Tesla S - a bit underwhelming

Tesla S - a bit underwhelming

I just went for a Telsa drive test and ordered also last week. Car is gorgeous from outside. Big 17 inch panel is also gorgeous but other stuff inside a 80K car is a bit underwhelming. Also, the pictures of the seats (headrest) in back is misleading than the real one. I would hope that the interior of the car is made more like other luxury cars (e.g, cup holders, pull down arm rest, seats a bit more cushy etc).

Cannot wait for the car to come though and hopefully Elon Musk is listening


shop | June 28, 2013

What did you think of the drive?

jbunn | June 28, 2013

Its a design decision. I understand how you feel. I was an agitator for cup holders. I have come to findthat I really like the interior. 4 months now, and love it more every day. Been on 5 hour drives, and the seats are very comfortable.

LEvans | June 28, 2013

As much as I like the Model S interior I do wish the cup holders were covered with a wood or leather panel when not in use. It is a standard feature for most European luxury cars to not have exposed holes where the cups go when the cup holders are not in use...

Not a big deal though.

S4WRXTTCS | June 28, 2013

Personally I think Tesla left a lot of money on the table by not having optional "high performance" style seats. The kind of seats that are in the Jaguar F-type, or the Audi RS5.

Tons, and tons of people have ordered the Tesla P85+ fully loaded who would have totally paid $3500 for better seats. What's comfy for a 5+ hour drive isn't necessarily the best kind to take a high speed corner in. I had to a laugh a little when I read about someone purposely manipulating their seatbelt to lock them in because they were so desperate for a little help.

I'm going to have to pay attention to the headrest next time I test drive it. Never heard of that before.

ginsbergr | June 28, 2013

Web_srfr. You do know that the armrests slide forward so your cupholders are not exposed, right!

Lanber | June 28, 2013

The seats are my biggest concern. They are wide enough to support a lorry arse and shaped like a satelite dish.
Would much prefer a firmer and more supportive solution.

riceuguy | June 28, 2013

The only thing I hear from my back seat passengers is NOT "hey, these headrests are lame." It's "holy crap...this is electric?" Occasionally I get "please slow down" or "you keep snapping my neck back." I do hate the cupholders and will buy the center console once it's out, but other than that you'll ve focused on the road or the 2 displays, and not much else. Enjoy!

S4WRXTTCS | June 28, 2013

The seats were clearly designed for the American market. I'm really curious to see what the Germans will say about them.

Kleist | June 29, 2013

There are lots of choices out there... find yourself something more cushy.

ginsbergr | June 29, 2013

After reading many of these posts today, it seems we have many "posters" that seem to show concern for Tesla, yet come across as very uninformed and just here to post negative comments...maybe, just maybe, their short position and margins are being called and they are desperately trying to move the momentum of Tesla in a different direction...Good Luck...Tesla is here for the long term and their stock will continue to appreciate...when you make a great car, people will notice, and now they are...imagine what will happen once the Model X and GenIII come will be game over for almost every other car company that does not adapt!

KOL2000 | June 29, 2013

I smell a troll....

vouteb | June 29, 2013

I smell paranoia

HenryT2 | June 29, 2013

Anyone who continuously calls others trolls IS a troll. Almost by definition.

I agree with the OP 100% that the interior is not up the standard of the class of cars the Model S is competing with. And, like the OP, still love the car. That's just honesty. I must be a troll too.

vouteb | June 29, 2013

in that case I am a troll since March 2011 when I put my UK order in.

Did Troll exists already at that time?


S4WRXTTCS | June 29, 2013

I like how there is this "if you're not with us, you're against us sentiment". I'm really surprised someone hasn't said "terrorist" yet. Apparently there isn't a republican texas senator in these here forums.

