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Autocar UK Tesla Model S review

Discussion in 'The UK and Ireland' started by 60TTuC, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. 60TTuC

    60TTuC Member

    Aug 31, 2012
    Autocar UK - 04 September 2013 PDF Magazines - Download Free Digital Magazines in PDF Format for iPad, Android Tablets and PC

    Tesla has come
    of age — already

    [email protected] @Jim_Holder
    FIVE YEARS AGO, there was a common theory among a
    burst of eco-conscious start-up car companies that two
    exceptional circumstances had combined to deliver a
    unique opening in the market: the credit crunch meant that
    established car makers were struggling, and regulation
    makers, wanting to fast-track cleaner technology, were
    offering favourable loans and grants to make it happen.
    Fast-forward to today and only one of the bright-eyed
    newcomers can stand proud. Tesla has not only created a
    credible alternative to the mainstream in the Model S but
    it has also outdone the establishment by creating by far the
    most credible electric car on the market, bar none.
    Be clear: Tesla hasn’t shaken up the industry. Nor is it likely
    to, given the quality of the opposition and the availability
    of appealing alternative powertrains, from combustion
    engine to electric, via plug-in hybrid. But the fact that it can
    stand comparison with the likes of
    an Aston Martin and Porsche (p46)
    shows just how seriously we should
    take Tesla, its maverick owner Elon
    Musk and the firm’s long-term
    ambitions to expand.

    Assault & B ATTERY What is the Tesla Model S really like? Steve Sutcliffe
    lines up an Aston Martin Rapide S and Porsche
    Panamera to see — and discovers big surprises en route

