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Discussion Starter #1
It's my birthday this week and although it may be a while before I can afford a Model S, that hasn't stopped my wife getting me a test drive in one. :)

Tesla very kindly agreed to provide me with a test drive and I have to say I can't wait. Of all my presents I'm kind of most excited about this one. I know it's not the same as owning one, but I'll post my experience up after the event in case anybody's interested.
 

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It's my birthday this week and although it may be a while before I can afford a Model S, that hasn't stopped my wife getting me a test drive in one. :)

Tesla very kindly agreed to provide me with a test drive and I have to say I can't wait. Of all my presents I'm kind of most excited about this one. I know it's not the same as owning one, but I'll post my experience up after the event in case anybody's interested.
Please do... But be warned, EVs are like any drug...

Since I'm a Breaking Bad fan, let's just say that ALL EVs are Meth... The Tesla ones are like Walter White's Blue Meth. It's just the BEST.

Carrying this analogy a little further, there are differences between Walter's and Jessie's meth, but one is the Model S and the other is the Roadster...

Be careful, you might find yourself at least a deposit poorer and pushing your delivery date until you have the money to buy the darn car.
 

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If I thought I could sell enough meth to buy an S without getting caught or stabbed I think I would.....
 

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Don't bin it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
This was going to be one post, but I decided instead to break it down into part one (this post) about the car itself - this is kind of the boring stationary stuff) and part two (coming soon) about the drive. Feel free to skip to the next one if you want to miss all the 'fun' about paint, controls, seating positions and so on.

If you're detail oriented like me I expect you'll appreciate the depth I've gone into. If you don't like reading much then I can only apologise. This is a fairly dry, matter-of-fact write-up I'm afraid.

Well let's get the obvious stuff out of the way first. Just... wow! My wife rode in the back during the test drive and as if she wasn't already sold on a Model S beforehand (probably through my incessant 'going on' about it every day as I read blogs, news and so on) she's now green lit this as our next car. To quote her after the test drive "what's the point of buying an intermediate car [as our next car]? It'll be a waste of money - let's just get one of these". Sold. Now we just need a house and the money for the car.

Anyway, about the test-drive.

Did I say wow? I'll try and cover my impressions of the car, some of the questions it answered for me as well as some other information from my Tesla test drive supervisor for the day.

Appearance

The car I drove was a red P85 on 19" wheels. It had been raining in torrents briefly before the test drive and the sun was obscured by clouds but it was still a bright day. I like the multicoat red and seeing it for real just confirmed that it's the colour we would order. I hope they don't change it before I can afford one! Having previously shown her pictures of the multicoat red online taken in direct sunlight, my wife was concerned it looked "too pink", but it looks fantastic in person.

There were two other test cars there on the day; a blue car on 19s and a multicoat white on grey 21s. Sticking with the colours for a moment, the blue was almost indistinguishable from black. I would say you can only truly tell it's anything other than the darkest of blues in direct sunlight - or next to a black car. The multicoat white has a certain pearlescence to it, but again it's only really noticeable over flat white in direct sunlight.

My only disappointment of the day must be the grey 21" wheels on the white car. But better to be disappointed before ordering than after. Based purely on photos, these are what I would have ordered but what disappointed me was that they're just flat grey painted wheels. I've seen plenty of nice dark coloured wheels on other cars and these are, I'm afraid to say, the most boring example. They'd also been heavily curbed by a test driver the previous day and in contrast to the grey wheels and black tyres there were very heavy silver scratches of the wheel visible under the paint. It looked terrible IMO and very sad.

So from that perspective, I'd be ordering the multicoat red with the 21" silver wheels. Realistically I'd probably change the wheels though.

Storage

I've seen the car in the Tesla store before, but I was pleasantly surprised again to see how much space there is for storage in the car. The test model was not equipped with the rear facing seats in the boot, so the Tesla chaps used that under floor space to store their charging equipment, out of the way. This kept the boot space entirely free of clutter and it's still feels larger than a similar sized German saloon boot.

As you face the boot, on the left (behind the wheel arch) is a cubbyhole for storing smaller bits so they don't fly about in the cavernous boot space. Curiously there isn't a matching cubbyhole on the right, but nobody seemed to know what was behind the carpeted wall. I wonder.

This car had the rear parcel shelf, which is a solid shelf. (You can skip this paragraph if you don't care about these little things). I'd not paid much attention to this option before so I wondered how it worked and how it felt. It's solid, feels nice and has a fold in the middle. Take a look at the photos on the Tesla website to see how it folds. It doesn't fold flat all the way back on itself, so what you can see on the website is as far as it goes. It also isn't connected to the boot lid (tailgate) like other hatchbacks which have a piece of cheap looking string on each side and some cheap plastic connectors. In that respect it looks a lot nicer than other cars with their felt covered fiberboard shelf. The non- folding rear portion of the shelf doesn't lift upwards though, it's fixed. You can slide the whole unit forward and lift it up to remove it entirely.