I have nothing against Tesla, and quite honestly if it had better seats I probably would have ordered it already. Instead I recognized the seats were not up to par with my expectations, and so a trade off has to be made. I don't even think Tesla's marketing was wrong for the American market. For the average american they probably nailed it. For me I think it's substandard. It would okay on a sub 40K car, but on a 80K+ car? Quite honestly the Tesla in some ways feels like a $30K sedan with a $30K battery, and a healthy profit margin. That might sound horrible, but it's probably not bad all things considered. Yes, I know the battery is $12K, but that's the expected price in 8 years. it's not 12K today.

I seriously question the motivations of those who cry about shorting the stock. Are you really looking out for the best interests of your follow Tesla nut? or are you just trying to make more money on your Tesla stock? The best car choice is the informed car choice. Even if its an unpleasant conversation like "Hey, why is there a plastic piece where my fog lights go?", and little rants about those damn seats.

The seat options simply do not measure up what we expect out of a German Sports sedan rival. I'm not even asking them to have them as Standard, but just an option for us that like Sports Seats. I have a feeling that least with the P85+ that they could profit considerably through Sport Seats option.

After market solutions for Seats tend to be a pain because of the whole seat air bag thing (but I do need to research this for the Tesla specifically). Even a 911 has insufficient seats as standard considering what the car is capable of doing, but at least Porsche has better seats as an option (an expensive option, but at least its there).

I know Top Gear is bad word around these parts, but at least those guys could poke fun at things.

HenryT2 | June 29, 2013


I think a little healthy criticism is a healthy thing. I remember reading a book about the American Auto Industry, I think it was Iacocca's biography. I remember he said that everyone who worked for American auto manufacturers owned an American car. It would be heresy to do otherwise. And when the Germans and Japanese ran roughshod over them, they didn't expect it at all. If they had been actively looking at their competition and their strengths and weaknesses, they might have avoided the bloodshed.

Just like criticising or correcting your child can be done out of love, so can criticizing our beloved Model S.

So, yes, I agree the interiors are sub-par for the class of the car. Other than the awesome screen and electronics, ginormous interior, monster panoramic sunroof, and the incomparable sense of overall rightness. But generally, it's not up to the standard of other $60-100K cars.

But you're still a terrorist. ;-)

yonak | June 29, 2013

I love my P85 & have owned many German luxury cars , but agree the interior is substandard for this class of car.

Doug H | June 29, 2013

This class of car? I look at the Model S as the first practical electric car that has luxury appointments because of the price point necessary to delivery this new technology.

But by no means it this car designed to compete with a traditional luxury class vehicle. Unlike other vehicles, weight is a factor in driving range. I'm glad they didn't add bigger seats, arm rests with all the their mechanical components, or even a center console.

Keep it simple, and keep it light. Double pane windows might have made the cabin quieter at highway speeds and in busy traffic. But they would also weigh three times more than single pane windows. Keep adding stuff like that and, at some point, you remove a significant number of miles that a Model S can travel on a single charge.

There is enough luxury to attract luxury buyers (Tesla needs your cash to progress) and enough range to attract buyers like me. I've driven eight passenger Suburbans and Yukons for the last 18 years as I raised my six kids. My youngest 2 are going of to college in Aug. And though we literally had leather Lazy Boy seats in our SUVs, we are enjoying the car so much that the seats and lack of cup holders were quickly overlooked.

Whenever my wife complains, I tell her we still have the Yukon and she smiles and quickly stops.

We just completed our first week of ownership. We have over 900 bliss-filled miles on the car. Our practical reason for purchasing the car was to reduce our costs going into retirement. No gas and no house note means 10 of thousands of dollars less per year in expenses.

Who cares about cup holders and double pane windows?

J.T. | June 29, 2013

One of the arguments that keeps cropping up during these comparison posts is that the Model S is not outfitted the same way as its competition. That's impossible because it doesn't have any. Yes, there are vehicles that cost about the same and vehicles that have the same amount of interior room and seating capacity but that doesn't put them all in the same class.

