Impressions After Owning a Model S 10 days

Impressions After Owning a Model S 10 days

I’ve had a chance to live with the car now for 10 days, take 2 100+ mile round trips and generally, consider how it compares with other nice cars I’ve owned. To give you some perspective, and some context from whence my opinions come, I traded in a Jaguar XJ for the MS, and have most recently owned an Audi S5 (manual trans), Lexus SC300 (manual trans), Infiniti Q45 and Lexus LS. I like to drive, I love technology, I love the world of cars and I do enjoy luxury features, in that order.

First off, I LOVE driving this car, but I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here. That quiet rush to 60 from 0, and the instant ramp from 20-80 is, in a word, exhilarating. The ride is elegant and I’m finding the quiet inside the car very relaxing. The Jaguar was quiet, but having no engine noise is so unusual that I, well, notice it. The suspension is tight and easy to predict and adapt to. The frame is RIGID, even more so than the similarly all aluminum Jaguar construct.

Conceptually, I love what the car doesn’t have: an exhaust system, fluids(oil, power steering fluid, transmission fluid). Does it have hydraulic brakes ? I don’t even know. I love the simplicity of the mechanics.

I love the look of the outside of the car. It’s elegant, has a low drag coefficient, and not since I drove the S5 (got it right after release) have I had so many people looking at my car. I have to admit, I like that. I live in Boca Raton, FL and judging by the number of Ss I see on the roads here, they must have sold 25-50 in this town of 100,000 people already. Now that the showroom opened in Town Center Mall here, these cars are going to be very popular.

Now, for the design and function issues. First and foremost, the car is seriously lacking in storage space around the driver. For a car that is so roomy inside, I don’t understand why there is no in-door storage and no closed center console storage. I ordered the Tesla center console and 4 months ago, but I understand they have delivered about 1000 of them and I was about 1500 on the list. I’ve looked at the photos of the 3rd party consoles, and none look better than the standard Tesla supplied ones to me. But it’s really hard to judge quality from web photos. They all seem to have just little compartments for storage in what looks like a pretty big console, which I’m not understanding. But throwing my sunglasses, tire gauge, cables, etc in that tray on the floor is just very unappealing to me.

The web browser is sub-par. This car should have a web browser with at least the functionality of Firefox or Chrome, if it’s going to have a web browser at all. Both are open source, so there is no cost issue. I’m getting a bit tired of seeing the “incompatible browser” message. Not having Flash is an issue I’ve gotten used to (but don’t like) on my iPad and iPhone. But what is more disconcerting is web forms that don’t work. To interact with most data driven websites, you must use forms, and the pull down menus and other features of forms just don’t work well with the webkit browser they decided to use.

As far as advanced sensor features, the parking sensors front and rear are the best ones I’ve ever had on a car. They are accurate and easy to use. I don’t miss the side scan radar that notified me about cars in my blind spot that I had on my XJ. Adaptive radar based cruise control would be nice and I suspect the next model will have it. The visibility is good in the car and I feel like I can see the road well in it.

One nitpicking item I need to call Tesla about – feature to save Favorites in Slacker radio isn’t working. It works for FM and TuneIn. I’d like to see a better feature set for playing music from a USB drive, with the ability to save favorite songs and directories, and a random shuffle play feature that a lot of folks in these forums seem to be asking for.

Ultimately, I think all cars are going to let us see our actual phone screen enlarged on their touch panel displays ( a form of AppleTV AirPlay, so to speak), as this is the interface we already are familiar with. I can’t think of a better screen to control my iPhone than…my iPhone, enlarged. With the form factor of the Tesla display, the iPhone screen would seem to fit on it very well.

While I haven’t driven beyond the round trip range of the vehicle yet, I’m planning to next month, and would very much like to see a Trip Planning App, in which you would plot your destination, and it would show you recommendation for where to charge the vehicle. I’ve played with EV Trip Planner – Tesla should license it and include it installed in every MS.

That’s about it for now. To conclude, I’m loving this purchase and look forward to driving…the mark of owning a great car !

AmpedUP | February 20, 2014

P85 or ? 'First time I've heard the browser itself as a problem.

