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P85+ test drive - the car conked out twice!!!

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by MartinAustin, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. MartinAustin

    MartinAustin Active Member

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    Howdy folks, here are my rambling comments after test-driving a Performance Plus:

    I've had all kinds of cars before now, the fastest being my Infinity Q45 and Chevy Camaro Z28 - those are going back a while. My current car is a stock 2002 Honda Civic EX which I have owned since new! So... totally different ballgame here!

    I've been watching youtubes and other videos for months, while reading TMC forums and enjoying my pile of TSLA increase in value since April when I bought it. The config I've been settling on lately is a white P85 w/ 19" wheels, white roof, tech package, sound studio package, air suspension, rear parcel shelf, tan or grey leather, lacewood and no spoiler. I'm close to ordering it, so last Sunday I visited the showroom in Austin and scheduled a test drive, which was today.

    My two friends and I were led to the ground floor of a multistory parking lot where the Tesla team keeps their fleet. My test car was a dark blue Performance Plus version, with child seats/Sound Studio/Pano Roof/Tan interior and those beautiful grey wheels. Car looked incredible. The salesman wasn't that happy that we'd been handed this demo car though, as it was the only one without the tech package, thus he would not be able to demo the navigation. I asked him why they had ANY demo cars that were less-than-fully loaded - his response was that demo cars sometimes start off as customer orders, that get cancelled or sent back. I was simply happy to drive any Tesla Model S - wasn't going to get picky about differences between the test car and my order. And, I'd been wondering how the top-of-the-line version rides and performs. Honestly I cannot give you a racing driver's review of the handling, because I didn't get to do too much driving anyway, and my senses are numbed from 11yrs of driving the Civic :)

    I'm an audio nerd and before driving anywhere I determined with some Level 42-on-a-stick that the Model S sudio system plays the following file formats (this may already be known elsewhere) -
    FLAC lossless -yes
    MP4 lossy movie file - it plays the file, just no video but you hear the sound (cool!)
    OGG lossy - yes
    PCM 11K 8-bit file - NO played with lots of clipping/distortion
    PCM 11K 16-bit - yes
    PCM 22K 16-bit - yes
    PCM 44K 16-bit - yes
    PCM 96K 16-bit - yes
    PCM 192K 16-bit - yes
    Apple Lossless file - NO - it simply hung the media system up with a little rotating "thinking" icon (rather disappointing error handling, and disappointing altogether)

    I had a 24-bit file prepared but can't remember if I played it, dang!!! :|

    My comments on the Studio Sound system based on the very rudimentary testing that I did, was that it is good... just not THAT good. Not a "rocking" system. While mid and high frequencies sound good, it seemed to have "adequate but not stellar" bass, that's about the heart of it. It's certainly awesome to have an ultra-quiet car to listen in, though. The lack of bass can only be good for drivers humble enough to want to keep their music to themselves.

    I asked him about the 3G data plan... he said it's provided by AT&T and is basically free until Tesla decides to start charging for it. Nice!

    SO on to the driving! Tooling around in the roads of The Domain shopping center in Austin felt rather like taxiing a jet. The anticipation was massive. The car was buttery smooth and quiet, very impressive. (I type this knowing you all have read the same stuff hundreds of times, but it's here for completeness) The turn signal/cruise control stalks aren't intuitive - shrug.

    We finally got out to Burnet Road, a relatively quiet road with a 45mph limit. The sales chap said "OK, you can nail it here, should you wish." I proceeded to gun it in a southbound direction and the rear of the car felt like it was squatting a lot more than what I have read - but only because of the huge surge of power. Maybe there was no squat at all, I can't remember 'cos it was just a blur. I was thinking "I'll get it to 60 and then quickly hit the brakes" but I got nowhere near that... as the car was really getting into its stride, an enormous CLUNK came from the back! It felt like a piece of the car had fallen out onto the road. Also the car was slowing down, there was no acceleration, only braking. Luckily there was a side road coming up and I was able to idle down into that and stop. The sales chap, who was now even more disappointed by this car, explained that it was probably the inverter, and we would just have to "reset the car" which he walked me through and didn't take long. So we tried this again.

    On the second attempt, in the same place in the road, flooring the pedal caused the exact same CLUNK from the back of the car around 40mph and we had to idle into the side road again. At that point I knew this test drive was a total bust - any uneducated non-follower of Tesla would have been throwing their hands in the air, wanting to get out and walk away, but since I am one of The Converted already, I knew I still wanted it! This car was just busted, and not good for test drives. The sales chap indicated that they had a similar problem with another P85+ which led me to wonder why this one was out on the road without prior testing. Can't believe I was the driver to uncover this car's massive and easily reproduced problem!

    We reset the car again and proceeded out to the nearby MoPac expressway. On the frontage road at about 50mph, the sales chap said "OK, take that onramp, and you should be able to get it up to a fast speed." I ended up getting it up to 80mph without even realising it and had to take my foot off the pedal. 580-to-80 literally took a second and a half or something - if you floor the pedal. The inverter did not break this time, luckily, in fact, there were no more problems from the car.

