Tesla Model S is fast, and chic.
In P100D guise, super car performance is wrapped in a paired-back-luxury glove. It is a brick wrapped in silk. Subtly minimalist, it belies the cutting-edge ecosystem which supports it. The “100” tells people how much you paid, and how many hours you can stay on the road between charges.
We drove last year’s model HERE.
On first inspection, the big Tesla is a handsome, but unremarkable execu-hatch. The market is lousy with them. So, what makes the Model S special?
Is it the 21” wheels? They look even more enormous on such a low-slung jalopy, but they’re now commonplace.
Is it the sensuous body? As you look quizzically at the façade, you notice there is no grille, and the uniqueness begins to reveal itself.
The exterior is uncluttered to the point of OCD fervour. Chrome door handles are flush with the doors, and there is not a key hole to be seen.
Everything is controlled by the “Tesla Model S”-shaped key fob, or an app on your smart phone. As you approach the muscular hatch, it sits in a defined microcosm of smugness, as if to mock you. It awakes from its self-aware slumber, unfolds its mirrors, and moves the doors handles out just far enough for a hand to grasp them. You see, as long as the battery isn’t flat, a Tesla is never really asleep, merely napping, waiting to coaxed into life.
Lights front and back are power-saving LEDs, and they too can be controlled from your phone, anywhere in the world. Once on the move, the headlights monitor conditions ahead and will always keep the road fully lit. Never do you touch anything as sordid as a high-beam lever.
Touch the boot on the mini Tesla twice and the hatch swings up. Touch the “frunk” on the fob twice and the bonnet pops up, but don’t let Tesla owners hear you calling it anything as pedestrian as a bonnet. You still have to schlep round the front to close it.
You open the doors and they feel as light as a feather. The frameless windows look like shards of glass from a MOMA sculpture.
Then, you’re inside, having gone through a portal to another world.
The cabin has a touch of Blake’s 7 about it. Carbon fibre and leather look like futuristic interpretations of 22nd century self-driving pod, because, that is what it is. But more about that later.
You can’t help but be swept away in an overwhelming wave of lust.
There is nothing to distract you from your experience. The seats look like delicately sculptured works of art. Even the door handles feel organic and are molded into the door itself rather than being glued on as an afterthought.
The only buttons are for windows, and the auxiliary controls on the steering wheel. Except for the hazard flashers and glove box buttons, the dash utterly bereft of anything to spoil the flowing lines which trace around the graceful cockpit.
There are no instruments either. There is a discrete LCD screen placed where the driver’s dials would once have been. A massive tablet stands guard, portrait-style, over a centre stack unsullied by clutter.
Model S is designed by geeks with good taste, but at the end of the day, a nerd is a nerd, and the tablet bristles with deliciously nerdy goodness.
All functions, including the sunroof, can be controlled from it. Some functions can also be controlled by the secondary steering wheel controls, including the afore-mentioned sunroof.
It is here you find the “Easter eggs” as Tesla calls them. Touch the Tesla symbol, the pull the menu down, where a feast of festive frivolity is cheekily displayed. Here, the Smart Cruise Control and Auto Pilot display on the driver’s LCD can be set to Santa Mode.
Your car becomes Santa’s sleigh, and the cars in front become Rudolf and his BFFs. As if that wasn’t camp enough, every time you turn the indicators on, they jingle, as in bells. I’d like to say it gets old fast, but the rampant campness made me giggle.
You can set the SatNav to a map of the Martian surface. Make sure you activate voice directions on first or you’ll find yourself on route to the Sea of Tranquility.
Tapping the “The Spy Who Loved Me” Lotus Esprit makes the readouts come over all sub-mariner. That is something you’ll have to see for yourself (in our video).
Another button turns the tablet into a huge sketch pad where no end of juvenile antics can ensue.
It’s worth going into a Tesla showroom just to experience the extreme wrist-flapping and campery in person. While you’re there, check the “Merry Xmas” dance on the Model X.
Seating for 5 is snug and feels personally molded to everyone who is ever going to sit in it. Space is by no means capacious. Instead, you feel cocooned in restrained splendor.
Ludicrous PLUS mode can be found in this Easter egg (secret features) menu, or by pressing and holding LUDICROUS mode in the main menu.
Everything is electric, even the door openers.
Finally, should there ever be a bio-attack, stay inside your Model S. It will create a positive atmosphere in the cabin (using air pressure, not nice music, of course)
- Auto software updates
- Functions controlled by centre tablet and smart phone app.
- Smart cruise control with “auto pilot” driverless mode.
- Smart SatNav including directions to charging stations.
- Under floor batteries for low centre of gravity.
- Walk away locking
- Remote unlocking/start (from anywhere with phone access)
- Car can be recycled including batteries
- Ludicrous, Ludicrous PLUS, Sport, and Chill (new feature) driving modes
- Fully automated parking mode
- Summon mode (beta) operated from smart phone app.
