Finally drove a Model S today

Finally drove a Model S today

A Performance model at the Tesla store in Santana Row in San Jose, California. Presumably this now allows me to express an opinion abou the car without being a "fool", as another forum member said I was for having an opinion without driving the car.

First: yes, everything you've heard abut the performance is true. Flooring the pedal in a Mod S performance model is like being shot from an electromagnetic rail gun-- a weirdly surrealistic experience in which you are suddenly gaining speed in huge, lunging gulps, with only a faint whine from the motor to indicate what's going on. It was actually a little frightening: the lack of engine noise that I expect, however subconsciously, to accompany this level of acceleration made it feel as though some external force outside of my control were moving the car.

Passing other cars at highway speeds is an experience that is explosive in its intensity.

The interior is Spartan minimalist. With no obvious gear lever (a turn-signal like stalk on the right of the steering column suffices), and the only physical button being the glove box release, the massive 17" touch screen dominates. The car looks unfinished; as though it were a prop in a science fiction movie for a scene that would only be onscreen for a few seconds, so it wasn't worth adding too much detail. Despite that, the touch screen controller is very easy to use and its large size means the buttons and controls are big enough to use easily, even given the lack of tactile feedback.

The air conditioning easily handled the 81 degree San Jose weather. I didn't play with the sound system.

Although you can feel the weight hustling this large and heavy car around corners, the very low center of gravity mitigates any body roll, and the 20" wheel/tire package on the model I drove stuck the car to the road very well.

My 2013 Audi A6 Prestige certainly has more features. Many more, actually, some of which I really like. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, overhead camera view when parking, very fine-grained climate control for each passenger, ventilated seats, et cetera so on and such forth.

But the lack of these features doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would. Aside from its electric propulsion, the Mod S feels like a car from the future: it knows when you approach, and when you're in the car. It wafts down the road in near-silence, apparently propelled by pious thoughts and unicorn farts. High resolution displays show you the information you need to know without bothering you with extranea. Really, the user interface on this thing is brilliant.

So, will I get one? Well, maybe. I think AGW is at best unproven, and at worst a fraud, and I care not two figs for the amount of carbon Al Gore thinks I should not be putting into the air. So I have no "green motivation". That said, as a computer guy for the past 30+ years, I find the car fascinating on a technical level, and the driving experience alone is very compelling.

Then again, I will probably like the Audi R8 a lot, too. So we'll see. But at this particular point I must say I'm leaning strongly towards the Mod S.

jbunn | 10 juillet 2013

You seemed pretty serious until your idiotic AGW comment.

SamO | 10 juillet 2013



The fact that you have to call out Al Gore?!?

Were you in a coma since 1998 to still be mad at an ex-VP? Or did you listen to Rushbo today?

Forget Al Gore, you need to rail against all those pesky "facts" and "scientific observations" from the 99% of scientists that find evidence for AGW.

Stick with the 1% that are paid by the oil industry since they'd NEVER lie.

Dramsey | 10 juillet 2013

Ah, I see that it is not enough merely to like the car: I must like it for the right reasons. got it.

markapeterman | 10 juillet 2013


Don't worry - plenty of model S owners bought a car not an ideology.

Glad you had a good experience - the car has been a joy to drive for six months and I don't miss any gadgets.

ian | 10 juillet 2013

Nope. It is perfectly fine to merely like the car for the driving experience and cool tech. The planet cares not what you drive.

I think there's another physical button you missed though. I believe the hazards are operated by one too. ;-)

Great review though. Glad you enjoyed the drive and could appreciate the minimal interior.


DigitalSavant | 10 juillet 2013

Some of us were sick enough of paying for gas that we (I) put a deposit on the car while it was still a napkin drawing. Who cares what anyone else thinks about why I should/shouldn't own one. I love everything about it, and the planet doesn't care, as goneskiian so eloquently stated.

carlk | 10 juillet 2013

People just remember you may not buy this car on ideology but ideology did make this car happen. It does not serve a purpose to attack it on this forum.

Captain_Zap | 10 juillet 2013
NomoDinos | 10 juillet 2013

The R8 (at least from my experience with the 2012 my colleague let me drive) is a surprisingly refined ride for such a beast, but if you're looking for a daily driver and are considering any practical factors, the model s seems to be the car to beat. My friend usually takes his Infiniti to work.