    The opening moments of
    engagement with the Tesla
    Model S are fascinating and
    go something like this. You
    see it for the first time in the
    metal and you think: “Wow,
    great-looking car. Big but beautifully
    proportioned; appears weirdly like a
    Maserati from the front.”
    Then you’ll approach it physically
    and think: “Okay, so how do I open
    the door?” Someone who knows
    will then inform you that to use one
    of the Tesla’s exquisitely crafted
    chrome door handles, you must
    first press upon it gently, whereby
    it will glide serenely out of the
    bodywork, enabling you to pull upon
    it conventionally and, presto, the
    frameless-windowed door will open
    and you’ll climb inside.
    When you do, the first thing you
    will see – pretty much the only thing
    you will see – is the enormous iPadlike
    touchscreen that dominates
    the entire centre console. You will
    probably then give this a prod, just
    to see what happens, and the car will
    come to life, just like that.
    Except that there will be no noise –
    nothing. The touchscreen will
    light up and the instruments in the
    dashboard behind the steering wheel
    will appear mysteriously out of the
    darkness, but there won’t be so much
    as a murmur from the car as they do.
    At this point, you might notice that
    the driver’s seat, although electrically
    operated and swathed in leather,
    doesn’t seem especially supportive.
    You may also think that there is no
    gearlever as such. Until you realise
    that there is one and it isn’t down
    there where it usually sits but up here
    instead, Frank Cannon style, just to
    the right of the steering wheel.
    Eventually, once you’ve sat there
    in bewilderment for several minutes,
    pressing buttons, scrolling around
    the touchscreen, maybe logging on
    to the worldwide web and googling
    Elon Musk to see how his space
    programme is shaping up, you will
    make the decision to start driving the
    Tesla Model S. And that’s when it gets
    very spooky indeed.
    Because when you do – when you
    first decide to squeeze on the accelerator to make the Model S
    move – you will never, ever forget
    what happens next. The car will
    begin to move, either gradually if
    you press the pedal smoothly or very
    fast indeed if you are clumsy with
    it (which it is easy to be, so light is
    the resistance underfoot). And at
    that point, your whole perspective
    on the business of driving will shift,
    instantly, a good 25deg towards
    the left-field – to a place in which
    everything seems different from the
    way it once was.
    You will find yourself homing
    in on the horizon while making
    no noise whatsoever, which is a
    deeply odd thing to experience but
    also, you will discover, a curiously
    beguiling sensation at the same
    time. The notion of acceleration
    will feel completely different in this
    car – that’s what 443lb ft of torque
    delivered from zero revs feels like,
    basically – and simultaneously you
    will realise how soothing the ride
    seems, how precise the steering
    feels, how strong the sense of thrust
    appears, even at 80-90mph and
    beyond, and how disarmingly
    competent the car is at pretty much
    everything it does.
    And after an hour or two with the
    Model S, you might arrive at a fairly
    shocking conclusion: that it is, in
    fact, really very good indeed at being
    a motor car – at doing the things we
    expect a conventionally sporting
    luxury saloon to do, but without
    burning any fuel in the process.
    Which, of course, brings us to the
    whole point of the Model S and leads
    us to ask: what exactly is this car?
    Who will it appeal to? How much
    does it really cost, not just to buy but
    to run? And what sort of conventional
    cars should we be comparing it with?
    As you can plainly see, the cars
    with which we’ve chosen to compare
    this particular Model S – the
    most powerful 85kWh Signature
    Performance versionm which will
    cost about £88k when it goes on sale
    in right-hand drive in the UK early
    next year – are radically different
    from one another in concept.
    The Aston Martin Rapide S is a
    conventional V12 bruiser that costs
    £150k, is laced with luxury and
    delivers a typically rousing 550bhp
    and 475lb ft of torque from its 5.9-litre
    petrol engine. The Porsche, on the
    other hand, is powered by a 247bhp,
    406lb ft V6 turbodiesel and returns
    a claimed 45mpg on the combined
    cycle while emitting just 166g of CO2
    for every kilometre that it is driven
    (against 332g/km for the Aston
    and precisely zero from the Tesla’s
    tailpipe). It costs £62,922 – less than
    half the price of the Aston – and is,
    in theory, much more of a real-world
    opponent for the Model S.
    You might think of the Americanbuilt
    Tesla as a rival for more
    predictable saloons such as the
    Mercedes-Benz S-class, Audi A8,
    Jaguar XJ and BMW 7-series (and
    indeed, the Model S very nearly
    outsold all of those cars combined
    in the US during the first three
    months of 2013, which is a faintly
    extraordinary achievement in itself).
    But in this case we wanted to see (a)
    just how quick it really is, hence the
    Aston, and (b) how much cheaper
    and more economical it might be
    than a conventional but still sporting
    diesel car, hence the Panamera.
    The Model S’s three-phase AC
    electric motor is rated at 410bhp
    and 443lb ft by Tesla, although,
    intriguingly, we discovered that it
    had a little more than that when we put the car on a rolling road
    (see sidebar, overleaf). To gauge how
    much pure performance is on offer,
    we lined the Model S up, side by side,
    with the Aston and basically drag
    raced them from a 30mph rolling
    start, with the Rapide in second
    gear. And the Tesla tore the Aston to
    shreds. As in, it left it for dead up to
    about 120mph, at which point we
    ran out of room.
    The difference between them
    wasn’t small, either. The Tesla’s
    instant and massive acceleration was
    simply too much for the Rapide to
    deal with. Within a couple of seconds
    it was several car lengths ahead, and
    it continued to haul cleanly away
    until we ran out of straight at the test
    track. That was surprise number one.
    Number two of many came later in
    the day when we realised that, having
    driven all three cars at the same sorts
    of speeds for pretty much identical
    mileage, the Aston’s fuel tank was
    emptying at virtually the same rate
    as the Tesla’s 85kWh battery pack.
    At the end of the day, to fill the Aston
    back up from almost empty cost £102.
    To recharge the Model S overnight
    cost around £4 at the standard offpeak
    rate of electricity.
    True, it took six hours to recharge
    the Tesla, as opposed to two minutes
    to fill the Aston – the charge time will
    drop to about half an hour with one of
    Tesla’s ‘supercharge’ points – but the
    point was clear.
    Even the Porsche needed £35 of
    diesel to refill, although this did then
    give it a theoretical range of over
    700 miles, more than twice what the
    Aston or Tesla can manage on one
    tank or charge in the real world.
    Then again, the Model S
    completely annihilates the Panamera
    in a straight line. The Porsche
    feels like a slightly baggy, woefully
    underpowered favourite armchair
    beside the Tesla. Even in the corners,
    it can’t do much about the American
    car’s extra zip and composure.
    The Panamera rides well for a
    Porsche, and it has decent steering
    and a nice amount of feel from the
    rear axle. It also weighs the least of
    these three, at 1880kg versus 1990kg
    for the Aston and 2106kg for the
    Tesla. But in reality, it doesn’t feel
    that way at all. On the move, be that
    at speed with commitment through
    The Tesla tore the
    Aston to shreds. As in, it left
    it for dead up to about 120mph
    The Tesla has the largest wheels, at 21in The Porsche’s seem modest, at ‘just’ 18in Aston: 20in wheels and biggest brakes
    The Tesla has even
    more low-down pull
    than the Porsche
    a corner or just ambling along, the
    Panamera feels the heaviest car here.
    It needs to be persuaded to change
    direction, whereas the Model S –
    and to a lesser extent the Aston –
    seems lighter and nimbler on its
    feet, somehow. The Aston has the
    sweetest steering, with lots of feel
    and precision to the front end. But the
    Tesla steers rather well, too, even if
    it doesn’t have the last degree of feel
    that the Aston has.
    And what of the way that they
    stop, often the bane of electric
    vehicles because of the effects of their
    regenerative braking systems? The
    Porsche and Aston both stop as well
    as you’d expect – better, indeed, than
    most folks would believe, considering
    that they both weigh the thick end of
    two tonnes. But the Tesla stops every
    bit as well, despite weighing a little
    bit more. And the best part is that you
    can tailor the amount of regenerative
    braking there is by scrolling around
    on the touchscreen.
    Select Low mode and the brakes feel pretty much like those on
    a normal car. Switch to Normal
    and only then do you get the weird
    dragging sensation when you lift
    off the accelerator, as the batteries
    harness energy from the brakes. You
    get used to it, though. After a while,
    in fact, it becomes part of the appeal
    of driving the Model S, working out
    just how seldom you need to use the
    brakes to slow down or come to a halt.
    Out on the road, the Model S
    rides well, handles at least as tidily
    as the Porsche and Aston at high
    but not insane speeds (another
    major surprise) and feels – apart
    from its lack of engine noise and
    extraordinary low and mid-range
    thrust – much like a normal kind of
    car. Unless you’re a passenger, that
    is, in which case it feels enormous,
    never more so than in the rear seats.
    There is massively more room in
    every direction in the back of the
    Model S than there is in the other
    two. It feels like a proper limo in the
    back, whereas in the others, Aston
    especially, legroom and headroom
    aren’t exactly generous, despite both
    being slightly longer than the Tesla.
    And that’s before you even mention
    the two rear-facing child seats that
    are engineered cleverly into the
    Tesla’s boot floor. And if you think
    that means there’s no boot space left,
    think again – because there’s another
    decent-sized boot in the car’s nose (no
    engine, remember). And when I say
    decent, it’s bigger than the Aston’s
    one and only boot by a country mile.
    The one area in which the Model S
    can’t and doesn’t even try to compete
    with the likes of the Aston is on
    luxury feel. The quality of leather,
    for instance, is entirely different. In
    the Aston, you can almost hear the
    interior mooing on occasions, so
    pungent is the smell and the feel
    of soft hide. In the Model S, there
    is leather and lots of it, but beside
    the Rapide’s it feels a bit like highquality
    That’s not to say that the Tesla
    lacks build quality in any way,
    because it doesn’t. Apart from a
    couple of inconsistent shutlines
    around the tailgate, it feels like, and
    is, an extremely well made product.
    But what it doesn’t do, anywhere,
    is go over the top. No attempt has
    been made to make it feel overtly
    luxurious. That’s the Aston’s party
    trick, and it’s probably the key reason
    why the Rapide costs what it costs
    and appeals to whom it appeals.
    The Porsche is somewhere in
    between. It’s neither outrageously
    luxuriant like the Aston nor
    deliberately functional like the Tesla
    inside, and it has a kind of quiet
    appeal to it as a result. But the star of
    this show, the car that will leave you
    feeling flummoxed and delighted
    and strangely optimistic about life,
    all at the same time, is the Tesla.
    The Model S is, quite simply, a
    landmark moment in our motoring
    lives. Some of the things that it can
    do are extraordinary. And none of
    the things that it does are ordinary.
    If this is at least part of what our
    motoring landscape will look like in
    future, then the future looks good.
    No, it looks fantastic.
  2. stevezzzz

