Model S wider than a 7 series?

Model S wider than a 7 series?

I just saw the Model S in the Santana row today. While I was very enthusiastic, my wife commented on how the car looks too wide. Indeed, the width of this car is better than a 7 series or an S class. That, and the square edges in the cabin are off putting, at best. Also there seems to be no single sunroof with shade option. I am not sure about the ergonomics of an entirely touch based console. The showroom guy said they are working on adding hard buttons to the steering wheel to control the console... I am unconvinced, somehow. I am used to the superb ergonomics of my TSX and the 3 series (except for the climate controls in the 3) and a finicky touch control has driven me crazy many a times ( in my droid-x, example)

While I love this car for it's unique propulsion, balance, super fast acceleration, and ecological responsibility some details are a little jarring for a car that fancies itself in the company of 5 series, E class, etc.

Why did they have to make the car so damn wide?

Tech26 | October 10, 2011

Did you put a tape measure on it? How wide is a 7 series?

Why would you want a moonroof when you can have a panoramic glass roof that tilts and slides like one? There is no moveable shade, but the glass is tinted and treated to block UV rays.

It may take a while to forget about the buttons you're used to on the center stack for the HVAC controls and radio. The Model S is going to be more like piloting the Starship Enterprise than any other car built before it. The steering wheel buttons will probably have volume, station/track select, and cruise control.

I can't wait to engage warp drive on the sport version of the Model S.

Nicu | October 10, 2011

@ Red shift

"finicky touch control has driven me crazy many a times ( in my droid-x, example)"

you should buy the original, not a poor fake (touch screen phone - but this is true for basically all items)

Volker.Berlin | October 10, 2011

Width including mirrors:
BMW 5: 2094 mm
BMW 7: 2134 mm
Model S: 2189 mm

Red shift | October 10, 2011


I have owned the first gen iPhone, ( actually was part of touch screen development, but that's a long story) that's how I know good from bad. Droid-x is history when iPhone 5 comes out.

What I am hearing about the jerky touch screen of the model s does not inspire confidence. Smart phones and cars ( especially when being driven fast ) are two entirely different beasts. Try swiping the screen when riding rough surfaces? How about touching a button when the car is shimmying across uneven road surfaces ( in California, roads are getting poorer every day, thanks to our economy)

Actually, for me, the width is the killer. I have to drive this car to see if the turning circle is affected ( my 3 series is a gem in that aspect although TSX is horrible, for a compact car)

Nicu | October 10, 2011

We should not judge Tesla before they launch the S. Software (as you may know much better than me) is the last thing they get done. I just trust them to be that kind of company that does not cut corners and sweats all the details before selling anything (they are even forced to do so by the economic and public relations conjuncture, and I'm sure they are 110% aware of that - if the Model S fails, Tesla fails).

Red shift | October 10, 2011

See, that's the bottomline. Tesla MUST succeed with this car.

Underlying hardware, if it's of good quality, will not impede software tweaks to become a great product overall. So I know they might get the touch thing right, in the end.

Now the width, I am sure they can't change. Not this late in the game.

Denis Vincent | October 10, 2011

@ Red Shift So the Tesla S is less then 1\4 of inch wider then a 7 series BMW and ..... .47 of an inch wider then a BMW 5 Series...!? With regards to the console, ergonomics and buttons, Lucas instrumentation and toggle switches were considered state of the art 40 years ago.....we've come a long way! Trust that the innovation and technology that Tesla has to offer is way beyond what is presently available in today's automobiles. What was made very clear to me when I attended the Factory Event is that Tesla does not aspire to be another BMW or Mercedes, but a futuristic foward thinking automobile company in a league all of its own.

Nicu | October 10, 2011

@ Denis Vincent

I think you are wrong by an order of magnitude if Volker's numbers are correct (that should be easy to check by the motivated reader). 50mm = 5cm ~ 2", almost 4" more than BMW 5

Denis Vincent | October 10, 2011

@Nicu Right you are!

David M. | October 10, 2011

Having driven an SUV for the last 15 years, wide is good to me. Great for handling and cornering. I'm a big guy. No complaints here.

Red shift | October 10, 2011


Hope you are right about the touch interface. I agree this is a much different car, but it will be cross shopped with the bimmers and the benzes.