I almost got the A6 instead of my 5-series in 2011, but ended up going with the brand I knew. Loved the A6 test drive, though. Definitely a well executed and well thought-out car.

tobi_ger | 10 juillet 2013

Wow, where do I get those unicorn farts for charging? Is it now an UV instead of EV? :)

RedShift | 10 juillet 2013

Dramsey, agree with everything you said, except AGW. I concur, especially with the comments about the weight shift and the spartan, almost unfinished looking interior.

I don't care what your ideology is, but the car is a hoot to drive, especially with the low speed turn-in. It's positively manic.

Oh, no ICE car, no matter how fast, might satisfy you again, if you but this car and drive it regularly. Be warned.

ian | 10 juillet 2013

Yup, that thread said it all. Thanks for the link CZ!

shop | 10 juillet 2013

Geez jbunn, samosan, the OP was expressing an opinion, and you call him idiotic? A personal attack? Really? Talk about intolerant.

Dramsey, the car is fun to drive. Something that you might have missed in a short test drive is the single pedal driving. The regen is quite strong and kicks in just with letting up on the accelerator. This means you hardly ever have to touch your brakes, and makes driving quite smooth. When I drive regular cars now, I feel I'm riding the brake all the time. Do think about buying one. There are so many things that work better with a model s, like having a full charge every morning, never visiting jiffy lube or a gas station, etc.

bb0tin | 10 juillet 2013

Oh well. I watched Chasing Ice last night and was reminded just what we are up against. Why is OK for people to display wilful ignorance and lack of consideration for the future as if it is a badge of honour?

negarholger | 10 juillet 2013

Shop +1

The luxury is the drive train and TM did well focussing on that. In everyday driving after 4 month I am still in awe about the effortless, smooth and non- atigueing way the MS gets you from A to B, stopping and starting at red lights, inching forward in a traffic jam while all the ICEs laboring around you, absolute control holding the car at a SF hill with the accelerator only - that is the ultimate a car can pamper you.

TomasT | 11 juillet 2013

@Dramsey "Ah, I see that it is not enough merely to like the car: I must like it for the right reasons. got it."

Gotta admit that reply was pretty funny, love your sense of humor. Anyway, I'm glad you liked the car. At the beginning I also thought that the car's interior looked unfinished but I've been driving mine for a month now and I just drove my wife's Mercedes Benz this afternoon... let me tell you, it felt all cluttered, confusing and just so "old" looking!. I used to think it was the ultimate! Perceptions can change really fast.

dirkhh | 11 juillet 2013

@Dramsey I love your sense of humor. As I've stated elsewhere, I liked the car, the driving experience, the space. The so called zero emission really never was part of my evaluation when buying one. If that means I am liking it for the wrong reasons, then guilty as charged.

It's sad that this forum is degenerating into pro/anti global warming name calling.

Let's keep politics out of this, can we? This is supposed to be a forum about a really cool car, right?

cloroxbb | 11 juillet 2013

What are the ideological reasons we are supposed to want the Model S because of again? I hate when politics are thrown into situations...

Carefree | 11 juillet 2013

Well - who started with the politics, knowing damn well what the reaction would be? Hint - look at the very first post in this thread!

Dramsey | 11 juillet 2013

I did drive the car with the brakes set to maximum regen. It was a little startling at first but by the end of the test drive I didn't notice it any more.

I belong to a Mustang club in Reno (actually, as the computer guy, I run the web site: One of our members has a Model T he brings to shows occasionally. There are three foot pedals; the middle of which is the gear shift (you have to hold it down to stay in low gear). The spark advance and throttle are controlled by levers on the steering column and must be continually adjusted as you drive. There is no water pump in a stock Model T: a thermal siphoning effect is adequate to move the coolant around, but most T owners added water pumps as aftermarket accessories.

Drivers of modern ICE cars look at this and laugh heartily (or cringe mightily) and revel in the relative simplicity of operation of their cars. I suspect Mod S owners come to feel the same way about the operation of ICE cars. C'mon, you can tell me: you do, don't you?

My 2007 Saleen Mustang (500HP, supercharged, etc.) just went in for a replacement transmission. (The original works fine, but feels like a hammer handle stuck in a box of rocks. The Tremec Magnum XL sounds like a "male enhancement" product but should provide smooth, precise shifts).


But after yesterday I realize the only reason the car has a transmission at all is to address the limitations of the IC engine...

Dramsey | 11 juillet 2013

Hm. The forum software doesn't handle images that well, does it? Or, for that matter, allow editing. Sorry! I'll scale 'em in the future.

Brant | 11 juillet 2013

+1 Carefree
Know you audience and if you want to heckle the home team do it from the visitor section

tobi_ger | 11 juillet 2013

you need to add width="600" to the img tag, that's it.
Also, nice looking car!

