Tag Archives: electric cars

DRIVEN: The Tesla Model S P100D – The future of motoring?

Image Credit: Tesla

A few months ago (yeah… I’ve been busy, sorry about that), I finally found myself in the driver’s seat of  a Tesla Model S P100D. Like many, I’ve read the stories of the car’s mythical “Ludicrous Mode” and imagined it as the super-sports saloon of the future… except in the present.

It isn’t that the car is some extravagant concept which will never make production that makes it seem like the car of the future. Not only is it in full production, but you have likely seen many of them on the roads by now. Rather, it seems to be a clear indication of the direction cars in general are heading. The problem is, it isn’t a concept. It is here, now.  So is it any good? Does it drive and satasfy like we expect (and hope) the next great evolutionary step of cars will?

Setting aside the fact that it is fully electric, the Model S has some really cool features that make it stand out from the crowd in the luxury sedan category. It has the option to be fully autonomous (which is disabled in the US until autonomous driving is legalized). It has a trunk in the front, and a rear hatch. It has a million odd easter eggs which are remotely enabled by Tesla. There’s only one feature that has really left an impression on the car enthusiast community, however: Tesla calls it “Ludicrous Mode.”

Ludicrous Mode summons the full power of the motors for maximum torque and horsepower, bring the car from zero to sixty in an absolutely incredible TWO POINT FIVE SECONDS. (What?) Like many, I assumed that the Model S would have a sports car feel – like other fast sedans in the price range.

Well, here’s the bad news: if you think it is going to feel like a sports car because it is fast, you’re wrong. Instead, it’s a bit like coating yourself in an inch-thick butter suit and diving down a Slip-and-Slide covered in baby oil. Smooth is the only real word that applies. The steering is smooth, the gas pedal is smooth, and the ride quality is excellent. In the bends however, I quickly realized it is no “super-sports sedan.” In fact, it isn’t even a sports sedan. It’s a very heavy luxury sedan… which also happens to be really, really fast. The regenerative braking does help to slow the car without braking, but while hard braking is okay, it is no better than I would expect from any normal sedan.

However smooth and luxurious the ride may feel, the way the P100D accelerates is absolutely intoxicating. If you don’t smile, it’s because you are a passenger in sheer terror. I simply came to a full stop, set the car into Ludicrous Mode, and mashed the right pedal flat to the floor. From that point I only had time to give a quick chuckle before realizing I was doing a speed that I’d rather not advertise. while cruising around any forward movement of your right foot is an instant – but smooth – response in acceleration. No waiting for a downshift or boost, just GO.

Simply put, that acceleration is a big plus for the P100D. There are some problems, however. As great as it is, the rush of going from zero to sixty in TWO AND A HALF SECONDS does eventually lose its charm. And when it does, what are you left with? A comfortable, luxurious all-electric car that looks good and goes great right? Right – except just one problem: the Model S still has some growing to do.

While the car is comfortable and serves essentially every need you could ask for in a luxury sedan, it has some problems with build quality. You will notice some body panels may not line up right, and some features which are… not so great. For example, to control the menu there are two vertical thumb scroll wheels in the on the steering wheel. To move the menu selection up, scroll up; to move down, scroll down; to select, push the wheel in. Seems simple right? The problem is, you want to go one click, you go three. You want to select, and it scrolls down as you select the option under the one you wanted. Try doing all this while not taking focus off the road, and you are likely to end up rather frustrated. Yet another example of a less-than-fully-thought-out feature is how you open the sunroof: using that very same scroll wheel… several times. The Model S isn’t cheap either, with P100D prices starting around $120,000. That price, definitely makes what some might call “quirks” seem more like real problems.

All in all, the Tesla Model is a great luxury EV. If that’s why you buy it, you will learn to work with its quirks and you will be more than satisfied. It is smooth, fast, well equipped and extremely practical. If you expect it to be the replacement for your C63AMG – simply put – you’re going to get bored. As for me, I’ll wait for the next model  before giving it a place in my dream garage – hopefully with a few less quirks and misaligned panels.

Last but definitely not least, I’d like to give a big thanks to David at Buerkle Acura in Minneapolis, MN for making this test drive possible. Buerkle Acura has offered some excellent test drive events, and has been great to work with thus far, so please check them out (not a paid ad). They get some really great new and used cars, such as the Model S in question and a few of the new NSX.

David Marschinke of Buerkle Acura

Will electric and autonomous cars be the death of the driver’s car?

Image Credit: Volkswagen

In an age of rapidly increasing technology and production ability, electric and autonomous vehicles seem to be set to thrive, despite the unfortunate aesthetics of concepts like Volkswagen’s Sedric (above). This leaves many petrolheads with a looming sense of fear and impending doom for the driver’s car. While the environment is, of course, an important factor, many of us would simply die off without the obnoxious symphony and toxic aroma of the petrol thirsty V12, or the tire shredding thrill of watching drift cars destroy their tyres and the environment at a similar rate. It seems we may have reached a golden age in the petrol powered automobile, but is it a final flare before the end?

Fully autonomous automobiles are still a ways off (at least as far as production models go), but they might be hitting dealership lots sooner than you think. Tesla’s fully electric cars have a semi-autonomous ability, which allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel while cruising, but that still requires the driver’s attention. However, many companies are hard at work developing fully autonomous technology, which would enable both fleet cars, public transportation and private vehicles to operate without any drivers or direct human input whatsoever. Surely, this will be the end of cars meant to be driven and enjoyed, right? We must only be a few years away from some autonomous reality similar to that seen in the hit movie “iRobot.” We even saw the spherical wheels and tires from that movie on display at the Geneva International Motor Show.

Fortunately, I don’t think the reality of tomorrow is that dark and gloomy.  The reality of it is, manually driven vehicles will remain for those of us who choose to buy and drive them. Mass autonomous technology will only serve to make our drives more predictable and, quite likely, more pleasant. With advances in dual-clutch, flappy-paddle gearboxes, everyone feared the death of the manual gearbox; now we have the 911 R and the new 911 GT3 is being offered with an optional manual gearbox. We have the Jaguar F-Type SVR and its manual V8 which sounds like Thor in a frantic rage. And let’s not forget the Aston Martin GT8, or perhaps the fact that you can still buy a brand new 1967 Shelby Cobra.

Not only that, electric motors have proven to create some of the most insane vehicles on the road today, such as the Tesla Model S P100D and its 2.28 second 0 to 60 mph, or the Rimac Concept_One (below). When coupled with petrol power, electric motors can contribute to what have become the undisputed greatest cars of the current generation – the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, and Porsche 918 (you might also want to include the Koenigsegg Regera).

Photo Credit: Rimac Automobili

The fact is, while the future of society en masse may be electric and autonomous, there will remain a demand for driver’s cars, sports cars and super cars. There will remain a demand for glorious petrol power, just as there has remained a demand for simple, manual gearbox, soundproofing free machines of unrestricted passion, soul and driving experience.

Top Photo Credit: mkeevo –Imgur