Really all this ranting is to basically toughen myself up, to convince myself that I have found a worthy successor to my lovely, balanced, and almost perfect 325i.

Model S is likely to be a great driver's car. Mainly because of its excellent static weight distribution, and a lower center of gravity. If they could shave a few inches off the width, I dare say the consequent reduction in curb weight would translate toan even more pleasurable drive!

mwu | October 10, 2011

I'm not sure about that statement (but I'm not saying I'm right either) -- even with the low CoG, the car is fairly heavy, and I think the width is part of what helps make it handle as well as it does. Much of the weight comes from things they can't skimp on like battery pack and drivetrain. They also knew from start that they were going for a luxury sedan, so part of the size aspect is already determined.

I think they had a lot of factors to work with -- battery pack size, car weight, need for a large, luxurious interior, grip, handling, suspension, etc and determined the ideal width and length of the car from all of those. I think that combination of factors is likely what made their decision on size, but if it was a decision between getting the right drive characteristics or having a smaller car, I think they made the right decision... especially in the US (as much as I hate that we have large cars, people buy them)...

Red shift | October 10, 2011

Compared to its peers its not that much heavier. ( thanks to Aluminium intensive architecture)
But it could have been lighter. Future battery tech could see improvements hopefully.

Thumper | October 10, 2011

I have done some measuring around town with a plumb line and tape. Results: Current production Ford Taurus=203 long and 85.75 wide with mirrors. Only .5" wider than S and 7" longer. 96 through mid 00s Dodge Grand Caravan=202 long and 88.25 wide with mirrors. The S is wide but not really freakishly wide. I think it is its width to its height that has some of you freaked. It is not really its absolute width.

Thumper | October 10, 2011

One additional thought about width, they have put it to good use with very thick doors. This will help make the S the safest possible in side impacts!

William13 | October 10, 2011

Part of the size is to ensure a five star crash rating.

Red shift | October 10, 2011

I am warming up to the car more, thanks Thumper.

Part of the confusion is that some manufacturers list the width minus the mirrors, Like here:

Taurus is listed as being 76.2 " near the bottom of the page.

Red shift | October 10, 2011

I was reading this about the Model S:

They do mention the 'freakish' width, but what got me salivating is the fact that the car uses thinner anti-roll bars. A trusted automotive engineer buddy of mine bemoans the use of heavy, thick anti roll bars in all the cars nowadays as 'inducing roll' on uneven surfaces ( I know, oxymoronic ) and contributing to a crunchy jittery ride on bad patches.

Thinner anti roll bars are conducive to a comfortable, pliant, yet sporty ride, like the Alpha Romeos of yester years, according to him.

If I was seduced by this car earlier, I think I am being hooked by it now!

cosmomusic | October 10, 2011

Not certain what's all the fuss is about. This is not your daddy's car. This is the future, you should move along with it or get left behind.I have no interest in buying a car which is like a MBW or MBZ. I have been there done that and cant wait to move on. The handling of this car compares very favorable to my Lexus SC - a great driving car.I thrust anyone with the ability to create an electric car that can go 300 miles to decide on the width of the car - a great looking car at that... Can't wait to get into my signature.

Red shift | October 10, 2011


Good for you bud. After all what do Bimmer and Benz know about making cars eh?

Brian H | October 11, 2011

@Red shift;
They know about how cars USED TO be made.


Kallisman | October 11, 2011

As long as I can get in and out of my car in a city parking without bumping the doors into the other cars (and hopefully they will will take the same care with mine) I don't think it's too wide. But then again, stuffing as many cars as possible into a limited area tend to make that difficult in the city.

Red shift | October 11, 2011


Just because tesla is making a car no one else is making right now, does not mean you can disparage some of the best handling cars out there today. Being the first has never been a guarantee of success or longevity. BMW knows a lot about how to make the perfect ride vs handling compromise, Benz knows hot to make comfortable, solid feeling cars, and Tesla is making something very unique. They all have their strengths.

That said, I am all set to be one of the first buyers of the Model S. But I am not going to carried away and say everything else is junk :)

Brian H | October 12, 2011

Have you seen the BMW i3 and i8 concept cars? Losers. Terrible range, power, seating. Cute see-thru doors, tho'!!