Dramsey | 11 juillet 2013

Tobi, I will add a width tag next time. Still, it's been some time since I've used forum software that didn't auto-scale images. Seems have to do that yourself.

There are parallels here...

AmpedRealtor | 11 juillet 2013

@ Dramsey,

Ultimately your opinion about global climate change is irrelevant, but you should give some thought to the fact that the reality of global climate change has driven Elon Musk's passion for creating a zero emission vehicle. He wanted to create an automobile that was part of the solution and not the problem. So if it weren't for those who believe in real science and progress, this car would never exist for us to enjoy.

J.T. | 11 juillet 2013

@Dramsey In Yiddush there's the word "kochloeffel". It literally means cooking spoon. It has come to mean someone who likes to stir things up and get people all hot and bothered--an instigator, if you will.

I would suggest to the forum not to bite.

Bighorn | 11 juillet 2013

Great review--excellent use of the language--but the whole Gore reference was a real non sequitur. Glad you liked the car.

tobi_ger | 11 juillet 2013

I agree. Since they already use Drupal, jQuery and Shadowbox, there should be a nice plugin freely available to do the image scaling automatically (sorry for OT).

Vevans2 | 11 juillet 2013

I thought this thread was interesting. I have had the Tesla Model S 40/60kwh for about a month and a half. The car is light years ahead of anything on the road presently. I keep trying to find something wrong with the car thinking sometime I'll find something. However there is nothing I can find wrong with it. Are there things I might add? Yes. But the car itself is just unreal. People ride in it and are just floored. The car is already fast I know the S85 and P85 have to really be fast. My wife already wants the Model X which I am sure will be in the future once the charging infrastructure is built out. Again you have to drive one of these cars just unreal experience. This is coming from a guy that loves Audis and has driven on the Autobaun :)

uselesslogin | 11 juillet 2013


Wow, sorry about those first two comments.

Anyway, I have a serious question for you as an investor. If the Tesla actually had all the same features as the Audi R8 do you think you would have any reason to consider the R8?

Dramsey | 11 juillet 2013


That's ok, I can take it.

It's not about features, per se. Well, features are important to me for the Highway Trip Car (currently, the A6), but for anything else, it's about "fun to drive" and "technically interesting."

I know it's weird to cross-shop a Mod S with a car that has a gas guzzler penalty like the A8, but that's just the kind of oddball car enthusiast I am.

And that's how I'm approaching this: as a car enthusiast. I care not if the R8 runs on the tears of clubbed baby seals, and that somewhere in the Serengeti, a tree dies every time I start it (Ok, actually, I wouldn't buy a car that was that Eco-nasty. Honestly.)

The Mod S presses all my computer-geek and car-enthusiast buttons at once, and that makes it very attractive.

Totto | 11 juillet 2013

@Dramsey. I agree with everything you wrote, including your AGW comment. It' s a hoax, obviously, but too many people have economical interest in this myth. So I doubt the truth will emerge anytime soon. However, I am looking forward to the day my Model S P+ arrives. My Audi A6 will be sold. It feels outdated.

petero | 11 juillet 2013

Dramsey. Other than curiosity, why did you drive an “S?” Owning a 2013 A6, you are not likely to be a customer for an “S” or R8 for 3 more years (if you are leasing) and probably double that if you purchased. Why would you compare an “S” to an R8? I can see comparing the “S” to an S6 or S8 but not a sports car. I’m sure Audi will do a great job addressing global warming, air pollution, and Al Gore in the near future.

You are not a Tesla reservation holder or owner, you “may” be a potential reservation holder in 3-6 years, unless you decide on the R8, and you are not a journalist. Forum readers always love someone that agrees with them, hate someone who disagrees. Personally, I don’t care, the car speaks for itself. So, bottom line, what do you bring to the party and why the need to put in your two cents in the Forum?

P.S. I am a fan of Audis, having worked at a Porsche-Audi dealership. I suspect Audi has a number of forums for their enthusiasts, you may feel more comfortable…elsewhere.

Useless. “I have a serious question for you as an investor. If the Tesla actually had all the same features as the Audi R8 do you think you would have any reason to consider the R8?” You are asking a guy who might buy an “S” in 3-6 years his valued opinion? Seriously! The R8 is a magnificent sports car and is not a comparable car to the “S.” If you are an investor you should focus on production, sales, expenses (which are always high in the initial years), and of course profits. If you are an investor and you purchased your stock in December 2012 you probably don’t have to care, because you have made a $100 profit on each share.