Model S P100D $198,100
- 3 motor All-Wheel Drive
- Red Multi-Coat Paint $2,100
- Sunroof 2,800
- 21″ Sonic Carbon Twin Turbine Wheels $6,200
- Black Premium Included
- Carbon Fiber Included
- Dark Headliner Included
- Ludicrous Speed Upgrade Included (2 rear motors instead of 1)
- Tesla Red Brake Callipers Included
- High Power Charger Included
- Enhanced Autopilot $6,900
- Premium Upgrades Package Included
- Smart Air Suspension Included
- Premium Sound Included
- Subzero Weather Package Included
$216,100.00 ($196,454.55 + GST $19,645.45)
Luxury Car Tax $42,172
NSW Registration Costs $773
NSW CTP $512
NSW Stamp Duty $13,437
TOTAL PRICE* 272,994
- 3 electric motors, one front and two rear.
- Power/Torque – 521kw/1250Nm
- 1 Speed auto
- Electric gear selector
- Variable height Air suspension
- 0-100kph – 2.7 seconds
Model S is supple, sumptuous, and silky from the second the selector is pulled down. You start to move, in utter silence. The only sound from the outside is a discrete shhhhhhhhhh from the tyres. There is no oil, so no belts and pullies. There are no cylinders, so no petrol or sparks plugs? There are just two tiny electric motors (3 on the performance P100D models) attached to a gajillion laptop batteries.
It accounts for the hefty 2,400 kg weigh-in.
It seems counter intuitive then that this hefty lass hauls A*$ to the tune of 2.7 seconds to the ton.
Before sticking the loafer to the Axminster, you must first select Ludicrous PLUS from the drive options, or the secret-squirrel menu. You get a friendly warning to confirm. The two options are “no I want my mommy” or “yes bring it on”. More nerdy antics.
If you have been dawdling about all day in “chill”, L+ comes as somewhat of a surprise. 2.7 to a hundred feels like a Movie World ride stat, and it is.
It makes your hands sweaty and your eyeball pressure shift. Only a car costing many more shekels can go quicker. The AWD Model S would make a jaunty-capped M driver puce with rage.
The only advantage to knob in the M is at bowser time.
A Model S feels like it is completely self-driving but Tesla insists these are driver aids only. In fact they’re potty about the fact. You have to keep your hands loosely on the wheel. It recognizes speed sign changes. Imagine how much that could save in fines alone. Legislators are slow to change, especially when fossil fuel Is paying the piper.
A Tesla owner is going to need at least an hour at a super charger, and herein lies the problem: there are so few of them. Those E-Car chargers at Westfield will give you 80k per hour of charge at most. The one you get for home will give you a trickling 20k per hour of charge if you’re lucky.
That all sounds a bit grim but remember this, that M driver will be paying ninety bucks a fill, at least, sucked from his soul every time he gets near a pump. As you back up to a Tesla charger, you can sniff in a spasm of superiority in the knowledge that your 500k charge will take you an hour-ish, and be completely free.
Driving a Model S feels like a rocket has been strapped to your Teflon-coated Nikes.
You’re attached to the road by the unseen hand of an almighty, and there is little madness that can befall you to upset the balance.
If you prefer to drive like your nana, you cruise the boulevards happily. Windows down and sunroof open adds a level superiority Queen Liz could only aspire to.
In short, driving a Tesla Model S is sublime. Only the haters will find fault.
- 5 star (tested 2015)
- Auto Pilot and smart cruise control
- Lane Warning and active guidance
- Reversing camera
- Cross traffic warning
- Blind spot monitoring
- Vehicle safety monitoring.
- Emergency notifications
- GPS Vehicle tracking
- Remote acecess
- Handsome looks
- Subtle and elegant cabin design
- AWD with dual motors
Not So Good Bits
- Range anxiety towards end of charge
- Limited super chargers
- Some suspect shutlines
Driving a Tesla is a uniquely personal experience.
Nothing else comes close to match Tesla for comfort and economy. Sure, a Roller has more panache, but it costs 4 times more, and, a Maclaren has more “super car-ness” about it. But there is something about a Tesla that only Apple fans will understand.
Tesla enjoys cult-like status among admirers. They talk in hushed tones as they sip coffee waiting for their free top-ups. Their language is a semaphore that only members of the club understand and they like it that way.
Once you own a Tesla you become part of a carefully curated community.
Servicing is almost completely unnecessary. As long as the batteries are good, and the motors are singing, the only thing you really need to do is rotate the tyres. Let that sink in for a bit.
Your Tesla will update itself as long as it is in cell range, but beware, you can’t drive while software is updating. If you live in a tower block, why not update your Model S while you’re at Gold Class sipping a champers?
Once you’ve felt the G’s in a 2.7 zero to a hundred sprint, your life changes.
In one final nod to the power of a Tesla, a Model X towed a Boeing 737-800 on the tarmac at Melbourne airport on the 15th of May, 2018. That takes chutzpah.
As you ride off like Butch and Sundance, you can do so knowledge that you can keep your Telsa as long as it holds together. Most of the things that break in a normal internal combustion engine car are mechanical. However, electric motors are known for longevity.
It can theoretically drive itself and only needs a change of legislation to make it legal.
Facts and Figures
Price: $198,100 ( $272,994 as tested – drive away)
Engine: 3 X 3-phase induction motors, Front + rear motor comb output up to 581kW, 1,250Nm
Transmission: 1 speed fixed gear
Safety: 5 star
Warranty: 8 year or 160,000 km and 8 year or unlimited km for battery/drivetrain
Alan Rating: 9/10