Thumper | October 12, 2011

The I3 and I8 are very interesting. BMW seems spooked by TESLA. They have a fairly large add campaign for what is essentially vapor ware. Hey don't forget us, we'll have an luxury electric car too. OK, maybe not next year, but keep us in mind!

Red shift | October 12, 2011

Ugh. Today, I find that this car is wider by 6" than a brand new Odyssey.

According to Honda: width is 79.2"
According to Tesla, model s is at 7' 2"

If Elon Musk wanted a cross between a minivan and a car, well, he got it didn't he. According to the rep at Santana Row, Elon wanted the rear facing jump seats for his kids. Now I can see where this freakish width is coming from.

@ Brian

I am not defending BMW or any other company's electric cars. I would love to buy a BMW electric sedan, if they had one. Most big car companies have a wait and see attitude to electric cars, which is why there are no serious competitors to the Model S yet.

That will change for sure, especially if this car is a hit.

That said, my last post on this thread. I will most likely give this car a pass, if they stick with that crazy width. I really cannot think of any logical reason other than 'we want it to be really spacious so it will appeal to luxury car buyers' argument that may or may not have happened in Elon's office.

Pity, I like almost everything else about this car, knowing what I know about the curb weigh, and the appealingly 'thinner' anti roll bars.

You guys enjoy your future ride, I am sure this will be a great car. Who knows, one day I might own one.

Mycroft | October 12, 2011

Yes, it's wide. But for the American market, it's not hideously wide. This is the comparison for its closest competitors:

Porsche Panamera 83.2"
Audi A7 84.2"
Model S 86.0"

So it's 1.8" wider than the A7 and 2.8" wider than the Panamera.

That said, I wouldn't want to be driving this car through most of Britain.

Mark2131@CA-US | October 12, 2011


I have no idea what you're freakin' out about. I was at the factory tour. I sat in the car. I took the test drive. Never once did I even remotely think about "width".

This car fits quite comfortably in the "luxury class" for which it's intended. You can talk about alot of details, but "width" is NOT one of them.

Geez. Think of something else to troll about, would you?


EdG | October 13, 2011

I'm assuming that the width was made wider than usual to increase structure for side impact safety. I can't see how it will be a problem otherwise for me.

Volker.Berlin | October 13, 2011

Red shift, looking around the web, it occurs to me that the Honda Odyssey's stated width of 79.2" very likely is the width without mirrors. The Model S' 86.0" are explicitly stated as "overall width (with mirrors)". With mirrors, it appears that the Odyssey is more like 89", which is 3" wider than the Model S. Maybe you want rethink your decision to give up on your reservation based on the "crazy freakish" width alone.

Mycroft | October 13, 2011

Yep, according to my Google surfing, the Odyssey's width w/mirrors is 89"!

It's amazing what people freak out about.

I think the OP would be much happier with a Lexus CT 200h Hybrid with a width of 69.5" Don't know if that includes mirrors or not.

Volker.Berlin | October 14, 2011

Here's a loosely related article. Summary: Many popular cars, including a lot of "compact" cars, are wider than 2m (79in) when measured including mirrors, e.g., Audi A3, Citroën C3, Fiat Bravo, Ford Focus, Mercedes A-class, Opel Astra, Seat Alhambra, Toyota Auris, Volvo S40 and VW Golf VI. The BMW 3 series in an exception in its class which is an advantage in temporary lanes (due to construction work) in Germany, which are often restricted to cars with a width less than 2m (including mirrors). (German language)

Brian H | October 14, 2011

Of course, you could always go for the Aptera (53") ...


Volker.Berlin | October 14, 2011

For the record, because I just looked up the numbers, anyway. Width including mirrors:

BMW 5: 2094 mm / 82.4 in
BMW 7: 2134 mm / 84.0 in
BMW X6: 2195 mm / 86.4 in

Porsche Cayenne: 2216 mm / 87.2 in
Porsche Panamera: 2113 mm / 83.1 in

Audi A6: 1874 mm / 73.8 in
Audi A8: 2111 mm / 83.1 in
Audi Q7: 2177 mm / 85.7 in

Mercedes E class: 2071 mm / 81.5 in
Mercedes S class: 2120 mm / 83.5 in
Mercedes M class: 2190 mm / 86.2 in

Tesla Model S: 2189 mm / 86.2 in

The Model S is as wide as the widest German SUVs, and just a little wider than the wides German sedans.

mscottring | October 14, 2011

My guess is that people who are used to driving smaller sedans (3 series, or C class) may feel a little intimidated by the width of this vehicle at first. I've driven wide vehicles, and don't see any issue with the width of this one. More or less I'm like a kid waiting for Christmas to come.

