Closing speed: Look out ahead!

Closing speed: Look out ahead!

I know there's plenty of folks on this board trading in very fast cars for their Model S. If you're one of them, you probably know what I'm talking about. For anyone else coming from a much slower car (like a Prius for example), I've noticed an interesting phenomenon. The Prius goes from 0-60 eventually, Model S, significantly faster. When driving the Prius, I found my attention focused rearward, judging the upcoming traffic, calculating the space available to change lanes, etc. . I never worried about overtaking the cars ahead of me.

With the Model S, I find that my focus has to be looking forward. The danger is ahead from slower traffic. Model S acceleration is just so quick that you need to readjust your perception of "closing speed" and reevaluate the space ahead. It's a nice challenge to have!

I've found that I can "accelerate" out of any upcoming danger from behind, but there's nothing you can do about slower traffic ahead.

Tesla owners... always looking forward!

Brad Holt | 21. Dezember 2012

Ha! I never would have thought of this without experiencing it first hand. Thanks for the tip! Now my first moments with the Tesla will be just a little bit safer. Hooray!

Velo1 | 21. Dezember 2012

Good to know. I like to think of myself as a forward thinker.

BYT | 21. Dezember 2012

I have a question about the thrown in the back of your seat acceleration. How do you best trigger that response? Anyone have it down to a science so I can duplicate it for those I give test rides too? They are all impressed, but when I get that rare occasional G-force kick, they are then REALLY IMPRESSED! :)

JThompson | 21. Dezember 2012

Mark2131: Thank you for your insight - very handy for us new 9or soon to be new) Owners!

BYT: The whole time on my Get Amped test drive I was saying "Oh my gosh oh my gosh"! When I tromped on the pedal, 60 miles an hour came so fast I only got two "oh my gosh"s out! When I was doing 60 and stomped it, it went to 85 in seconds...the nose pops up to attention and you feel the rush! Then I lifted off the pedal and the car went from 85 to 10 in no time...with no braking!

I pick mine (P85 black) up 30 December @ 1000 from the Washington DC Tesla store!!

lolachampcar | 21. Dezember 2012

The acceleration is nice but it just does not seem to be the same as an ICE for me. I've got a bright yellow V12 thing that gets to 60 in roughly the same amount of time with A LOT more drama. The drama fools me into thinking it's faster. Silly me.

The real reason for the post is the MS' braking. It is beyond awesome, even compared to that yellow car. That is saying something. Kudos to Tesla for putting 4 piston Brembos on all four corners and putting the CG so low gives them the rear grip to deliver sub 110 foot 60-0 times. Nice work. It also helps with that slower traffic ahead of you :)

dahtye | 21. Dezember 2012

@BYT, I like to just floor it when my new occupants are not expecting it. It's especially nice if they are focused on the 17" panel since, if in the front, the passenger is likely to be reaching to navigate it and the passengers in the back are leaning forward looking at the screen. I did this once on a residential street just after having turn onto it - went from 10mph to about 50 in no time (probably about 4 houses - or 400 ft). They all were pressed back into their seats with the "oh my god" and smiles on their faces.

rc_austin | 21. Dezember 2012

BYT, I've been thinking about that exact same question...glad you asked it. :-) My thought was to ask passengers to lean forward just a *little* bit, enough to get their head off the headrest. I figure that'll accentuate the acceleration. Can someone try it for me, since I don't get my S for a few more weeks??

jjaeger | 21. Dezember 2012

Mark2131 - interesting observation, and one I will soon try out first hand as I am picking up my S this Sunday from the Fremont factory. That being said - your observation seems correct, and while I have owned quite a few different cars over the years, the only one that I currently own that is the exact opposite of of the S is my '50 Buick (straight 8) - where when I mash the pedal, I still watch my rear view to make sure all is well while the Dynaflow transmission works its way through the gears and I get to speed :-)

Happy holidays to all.

tranhv68 | 21. Dezember 2012

Driving an electric car is very different from driving an ice car. I drive my leaf like I drive my golf cart - with the accelerator pedal to the floor all the time. For only 106 HP and 207 lb-ft of torque, it feels fast. I have an 09 Nissan GTR and I enjoy the leaf almost as much.

