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Tesla Model S P85: Electric car breaks new ground

o Mikael Lindkvist
04.04.2014 kl 20:00 | M3

If you think electric cars are boring, it's time to reconsider. New Tesla S P85 (Performance 85 kWh) really stands out from the crowd. Not only because it is a stylish and sporty green car. It also offers a whole new mindset when it comes to user interfaces and infotainment systems. Tesla Motors challenge the traditional car manufacturers in several ways.

 

If you think electric cars are boring, it's time to reconsider. New Tesla S P85 (Performance 85 kWh) really stands out from the crowd. Not only because it is a stylish and sporty green car. It also offers a whole new mindset when it comes to user interfaces and infotainment systems. Tesla Motors challenge the traditional car manufacturers in several ways.

Engine power

7,000 battery cells are fitted below the passenger compartment and promise a range up to 502 kilometer -- and a powerful engine performance. This car does 0--100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, and when we push the pedal to the metal we're thrown back in the driver's seat.

Not only is the motor extremely powerful, the car also responds very quickly. The delay we have become accustomed to with combustion engines simply doesn't exist.

Because of the battery pack, the height of the car is relatively low, but on the other hand you get dual luggage compartments where you can fit a lot. And one advantage of the low-mounted batteries is that the car's center of gravity is very low, which allows for sporty driving.

You can adjust the steering in three modes (Comfort, Normal or Sport) and you sit like a king in the comfortable, if somewhat poorly contoured, front seats.

And the exterior really looks astonishing, apart from the anonymous grill. Tesla Model S is designed for lowest possible air resistance, and that gives it a really smooth look.

A huge touch screen

The most eye-catching when it comes to the cars interior is undoubtedly the giant touch screen in the center console. It measures a full 17 inches and you use it to control virtually everything. On the upper part, you choose which or what views you want to activate. For example, the upper part of the screen can display the map while the lower display the browser. Or you can maximize any window so that it covers the entire screen surface. The feeling when we pull up Google Maps in full screen mode and select Satellite View is unbeatable.

In fact, the only physical buttons found in the car's center panel is the button to open the glove box and a manual button that activates your hazard lights. Everything else you control through the touch screen. For better or worse. Accessing the climate system for example to turn on the fan is more cumbersome than in most cars. Many interesting features are hidden under the control screen, but because it is an overlay pop-up screen, it takes two extra clicks every time you need to go here.

Bird's-eye view

The navigator is somewhat different from what we are used to with an integrated GPS. Google Maps has driving instructions, but you don't get the traditional 3D view of the entire map, only the bird's-eye view. We also don't get speed limit signs, speed camera detection and an easy way to find nearby waypoints. When we start typing into the search field, we get results from all around the world. When driving, you're more interested in quickly finding a restaurant or perhaps an accommodation nearby, rather than exploring the whole world. But we appreciate that the sharp touch screen supports multi-touch and has a good response. It's a lot like a giant iPad.

Slow browser

The browser is initially really cool. Until we begin to surf heavier pages. Then we quickly realize that it is incredibly time-consuming to both load and navigate sites. We end up picking up our smartphone instead. Also it's a bit strange that the car allows us to surf the web, pair Bluetooth devices and activate the rear view camera even when are running at a high speed. Most car manufacturers tend to block the functions for safety reasons.

The Media tab lets you tune in radio stations, analog or digital, and listen to Internet radio stations, or connect to your own device via Bluetooth or USB. The interface is neat, but unfortunately the integrated 3G-link doesn't always deliver a steady stream of digital music from the web. The sound however is absolutely amazing.

Superior sound

Tesla calls the sound system Ultra High Fidelity and it uses 12 built-in speakers and an 8-inch subwoofer. And the sound emanating from them is incredibly good. It is clean and clear even when we're pumping up the volume, and it's never hard on the ears. It works as well for airy acoustic music as for guitar-based rock. And it features a three-band equalizer and a really cool feature where you control the sound balance of the vehicle by sliding your finger over an image, to place the audio center exactly where you want it. Awesome!

If you're worried that the power won't last the entire trip, there is of course a separate tab to keep track of battery consumption, and a diagram shows how efficiently you are driving.

On paper Tesla can run up to 502 kilometers on one charge, but it's a very optimistic figure. When we tried to run it as gentle as we could we still got only around 300 kilometers. Even during highway driving we found it hard to squeeze out 500 kilometers before it was time to recharge. And charging the batteries in a standard wall socket takes time -- approximately 30 hours (using a 220 volts and 13 amps outlet). In other words, be sure to get a more powerful outlet at home, if you don't already have it. A clever feature of the car is that you can time when you want the car to be recharged, and set a maximum of how many amps it can use.

Schedule overnights

If you are considering a Tesla Model S, first you should think through your driving habits. Will you be at max 250--300 kilometers per day, and do you have the appropriate charging sockets at your fingertips? Visiting distant relatives will simply require a bit more planning than before, and at least one overnight stay.

While Tesla Model S P85 is impressive with its huge screen and some very cool features, it lacks other features that traditional automakers like Volvo, Audi, BMW and others are offering. For example, automatic parallel parking, blind spot warning, lane assist, cameras that keep track of road signs and good voice control. Tesla Motors has clearly done a lot right with the Model S, and it is arguably the coolest electric car you can buy right now. But it is also a little ahead of its time, and the high price combined with the lack of charging stations in Sweden makes for a high purchase threshold.

+Powerful electric engine

+Stunning display

+The sound system

- Lacks some safety features

- Slow browser

- No Superchargers in Sweden yet

=

Tesla Model S is extremely fun to drive and the manufacturer sets a new standard for user interfaces in cars. This is clearly a car that shows a glimpse of the future.

Score:

Driving characteristics 10

Feeling / comfort 10

Technical features 8

Entertainment 10

Keywords: Industry Verticals  
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