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Old 08-08-2012, 12:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Tesla Model S First Drive

The future is now
by Nauman Farooq

From huge losses posted every fiscal quarter to the promise of a brighter, cleaner (and profitable) future, the Tesla story is one thatís genuinely intriguing.

Ready to write it off from the beginning as a billionaireís pet project, we tested the Tesla Roadster several years back and it restored our faith in electric cars. Not only did it have usable range, but it was also quick beyond belief and very entertaining to drive.

However, the Roadster is now the past. Production ended on that model last December and so today we will look towards the future, to see if Teslaís latest offering will excite us and convince us that electric motoring is a viable everyday alternative for a much larger segment of the population.

We caught up with Tesla and its new Model S zero-emissions luxury sedan during the brandís tour across the continent, dedicated to showcasing its products to potential clients and the automotive press.


This product differs quite a lot from the Roadster, because first of all, it has its own chassis Ė not one borrowed from Lotus. The chassis is question was designed by Huibert Mees, whoís past credits include the Ford GT supercar.

And with their own chassis, Tesla could now design the car to look the way they want it to, rather than just modify the styling of an existing car. To execute that part of the project Tesla hired Franz Von Holzhausen, who used to design Mazdas for a living.


So the new car has its own platform and styling, and also unlike the Roadster, the Model S is a practical family sedan. Actually, call it a family fastback, because the trunk-lid and rear-glass are joined, underneath which you can either have a large cargo area, or the optional rear-facing jump-seats to carry two children.

Otherwise the spacious cabin can comfortably seat five people, and since in this electric car the battery and motor are neatly tucked underneath the floor, under the hood youíll just find more cargo space.

So the Model S is a practical design, but it is also attractive. Seeing it in person, we could not find a single awkward angle to this design. True, the styling is reminiscent of the Jaguar XF, though thatís not a bad thing Ė especially when the Model S looks better.

Open the door (procedure: press on the flush mounted door handles, which then pop out automatically and then pull on them) and youíre greeted by one of the nicest, cleanest interior designs and layouts youíll ever see. Itís like a concept car interior, only better built.


If the idea of a fully electric luxury sedan doesnít sound futuristic enough to you, the 17-inch touchscreen certainly looks like what you might expect from a car in the distant future. This multi-function screen looks a lot like an Apple iPad but was designed and built by Tesla. It controls everything in the car from the audio system, to navigation, to surfing the net, to climate control. It even unlocks the doors, hood, trunk and releases the flap that opens its charge port. Considering this unit pretty much controls almost everything youíll need to do in this car, best hope it doesnít break down.

Thankfully, the power windows and exterior mirrors are controlled through regular switches, which would be familiar to anyone who owns a current Mercedes-Benz. Since M-B has bought shares in Tesla, the two firms will benefit from each otherís technology and switchgear.
Read the complete Tesla Model S Review at AutoGuide.com
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