Denis Vincent | October 15, 2011

Hey Brian, nice car, wrong planet...!?..

Mycroft | October 15, 2011

Re: mscottring: "More or less I'm like a kid waiting for Christmas to come."

Me too! If I could pay to be placed in suspended isolation and thawed out when the car's been delivered, I would!

What's pretty cool is that you can still buy a Signature Edition and have your car delivered before folk who've been waiting for years. Well, cool for the person who just discovered Tesla and has enough bucks laying around. :)

mscottring | October 15, 2011

Mycroft - I'm right there with you. I'm pretty much looking around, thinking, "what can I sell...?" If I can find a way to get the Signature, and an earlier delivery, I will! I'm just excited about this car, and that hasn't happened for me, with any car, in a long time.

petero | October 15, 2011

I am a ‘S’ reservation holder and I was at the October 2nd event. My ‘S’ impressions were/are:
beautiful, quick, smooth, and quiet. ‘S’ is designed for the American market. Our streets and
highways are as wide as our rear ends -only our garages seem small. The reservation numbers
show Americans want this car more than all the other countries combined.

Regarding size, Volker’s numbers are interesting, comparing the ‘S’ to SUVs. The ‘S’ did not
seem so large. The designers simply killed two birds (‘S’ and ‘X’) with one platform.

When you are ready to replace your beloved Mercedes, BMW, Audi, etc. you may choose to
test drive an ‘S.’ As Lee Iaccoca said, “If you can find a better car…buy it!” You will … I will.

Schlermie | October 16, 2011

I noticed when they were rolling the S into the store on Santana Row, they folded in the side mirrors to get it through the doorway. They manually folded the mirrors though. They weren't motorized.

Mycroft | October 16, 2011

Since this was a hand-built beta version, that could very well change by the production model.

Brian H | October 17, 2011

Probably both. You'd want the mirror to give way if it bumped into something going forward, after all!

Timo | October 22, 2011

@Denis Vincent, that's real car, not a joke. 53" is more like 100" with those front wheels tho, which is a joke. Two-seater with dimensions of Humvee.

Brian H | October 22, 2011

No, I think that's the full width:

Brian H | October 22, 2011

Correction: I got the height number. Here's the correct specs:

Aptera 2e Specifications:
53in high x 91.0in wide x 173in long
111in wheelbase
80.5in front track.

So: wider than the S overall! Heh.

Denis Vincent | October 22, 2011

"If it flies, floats and...", I'll lease one, but won,t buy it..!?..

Volker.Berlin | November 21, 2011

Two more numbers:
Volkswagen CC: 2090 mm / 82.3 in
Volkswagen Phaeton: 2118 mm / 83.4 in

(Tesla Model S: 2189 mm / 86.2 in)

Volkswagen is decidedly on the lower end of widths of German premium sedans.

Volker.Berlin | December 21, 2011

Update: The exterior dimensions have been moved from the "Facts" page to the "Options & Pricing" page and have been updated in the process. The (presumably) final width of the production Model S is a little less excessive than cited in this thread: 77.3 in (1963 mm) "overall width" apparently including mirrors.

Timo | December 21, 2011

Looking at the picture mirrors don't add much to width. Maybe inch at both sides.

olanmills | December 21, 2011

Oh wow, I didn't realize that the Model S is bigger than my current car. I'm not sure if it's enough to make much of a difference.

When I saw the beta model in person, I felt that it looked about the same size as my car, but it's the same height, 4" longer, and 7" wider. Track is wider in teh front and back and the wheelbase is a few inches longer too.

The only thing that I am worried about is the width. I'll have to re-learn the judgement of how close things are to the right side of the car, and I do have to deal with some narrow spaces. Some areas of my parking garage at work are narrow, and some parking spots are narrow too, though I usually find a spot atthe ends and park over the line.