    stevezzzz R;SigS;P85D;SigX;S90D;XP100D;3LR

    Nov 13, 2009
    Except for a couple of inconsequential errors, this is a great review. Mr. Holder clearly gets it.
  3. PV4EV

    PV4EV Member

    Oct 26, 2011
    Area 51 / UK
    Thats actually a very very good write up for UK based magazine !

    Sadly, Top Gear will fake it being rolled into a hangar or complain that it cant complete an F1 race or something daft. Although I suspect James May would totally geddit and should review it somehow.

    Also today the UKs Daily Wail newspaper ran an article about the £5k EV grant being withdrawn. You only have to read the hundreds of idiotic comments to realise there is an uphill battle going on trying to get people to understand what EVs can do .. Just read the comments below this article :-

    £5k electric car grants to be scrapped after experts find incentive did little to help environment | Mail Online
  4. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

    Nov 10, 2011
    This is a great characterization of what, I think, Tesla means by "premium" rather than "luxury".

    - - - Updated - - -

    They double-dipped on the Aston quote and much of the review sounds like "and the Porsche was also present". Stunning that they stated this so bluntly.

    - - - Updated - - -

    If you care about passenger comfort and safety, buy the Model S.
    If you want to impress your rich friends that you'd prefer a rolling sofa to a performance vehicle, buy the Aston.

    Or am I drawing the wrong conclusion?
  5. charliestyr

    charliestyr EVangelist

    Jul 1, 2012
    Shropshire, UK
    Wow, a great little comparison test. Still surprised that's a UK write up :)

    It's not worth the time to read those comments. They're invariably ridiculous and end with something along the lines of "just wait for hydrogen" "hydrogen is the future" etc, always make me feel more sad and filled with despair about the UK market for EVs, definitely a long way to go!!
  6. PV4EV

    PV4EV Member

    Oct 26, 2011
    Area 51 / UK

    You mean a Hydrogen Fool Cell car . . .

    I've bought the Autocar magazine and would happily scan and upload the full review with photos, but its probably a copyright issue ..
  7. 60TTuC

    60TTuC Member

    Aug 31, 2012
    #7 60TTuC, Sep 6, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
  8. PV4EV

    PV4EV Member

    Oct 26, 2011
    Area 51 / UK

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