Auto Review: Tesla Model S Premium Luxury Sedan

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Tesla Model S at Golf Club at NewcastleNote:  This article first appeared at BellevueBusinessJournal.com on June 9, 2014.

Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to take out a Tesla Model S “Premium Electric Sedan” for a day.  It was one of the best driving experiences of my life!  Tesla set me up to pick up a Model S 85 Performance Plus (top of the line Model S) from the kind people in the Tesla showroom in Bellevue Square. Even though I had previously been in the showroom at least a dozen times, I learned that there was much I still did not know about this machine.  In a 15 minute lesson, I was shown many different features of the Tesla Model S that I had previously been unaware of.  

 

By the end of the lesson, my mind was completely boggled, but I was confident that I had a good handle on the basics of operation. Tesla Model S 17in TouchscreenThere are a lot of really great things about the Model S, but at the top of most owners’ lists is the fact that it is completely electric - no gasoline is used - or purchased.  EVER.  After that ever-important factor, many Tesla owners rave about some of the many technological advances designed in the Model S.

One of my favorite features is that I never had to take the ‘key’ or FOB out of my pocket.  When I got close to the car, the car would unlock and the door handles would extend out.  The Model S is ‘on’ once the brake pedal is stepped on.  The ‘gear shift’ is much like the windshield wipers on others cars, protruding from the right side of the steering column. Push ‘up’ and the car is put into reverse and automatically turns on the back up camera and shows the rear view on the 17” full color in-dash touch screen.  Push down and the car is in drive and ready to go.  To put the car in park, just push in on the handle.  Don’t even bother setting the emergency brake, rolling up the windows or locking the car - it is all done for you automatically when you walk away from the Model S with the FOB in your pocket.

More on the techy features a little later - the best thing about the Tesla Model S was driving it.  Super, super easy and lightning quick.  The Model S Premium Plus can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in a staggering 4.2 seconds.  It sure seemed like I could have taken the Ferrari we played cat and mouse with over the Aurora Bridge …  in fact it is rated much quicker in 0-60 than most of the older Ferraris.  

It was very easy to get a feel for driving the Model S, which has explosive power and the handling of a sports car.  For some reason, it even seemed a lot easier to get around Friday afternoon rush hour - if nothing else, it sure was a lot more fun.  I have to describe it as a cross between a rocket and a golf cart.  If it had wings, it would surely fly! The 85 kWh Performance Model S is rated with a peak motor power of 416 horsepower or 310 kW and a top speed of 130 mph.  The test model I drove, although super quick, must have had a speed governor written into the software, as it topped out at 82 mph (but please don’t ask me how I know that).

With the help of regenerative braking, the vehicle slows tremendously on it’s own when the driver takes foot off of ‘go’ pedal - and it even slightly helps charge the battery during ‘regen’ braking, helping extend range per charge. Tesla Model S on Alki West SeattleSpeaking of range and charging, the Tesla Model S, as a fully electric car does need to be charged to power the vehicle.  There are three different battery options for the Model S, the 60 kWh battery has an EPA certified range of 208 miles, the models with the 85 kWh battery are EPA certified to have a range of 265 miles.  

Tesla vehicles can be charged at home via 110v or 240v outlets, at an increasing number of public charging stations - or at a growing grid of ‘Super Chargers’.  Using a 240v outlet, the Model S can be recharged at the rate of 29 miles of range per hour.  Using a Tesla Super Charger, the Model S can obtain a 50% charge in as little as 20 minutes.  There are currently Tesla Super Chargers located in Burlington (about 60 miles north of Bellevue) and Centralia (about 75 miles east of Bellevue) and Tesla is scheduled to install one in the Bellevue area sometime in 2014.  

Although there are still some unknowns about battery life in electric vehicles, all Tesla Model S batteries are warrantied for 8 years, the 85 kWh versions with unlimited mileage, and the 65 kWh versions for 125,000 miles, making owners even more comfortable with their purchase. As far as the tech features, the Tesla Model S is a very well thought out vehicle.  Everything can be controlled from the 17” touch screen monitor, including navigation (including links to the nears chargers and super chargers), audio (internet radio, XM radio, ‘regular’ radio, audio from your bluetooth enabled devices, etc,), internet browsing, climate control, monitoring your energy consumption, back up camera and the ability to use on your own bluetooth phone handsfree.  You can even use the screen to open and close the super cool all glass panoramic roof, as well as change the height of the suspension and the responsiveness of the steering.

Virtually every Tesla owner I’ve ever talked to raves about their car.  While out at Alki taking photos with the Model S on a sunny afternoon, a man and his wife walking by stopped and proudly told us they have had a Tesla Model S for about two years now.  They spent over 10 minutes of their day telling us how much they love their car - and that it just keeps getting better and better.  They explained how upgrades are done automatically via software, the maintenance is very minimal and that they love that they have not purchased gas or oil in two years!  These proud Tesla owners also said they have convinced several other people to buy the Model S and that their grandchildren even want so see them more, so they can ride in the “Magic Car”. 

I knew I wanted one before I drove it, but now I know I HAVE to have one.  You’ll probably want one too …  JK Tesla Model S front You can order your Tesla Model S person at the Tesla showroom in Bellevue Square or online at TeslaMotors.com. Joe “The Connector” Kennedy is a freelance writer and publisher of various websites including Bellevue Business Journal, Luxury Fitness Fun and Good News Uninc.  He is easily found online – just Google “Joe Connector”.  

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