The future is electric… and the statement is being repeatedly emphasized which err… doesn’t sit well with most automotive enthusiasts. The reason quoted by most of them is that electric vehicles will never be able to impart the same thrill as their ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) counterparts. And the above, according to them, is true for both motorcycles and cars. With the environment degraded to the point of no return and humanity desperate to salvage what’s left, we must come to terms with the fact that the future is electric indeed. But our question is that what kind of a future is it? With respect to automobiles, is it really as glum as stated by purists? We found out a part of the answer in Dubai during the xBhp PowerTour 2019 and it is, “No, it is not… not entirely at least.” The inspiration behind that answer; Tesla Model S (Performance or P100D)!
But then, it was just a part of the answer and it is not entirely correct, at least not yet. The biggest concerns of people when it comes to electric vehicles are; range, feel, performance, and the sound. The Tesla Model S took care of most of the things here and hence, our answer. Think about it… a car that can go around 500 km on a full charge, looks pretty darn good (arguable), and most importantly, goes from 0-100 km/h in 2.4s! This thing, this anomaly of the electric car world is debatably the fastest accelerating thing in the world! So, this car certainly takes care of the range, feels pretty darn good when you are inside and blows the goddamn roof off of the place with acceleration like that!
None of what we said above was apparent on the first glance like it may be in the case of say… a Ferrari. They look fast, they go fast. This thing looks vanilla and goes insanely fast! Why vanilla? This car is a sedan for god’s sake. 4-doors, lots of boot space, and then more storage space under the hood, no race-y lines, and it has respectable ground clearance too! It is not a bad looking car by a long shot. It is just that it is not a car that looks fast, much less as fast as it actually is. It looks much better than its previous generations… but still not as fast as it is!
From the front, the grille is missing. Oh, there it is… enough for a band of ants to march through and it houses the Tesla insignia. The headlights look sharp. The edgy DRLs accentuate the effect and so do the air-intake like things at the front. The hood has design lines so that the performance of the car makes a little more sense than it did in the previous iterations. The side profile, because of the roofline and the wheels looks really good. Things take a turn for… something at the back because the taillights could have been done better but the tiny spoiler does add to the overall road-presence of the car. Last but not least, it is big… like, really big. Overall, the design of the Tesla Model S is that of a fairly conventional sedan. Not a bad thing, really.
The inside of the car is a trip to the future… not a very luxurious one but hey, you get a peek at the future so do not be greedy. The dashboard is dominated by a massive 17-inch touchscreen that handles almost every aspect of the car. The designers must have thought that “Hey, people are over phones with buttons so they’ll be over car dashboards with buttons.” And to be honest, we are. The user interface is a breeze and it is easy to navigate through the menus and the plethora of functions that the screen takes care of. There are a few buttons too if you miss them too much. The touchscreen handles things like climate control, music, navigation, hands-free phone, headlights, sunroof, and much more. And again, a few things can still be controlled via buttons on the steering wheel or… with voice-command!
Moving on, there’s leather inside the cabin. There’s wood trim on the dash. There’s an Alcantara headliner. It is not outrageously opulent but it does the job well. The seats are nice and comfortable and the driving position is also decent but it was nothing that could prepare us for the onslaught that the Model S had in store for us. Anyway, the interior of the car boasts of a lot of space and we have already told you about the massive boot space and then more at the front, under the hood. All in all, it is a decent car on the inside, just like it is on the outside or maybe a little more than that.
So, the Tesla Model S is a decent car with a spacious cabin, respectable interiors, a truckload of practicality, and tech-armed to the teeth. That takes care of most people but what about us, the performance fanatics who have abused our eyes staying peeled to the display while playing video games and driving really fast cars? To that Tesla Model S said, “Hold my beer!” Now, we have built up a lot on the performance aspect of the Model S but what is it really like? Let us tell you that it was nothing like anything we have experienced before and we are sure that if you ever get your hands on one (on the right variant), you’ll agree.
Start the engine or uhh motor, put it in Ludicrous Mode, floor the pedal and the Model S will turn your cynic self into an ardent believer. The acceleration, the sheer pull is out of this world. It is simply brutal. It is almost to the point of being too much for the human mind to comprehend. The front of your body is drained of all fluid for a second as it smacks your head into the comfy backrest. This is an all-wheel-drive car with two motors propelling the front and rear set of wheels. The total power output is over 750 bhp and the torque is just as insane at 931 Nm! Moments ago, a car that looked big and heavy utterly disintegrates all your perceptions and along with it, your belief in the fact that it weighs over 2 tons!
What sorcery went into arming this car with such performance is beyond comprehension. We did multiple runs and it surprised us every time. We even ran it against the BMW S1000RR, one of the fastest superbikes on this planet and guess what? The Models S was quicker to get to 100 km/h. A 2-ton all-electric car is quicker than the 207 kg, 200 bhp superbike… utter madness. But, all that performance comes at a cost. These runs in Ludicrous Mode impact the range and the battery life adversely. Moreover, because of the heat, you have let the motors cool down after each run. But, the performance is no mean feat nonetheless. And yeah, it can do 250+ km/h if you want to find out where all the madness ends.
The variant that we got is called the Model S Performance or Model S P100D. Tesla’s previous naming scheme and the sheer number of variants had a lot of people confused. So now, there are just 2; the one we got and Model S Long Range or Model S 100D. The latter is touted to have a range of over 600 km which is really, really commendable.
Driving Model S is a… quiet affair. It does not make any sound at all except for a muted whine from the motors. This could result in wind and tyre noise coming into the picture but the interior is well damped from those. The overall ride quality is pretty good too courtesy the height-adjustable air suspension. And because the battery-packs are heavy, Tesla has placed them at the bottom of the frame which not only frees up space in both the front and the back but lowers the centre-of-gravity as well which is apparent from the nimble handling that this car brings to the table despite the heft. It can deal with turns with relative ease and therefore, cements the dynamic nature of this car.
All said and done, the Tesla Model S left us baffled and confused. Electric vehicles get a lot of flak from purists and the Model S was not spared either. But the sprawling infrastructure to support an EV ecosystem and Tesla’s effort in establishing ‘Superchargers’ that can charge the battery from 0 to 100% in 75 minutes, is worthy of applause. This in addition to the crazy long-range has resulted in the Model S doing some really good numbers in the US and Europe. While we did miss the conventional sound of an ICE and the overall feel of those cars, this car leads us to believe that the future might not be as glum as it is being laid out to be… The simple reason for that is if cars like Tesla Model S P100D are going to forge the future, then its is gonna be a really, really quick one. And hey, would you rather miss the sound of an ICE-powered vehicle or the earth… Yeah, we thought so!