August 16th, 2013 at 9:00 pm (Technology)
This is a car the way cars should be. The fact that it’s also an electric car catapults it into the realm of Sublimely Awesome, but even without that it would be a thing of beauty and utility. Everything in it works. The touch screen is responsive. The user interface is simple, clean, and beautiful. The sun roof is generous, the passenger space expansive, the cargo space eyebrow-raising. The seats are comfortable, the ride is smooth. The backup camera view is cinematic. Really, there is nothing NOT to like about this car. It’s practically the Platonic ideal of a car.
Here’s the dashboard, which consists of a simple customizable display in front of the wheel and a simply IMMENSE touch screen in the center console:
You can’t imagine how huge this thing is until you sit down next to it. It’s the size of a legal pad. However, it is often used in split-screen mode (as shown here) to give you, effectively, two displays. Its response is never jumpy, just smooth. It has magical powers, like a touch slider that opens the sun roof to the percent specified and other touch buttons that let you change the suspension of the car, while driving.
Oh, speaking of driving: this car moves. At the free way on-ramp, I was warned to put both hands on the wheel, “because it takes people by surprise.” Boy, did it! You press on the accelerator and it leaves your stomach behind. I didn’t even get to floor it because we were already at the top of the ramp going 60 (zero to 60 in 4.2 seconds!) and I didn’t want to ram the cars ahead of me. I got onto the freeway and tested the acceleration from a starting point of 70 mph. Zoom! It *still* took off with the same unnaturally intense pickup (unnatural today because we don’t expect that from a car. BUT WE WILL.).
The Tesla battery design is a leap ahead of the other electric vehicles on the market. It is composed of 8000 individual lithium-ion batteries, each about the size of a AA battery. Loss of individual batteries doesn’t affect the overall performance, and Tesla (the company) constantly monitors your battery status and contacts you to bring the car in if there are failures. The batteries are liquid-cooled and therefore perform much better, especially on hot days, than other electric vehicles that use air-cooled batteries. The Model S also has a range of more than 250 miles, handily addressing range anxiety.
I still can’t bring myself to spend $62,000 (after rebates) on a car. But I’m almost persuaded that this car is actually worth it.