What Car Should I Test Drive?

What Car Should I Test Drive?

I am actually curious about which NON-Tesla car should I test drive to get a feel for what I should be expecting in my Model S. There have been several threads comparing the car to other ICE vehicles but I think it would be nice to get it down in one spot.

This is my first purchase of a car in this luxury category. I am even debating not test driving because I just want the Model S so bad.... but my side of reason (wife) is telling me I have to test drive it first. I would have no point of reference to compare a test drive to so I was thinking about going to other dealers and trying out ICE cars that should be similar.

Throw me a few suggestions please.

gagliardilou | 19 February, 2012

The audi A8 is an impressive vehicle. If the model s tops that I would truly be wowed.

Discoducky | 19 February, 2012

Are you getting Model S Performance? The A7 or M5 might give you a better impression of the power/acceleration and chassis stiffness as the A8 is slower and most likely won't handle as well.

Robert.Boston | 19 February, 2012

Jaguar XJ (base MSRP $73,700, 0-60 in 5.4 sec) will set a high bar; pricey to keep, but similar capital cost to the Model S 85kWh pack.

The BMW M5 -- currently none new on dealer lots, but this car sets the standard for performance sedans. Not as country-club polished as the Jag, but a reminder of great German engineering.

I agree with DD that the Audi A7 is a good benchmark. Similar styling to the Model S, similar price range (a bit below the above).

Probably worth a test drive in the Lexus GS and LS range. I came very close to buying a GS in the last go-around. I'm not wild about the new look, though. Still, Lexus delivers good performance, great service, and a lot of amenities at a better price point than the German troika.

(I should in principle have recommended you stop by your MB dealer to drive something, but I find the recent vintage MB sedans I've driven to be boring. Maybe that's just me.)

My good friend in Detroit would not forgive me if I didn't include a US car in the roundup, so take a Cadillac CTS-V out for a spin. At $65k and 0-60 in 3.9 seconds--the world's quickest production sedan--it certainly belongs in the fine tradition of Detroit muscle cars. The comparison to the Jag is a study in contrasts.

One thing to enjoy is the process itself. The world of luxury goods is a rarified one, as much seduction as anything else. Enjoy the credibility when you can truthfully tell the salesman, "I've put down a deposit for a $70,000 car with one of your competitors, but I'm having second thoughts. Convince me." If you are treated as anything but visiting royalty, leave.

Volker.Berlin | 20 February, 2012

Jaguar XJ, Porsche Panamera. But if test drives with these are a difficulty to get, then any current 5-series BMW will be a good start.

Personally I'd take any Audis out of the comparison, except if you seriously consider that as an alternative. The drive train setup and chassis geometry is just too different: Model S has rear wheel drive, perfectly even front-to-rear weight distribution, and very short overhangs (the part of the body that extends beyond the wheels -- what do you usually call it?). That's much closer to a BMW setup than any Audi. MB has a drive train layout similar to BMW, but the drive characteristics have a higher emphasis on comfort and a lower emphasis on sport and agility, so the BMW is probably a better benchmark for your purpose.

brianman | 20 February, 2012

As for the EV vs. ICE "feel"...

Is there anything around besides the Roadster to give a taste of that difference? In the 0-60 mph range, I mean.

Volker.Berlin | 21 February, 2012


Liz G | 21 February, 2012

The Leaf can give you a sense of the difference but compared to the Roadster you won't get the "slam you into your seat constantly" feeling.

For that you could try a roller coaster. One with a very large drop. :O)

robert | 21 February, 2012

How about the Fisker Karma; other than a Leaf, it is the only one where you could get an "electric only" drive (provided the battery is fully charged and you don't go for max performance). I see where BMW will soon be leasing an all electric 1 series in selected markets. That should be an interesting ride too.

olanmills | 21 February, 2012

I honestly don't see the point of test driving another vehicle if you're not truly comparison shopping. I presume, that you, like me are interested in the Model S not because it's a luxury car, but because it has new technologies that will make owning and driving the car a different experience.

I would just test drive the S and see if you like it. If you like it better than your current car, does it matter that much how it feels compared to a XJ? I would say no, unless you would actually consider buying an XJ. The only other reason to care is if you are concerned what other people think. Like if you're concerned that someone you know will say, "Oh, feature Y is better on the 5-series" But you shouldn't care.

If you are a luxury car shopper, and the S is one of a number of options for you, comparing make sense, but if like me, you wouldn't even be interested in the S if it wasn't electric, if it wasn't consumer-electronics-erized, if it didn't have computer screens for controls and gauges, then I would argue that comparing it to other cars is a waste of your time.

Timo | 21 February, 2012

AFAIK Karma electric only performance is quite poor, loses to even Leaf. It just shows that pure BEV is a lot better than serial hybrid.

Volker.Berlin | 22 February, 2012

olanmills, I understand Sudre's desire to compare the Model S to competitors in the price range, even if he is not seriously considering them. And it's not necessarily about what other people think. Spending this kind of serious money, he probably wants to make sure that he doesn't get pulled over the barrel. If you had no appropriate baseline to compare Tesla's offer to, they could offer you anything for any price and there would be no way for you of telling whether or not it's fair value for your hard-earned money.

Volker.Berlin | 22 February, 2012

And besides, it's just another fun way to pass the time while waiting... :-)

Robert.Boston | 22 February, 2012

@olanmills, to further VB's point:

If someone is only interested in buying a high-performance EV sedan, then the list is really short: Model S.

If someone is interested in buying a high-performance, premium sedan and is willing to lay out $60k+ to do so, the list fills out.

In either case, I think it's worth remembering that we are buying transportation, and that each option carries with it pluses and minuses. It's entirely legit to want a sense of what you could get if you plunked down your $60k (or $70k, or $90k, ...) to buy some other car. Do the advantages of the Model S to you more than offset the relative merits of other cars? If you've never driven a Jaguar XJ or a BMW M5, you won't know.

Besides, test driving other high-end cars is still another way to pass the time while waiting... :-)

petero | 22 February, 2012

Test driving a few premium/luxury cars would be an entertaining endeavor. I appreciate Sudre’s question and I will drive several of those sedans mentioned to use as a benchmark for comparison. Robert.Boston’s suggestion of ‘convince me yours is better’ is an excellent approach.

However, in my case, if I didn’t buy an “S,” I wouldn’t spend that much money on a car. I would probably lease a $35-40K ICE and buy another toy. My wife’s 09 Subaru Legacy 3.0R had an MSRP of $33K and I paid $27K new. The Subaru is quite satisfactory in every way. I plan to buy an “S” because I like the idea of buying an American car (made in my beloved CA) that is technically advanced, offers value, and is in a class by itself.

To me it has to be an “S.” My biggest problem is fantasy vs. reality. Usually, reality never lives up to the fantasy. I do feel the “S” will be an exception. I realize ‘riding in’ and driving are very different but the Fremont ride was simply amazing.

Beaker | 22 February, 2012

@petero, you've read my mind. Outside the S, the only other real option for replacing our aging Maxima is a Prius. The S really strives for what I'm looking for, pure EV, and plenty of range > 250 miles ready to go morning after morning after morning after morning after ... And in a package that makes you want to drive it.