Quick Spin & Quick Thoughts on The Tesla Model S

We have a long history of talking about Tesla on these pages having reviewed both versions of the Roadster over the years. But while both of those cars were truly surprising neither is near as compelling as the Model S in both form factor and price. Recently we got behind the wheel of the electric four door and came away with a few first thoughts. While we ‘ll have a long-term drive later this summer we wanted to bring you some initial findings from our first drive.

  • The Model S is surprisingly well built for the first totally new product from a totally new automaker. No creaks or rattles even over Chicago ‘s worst roads. It feels worth every bit of its $70k price-tag.
  • Acceleration is as advertised, which is to say M5 killing.
  • Handling was good on the passively damped Performance model we tested. Not M like mind you, but it has a set-up that catered to the enthusiast more than even a standard 5 or 7 Series.
  • Ride was exceptional;firm but comfortable.
  • Technology is rampant. The massive touch screen is compelling even though the interface design is already looking dated. But why is unlocking the doors two clicks away?
  • Quality levels are high with most major touch-points taken straight from the current generation Mercedes E and S class.

Look for a full review(with specific emphasis on what it ‘s like to live with the Model S) later this summer.


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  • CDspeed

    I’ve driven the Model S, it is brilliant it’s quiet like a Rolls Royce but fast and fun to drive like a M5. And being that the drivetrain is very flat it has a very spacious cabin and a lot of cargo space.

  • Frank Granados

    Drop dead gorgeous car. Why can’t BMW build something that looks like it? Simple, elegant and damn hot attractive lines. Maybe Munich should lure away some of the Tesla designers. Tesla S is out of my reach but I hope they succeed. An electrical car of this price with limited range is not something that will work for me. But once the range is improved and the infrastructure is developed to support charging in long distance locales, I can see myself going all electric in the future.

    • Dr Obnxs

      we’re getting a Fiat 500e for the wife’s commute… It’s short each way and range won’t be an problem as it’s not our only car. My Mom has a Volt, and it’s a really good chassis! It has no range issues because it’s a plug-in hybrid. Full electrics will only work for some of the people, no matter what. Plug in hybrids can serve the needs of pretty much all users, and if you have an all electric range of about 40 miles, the energy savings is about 50% over an internal combustion car.

      I live in the SF bay area, and the Model S is close to ubiquitous. They are EVERYWHERE!

      BMW is captive to thier design language. They can’t just “throw it out” or then flush a bunch of brand identification down the tube. But they could evolve it to something different. And for many features, I sorely wish they would!

      • If you wanted a BMW-style electric, why not the Mini-E?

        And why not the cheapest Tesla Model S instead? The price difference isn’t that great and it strikes me as a much more capable car.


        • This is a way old comment thread, but the post about the P85D brought it back to life.

          FIAT 500e lease, $1700 down $250 a month and $2500 back from CA is a LOT LESS than any Model S. Also, the MINI-E isn’t available, and when it was, it was an $850 a month lease.

    • maybetoday40

      Frank, please explain your concern with limited range? You can go almost 300 miles before charging…do you drive that much every day? And the best part is, you drive every day and charge at night so when you wake up, you have about 265 miles to work with…and you never go to a gas station. What is your range issue? Especially with Superchargers going all over the US…free charging all the time. So, what is your range issue?

  • JonPD

    Rather funny have seem more Model S in the last month than ///M cars. Then again it could be that the 7 S that I’ve seen just stand out more than the fairly ubiquitous ///M cars.

  • George

    I think the area in which Tesla embarrasses BMW is in the technology. BMW is everything wrong about how car makers handle in-car tech. Tesla is the way it should be.

  • olanmills

    Best way to unlock the doors is to put the car in park, which is just a quick tap on the end of the gear shift lever. It’s also safer anyway to have the car in park if the door needs to be opened, presumably so a people or cargo can get in or out.

    The caveat is, of course, that to put the car into park, you have to be fully stopped.

  • Teslafan

    If you got the tech package, all you need to do to unlock the car is come up to it with the key in your pocket, and then get in. No other car greets you like the Tesla model S does.