There was no intention to compete with the plushness of Lexus type cabins. There was no intention to compete with the technological driving assists of the German cars. So how do you then criticize the S for not measuring up? You're simply using the wrong ruler.

Tesla, at this time, has no competition. People are buying the Model S for reasons that never existed before, not for plush seats, grips, cup holders and thick floor mats.

cb9 | June 29, 2013

+1 HenryT2
I love my MS and although everything wasn't designed perfectly for me, I still love it. I'm happy adjusting my expectations for interior features because I know one design won't suit everyone. And I'm learning to like the big space for my purse even though I was set on getting the console insert. And if they come out with a hanger for clothes, I'll get it and I do think that's a worthwhile upgrade or future enhancement for Tesla to consider. I can see how some people would choose differently, but I don't think it's too much of a compromise.

And I do think there's an oversensitivity to troll-dom. While the NNT nonsense a few months drove me batty, and while I still suspect some posts are motivated by wanting to tank the stock, I'm mostly in the stock for the long run, so if it goes on sale for a while, cool, I'll buy more. In the meantime, all feedback is valid, and we're all free to disagree, but "ad hominem" isn't necessary to do that.

lolachampcar | June 29, 2013

"yonak | JUNE 29, 2013
I love my P85 & have owned many German luxury cars , but agree the interior is substandard for this class of car."

I could not agree more but then let's look at exactly what yonak said.

A standard is the reference or center of a bell curve. I too was comfortable with the wrap around feeling of almost any high end European car. I too was not at home initially in MS. Then something funny happened.

I'm a big guy (6'4" 200lb) and had always been comfortable in heavily bolstered seats. I especially liked the M5 seats minus that silly auto bolster blow up doll thing that completely threw off my sense of what the car was actually doing (ok, stay on point here). A few weeks with MS and I started to realize that Musk has a good idea.

I very rarely throw a 4700lb four door daily driver around corners so having those big side bolsters is not really necessary. Then it occurred to me that I do not sweat as much in the MS seats as I do in those sport jacket like seats. Nice. I then started to realize that I prefer not having "car" in my personal space. Nice again. Lastly, I hate junk in my car. Look, there is no place to put crap and I have less crap in the car. Ok, I get it and I'm a fan.

Yes, the MS interior is not Standard and yes it is sub on first exposure. As controversial as it may seem, I think our standards are sub and MS got it right.

cb9 | June 29, 2013

And per Doug H and jtodtman, you are so right, and how could I forget?

To me, the main intangible about the MS that outweighs any differences (I won't say shortfalls because it is subjective) in design points is the fact that we have the chance to own a piece of history as it is unfolding. This car is incomparable in too many ways to count - the innovation, the market disruption (dealers, gas stations, maybe even vehicle-to-grid), the impact on road/environment (what if everyone decides to apportion highway maintenance costs in a way that's comparable to damage to the roads and the environment and we restructuring those fees leads us to favor trains over trucks for long haul, and then Tesla builds a solar powered train), and the lifestyle change (I recently used a phone that was set on pulse, not tone, and immediately thought "wow, some day I'll feel stopping at a gas station is equally retro").

defmonk | June 29, 2013

Tesla Model S doesn't, and shouldn't, appeal to everyone. I don't think the comparisons that are often made in this forum to cars like the BMW 7 Series, MB S Class or, particularly, any Lexus are apt. The Model S is not a cheesy luxury saloon, but much more of a pure sports sedan. Thus, the interior is more sparse and purposeful along the lines of the Porsche cars, rather than the doo-daddie, kitchen sink interior of some of the luxury land yachts. It's not a coincidence, then, that the folks in my circle who have moved to Tesla are happily moving out of Porsches (one a Panamera base model and one out of a 911 4S). In fact, my recollection is that the Model S cupholder and headrest situation is similar to the Panamera. (?)