Sorry if I come off nasty but I am developing a low tolerance to this kind of poster. I have been reading and contributing for over 2.5 years, I enjoy our “S” and … I sure miss Volker.Berlin.

tobi_ger | 11 juillet 2013

People talking about hoax need to get a grip on reality and get an understanding on how science works and educate themselves on the matter.

ppape | 11 juillet 2013

+1 AR
Regardless of why we buy (like) the car, Elon's motives behind the company are clear. How exciting that this car translates across all party lines and appeals to so many for varied reasons..

I believe Elon would say "Thanks for buying a Tesla! "!

Thanks for buying a Tesla for the right reasons
......for the wrong reason
......for the political reason
.....for the climate belief reason
.....for the "it's sexy as hell" reason
......for the safest car for my family reason
.......for the Consumer Ratings best car reason
.......for the "chick magnet" reason (male magnet too)
.......for the "screw oil" reason
......for the American Made reason
.......for the "fill in the blank" reason.

I'm sure I've missed a ton more....

THANK YOU for buying a Tesla PERIOD!

Still grinning
Jackie :-)

shop | 11 juillet 2013

@Dramsey, the car really is a technological wonder. The part about regen that I really like is that I feel I can drive aggressively, even in traffic, and not feel like I'm wasting tons of fuel/energy since I recapture most of the energy slowing down for the next red light.

It is very interesting that the big automakers haven't been able to come close to the same level of performance. Even if you ignore the compliance cars, the Nissan Leaf was a serious attempt to make an EV and it is still slow and has limited range and no fast charge network.

The most serious tech is in the inverter, motor, battery, and cooling system. Unlike every other EV, the model S has an active liquid cooling/heating system that runs through the inverter, battery and motor, with the cooling liquid being shunted here and there with automatically fluid valves as demands warrant. In the summer, for cooling, the coolant is chilled with the same custom 400 volt powered air conditioner that is used to chill cabin air through a heat exchanger. In the winter, as the motor heats up through use, the coolant liquid is used to keep the battery warm and motor cool. Very, very efficient.

And the motor/inverter is unique and built in house by Tesla. They reportedly tried to find a supplier that could build a motor with their high performance specs back in the Roadster days and found that no one had anything close to their specs. The more you dig into their technology, the more impressive it gets.

Carefree | 11 juillet 2013

@petero - I miss too. Things sure were different not so long ago. I guess we sound like old farts now!

J.T. | 11 juillet 2013

I told you guys not to take the bait, but noooooooooooooo you just can't help yourselves.

Nice going Dramsey, you got what you wanted.

petero | 11 juillet 2013

carefree. Thanks, but being an old fart - won't this add to global warming?

RedShift | 11 juillet 2013

So does eating beef- cows pass gas in copious quantities.

I don't mean to suggest we should *down grade* our life styles to such an extent that we eat only plants and walk around with hippie garb. However, when majority of scientific opinion says something is true, it's prudent to take note and not act like you are being disemboweled at the mention of human caused global warming.

That's it, my last words on this topic on this forum.

Back to discussing how great a car S is.

george210 | 11 juillet 2013

Just looking at performance, the lowest power (60 kWh Battery) Tesla Model S has a higher Torque rating of 317 lb-ft (430 Nm) than the Audi R8 4.2-liter FSI® V8 with 316 lb-ft of torque.

The highest power (80 kWh Battery Performance) Tesla Model S Torque rating of 443 lb-ft (600 Nm) leaves Audi's highest power R8 4.2 liter FSI® V10 plus engine, generating 398 lb-ft of torque waaaay behind.

…and if course Tesla's Model S has its Torque rating starting at 0 rpm versus the lag to acceleration natural for any ICE-machine.

…and ya never need to pay for gasoline again! Just plug your Model S in overnight and ya have a "full" car in the morning or go to any Supercharger station and drive for FREE.

Dramsey | 11 juillet 2013


Other than curiosity, why did you drive an “S?” Owning a 2013 A6, you are not likely to be a customer for an “S” or R8 for 3 more years (if you are leasing) and probably double that if you purchased. Why would you compare an “S” to an R8? I can see comparing the “S” to an S6 or S8 but not a sports car.

You are beginning from a flawed premise: that because I have a new A6 I am somehow not in the market for a Tesla for the next "3-6 years".

I guess I haven't been explaining myself well. The Mod S would not replace the A6 (indeed, it could not for my use). I drove the "S" because I'm interested in buying one; more so since I drove it.

