For the first time since I started collaborating with Car-Shooters, I test drive a totally electric car. And what a car! The Tesla Model S 100D will in fact be the protagonist of this review. Tesla has been founded in 2003, with the aim of producing high-performance electric vehicles with a significant range. A mission that, at the time, seemed a real challenge. But Tesla meant, and still means today, a vanguard. In 2008 Tesla Roadster was born, produced in less than 2300 pieces. The electric supercar was no longer a mere illusion! Not satisfied with the result achieved, in the same year has been presented a prototype of what would later become Model S. I still remember the first time that, by chance, I saw a Tesla model what a fantastic sedan! My only thought was “I would love to be behind the wheel …”. Well finally I drove the Tesla Model S 100D for a road test!
Our journey begins at San Right Smart Farm, near Prato (Tuscany, Italy). After a fantastic week in which I really enjoyed this car I decide to spend the last day with “her” in this special place. In fact, I find myself in a well-kept farm close to the city. The large green areas are the perfect setting for the 1500 farmhouse, now completely renovated.
Here you can spend pleasant moments of relaxation and enjoy the products grown for a break from the chaos of the city. But let’s take a closer look at this car that wants to revolutionize the way of thinking and living the car. First of all let’s talk about the interior. The dashboard is dominated by the huge 17-inch central touch screen positioned in ‘portrait’ mode.
Except for the steering wheel controls and the gear selector there’s only two physical buttons. Everything is controlled by the infotainment system, equipped with many functions, including a browser for surfing the Internet. Scrolling through the menus, Tesla has thought well to also include some nice Easter Eggs as paint app, the “Santa Claus” mode and other little surprises.
Also you can use split screen mode to split the screen into two equal portions and run a different application in each one. For example, I can keep the navigator at the top and the music at the bottom, or vice versa. Behind the steering wheel, instead of the classic instrumentation, there is another screen, with customizable layout, on which the most important information is shown. The readability of both screens is excellent in any situation, always well defined and never annoying, even at night.
Surely inside you can breathe a luxurious air, also thanks to the immense panoramic glass that runs along the entire upper part of the car: I never seen such a beautiful panoramic roof in a car. The seats are completely covered in leather and are very comfortable, especially on long journeys, where it is also very appreciated the warming of the latter. The electric propulsion has also allowed to eliminate the annoying central tunnel, for the happiness of the rear occupants.
Futuristic design is also reflected in the exterior. The absence of the thermal engine influences the shapes of the car which, in the absence of radiators, does not require the presence of air intakes. You realize immediately that you are not in front of a conventional car.
Everything is a function of the reduction of the cx, thanks to many measures such as the flat bottom and the retractable door handles the record level of 0.24 is reached. Incredible the 21-inch wheels with turbine design.
After admiring her, it’s time to leave. The destination? The Tesla Store in Piazza Gae Aulenti in Milan. The comfortable silence of the car allows me to relax to face the first challenge of the day: city traffic. In the city traffic I appreciated the regenerative brake, which allows you to drive this Tesla Model S with just one pedal. Graduating the pressure on the throttle you can manage the speed over 10km/h without using the brake pedal, which is used only in case of emergency or for the total stop.
The luxurious and quiet interior environment amaze me. Leaving the traffic, I can unleash the full power of this Tesla Model S. In 4.4 seconds I find myself at 100km/h, with a torque that I would call instantaneous. The feeling is as strange as it is pleasant.
Once the throttle is pressed, there is not the slightest lag and it seems almost as if a spring was released that holds the machine. All this is due to the all-electric drive and the absence of the gears. The car also has only two ratios, one for the forward gear and one for the reverse gear. But before facing many miles of highway to Milan, I decide to make a small detour looking for some corners and a bit of fun. The Tesla Model S chassis had been designed for an electric only car, the scheme is very simple, on the rear and front axle there are two engines, and in the middle all the batteries.
The choice of adopting two engines allows to have all the benefits of a four-wheel drive, capable of handle the torque between the front and rear axle in times never before reached, as it does not happen through gears and shafts, but through two engines totally independent of each other. On the road the driving sensation is very special, the intelligent distribution of torque on the individual wheels and the enormous torque of the engines allows an amazing grip in all conditions plus an acceleration to take your breath away. The weight of the batteries is present but Tesla’s intelligent positioning allows an extremely low center of mass, contributing to an impressive cornering stability. I would say that you have the feeling of being capable of everything while you are driving a Tesla Model S.
Speed, stability, acceleration, control; everything is guaranteed by the “brain” inside this impressive car. Even beginner driver will find no difficulty in driving a Tesla Model S very fast. Of course it is not a car for driving purists, but the experience is undoubtedly impressive.
After testing this sedan, I decide to set the navigator back on conventional roads. Thanks to the LTE connection, the trip planning was based on Google Maps. The car also uses information such as the driver’s driving style and traffic information to calculate how long and how many times to stop a charger from the tried and tested Tesla Supercharger network.
Unbelievable! This function is able to totally eliminate what is called “range anxiety”. And it is just around Florence that the car suggests a brief stop at the Supercharger, what better opportunity to try the other functions of this car? I place the car in front of the column and decide to try a function that has always intrigued me, the Summon: through the smartphone app you can move the car back or forth in a parking lot. One comment: futuristic!
The positioning of the Superchargers is strategic, as they are usually positioned immediately outside a motorway toll booth at affiliated facilities, such as hotels. This allows me to stay briefly in the hotel lobby. What better time to try the other features that the application offers me? I realize with great amazement that I can control many aspects of the car, from charging to air conditioning, through the control of locks and lights. Tesla chargers offer direct current at 480 volts and are capable of charging up to 120KWh, which translates into a very fast charge. In about half an hour it recharges from 20% to 80%, incredible!
The Tesla Superchargers are also “smart” because each charging column is marked with a number and a letter, A or B. Generally it is better to connect the car to a station with a different number than another car being recharged. If this is not possible, the Supercharger system balances the recharge between A and B so that the most charged car will absorb less current and the more discharged one will recharge faster. Nothing is left to chance. Tesla, for the new Model S and X, offers 400KW free each year equivalent to about 1600km, the cost then is 0.25 € per KW. The offer changes if you buy the car through a referral code previously obtained by a Tesla owner, in this case the recharge at Superchargers will always be free. After a few minutes I get a notification on my iPhone, you can continue the journey!
On the highway I have more time to appreciate the other qualities of this car. First of all the infamous Autopilot that allows an almost autonomous driving. In most cases just keep your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road, the car will do the rest. For this type of technology a scale has been introduced that represents how much a car is able to drive independently. Let’s imagine that level 0 is that of a car without any driving aid and level 5 is that of a car that always drives by itself while reading the newspaper (still non-existent). The Tesla Autopilot settles near at level 3 and is one of the very few devices to do so.
Another feature that makes travel more enjoyable is the fabulous infotainment system. Thanks to the SIM card in the car offers a continuous and free Internet connection throughout Europe, this allows Tesla customers to offer services such as Spotify or podcast which can also be accessed through a convenient search bar. On the way back there is darkness and the lighting given by the headlights totally LED is a pleasant confirmation, also thanks to the automatic high beam, always precise in lighting up and extinguishing. My journey is ending, I leave the highway and head towards the underground parking of the Tesla Store of Gae Aulenti and discover a last and pleasant surprise: the air suspension adjustment memorises the position of the height from the ground with respect to the GPS coordinates in so that when we go back to the same place, as in my case, the car will adjust to the previously set level.
Article: Federico Schipani
Pictures: Edoardo Mascalchi, Federico Schipani
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