Finally got to test drive Model S in Houston, TX!

Finally got to test drive Model S in Houston, TX!

Today was a dream come true, as Model S Get Amped Tour was in Houston and it was awesome to get behind the wheel after so many months of waiting! I even got to drive a performance model. If anybody gets to wondering if this car is all it's hyped up to be...wonder no more. The air suspension made me feel as though I was floating. It holds the road beautifully, and acceleration is immediate. I was so caught up in the ride that I didn't even care about the 17" screen and all that it had to offer! I am so excited to be on the list for a Model S, and can't wait to drive one again!

Brian H | 12. august 2012

I'm more and more wondering if all the wishbone suspension magic so admired in the early TM blogging, etc., are ever going to "hit the road", or if air suspension will be the permanent sole "option". Perhaps the contrast is so great, and irreducible, that standard shocks will be given up as a bad job, like pistons.

pilotSteve | 12. august 2012

@BrianH - yes interesting thought. One problem is that Tesla promised DOE the base price would be $57,400 (before fed rebate) so make air suspension 'standard' would hurt margins. Makes me suspect the conventional suspension is really just a cost reduction to maintain margin.

Brian H | 12. august 2012

What does the DOE care about car price? The rebates are dependent on battery size and range, that's it, no?

pilotSteve | 12. august 2012

@BrianH - the retail price was part of the DOE Loan that Tesla received, not the tax rebate.

Brian H | 12. august 2012

OK, but I still can't see the DOE caring about anything except the bottom line (net profit and capacity to repay). Why do they worry how TM goes about setting prices to achieve that?

nickjhowe | 12. august 2012

Off Topic: Interesting that the Tesla loan is $465m but the Fisker loan is $529m. Ahem.

TikiMan | 12. august 2012


Fisker was cut off after only 150m, due to failures to deliver on time, and the fact that the Karma is NOT being built in the USA.

pilotSteve | 12. august 2012

@BrianH - maybe I was mistaken that the base price was written into the DOE loan agreement. This blog by Tesla "Clearing the Air on our DOE Loan" does specifically mention the $49,900 base price. Thats why I believe they need cost reductions such as conventional suspension.

jerry3 | 12. august 2012


And the Ford load is $4Billion. Kind of makes the other loans look like small potatoes.

BYT | 12. august 2012

Don't forget the flat out Bail Outs!!

jkwolfie | 12. august 2012

Back to the original topic of Houston... Also drove the performance model and it was as good as hyped. Smooth, fast, quiet, and the regen braking was completely easy to get used to. Tesla folks were weary and hot (Houston in August) and were perhaps a little too proud of the air suspension, but they were very helpful and knowledgeable. Car was fast! Sped off from a stoplight, and quickly came across a cop who was nicely looking the other way. Even got some oohs and ahs from the spouse and kids in the back seat who had questioned why they needed to be there in the first place. All were impressed. Would really like to see some substantial options for the front lower console - i keep a lot of misc things in the car as i use it for frequent trips to client meetings. Touchscreen controls may require more "clicks" to carry out certain functions than in my current car, but still way cool.

Vall | 12. august 2012

Are there even any cars with the standard suspension out there yet? Has anyone driven one? I was under the impression that the first few thousand will be only air-suspension. I remember hearing that Continental was the supplier of the air suspension, and it is the same one used by Mercedes, maybe part of the deal with Daimler. Standard suspension should not be that inferior, the advantages of the low center of gravity should still apply.

Teoatawki | 12. august 2012

Word is all cars delivered in 2012 will have air suspension.

Vawlkus | 13. august 2012

And rumor has it that that's due to supplier troubles with the non-air systems

jackhub | 13. august 2012

If you go through the design studio, you will see there are several options not available initially. I believe that is because Tesla wants to sell high margin cars initially. According to the design studio the air suspension is the only one available in 2012. That is not new news!

suegie | 13. august 2012

If you read some of the updates on this site, you will see that they are going to offer the console accessory free of charge. So, you can use it or not, but it will be there.

I am trying to figure out why you would buy a car with this much muscle and not opt for the air suspension? Maybe I am just a bit too much of a technology freak, but why spend this much on a car and not get the best it has to offer? Otherwise, maybe wait for the mass production model after X.

Michael37 | 13. august 2012

How did the air conditioning do with Houston in August? That should be among the most demanding tests imaginable! (I grew up in Houston...)

jerry3 | 13. august 2012

suegie -- I am trying to figure out why you would buy a car with this much muscle and not opt for the air suspension

I'd think the only reason would be if you intend to drive the Model S a good percentage of the time on unimproved roads (over 25% to put a guess number out there). The air suspension might be prone to damage from gravel (I don't know first hand but the airbags might not be up to a steady diet of gravel). Otherwise, there would be no reason to not get it.

suegie | 13. august 2012

Michael37, let's just say, that when I got out of the Model S after my test drive, my glasses fogged up big time! There was absolutely no problem with the air conditioning...never even thought about it til you mentioned it here. And, acceleration was not affected one iota...though this was the performance model. I have to tell you, this is one car that is just not a cookie cutter model in any sense of the word. There is nothing about it that is status quo...except for those measly sun visors...which will be replaced soon. The slope of the vehicle is very noticeable when you are inside the the visors are only about 4 inches tall!

We were in the panoramic roof model and I never would have known it as the heat really didn't come through the roof. Though my test drive was around 10am, I'm told that this is a feature of that particular design.

MarkV | 13. august 2012

I test drove in Phoenix. Although it was somewhat overcast and not as hot as it could have been, the air conditioning was great. My temperature sensitive wife in the back seat was comfortable. I was, in fact, cold but then I am cold when others are comfortable. The staging area for the test drives was under roof near a valet parking area that had misters operating. When I got out of the car and walked past the valet parking area my glasses fogged up so bad I had to take them off to see where I was going. I believe the air conditioning will be just fine. The other nice thing is that when the compressor kicks on and off, there is no affect on the power.

suegie | 13. august 2012

I may have spoken out of turn up above, it may not be the console accessory that is being provided for free, but rather an accessory shelf for sundries:

Begging forgiveness!

gkalexdc | 13. august 2012

Houston was AWESOME !! Great job TESLA people !! It was blazing HOT, and the A/C was flawless. The Model S Performance I drove changed my LIFE. The acceleration one word. VICIOUS. I didnt even have it half way down, and that car was WARP speed. I have had a lot of cars at my age. This one is the most impressive car I have ever test driven. What a high quality car. There were none of those nit picky problems I have heard others talk about fit and finish. The car is just HIGH END, and indeed Premier. WHAT A RIDE. What a car !!! I am still experiencing G forces today even....on a Monday after the Saturday event !! WOW. !!!!!

Brian H | 13. august 2012

Your adjective inspired me to wonder if any Texans will be inspired, even once, to get some "clip-on" longhorns and tuck the attachment under the frunk hood, and race about terrorizing the (other) natives. Maybe even go down to Austin for maximum effect!


STxTesla | 13. august 2012

I am a Univ of Texas grad....not a bad idea! lol.

Michael37 | 13. august 2012

Glad to hear the A/C is so good! That will sell plenty of cars in Texas. :-)