Final point in the boot, just as it was closing I noticed how Tesla have wrapped the gas struts in black plastic tubing which apart from making them appear reassuringly chunky also presents them in a less raw state. I imagine this is because they're electronically operated rather than being simple works of physics supporting the weight, but it's a nice detail.

The frunk. There's not much to say as I've seen it in the store and it's just the same. It's the frunk. But if you haven't seen it before in person, it's 150 litres of storage which is a surprising amount when you're faced with it. I know some owners never use theirs but it would probably be handy for things you don't want rattling about in that huge boot space. If you've not seen one in person though you may not be aware that it closes like a normal bonnet, with an unsightly mechanical latch and a loud clunk sound. We didn't discuss this but I can only assume this is for three reasons: Firstly one of safety, being at the front and taking the force of oncoming air it must remain closed when closed. Secondly in order to assure the correct seal to protect the contents again while the air attempts to lift the bonnet. Thirdly to presumably remain firmly closed for the best aerodynamics.

Enough about the storage already.

Interior

Getting in and out of the car is pretty normal. I found the interior door handles and the fixed handle on the door for pulling it closed are in a strange position, up high and far forward but just like any unfamiliar vehicle, I would get used to them and they wouldn't feel strange for long. You'll find this is going to be a recurring theme as you read on. I'm afraid I didn't pay much attention to the rest of the door (for those of you door fanatics out there) but I didn't notice any feeling of cheapness or clunkiness. Solid. Nice.

The first thing I instinctively do in an unfamiliar car is try to familiarise myself with the controls. I find they're going to soon become pretty important. As I'm sure anybody reading this probably already knows, even if you've never been in a Model S, there are only two physical buttons on the dash; one on the left for the glove box and one on the right for the hazard lights. On a left hand drive car these are obviously in the opposite positions. I didn't fiddle with these so I can't comment on the glove box.

So we went through setting up the driving position for me. Mirrors - the rear view mirror must be moved manually. With your hand. Not that I'm lazy enough as to insist that a small finger movement on a button is all I can manage, but the obvious down side of a manual rear view mirror is that I presume its position isn't included in the driver profile. The door mirrors are controlled by some buttons on the drivers door, in front of the electric window controls. There are three buttons, arranged from left-to-right: The left and right buttons select their respective mirror for you to control with the up/down/left/right buttons just below. The middle button operates the power folding mirrors.

I didn't think about this until I was in a car park later in the day and noticed a lady get out of a Volvo XC90 and the mirrors folded when she locked the car. I didn't ask, but I'm not aware that there is currently an option in the firmware to automatically fold the mirrors when the car locks. That would be handy.

With the mirrors set up it was time for the seat and steering wheel. There are electric seat controls right the way down the side of the seat. I thought it would be controlled via the touch screen and I couldn't see the controls but when he told me they were down the side I just had to feel for them. I think BMW put these controls on the door, where you can clearly see not only what is available to adjust but also what you're doing. Tesla have a screen for this - I'd have thought they'd use it for seat control.

The first thing I tried to do was move the seat down further but it was already down as far as it would go. There's a sort of tilt option available which tilts the entire seat so I set this to tilt back (the back of the seat being further down but the front being a little further up).

Anyway, with the seat in an otherwise similar position to how I normally drive (I'm 6ft 4in but I usually sit quite far forward) I was introduced to the steering wheel adjustment. Again another control I couldn't see, but it's not really hidden. It's a stalk on the left of the steering wheel underneath the indicator stalk, but the steering wheel itself obscures it. I found it when I felt for it, and was pleasantly surprised to find it adjusts forward and backwards which our current car does not. As a result, I could move the seat back, stretch my legs a bit and move the wheel back accordingly so I could actually reach it comfortably. I could also lean the seat back a little more.

Oh my god I've not even mentioned the drive and I've still got more boring stuff to talk about the controls and interior!

On the left of the steering wheel there are three stalks. The top stalk is the cruise control which is a long thin stalk. I've used cruise control in a Toyota which at the time provided a short stubby stalk which I found a lot easier to manage than the Tesla stalk when making adjustments. Nevertheless you poke the stalk in to turn cruise control on and off completely, as indicated by an orange LED on the stalk itself. Tap it up or down to initially set it to the current speed, then up or down again to increase and decrease the set speed. You can nudge it a small amount to move it about 1 or 2 mph at-a-time, or a large amount for about 5 or 6 mph at-a-time. I used the cruise control for a while on my drive, so I'll mention that below when we (finally) get moving.

