One of the vehicles in 2017 I was very much looking forward to testing out was the Tesla Model S. Last weekend, I was finally able to do so, and it has been a heck of a ride! The 2017 Tesla Model S vehicle I got was the P100D model, a higher performance overhaul than its lower base models. It has the insane Ludicrous/Ludicrous + mode and coupled with instant torque, gives so much acceleration it feels like you’re on a rollercoaster. The top speed of the Model S P100D is 250Km/h, and goes from 0-100 km/h in a very minimal 2.7 seconds! It’s also the fastest accelerating production car in the world at the moment, from 0-100km/h.
I picked up the Model S at Tesla’s temporary pop-up store in Ponsonby, while their new store is being built just down the road. When the new store is built, Tesla said it will definitely be bigger than the old Fire Station they are currently located now, and will eventually have Superchargers there for customers. I have been told that a fancy lounge is being built to accommodate customers waiting for their Tesla to charge too!
Superchargers have the ability to literally supercharge your Tesla vehicle at a speed of around 3-400km per hour. That is insane compared to how long I had to charge my Tesla Model S at home (and at slightly faster public charging stations) last weekend. I swear I spent more time charging it than driving it! But that is because I don’t actually own the Tesla, and if you did own one, you will most likely have a Tesla Charger at home that can add about 80-100km per hour to the car. I was charging at a rate of 8km per hour at home with a regular power plug, and charging at Vector’s public charging stations got me around 31km per hour. Just as a note, I found out that Tesla now only give out free 400kWh credit of Supercharging, and once you’ve used that up, it’ll cost $0.35 per kWh charged. I queried about that to a Tesla employee and they said that it is still undecided at the moment for New Zealand.
Tesla also ran out of CHAdeMo adapters so I couldn’t go down to Vector’s Fast Chargers on Hobson Street to fast charge my Tesla. The range of the P100D (100kWh dual motor) is theoretically 632KM. How foot-heavy you are will definitely decrease that, especially if Ludicrous + mode is on and in use most the time!
Nevertheless, apart from the few charging hassles, I did have a great time, albeit a short time with it. I tried to test out many things at once including a short trip down to one of Tesla’s Superchargers located in the underground carpark at The Base shopping center in Hamilton. It was very relieving when we arrived, as we only had 34km left of battery! It was amazing to see how fast the Supercharger can charge the Tesla.
The Tesla Model S P100D comes with All Wheel Drive as standard. Driving the P100D was silky smooth on the road, and was also pretty smooth when driving on rougher tarmac and gravel. There was a gravel road going through Puhoi, West Auckland, and it handled the road pretty comfortably even around corners, and even automatically softened the steering wheel for me. And apart from the road noise, on a smooth road surface, there is silence apart from the car’s electric hum. You will notice a big difference in sound when driving an electric vehicle compared to something like a V8 Petrol or even a Diesel. You can speed past people and they won’t even know you went past them, unlike the noise of a V8 engine. But some people like that. I’m not here to judge. For an extremely fast car, it corners and handles exceptionally well too! When cornering at speed, the Tesla felt very stable at no point felt like it would lose control. And if you lower the Smart Air Suspension, you also lower your center of gravity, creating one of the perfect vehicle for corners.
With Smart Air Suspension, the Tesla can lower or increase the suspension on-the-fly, while being able to absorb bumps along the way as well as increase handling for around corners on a lower suspension. The Tesla is also smart enough to remember that location when you adjust the air suspension, so the next time you come back to that steep driveway, it will automatically adjust the suspension.
The low drag coefficient of the P100D also means that it literally slices through air like a hot knife through butter. That is also how the Tesla is able to be one of the fastest accelerating vehicle from 0-100 in the world; there are not a lot of things that stick out and increase the drag resistance of the car.
With the Heated Seats for all 5 passengers (including the rear middle seat), front windscreen defroster and heated steering wheel, driving long distances for a road trip is no hassle at all. Of course, if you have the Enhanced Autopilot and Self Driving Capability Package, that will make life a whole lot more easier. The aforementioned features are additionally priced add-ons.
The Tesla Model S also doesn’t have many buttons, especially not in the center console. Everything is controlled by the huge 17-inch touchscreen in the center console, slightly angled towards the driver. During my short time with it, the only lag I had was trying to use the built-in internet browser. Tesla have assured me that an update to fix this lag is coming, but don’t have a time frame for it. I tried to watch YouTube (while parked obviously) and it wasn’t able to play it because the “video was not compatible with this browser.” So how does the Tesla connect to the internet? Two ways: through WiFi or through the built-in 3G modem. Tesla told me that when someone purchases a new Tesla, an unlimited Spark 3G mobile data plan is included for free, for three years. Yes, only 3G, not 4G unfortunately.
