Did you know they will let just about anyone drive a Tesla Model S? After seeing tweet after tweet from the Tesla account about "experiencing" an actual Tesla drive, I thought, "Hey, let's fill this link out and see what happens!" Within the hour I was on the phone with a representative, scheduling a trip up to my nearest dealer. That was fast.
Now at this point you might be thinking, "Oh cool—he lives in a city that has a dedicated dealer! Lucky guy!" Actually, I live in Buffalo, NY (where there are, despite the battery-slaying weather, several variants of Model S and Roadsters roaming the streets). I had to drive about two hours north to Toronto, Ont. for my "experience."
After a quick blast up the QEW to a shopping center on the northern edge of the city, I arrived at the dealership. This Tesla experience machine is in a mall, although it's labeled as a technology store on the map, but I digress. After a quick check to ensure that I was indeed over 25 and possessed a valid driver's license, I descended an escalator to take temporary possession of a white Model S, Performance build.
My daily driver is a 2011 Mazda 3, so it wasn't surprising that I found the interior to be notably and almost wholly comfortable. Then again, why, on a car that can cost nearly $100,000, is there not a cooled seat option? And why does it have some wonky and ugly Mercedes-parts-bin cruise control stick? Oh yeah: the drive. That is the point of this.
I started off in Sport Mode, with the regenerative braking set to "standard". The steering felt pretty good in Sport—yes, you can still easily identify it as all-electronic, but it didn't feel too Video Game. The acceleration and power are hard to put into the words or terms of other cars. It does not take much pedal at all, for example, to throw you and your passengers into their seatbacks. It is a large car but plenty nimble. A lot of the Tesla experience is paradoxical response.
Near the end of my drive I switched the car back to Comfort mode. The wheel became effortless to turn. This is not my cup of tea, but let's face it: room must be made for boring people to buy this car and get that magic-wheels experience. They can help subsidize those who care about torque.
It is fairly easy to see the front corners of the car, although the rear visibility was average at best. Then again, there is an option for an always-on rear-view camera.
Overall, it's easy to see how this is the future. Instant torque is addictive, and I loved the stealth feel of it. Most hybrids and electrics have that surreal displacement of moving without any engine rev sound; with the Tesla, you are moving and pulling and really getting somewhere fun without any signs of strain.
The moral of this story here is to find yourself the nearest Tesla dealer and go for a test drive because, well, why not? Now excuse me while I go plan a trip for another ride in a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTE.....