You have to drive one of these. To my shame I was a cynic, not understanding the appeal of electric. I like my super cars dirty, in your face, snarling, gnashing beasts.
So why would I be interested in a car with no engine, no exhaust pipe, no emissions, no sound? It has got to be soulless, hasn’t it? No, I was so wrong. This is the future; it has been proofed that way. It is already the driverless car – it’s just waiting for the legislation to set it on its way. Thinking about it, it’s not really a car at all. It is a tech-fest, an automotive petri-dish containing the technological agar jelly on which future transport apparatus is being grown. It’s a test bed that just happens to be on four wheels, all of which are driven by the way.
The touch screen is huge, like an iMac tipped portrait-style, and intuitive rather than intimidating. First port of call is the whoopee cushion setting which triggers audible raspberries pumping out of the stereo around the cabin seats. Who doesn’t find that funny – even people with girlfriends get it. Then there’s the Santa mode which changes clicking indicator noises to jingle bells and puts Santa in his sleigh between the clocks, complete with snowflakes.
The 17″ screen displays an amazing 395 miles to flat battery but satnav tells you how far to the nearest charging point and how long it will need to replenish. It also tells you how much charge you will have left at journey’s end taking the stress out of EV motoring. In fact, let’s face it, it’s the only pure electric vehicle I have driven that doesn’t turn your hair white with worry.
Charging comes in three forms – the Supercharger network, which will top you up within the hour, Tesla’s Type 2 connector, which charges from flat to full in about six hours and any-old-mains-point that takes up to 30. It all conspires to make the Tesla practical in the real world.
It is supercar expensive but residuals are high because the Tesla can be updated like your phone or computer – how cool is that? So every Model S on the road is basically the same because the updates make sure it is.
The real surprise is the way the S drives – it is stunning in every way. Don’t imagine this to be a couch-potato’s extreme driving game with all the visual stimulation but no feel. This is a very fast, agile sports car, the fastest “sedan” in the world, in fact, but with character and personality. Acceleration is incredible; you will win every traffic light drag race thanks to a bewildering 0-60mph time of 2.4 seconds -what?
Overtakes are a breeze too because it has so much torque and high speed cruising is just so quiet and serene that the miles flash by in an instant. The front to back arrangement of the battery packs, and therefore weight, makes the centre of gravity tarmac skimming low blessing the Tesla with stupendous handling.
I love the way that the Model S appears on the dashboard graphics as an avatar. Surround cameras let you know what is in the vicinity; so when you overtake a van or lorry it appears as such on the display and when a motorcycle overtakes you it is depicted in two wheel fashion. It even puts pedestrians on there – so clever.
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