On another note, Tesla must be doing something right. I headed over to Santa Monica Place last night for dinner, thinking that I'd slide right in to an EV parking spot. There are five spots with Chargepoint charging stations and, I think, two with some kind of legacy charging station. All five of the Chargepoints were occupied by Model Ss and another in the legacy spots. Six Teslas one after another as you enter the parking structure.

S4WRXTTCS | June 29, 2013

@HenryT2 - The funniest thing to me is how crazy the MS really is. I mean no one in their right minds would have come out with a car like that. It's just plain crazy, but in so many ways it works despite the insanity of it. Somehow it all makes sense it's all put together.

Every car I've owned has had its fair share of ridiculousness. i've never owned a normal Honda, or Toyota car. I've never had a car I could seriously say was practical, and i don't plan on ever having one.

I want to be able to remember the cars I drive, and I think that's why I hold the Tesla closer right now in my gut than any other car I'm looking at. It doesn't matter that I make fun of the fog lights, or the seats. It doesn't matter that inside my head I laugh at how Tesla does cornering lights compared to how Porsche or Range Rover does it. Maybe it works awesomely and the Germans/Bits just overly complicated the entire thing. But, it still amuses me.

With the Tesla I fully plan on making a mock Top gear episode about a Homeless person in a Tesla. Of him finding ways to make it by only through the use of his Tesla MS and the supercharging network. Of course in the end he'll lose the Tesla because you can't run from Tesla (or the finance company). Personally I think it would make for a really funny video.

What am I supposed to do with a Porsche 911? Like gee-wow its the same kind of car for 50 years. Maybe you guys could spice it up a bit? Maybe move the engine to the middle? Oh, wait you did that and then limited it so it wouldn't cannibalize sales of the 911.

I'm still waiting for the lease cost estimate on used Ferrari F430 with a large downpayment, but I think the sales person just sent my email into the trash because I wasn't a millionaire.

@Doug H- That's a good point about the weight. The Tesla MS can't really take much more weight since its already quite heavy because of the battery. I do find that the MS does lack some identity because Tesla tried to really stretch it to do so many things and to cover such a broad price range. My expectations for a base 60KW are very different than my expectations for a P85+ (where I would really want sport seats).

JohnnyMac | June 29, 2013

+1. You nailed it with that post. Spot on.

carlk | June 29, 2013

I wonder if any of you who complain MS does not have an interior similar to "German luxury" cars will also complain it does not have one hundred buttons and engine rumble like them. People please a three piece suit is not the only thing a fashionalbe man could wear. Just wear a three peice suit or drive a German luxury car if you are still into those kind of stuff.

@S4WRXTTCS Glad you mentioned Porsche. People still value the car despite, or in spite of, the spartan interior. That's just what the car is. Oh and talk about flimsy cup holders.

inverts | June 29, 2013

+1 jtodmann
+1 Lola

With wrong ruler you get wrong measurement or result. Yep, it is different, but in an exquisite way. I like photography, and use Zeiss lenses. Could complain about the lack of autofocus or marvel at the optical performance. Same with MS. Love it as is. Less is more.

ThomasK | June 29, 2013

S4WRXTTCS with all due respect, I have never heard a German driver ask for more cup holders....

EcLectric | June 29, 2013

Call me a troll if you like.

I enjoy reading these posts and pointing out how desperate Tesla detractors have become. Too fast? Complain that the tires don't last. Can't think of anything else? Complain about the cup holders. Underwhelming? Because of a non-existent problem with the cup holders?

This thread is a joke!

"I find this expensive car "underwhelming". Oh and by the way, I just ordered one anyway."

Seriously, if you feel that way about the Model S, why would you "order one"?

I don't mind people criticizing the Model S, but when the headline (and if you think about it, that's what it is) says "underwhelming"', and the fine-print says "the cup holders, that is", you might suspect that the poster is full of it.

