impressions from beta model in west los angeles showroom

impressions from beta model in west los angeles showroom

last friday i stopped by the tesla store in west la to take a look at the sleek black model s in the window...

the car looked every bit as good in person as i hoped, the lines and the design are elegant and strong, very jaguar-like. i'm just going to quickly list in no particular order some thoughts, things i noticed, had questions about, after spending about 20 minutes looking at and sitting in the car.

- very comfortable front seats (none of the electric windows, seats, etc worked on this beta), nice steering wheel, driver fields of view comfortable, clear. very open feeling cabin overall.

- instrument cluster impressive, 17" touchscreen panel was working for the most part, bit slow, but as expected in beta. nice design and much room for expansion via software. touchscreen was intuitive and reassuringly responsive, should work very well.

- the general finish quality of the upholstery (cream nappa) and panelling (banana leaf, i think) was a little off, gaps here and there, some awkward transitions in small areas of upholstery and panels, corners of seats, ceiling lights, door jamb, but again, perhaps to be expected on a beta. i have been driving bmw's for the last decade or so and expect that the finish on the model s will ultimately rival that (5 series). it is a very expensive car and should feel like it.

- some pieces of the body were plastic, the rear name plate, the front grille... i do hope that's not the final material.

- the back seats were slightly awkward to ingress and egress (i'm 5'9"), not super roomy, but nonetheless fairly comfortable.. the headrests front and back did seem to be manually adjustable. the rear seat a/c/heat vent seemed to be a mockup, very loosely fit and cheap feeling..?

- the center console between the front seats was also loosely fit, two sliding armrests and two cup holders, and overall somewhat small given the space available. i questioned whether or not it would be prudent to fit another storage/holder space in there.. if the factory doesn't i am sure there will be an aftermarket offering as it seems fairly obvious. not too much storage. the glove box in this beta was nonfunctional.

- the front and rear boots/trunks both had to be gingerly operated as the pneumatic arms were finicky.. but both spaces looked roomy and very useful.

- the chromed rear end frame piece visible in the back interior floor was very substantial feeling, strong and safe.

- the door handles didn't work so i didn't get a chance to see them operate, likewise the charging port, although that manually opened without much ado.

- the wheels were the 19" (20?) sport rims, looked very nice, sturdy and aerodynamic

i left with a mostly positive impression, some concerns about fit/finish and materials, and a couple design thoughts.. but overall felt like a really nice car. i am looking forward to an actual test drive in a full production model.

#708 los angeles

Jason S | May 11, 2012

#708!! -- You've been waiting a long while. I hope you get your car before October.

I think the plastic body pieces are final material. We shall see soon enough.

The beta you saw seems like one of the earlier ones. I suspect those were using the Tegra2 chip while the current ones use the Tegra3 and are faster.

The fit and finish better get really good really quick. The founder series is due out by end of June and I'd hate to be on the receiving end of any negative comments from those folks!

I too hope the final car is worthy of the 5 or 7 series BMW quality. Those seem to be the current benchmark.


petero | May 11, 2012

dtich. What are your impressions of the banana leaf panelling?

stevenmaifert | May 12, 2012

dtich - Thank you for your observations. That just solidifies my desire to evaluate the fit and finish and test drive a production line Model S before I convert my reservation to a non-refundable deposit. I'm P2860 so I don't think that will be a problem, but I'm of the "trust but verify" school of thought when it comes to committing to the second largest purchase of my life and will let my place in line slip if necessary. No doubt we will have plenty of comment from the early Sig deliveries and the automotive press long before then.

DanielR | May 17, 2012

For petero: I also visited the Santa Monica showroom (May 13). I was told the banana leaf is in fact processed from real banana leaves. Personally, I liked it.
The showroom also had a simple, but elegant, way of choosing colors. They have block samples (about 1 foot square)of each exterior finish. In those blocks you can insert color samples of the upholstery and trim options. Great way of deciding what colors you like.
Finally, the sales reps have lots of good and the latest info.

petero | May 19, 2012

DanielR. I too saw the banana leaf in an "S" and the showroom sample swatch(s). I wanted to like the banana leaf but it came off looking like formica, very plastic - not a rich wood look. The lacewood which I am probably getting did not blow me away.

Soflauthor | May 20, 2012

@Petero: None of the three wood trims does much for me. IMO, the problem with banana leaf (in addition to its look), is that the grain runs vertically, while the flow of the dashboard is horizontal. The vast majority of wood trims in luxury cars either have a non-directional grain (e.g., a burled look) or horizontal grain.

In any event, like you, I'll order the lacewood trim when my "time to build" email arrives in a week or two.

jerry3 | May 20, 2012

I'm not keen on wood trim in any car. It looks like a holdover from a few hundred years ago. So I guess it's piano black for me.

JoeFee | May 20, 2012

I agree that the woods are so - so; and like all natural products (i.e. granite slaps), the variation will be significant. I would almost have to pick out my specific wood just like I would pick out a individual slab of granite for the kitchen.

Since I'm going to go Performance S, the cf trim solves the wood issue for me! If you are planning on the Sig or 320 mi pack you may want to consider performance "just for the style" if it suits you (and I feel for more after market value as well). I saw the pearl white performance Perf Sig at Fashion Island and it was stunning!


Teoatawki | May 20, 2012

Beautiful wood has a timeless quality to it, the banana leaf is somewhat trendy, but probably on the rise. The piano black looks like a fingerprint and dust magnet. The carbon fiber is trendy, and may look dated quickly.

So what am I getting? Carbon fiber. Go figure.