And I'm not comparing the S to the R8. As you note, they are totally different cars. My current stable consists of a 2007 Saleen, a 2008 R32, a 2006 Evo IV MR, and the 2013 A6; I'm looking for something interesting that's unlike any other car I have, and both of these fit that criterion.

So, bottom line, what do you bring to the party and why the need to put in your two cents in the Forum?

I wasn't aware I needed to "bring something to the party". I'm on this forum to get information about the Mod S from its members and give my own experiences and opinions. However, if it's necessary, I can bring chocolate. Is chocolate OK? may feel more comfortable…elsewhere.

OK. Definitely no chocolate for you.

Sorry if I come off nasty...

Or you could try, you know, not being nasty.

Dramsey | 11 juillet 2013

And, hm, the "blockquote" tag doesn't appear to actually do anything. This makes my reply to @petero a little hard to read. Sorry about that.

Dramsey | 11 juillet 2013


It's interesting that even the purpose-built cars like the Leaf and Volt seem charmingly primitive compared to the Tesla. Honestly, I think the most practical "green" car now is the current Prius, but you have to realize that Toyota's been working on that design for more than two decades now.

It's also interesting that Tesla's using an AC electric motor rather than a DC motor, since you lose some efficiency in the inverter converting DC from the batteries into AC. Presumably there is more efficiency to be gained that I don't know about.

Dramsey | 11 juillet 2013


All your comments re the Mod S vs. the R8 are true, of course. I'm looking at the V8 R8, which I'm sure any Mod S would out-accelerate. And if my only concern was acceleration, my choice would be clear.

And yeah, no gas costs. But seriously: the base Model S is $63,570. It would make no sense to buy a Mod S to "save money on gas"...although Tesla is quite aggressive about bundling gas savings into all their financial projections. Kind of like how all their prices just assume you'll have a $7,500 check from the Feds.

That's OK, though. It's still insanely cool.

jbunn | 11 juillet 2013


DC motors often employ permanent magnets or brushes and vary rpm by varying current or input voltage. This would imply low torque at low RPM. This also means all variable rpm motors need a speed controller, and a more complex one for brushless motors.

Nikola Tesla is the father of the AC motor, more or less. He didnt have the solid state electronics in his lifetime to make them variable speed though. We do today, and we can feed full power at any rpm by varying the input frequency for full torque. Tesla would immediatly recognize the motor as his work.

Alex K | 11 juillet 2013

@Dramsey | JULY 11, 2013: It's also interesting that Tesla's using an AC electric motor rather than a DC motor, since you lose some efficiency in the inverter converting DC from the batteries into AC. Presumably there is more efficiency to be gained that I don't know about.

This can best be answered from the Tesla Motors blog ( Here is an excerpt:

“[…]Be a bit careful here. The brushless DC motor is actually an AC motor. You need an inverter to drive it! A better name for this type of motor would be: “synchronous permanent-magnet AC motor.” Most people ask why we don’t use a brushless DC permanent magnet motor, like all hybrids today use. We chose not to use one of these mainly because of the wide efficiency plateau that we get from an AC induction motor (which means high efficiency over a wide RPM and power range)[…]”

Brian H | 12 juillet 2013

Only about half the tags work. b, br, p, i, a, img, strike strike, and pre (preserves fixed font for simple tables), and h1-6 are among them. Para breaks automatically close tags, so I put a period at the beginning of intervening blank lines to defeat that.

Search is a member's workaround: and a Chrome one at . puts forward a good case that TCO is about the same as for an ICE car at half the sticker price after 5 yrs, and much better than that after 10, etc.

Please email me at , with some reference to Tesla in the subject line.

Brian H | 12 juillet 2013

not to defend Leaf etc., but the CHAdeMO DC charging (about half as powerful as Superchargers) network is quite extensive: . But definitely not 'free for life'!

defmonk | 12 juillet 2013


I'm not a fan of "test drive once then write review" posts, since there are now many owners who have literally driven an aggregate millions of miles who post here and numerous published professional reviews (including long-term tests). Without much context, what does this add?

That said, it seems overall that folks who are in the market for large, "grandpa" luxury sedans, like the A8, MB-S and BMW 7-series, feel that the TMS is under-featured. The TMS is more of a drivers' sedan, like Panamera, M5 or the A/S7, which is a more apt competitive set.

Anecdotally, among my friends and colleagues, former Porsche owners were early movers and seem the most pleased with their move to Model S. The other high satisfaction group moved up from other hybrids or electrics. The large Lexus, MB and BMW owners tend to be on the fence, most haven't made the move. That's not surprising, since the brand attributes of high-concept design and performance are shared between Porsche and Tesla.