By connecting it to the internet, the Tesla brings a whole plethora of features available to you. For example, it can connect directly to your calendar and show your daily meetings/events for the day as soon as you get in the vehicle; be able to remotely turn on the AC/seat warmers/steering wheel heater before you even get in the vehicle; be able to monitor your Tesla remotely; use your phone to unlock your Tesla if you forget your keyfob; and even check where your car was parked in a huge carpark. Here is the link for information about the app.
In terms of entertainment features, I was able to connect my Spotify account directly on the touchscreen and search for and play music without having it to go through my phone. TuneIn Radio and the normal radio and Bluetooth audio are still included.
Maps is very nice on a 17-inch touchscreen and is powered by Google Maps. I wasn’t able to add traffic info to it but it could be just hidden in the settings somewhere or disabled.
The reversing camera is a high definition one and is very nice. It is also the only car at the moment which is able to keep its camera view on the screen while driving at speed.
All the controls and settings are only able to be controlled from the touchscreen. For example, while the rear seats have seat warmers, they can only be activated from the touchscreen. However, it is nice that the rear seats have two USB ports the passengers can charge their devices on!
There was also an Easter Egg in the car, and I won’t tell you exactly how to do it, but by accessing that Easter Egg, one of the Tesla diagrams will display a submarine in remembrance of an old James Bond movie.
Tesla’s keyfob is also a pretty unique one. It is in the shape of the car. It feels pretty cheap to be honest, but the thought of having the keyfob in the shape of a Tesla was nice. As it resembles the actual vehicle, by double-clicking on the front of the keyfob (the frunk – frunt trunk) it opens the frunk. By double-clicking the back of the keyfob, it opens the trunk. Lock/Unlock can be pressed on the ‘hood’ of the keyfob.
Exterior wise, the Tesla Model S is a very sleek looking vehicle. The handles retract when you’re inside or when it’s locked; the wing mirrors are small and compact for reduced drag (and no blind spot indicator on the wing mirrors means no extra set of eyes to tell you if a car is in your blind spot); there is a spoiler on the back of the vehicle. Overall, it gives the Tesla Model S a drag coefficient of about 0.24 which is pretty darn good for a car of this calibre! A few features such as the carbon-fibre spoiler I mentioned before are available as an add-on when purchasing the vehicle.
Interior wise, the Tesla Model S is not bad. When looking up at the roof, it is see-through. However it has a very strong dark tint to it meaning you will not notice any sunlight coming in through the roof. A cool thing I liked was while you can see out of the roof, if you press your head and try very hard to look in from the outside of the roof, you can’t see a thing. Also, unlike the Model X, there is a seam that joins the roof with the front windscreen. This model didn’t have the sunroof. I also found the matte-like finish of some of the interior was very prone to fingerprints and dirty fingers. In fact because of the glass roof above as well, nearly everywhere was fingerprint prone, even the 17-inch center console touchscreen, and the exterior of the car. The exterior paint of the Tesla, is very prone to fingerprints. I think perhaps a slightly better thought for the interior may be needed, especially as it is a family sedan, and kids will definitely put their grubby fingers all over the car. The headroom of the sedan is a bit low, so taller people getting in and out of the vehicle may have to duck their head. The back seats were also a bit tighter than expected, but the boot has a good amount of space. In fact, two extra seats can be put in the boot facing the back of the car for small kids. Teenagers and adults will definitely not be able to fit.
I was also eager to try out the Autopilot feature of the Tesla Model S, but those features were not enabled in my model. I was told that all Model S’ are shipped with the same functionality, so once an add-on feature is purchased, all they have to do is enable it in the vehicle. It’s funny to think that by paying an extra 10k for Autopilot, all they have to do is press a few buttons to activate it…
The base model of the Tesla Model S (75kWh battery) costs around $120,000 NZD. Fully speccing it up to the P100D model shoots it up to $270,000 NZD. Not cheap. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, did say that “while the P100D Ludicrous is obviously an expensive vehicle, we want to emphasize that every sale helps pay for the smaller and much more affordable Tesla Model 3 that is in development. Without customers willing to buy the expensive Model S and X, we would be unable to fund the smaller, more affordable Model 3 development.” So basically the owners of current Tesla Model S’ are helping fund the cheaper Model 3, which is currently still in the making.
Overall, I really liked the Tesla Model S P100D. Its insanely quick Ludicrous + Mode, its smart tech all packed into the huge 17-inch touchscreen, and its customisable options such as steering wheel mode, suspension lift all able to be changed on-the-fly really make this a geek’s dream vehicle. I only got three days to test drive this vehicle so while I tried to cover most of the features here in this blog post, some features may be missing. Hopefully, when the initial wave of interest has died down a bit, we may be able to get a slightly longer test drive. Hopefully.
For more information on the Tesla Model S, please visit: https://www.tesla.com/en_NZ/models