Kleist | June 29, 2013

+1 Lola
"Our standards are sub..." - can't be said better.

hpatelmd | June 29, 2013

+ 1 Doug H
+1 Lola

As others have said, the MS is not the car for everyone. This is an amazing leap that Elon has taken with the MS, & I for one, am very grateful to be a part of this history.

HenryT2 | June 29, 2013

From what I've seen, almost everyone on the forum is here because they have and love the Model S, or want a Model S. I guess there have been a few people who don't want a Model S, but I can't recall seeing anyone who has and DOESN'T love their Model S.

If people think this forum is for people to come online and gush about the perfection of the Model S and call people who dare to criticize its perfection, may I suggest you start a church? Worship of that kind should be done with the full tax exempt status and kool-aid stock of a legitimate cult.

I love my Model S. BUT the Model S is not perfect. Most faults are minor. Perhaps the lack of cupholders are just oversights or just exclusions in the interest of keeping the interior clean. But Tesla is not going to know that we are unhappy with it unless we let them know.

I agree that the OP could have used better phrasing than "underwhelming". But you can see by his name that he is a foreigner. The fact that he ordered and anxiously awaits his car says to me that some meaning was lost in translation.

Trolls DO NOT profess that they LOVE the object of their wrath.

S4WRXTTCS | June 29, 2013

@ThomasK - Where did I mention wanting cup-holders? I didn't even know how to use the Cup-Holders in my Porsche Cayman S until a girl showed me how to use them while I was taking her out on a date. I knew everything about that damn car, but I had never touched the cup holder other than just to look at it.

S4WRXTTCS | June 29, 2013

@ HenryT2 - He also ordered the Tesla MS as far as I can tell. So obviously he didn't really care all that much about it being underwhelming.

Sudre_ | June 29, 2013

I agree with most supporters of the interior. It is what I like. Different folks like different stuff... so I also agree with other comments that all these extras could be added as a package giving Tesla more profit.... but first lets let people drive the S as it is intended. The only reason so much crap is in modern ICE cars is because those cars really have nothing new or extra to add. There is no reason most of this stuff can not be 'sold separately'

I will say that I had two people in my back seat who were over 6' but didn't hit the roof on my non-pano car. One commented, "Stop taking the corners so hard or I am going to throw-up! You need barf bags if you are going to drive like this!" I guess now that should be an option too?

The other said, "The head rests need to adjust up so us tall people don't snap our necks when you floor it." Said as a joke.

portia | June 29, 2013

I love the interior design of the Model S, it is a style, you like it or you don't like it.
+1 lola (who is not really lola, I thought that's a girl's name :)

while we are at the interior, I have to say (again) that I love the center console space, perfect for a handbag, ask any woman Tesla driver! Best design ever.

lolachampcar | June 29, 2013

my wife does want more cup holders and hates the cup holders in the hand holding space (gotta be married to get that one).

lola == girls, some of my (wife approved) favorite girls

AmpedRealtor | June 29, 2013

So here's what I did… I guess since the Model S is so "underwhelming", let's take a look at BMW M5… cool, very sporty interior, quite lux, lots of controls, can't go wrong here. Oh but wait, it's not electric? 22 mpg you say?

Forget BMW. Let's go all out… Mercedes top of the line baby! Or Maybach! Oh but wait, they're not electric either? Being so singularly focused on the interior is pretty much missing the point. Look at the entire package… :)

GReese | June 29, 2013

When I did my test drive, I felt the interior was a bit underwhelming with respect to competition at the same price point.

The bottom line: the competition is fucked when it comes to comparing the overall ownership/driving experience

Lanber | June 29, 2013

As for me being a Troll, I have a standard 85 on order here in Norway. Delivery sept/oct and really looking forward to it!!

Seriously, the seats are made for people weighing 120+kgs and most of it located on the end used in interface with mentioned seats.
No way this will be well appriciated here.
The avarage Norwegian buyer is me, 40 years with 2,2 children. I sure as hell dont fit a satelite dish seat.