    Standing start acceleration to 30mph is all done in about a second and a half, if you want it to, and doesn't make any noise. The biggest problem you have is alarming your surrounding drivers and pedestrians! It is great that I can accelerate fast and not attract anyone's attention that isn't looking at the car. Generally you can hear a powerful ICE car accelerate, and to me it's not always classy. I can keep my driving habits to myself a bit more and reduce noise pollution.

    Overall, the ride quality, comfort and quietness for such a fast car with such speed and tires is nothing more than STUNNING. The car is virtually silent at most speeds below 30mph, certainly while taxiing around in parking lots. Absorption of road bumps was amazing, way better than my current car (a rhetorical comparison, perhaps) especially considering the huge width and low profile of the tires. I guess the absence of heavy mass over the front wheels plays a role?

    I did 5mph donuts in this car :) The turning circle for this car is super-small... VERY impressive considering the wheelbase and tire width.

    Any cars that have this sort of speed - Cadillac, Porsche, Audi, BMW & Merc I suppose - are going to be loud and more complex to drive. I got the notion this car strips all hard work away from you and gives you very simple controls to achieve what you need (speed, turning, and stopping). None of them have the interior calm of the Model S. The lack of drama inside is a "feature." It's like blood pressure medication on wheels! There was not an ounce of "harshness" about my entire driving experience, despite being their top of the line sportiness configuration - just buttery smoothness and calm. Even the clunk from the inverter was relatively undramatic. I love one-pedal driving, and my current manual transmission car is pretty capable, but the aggressive regenerative braking in this car gives you so much more capability at your disposal, especially with Creep disabled. It's so darn useful in normal city driving, I look forward to getting used to it and enjoying it in my new Model S.

    The downsides:
    • By 40mph the car was NOT TOTALLY SILENT OMG!!!! (this is minor) You hear quite a bit of tire noise. Tesla has not figured out how to provide tires that make no noise... but neither has anyone else :) Again, tire noise would be only one part of the cacophony of exhaust and engine systems in a gas-powered car... the Model S is still supremely quiet for what you're doing. In this test car, I also think the glass roof and lack of rear cargo shelf increases noise.
    • Austin weather often gets up to 110F during the summer, and today the temperature outside was about 92F with the sun directly overhead. Despite the car being parked in the shade of a multistory parking lot between tests, my rear-seat friends said within minutes that they could feel the "heat" coming from the glass roof and were unhappy that there was no method of covering it up. (guess they didn't like that option, huh) I'd read dozens of accounts on this forum about the hot glass and was sure to ask the sales chap about it when we first visited. Unfortunately he totally downplayed it and insisted it was not an issue. During my test drive, the same guy conceded "yeah, the roof gets hot... just don't touch it." Dude... it radiates heat at you! I was disappointed by that change in his story, when confronted by the reality. I was not particularly troubled by it... it's not in my plan to order it.
    • I am unhappy that they allowed this broken car to survive in their rotation until 1pm in the day without pulling it. No-one should get to drive a busted car like that. For most people who test drive a Tesla Model S, there's gonna be a lot of excitement and anticipation... this problem destroyed my excitement, and took up time during the test-drive that prevented doing more things with the car.

    But I can totally recommend the car, and still hope to place an order next month. (improvements to my garage interior are being done first)

    I hope this review has helped someone... perhaps stepping out of a 2002 Honda Civic EX and into this car guarantees an easy victory for the Tesla, I dunno... :)
     
  2. purplewalt

    purplewalt Active Member

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    While your test drive might not have been completely stellar, you probably gleaned enough of the overall car's attributes and ride to make appropriate decisions about what Options/features you must have, and which ones you will do without.

    At least you got a test drive: I purchased mine after only getting to sit in one of the showroom models, had never even ridden in one, (or heard the tire noise).

    You will LOVE this car, huge paradigm shift from ANY other car you have ever ridden in or driven.
    No: it is NOT perfect.
    But "pretty amazing" is an understatement.
     
  3. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    Shows how amazing of a car it is when it breaks down and people still want it. That is definitely not normal so I'm surprised as well they had it out there.
    Was this one of their drive events? They don't schedule test drives out of the Austin gallery.

    That will look amazing and the Pearl White is one of my favorites. The P85 with all season tires on the 19" might not stick to the ground as well when you gun it but will last much longer than the 21" tires with normal driving.
     
  4. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    Let me get this straight..... The car stopped on you once and your sales guy let the process continue? I would have limped back to the store and gotten another car. Perhaps I need to re-read the OP to better understand.
     
  5. J in MN

    J in MN S60 P12635

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    The problem with sound in the Model S is that it is NOT quiet. Your ears are completely desensitized by the constant 90-104 dB low frequency resonance induced by the suspension. This creates the perception that base from the sound system is lacking. If you get into the car in the morning, and listen to some music while stationary, you may find that the bass is satisfactory.
     
  6. MartinAustin

    MartinAustin Active Member

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    Correct, he just said "drive it around again" basically so we taxiied a little more, since the side road I had found was able to bring us out to Burnet Road again at the same spot.

