As a birthday surprise, my family arranged a Model S test drive. Saturday was the day. I’ve seen Tesla cars several time now, talked to their owners, and even sat in one, but having the experience of driving one was something I was hankering to do.
The Tesla Model S is amazing to drive – I’m feeling a little unfaithful to our Leaf EV….
We travelled down to the truly enormous Carindale shopping centre, and they had a Model S on display to the public (the red one) and another parked outside for booked test drives. This was great, as we had a good look around the inside car before the test drive. It was also great to see an EV out where lots of members of the public could check it out, as awareness of electric cars in Australia still has a long way to go.
James took us on the test drive in a top-of-the-range model, a Tesla P90D, which has the longest range and what is known as the “ludicrous” mode (going from 0 – 100 km/ph in 3 seconds). He has software to adjust the engine to perform like the 70D base model – although there is nothing base about this impressive car.
Both Adam and I had a turn driving, and brought along two of our three kids. They were poo-pooing the idea, but ended up very impressed. When we tried the stomach-lurching “ludicrous” mode after being stopped at traffic lights, Zoey asked, “Is this what it feels like to go into space?” It was bizarre, such a fast start from being stopped, we were way down the road a second or two later, while the other cars were just starting to move.
Another surprising experience was a demonstration of one of the Model S’ latest software updates, automatic perpendicular parking between two cars, reversing into position. Given that I’m dismal at parking, I could really go for a car that parks itself.
We also tried out the autopilot on the motorway – just touching the indicator tells the car you want to change lanes, and the car checks for traffic and then moves across. If a car in front slows down, the Tesla slows down in response. Legally, you still need to keep your hands on the steering wheel, even though the car is doing the driving – a little mind-boggling.
A few other features:
- smart phone can be used to unlock the car and tells you the interior temperature of the car and control the ac
- a firm touch on the brakes when stopped sets the brakes so that you can take your foot off
- the dash display shows vehicles around the car and in your blind spot – combined with the rear view camera, the visibility is amazing
- the car turns itself off as your exit the car
- it’s spacious, with lots of leg room and a huge back boot and medium frunk
- extremely quiet – such a disconnect between the powerful engine and not being able to hear it at all