I am expecting my model s at the end of the month and I am looking forward to it like a kid before Christmas. Words cannot describe the instant torque and the drama-free application of all that HP and torque. It is faster and makes the car feel even faster.

I bought the leaf after having it as a loaner while the gtr was in the shop. It's a lease because I just needed my ev fix and knew I was getting the model s and model s. The point is that people need to drive an electric car, even a leaf, to experience the instant drama-free torque. Once my friends drive my leaf, they understand the allure of ev propulsion.

tranhv68 | 21. Dezember 2012

And model x.

archibaldcrane | 21. Dezember 2012

I think the biggest difference in the startling acceleration compared to an ICE is that there are no cues that it's about to happen - even with powerful ICE cars, you hear that engine rev a split second before you get into that torquey range and you know what's coming - with the Model S it's just on top of you, the experience of feeling the G-force is your first clue it's happening as a passenger.

Bennett R. | 21. Dezember 2012

@BYT, when I test drove a Roadster about a year ago, before I slipped into the drivers seat, the salesman asked me to try to change the radio station (while we were already driving). That was when he stepped on it, and I couldn't lean forward.

EcLectric | 21. Dezember 2012

I've always been one of those 'looking forward' drivers. I hate going slow because instead of being in control and seeing the cars you are passing - you are sitting there counting on other drivers not to hit you. For me, going slow is as uncomfortable as backing up. Forward, drive!

nickjhowe | 21. Dezember 2012

@BYT - it is all about the mid speed acceleration. People expect acceleration away from a start. They don't expect to be thrown backwards at 40mph - especially when it is silent.

portia | 21. Dezember 2012

Actually I think you should warn your passengers before stepping on it, they could get a whiplash and hurt their necks if you are not careful! :)
I warn mine especially when they are elderly.

Mark E | 22. Dezember 2012

After a weekend with a roadster sport my wife complained about the instant acceleration without warning. With my Porsche there is warning with noise, or me changing down etc, but with the EV you just leap away without any warning.

Timo | 22. Dezember 2012

Going from slow car to Model S: when considering passing other car change lane FIRST and then press the pedal. No need to "collect speed" before passing like you might do in something like Prius. If you do it in reverse order you might end up rear-ending the car in front of you.

Mark Z | 22. Dezember 2012

The precision steering can be tricky when driving 70 mph or faster freeways. Road crown and road slant require a constant pressure on the steering wheel to keep the wheels straight. Reaching for a control or adjusting a sun visor can result in drifting to a lane edge while steering with one hand. Model S requires constant attention to the road ahead to maintain proper lane position.

LazMan | 22. Dezember 2012

@Mark2131 That's great. I just put my reservation in last week and will be Moving to the Tesla from a Prius. I often tell people that yes, it can go 0-60. Going downhill helps. It takes a long time to get up to highway speed going up an elevated on-ramp.

Brian H | 22. Dezember 2012

Yeah, the MS don't need no stinkin' downhill! Uphill's more fun, anyway; combined g- and G-forces!!

BYT | 22. Dezember 2012

Thanks all, and great ideas to be sure! I found that in rare occasions however, I can really trigger a more forceful acceleration (not that the acceleration isn't always instant and forceful) but I mean a true, BAM, effect. I know the roads have to be dry and maybe things warmed up a but but not too warm and yes, I would already be traveling at a rate above 25 or 30 MPH.

I love the radio and forward leaning passengers to get a better effect though and I would be very careful with elderly passengers. I want them to get that Tesla grin as passengers and I know my P85 Model S, she can deliver.

Captain_Zap | 22. Dezember 2012

My Model S does not leave me longing for my V-12 at all.
But, my V-12 is about the same weight as a Model S and just a tad smaller in size. It isn't something that I would put a roll bar in and take to the track for the weekend though.

I bought the Model S because I am addicted to maneuverability in traffic. I don't feel safe without that kind of power and control.