    I agree, he should have said "let's head back, we'll get another car." I wasn't confident that the car wasn't going to conk out again in major traffic! Especially when he was suggesting acceleration. But it was OK.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I did all the audio testing before we moved off. I didn't have the stereo running at all during the test drive. I'm the kind of guy who listens to the music when it is playing... there is no talking :) So a first-ever test-drive is not a good time to have music playing.

    That's a very good point, though, I agree the suspension will cause a lot of rumble. I'll be sure to listen for those sort of effects when I get more cabin time.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I don't know the difference between a "drive event" and a scheduled test drive, but I think it may have been a drive event. They have another one next weekend I think. (Fri-Sat-Sun)
     
  7. twinklejet

    twinklejet Member

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    I love this comment.

    How about a Tesla Hovercar? Along with that, let's turn all roads into air hockey tables.
     
  8. bollar

    bollar Disgruntled Member

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    It's somewhat of a legal difference. The Galleries can't offer walk-in test drives, but they can schedule "drive events" with the state and offer pre-arranged test drives to people with whom they have an existing relationship. There's probably some legal nuance that I've missed, but that's the basic idea.
     
  9. Discoducky

    Discoducky Active Member

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    Anyone know someone at the Austin store that can find out more details about this possible issue?
     
  10. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    I'll ask but not sure what they will tell us. The cars are likely brought from the factory for test drive purposes is my guess.
     
  11. Twiddler

    Twiddler Member

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    I was there this weekend and checked out the car to which you refer, since it was parked amongst the charging outlets there (you might have seen mine, I was the pearl/grey one parked in the middle with my own UMC). In any event, the story behind that car is rather odd. Apparently someone ordered and configured it and then at the last minute backed out, leaving it as a test/loaner. It had been picked up from Dallas on Friday. It IS a BEAUTIFUL config, and the CF spoiler is a matte carbon fiber (which at least I have not seen yet). The rear air dam is also blacked out as well, where it would usually be chromed.

    The car does have an inordinate amount of wear apparent. Its vin BTW is 12xxx (forgot to check the letter designator prior to the number, sorry). The portion of the trunk directly in front of the spoiler is scratched up extensively, like someone tried to clean it with a scratch pad. It was also striking to us that someone would outfit a P85+ with everything except the tech package (funny, my wife and I were appaled by the potential absence of suck things as auto-presenting handles - which we then got a good chuckle out of, as we would have felt that such a demand would be ridiculous 6 months ago).

    There was another white P85+ there that looked to be in better condition, but I do not know if it will too stay in the area. I am sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience - I have certainly not had the problems with the clunking that you describe, but then again I am not a P85+. Also, I have heard that the rear-facing seats do get hot and there is a lack of ventilation back there, which Tesla has been working on apparently. Otherwise, even sitting all day in the TX sun, I have not had a problem with my pano being too hot. Then again, my car is always <85 degrees by the time I get into it :)
     
  12. Kenne74

    Kenne74 Member

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    That Pano roof does get hot perhaps I'm a bit more sensitive to it but it was annoying. I put 60% 3M Cryst tint on and I have no heat issue or brightness concerns anymore. I think the Pano roof is a great feature and I'm glad I don't have a sliding cover otherwise it would be closed like it always was on the rest of my cars.
     
  13. Msolomi

    Msolomi Member

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    You have to turn dolby off and turn bass all the way up, mid around +3 and treble around +4 in my opinion to get the best sound. After making those adjustments, it sounds really really good.
     
  14. Twiddler

    Twiddler Member

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    Oddly enough, I got a call from the Austin service center immediately after posting the above, so asked about the issues with the car above. He stated that he had not heard about such issues with this car but will call the store today to follow up on this. He said that this sounds like a parking brake issue, however this is a very uncommon problem, and is unaware of any systemic issues with the P85+ vehicles. FWIW
     
  15. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    for reference... 300 miles since picking my P85+ up at the Dania Beach store on Saturday (two days ago) and zero issues. I also had zero issues with MS #1 (Feb 13 delivery) in the 5,500 miles I put on it.
     
  16. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    There is another 'drive event' in Austin this weekend if you wanted to give it another shot. Call the Domain store.
     
  17. JAG9000

    JAG9000 Member

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    Msolome,
    Why would turning the Dolby off improve the sound? I'll try that tomorrow to test if I can hear a difference.
     
  18. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Assuming you're referring to the rear diffuser, my understanding is that the chromed flavor implies tech package (and non-tech gets black).
     
  19. MartinAustin

    MartinAustin Active Member

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    Perhaps the car has some Dolby DSP mode activated by default. For the clearest possible musical signal, it might be better to turn it off. (especially if it is applying a surround sound treatment!)

    For the layman... the difference might be hard to notice. But there are threads on TMC discussing certain musical tracks that end up with distortion getting added, once you layer several DSP processes on top of one another (e.g. turning up the bass).

    I did not know there would be a Dolby mode turned on... I would like to hear it without that stuff so that'd be an incentive for me to have another test drive :)
     
  20. PopSmith

    PopSmith Saving for a Model 3

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    Thanks for testing those formats and posting about it. I have always wondered if FLAC was playable in Model S (since I don't remember reading that elsewhere).
     

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