How much work does it take to make an option for some better seats?

TFMethane | June 29, 2013


120+kg? As an American with a BMI of 25, I have to take issue with your comment.

I know that Europeans think all Americans are obese, and that everything sold in America is designed for obese people. That's not true. That is your mean-spirited interpretation of things.

The reality is that Americans LIKE PERSONAL SPACE. It's really hard for people outside this country to understand that. 18" minimum in every direction... Don't violate it or you're liable to get hit. It's a dead giveaway that someone is a foreigner when they stand 6" away from the next person in line, or when they immediately stand right next to you at the urinal.

We like room. We like space. You'd like it too if architecture in your country were roomier and you got used to it. Your wallet feels more secure. You bump into people less often. You don't have to smell people who don't shower (you'd get used to that, too after a while).

We don't like our heads to be 1/2" away from the ceiling of the tiny little toy cars that you guys drive. Much of the US is WARM, (i.e. not arctic)... it's nice to open up your arms a little bit and let your armpits air out - even catch a little of the airflow from the A/C.

If you want an electric car with BMW seats, wait a couple years for the BMW to come out with their electric car. My guess is you won't like that one, either.

lolachampcar | June 29, 2013

It took me about a week to get used to the seats and I find them more than comfortable (6'4" just under 200lbs). Wait until your car arrives and spend some time with it. I believe you will come to the same conclusion.

justineet | June 29, 2013

Coffee holder is a measurement standard of luxury car?? That is a joke! A total laugh out loud one!

justineet | June 29, 2013

This post can qualify as possible Troll because its heading is highly misleading...the poster should have said in his heading the interior is underwhelming instead of implying the overall performance of Model S is underwhelming! Such misleading titles is one possible good indication of a TROLL!!

HenryT2 | June 29, 2013

From wikipedia:
In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by trying to start arguments and upset people.[1]. They may do this by posting deliberately inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

The key here is "trying to start arguments and upset people" and "inflammatory, extraneous, or off topic".

Calling people trolls whenever they say something you don't like exactly fits the definition of a troll. Yes, if you call someone a troll, you are a troll. If you catch someone trolling with your accusations, you are a successful troll, but nevertheless, a troll.

cfOH | June 29, 2013

I think it's kind of amazing that people are even comparing Tesla's very first original automobile to cars like the M5 or the S600...two amazing cars that have benefitted from many, many decades of racing experience, production quality improvement, and trial-and-error. I mean...WOW! Has there ever been a carmaker that spooled up so fast as Tesla has?

justineet | June 29, 2013

@HenryT2....defending every and all including Trolls can also be qualified as a Troll...From Common Sense Dictionary.......

HenryT2 | June 29, 2013


Calling everyone a troll and being wrong 99% of the time qualifies you as not only a troll, but a rather unintelligent one.

From: A dictionary you obviously know nothing about.

justineet | June 29, 2013

@Henry.....the title of this post is either an innocent misleading title or an intentional misleading title by a Troll....if you can't see at least the title as misleading, u sure ain't one of the brighter bulbs around.......anywhere.....

AlMc | June 29, 2013

Lolachamper...You ALWAYS say the things I would like to but am not smart/eloquent enough to pull off! :)

Of all the cars I have owned...JAG, Audi, BMW and Volvo...I thought the Volvo had the most comfortable seats (personal preference, granted). I was slightly concerned about the 'S' seats during my test drive but was willing to accept the 'deficiency' because other aspects of the car were, in my opinion, far superior to anything else I have ever driven.

I have had my 'S' for a month...I LOVE the issues.

I like the issues, and reduces beverage spills in the back seat not having any....

I thought I would miss and have to order an after market center console (my wife suggested)...NOW she likes to put her purse there and put the 'kabosh' on that thought.

We all come from a different frame of reference. This car is not for everyone. My minimal reservations/complaints have been far exceeded by the great things about this car.