PBEndo | February 20, 2014

Are you having a problem saving favorite stations or songs in Slacker? Songs can be tagged by pressing the heart icon below the album art. Stations can be saved in your favorite by pressing the heart icon next to the station name/description (upper left).

Homebrook | February 20, 2014

Thank you. You wrote an excellent review.

HenryT2 | February 20, 2014

I agree with your comments on the lack of storage space and the browser (of course, other cars don't even have browsers so this is just a smaller advantage than a disadvantage).

I'm sure these are issues that will be resolved, but I think the rabid fanboys who insist that everything is perfect are holding up the improvements. I mean, is adding cupholders really going to spoil our beloved Model S?

There are a dozen features in the Model S that most other cars don't even have or aren't even in the same league. The fact that there are a few areas which need improvement doesn't make this any less the best car on the planet. It just changes the score from 10 to 9.999999.

dsecrist | February 20, 2014

Elon recently stated that they are looking at replacing the browser with Chrome. I think he said it at one of the European "town hall" meetings, but don't quote me on that.

Brian H | February 22, 2014

There is door storage. The handle has a space, even bottom-lined to keep stuff from sliding. And the driver's seat has a kangaroo pouch under your knees. There is also, obviously, the cubby below the screen, also friction-bottommed.

Cables? Maybe the frunk, or trunk? How "handy" do they need to be?

dborn | February 22, 2014

You left out grab handles. A necessary feature for the mobility impaired!!

rodmael | February 22, 2014

Thorough, well written review. Thanks. Always nice to compare each other's "impressions".

On the subject of the browser, I would be interested if it was browser specific features OR the speed to register a "click" selection (signal latency) and then display content (signal speed/throughput). Is it features or response speed?

If it is the manner in which the browser registers/acknowledges a click and moves to another page or site, it is more of a signal strength AND type of signal issue. (3G vs. 4G and LTE/how LTE is engineered by the providers)

So we have AT&T with our Teslas at the 3G phase. (there are other discussions in other forums about that. Where I live the latency of the 3G version AT&T signal as well as the strength is not very consistent, so it becomes a bit of a pain to use the browser when compared to cable modem speeds (or even smart cell phones).

Performance would not increase much by changing to "Chrome" or "Opera"..etc. I know there is quite a bit written in other forum topics about this (and whether a 4G service is coming to us or even if our installed hardware would handle it) so I will stop at this point. Just IMHO the "browser" performance will not improve much (irrespective of which brand we use) without a number of other changes related to type of signal we are prepared to accept with the hardware/carrier given to us. As someone else pointed out, just to have a browser is nice, and yeah, I like it for the things it can do NOW....with a hope improvements are offered in the future.

wolfpet | February 22, 2014

I agree with most points except the storage. I don't feel i need the console. And one small correction - the browser is not based on WebKit and that's a problem. They promised the WebKit-based browser, likely Chrome. Flash or any other plugin or HTML5 tag that allows video is not allowed in cars by law, however. Otherwise great review!

Thomas N. | February 22, 2014

The browser is useless. I had thought it was going to be so cool to have one built-in to the car. It is so slow and unresponsive that I'll just grab my LTE iPhone5 and pull up something if I need to.

It doesn't matter, however. I usually keep Nav on the top of the screen and the radio on the bottom so the browser is never active. At this point even if they changed it to Chrome and it was ten times faster I doubt I'd use it.

mbarontseff | February 22, 2014

Thanks for your first impressions. I'll give you mine in April when I get my car.
How's the Tesla grin?

jbunn | February 22, 2014


The "rabid fanboys" didn't hold up your cupholders. That was a Tesla design decision.

I'm as rabid a fanboy as you will find and also a cupholder and center console rabid agitator. After owning for one year, I realize Tesla's interior designers were correct and I was wrong.

But to blame everything good or bad on the rabid ones is to give us more credit than we deserve. (Not to mention it's dismissive and disparaging.)

Captain_Zap | February 23, 2014

+1 jbunn

It is strange that one is a fanboy when there is something they like about the car and they want to keep it the way it is.
If the same person sees something they would like changed or fixed, they are a whiner. The backhanded remarks are better left at the door.