The next stalk is the indicator stalk and controls the high beam and windscreen wipers. I believe all these stalks are from Mercedes Benz and while they're of a high build quality I have to admit I'm not particularly happy with the cruise control and indicator stalks from a comfort or usage perspective. My problem with the indicator stalk is partly its position being much lower than other cars, but again I'd probably get used to that. The other is its rounded shape makes it very slippery when pushing it, but that's probably my problem and your experience may vary.

Knowing I would need the windscreen wipers I familiarised myself with these. They are controlled by rotating the end of the stalk from off through low intermittent, high intermittent, on, and finally fast. Again as I was finding the shape and smoothness of this stalk quite slippery, rotating the control was fiddly for me. I was also really hoping the next car I bought would have more variability in its intermittent wiper control – not just a choice of low or high intermittence.

This is a good point to mention that unlike normal UK hatchback designs, the Model S has no rear wiper. Just saying.

The last of the three stalks on the left I've mentioned is the steering wheel adjustment. On the right there's just one stalk for drive selection. After a brief explanation and 30 seconds fiddling, anybody will probably get used to this. It's easy - put your foot on the brake, push all the way down to engage Drive, press all the way up to engage Reverse, nudge slightly up or down from one of those gears to engage Neutral and press the button on the end to engage the Parking brake. Simples.

I think we should talk about the instruments (yawn!) I'll be honest, I didn't spend much time examining these other than to check the speedometer. When you put the car in gear the instrument panel spins round from a picture of the car to show the speedo and energy consumption/regen. The speedo is of course all digital and has an analogue representation of the speed on the left and a digital readout of the speed as a number in the middle. The guy pointed out the energy meter on the right but I wasn't really interested in that as it wasn't my car. I'm afraid I also didn't customise the readouts to the left or right either - the left one displaying muted audio and I don't recall what was on the right, so I apologise there's not much more to say on that topic. Breath a quiet sigh of relief if you like.

We also only briefly set up the car with the touchscreen. I set the temperature using the permanent controls at the bottom but never adjusted the fan speed, seat heaters (it's August) or much else.

I did ask about the lights, which were set to automatic. There are options to turn them on, have just the LED's on (the DLR's) or off completely. Leaving it on auto, the DLR's turn on when you put the car in gear but it wasn't dark enough for the low beams to come on.

As a point of (minor) interest, there are no physical door locks on the doors. You can lock and unlock the car using the touchscreen as well. I pressed lock. The icon changed. I heard nothing. I trust they locked.

This car is QUIET! The only sound I heard while sitting in it stationary was when engaging the parking brake where you get a quiet whir sound from somewhere - the brake(s) presumably.

Shortly after getting in I put my phone and sunglasses case in the space between the front seats while I looked for the USB ports. We forgot to bring USB cables which I wanted to try out, but found the ports easily. There are two at the front, under the arm rest and just behind the central storage bit. Next to those is the 12 V outlet and above that is a circular series of perforations in the black plastic, about 3 cm in diameter. I enquired what that was but he didn't know.

He did say when I put my phone and sunglasses case down that they would go flying. He repositioned my phone to the rear and mentioned that if this car had the yacht floor that nothing would move. Apparently the rubber is very grippy. We briefly discussed the forthcoming official Tesla optional centre console and he mentioned that there are aftermarket ones available.

I would personally definitely opt for the official centre console as the cabin is tragically devoid of storage and cup holders. If you really like the clean minimalist look over practicality then this may be a good thing, but most people probably can never have too much storage in their car.

Now I think about it (and I'm sure you're all saddened by this point that I don't have more to write about) I'm a bit disappointed I didn't spend more time fiddling with things like the arm rest, sun visors, glove box and vents.

As for the rear, there's no transmission tunnel so you get a nice flat floor like in a Honda Civic. My wife tells me sitting in the centre wasn't uncomfortable - at least not initially - and she likes the flat floor for laying things like umbrellas down and to provide the additional leg room for rear seat passengers.

The car had the alcantara headliner but not the optional (but free, with the alcantara headliner) alcantara upper dash. The alcantara upper dash sounds like it would be nice and cars like Aston Martin and Porsche have an alcantara dash. Apart from looking nice I think it would help cut down on some reflections from the dash when compared to the all faux leather. The contrast stitching on the dash looks great though. I was told the headliner only comes in one colour at the moment (the sort of sandy beige colour) but other colour options will be available this year.

Ok, that's enough for Part I - more to come in a few days when I finish writing Part II. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I must apologise for not fact checking before posting, but since beginning to pen my thoughts last week I now see on the Tesla UK Order page that these is now a choice of alcantara headliners, as I was told.

Standard is beige textile. There is now a choice when selecting alcantara of white or black.

I'm willing to be proven wrong, but I'm sure there didn't used to be a black option.
 
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