The Tesla will change your opinion on an electric car.
India’s only electric car, the adorable little Mahindra Reva had acutely prejudiced me against the concept of electric mobility. Other than the assurance of zero emissions and unimportant running costs, it had little else to offer. Everything else was a appalling compromise. I’ve driven an assortment of Electric Vehicles (EVs) on various test drives but the Reva’s the only one I’ve lived with. Now, I have a Tesla Model S and even though Elon Musk has made all other EVs look stupid with this car, I am still a sceptical.
Fast forward to the end and I’ve become a convert, a believer, completely transformed with a zillion-volt electric shock that is the Model S. If this is the car of the future I want it today.
The smooth and muscular styling isn’t on the whole eye catching and doesn’t hint at what’s beneath those tight lines. It’s only when you start approaching the car with the proximity key in your pocket that you know it’s not a regular car. The flush mounted door handles slide out and upon opening the door, the car is switched on. The car lacks an ignition switch, start button or even a handbrake. All you do is flick the Mercedes-sourced drive selector to D and mutely drive away. There are lots of Merc-sourced bits in the Tesla, which is not surprising considering Daimler is a large shareholder in the company, and the overall cabin is of good, if not great, quality. The space in the cabin is huge and without the big lump of an engine you even get two boots.
The massive 17-inch touchscreen that dominates the cabin is the nerve centre, controlling everything from the air-conditioning, the air-suspension and sunroof to the charge socket flap. The navigation system runs off a 3G network which can be patchy and that did cause a few anxious moments.
With 416bhp powering the rear wheels, the car is seriously quick for a sedan with a claimed 0-100kph acceleration time of 4.2 seconds. But it’s the way the power is delivered that is sheer genius. The tidal wave of electric performance is instantaneous, easy-to-modulate and perfectly linear. The low-end response, mid-range and top-end feel almost similar. There’s no peakiness, turbo-lag or any of the problems of an internal combustion engine, which allows you to precisely meter out the Tesla’s devastating pace. That it goes about delivering super-car busting performance so noiselessly is eerily thrilling. The car doesn’t feel like anything I’ve driven before.
If there is something regular about the Tesla it’s the driving dynamics. It neither rides nor handles brilliantly and the air suspension seems to have limited travel, which gets used on the less-than-perfect roads.
The true test of any electric car is the range and the Tesla boasts 402km on a single. There are several ways to charge a Tesla with the fastest being the use of dedicated Tesla superchargers which will pump half a charge in 20 minutes. The high-output chargers in the Haymarket office can ‘tank’ your Tesla up in about 8 hours, whilst the good old 15amp home socket will recharge your battery at a more relaxed rate.
After driving this version, I can’t wait to try out the just-launched all-wheel-drive P85D which gets a more powerful 691bhp electric motor and a stated 0-100kph time of 3.4 seconds.
Source Autocar India