Similar to buying a conventional car, or a smart phone for that matter, you can spec up your Tesla. ‘Ludicrous’ is one option name that does exactly what it says on the tin and a must for fans of horsepower… 762hp (+71hp) to be exact.
There are no Tesla dealerships in Ireland and in fact there are no Tesla dealerships as such… Tesla owns its own retail network globally and sells its cars in Tesla Stores – much like high street retailers or mobile phone shops. The UK has 13 stores at the moment and if you want a Tesla here in Ireland you’ll have to import it privately and pay the due VRT & VAT. The S 70 retails from £54,100 in the UK while our test car cost around £100K.
Sitting behind the wheel of an electric powered Tesla equipped with the brilliantly named ‘Ludicrous’ option is a real thrill. The cabin is spacious and trimmed to feel luxurious. There is a massive touch screen in the centre of the dash that would shame an iPad Pro! – But you will also find some Mercedes-Benz sourced conventional switchgear. While the high tech would imply the car should have a joystick there is a nice steering wheel to remind us of the last century.
As a car the S works really well. Even on its big alloys the ride was composed on most surfaces. As you’d expect from any piece of electronic tech, the Tesla updates/upgrades itself while it’s plugged-in at night. The latest software that allows limited external driving via your phone is called 7.1.1 (just like computer operating software). You can turn off elements of any upgrade (and some upgrade options/features state they are in beta testing form) or happily accept and have the bragging rights with your friends that you have a near self driving machine.
Much like the tech available in the new Mercedes E Class, you can set the Tesla S to driving itself (almost). An automated driving pilot (Auto Pilot £2,600 option) lets you select to drive in your lane and follow the vehicle in front (the car applies the brakes or accelerator when needed) without any input from you! Okay you have to hold the steering wheel periodically (it has sensors in it) or the car will get shirty. If you persist in ignoring warnings, the car will ultimately stop. You can also select the indicator and the car will enter the lane chosen without your steering input when it is safe to do so.
Like a science fiction movie, the Tesla S has a certain amount of artificial intelligence and this A.I. is updated daily to learn more about how it can improve. As a result I haven’t been able to watch any Terminator movie since testing the Tesla!
Like any EV, the car is automatic and makes only a slight turbine-like noise when driving. Regenerative braking features, and there is a strong brake feel when you lift off the accelerator. Electric motors by their nature deliver instant punch and the Tesla S is a hoot to drive. At the moment, as electric cars go, Tesla is king of the heap and with its big battery capacity you can actually use it everyday – just like a normal car without the range anxiety. The Tesla S P90D has a theoretical 530 km range – much more than the circa sub 200 kilometres most EVs offer. In the real world you get over 400 km without even trying.
Tesla’s can be charged at normal EV charge points, but Tesla also has its own Superchargers that can deliver half a full charge (potentially 265 kilometres) in just 20 minutes. There are rumours of plans for a few of these in Ireland in the main cities on the Island. As I write Tesla is set to announce pricing for its new budget ‘Model 3’ and later this year the SUV Tesla X will begin customer delivers.
Elon musk is the man behind Tesla and a tech genius. He has fingers in lots of other pies including space exploration and solar power but it is his electric cars that are catching the most attention and rightly so.