When it comes to a V-12, I appreciate the 60-120mph performance more than the 0-60 performance. ;-)
Love the Model S' instantaneous torque on the high end!

Captain_Zap | 22. Dezember 2012


That is why performance cars don't have cupholders. ;-)

The Model S is my first car with a cupholder and I am not used to it. I catch myself placing my thermal cup in my lap all the time. I find it amusing.

Robert22 | 22. Dezember 2012

+1 on warning the elderly if you decide (god knows why) to pin them against their seats. Old brains don't much like rapid changes in blood pressure given atherosclerotic narrowing, potential hypoperfusion states, etc. That's on top of the likely sudden tachycardia that pacemakers are designed to prevent. So please, during the holiday season, respect the elderly and resist the urge to test Uncle Joe's Depends.

Public Service Announcement

Brian H | 23. Dezember 2012

Tell them to lean back, you're going to make their bladders slosh a bit. ;)

lolachampcar | 23. Dezember 2012

Mr. Zap,
I went for a test ride in a Roadster a few years back. It was a nicely done car but, having owned an Elise Sport 190, I knew there was no way to live with it on a daily basis. I remember the Tesla folks saying something about a four door but it did not stick.

Fast forward to May of this year and the end of my first full week on a 9DS Zero (electric motorcycle) and I knew I was done for. I was hooked for all the reasons you point out. My normal ride was a liter class bike and all the sudden I no longer had all that heat billowing off the bike at a stop, my new ride was dead quite and loosing all that rotational intertia made it a joy to flick around in city traffic. The instant torque sealed the deal as it was a snap to pop into any open hole.

I grabbed my wife and headed down to the Tesla store. Just through the door was the customary skate board. Seeing how the MS was designed did the trick. I made sure my wife found the car attractive and a deposit was placed.

I like old yeller. It's a nice comfy old man's car which suits me just fine for a weekend car. The MS is something completely different and a car I am thrilled to get. I guess we are both lucky enough to have one as a daily driver and the other for reminising on the weekend.

sparkycollier | 23. Dezember 2012

This is one reason I'm less concerned about the poor rear visibility (from the extremely slanted rear window), which would otherwise be a deal breaker for me.

I had a twin turbo RX7 in the past, and learned this "look forward" style then. You can erase blind spots in a fraction of a second with that kind of acceleration!

Ironically the tesla weighs almost twice and much, yet is probably 7x as efficient with 100% less petrol :)

michaelwm | 23. Dezember 2012

I've had the best luck delivering initial "wow" moments to passengers by cheating slightly... accelerate slowly up to 40 or so. Then take your foot completely off the pedal, triggering regen. When you hit 25 mph, then PUNCH the go pedal hard. You quickly switch from light deceleration to hard acceleration. Which is a bigger "feel" of change in momentum than just going from light or zero acceleration to full-blast.

BYT | 23. Dezember 2012

@michaelwm, awesome, I now have a starting point to try from... ;)

Brian H | 24. Dezember 2012

Ya, I was going to suggest that, but it felt like cheating. ;)

Captain_Zap | 24. Dezember 2012

Yesterday we were on a remote road behind a slow moving vehicle. My spouse was driving and preparing to pass. I mentioned that we didn't have to pull up so close to prepare for a pass in the Tesla. Then the pass began. From 50mph we were doing 85 while beside the car we were passing. A fraction of a second later, at the completion of the pass, a we were going somewhere around 100. We didn't even have it close to floored and the pass was almost instantaneous. How nice!

No waiting for the gas to hit the engine and respond. No waiting for a downshift.

As to "looking down the road", it is an old habit of mine. I am always watching the road as far ahead as I can see and watching several cars ahead of me at the same time. Old habits from open highways and muscle cars that keeps one out of harm's way.

After reading this thread about slower cars I now understand what those smaller cars were going through. Their behavior on the road baffled me before. I never understood why some cars would slow down to merge. I didn't understand there was a reason for the unpredictable behaviors. Thanks for teaching me something new.