Haute Living had the opportunity to test drive one of the hautest eco-luxe cars on the market, the Tesla’s Model S P85D.
We were en route to Philadelphia for the day. It was slated to be about an 85-mile drive from New York City, and with a full charge (approximately 253 miles of range), we would arrive to the “City of Brotherly Love” with plenty of battery to spare.
As we pulled up next to a highway toll booth, the toll collector asked, “So I know this is an electric car. Let me ask you a question––how do the doors open?”
On an average car door, this would seem pretty obvious––just pull the handle. At first glance at the Model S, though, there isn’t a handle to pull, only a seamless strip of metal melded into the car door. So, upon first approach, we also wondered, how do the doors open? A moment later, detecting that the car key was in close proximity, that strip of metal (made from hand-polished zinc) extended and offered itself as a handle.
Sliding into the driver’s seat, we were struck by the sleek interior, which appears to be tactfully angled toward the driver. The seat curves inward as if directing the driver to the steering wheel, and the leather feels as though it is molded to the shape of your back. It was complete comfort and control.
The interior lining––a combination of suede and wood materials––gives the design a smooth and sophisticated look. In the center dashboard, a 17-inch touch screen––also slightly angled toward the driver’s seat––allows for smart phone and iPod synchronization and the ability to search and map any desired destination––whether it’s a rest stop, restaurant, or nearest Tesla supercharge station––along with many other features, including Web access. An hour and a half drive was ahead, and we were well-equipped.
As the car entered the Lincoln Tunnel, exiting the city, our view momentarily went pitch black, but the headlights and dashboard instantly lit up to light the way. At a steady speed of 20 miles per hour, the car merged from the tunnel onto the highway; and with just a touch of pressure on the accelerator, the speedometer went from 20 to 60 miles per hour in seconds.
We opted to drive in “Insane Mode,” a performance setting on the Model S P85D, which allows for instantaneous acceleration––the ability to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.1 seconds. If that’s not fast enough, Tesla also offers a slightly larger battery (P90D) with a “Ludicrous Mode,” capable of accelerating from zero to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds.
That’s about equivalent to the time it would take to fasten your seat belt, which is a bit shocking to think about. Tesla has earned the “highest safety rating in America,” and its cars are geared for an optimal driving experience, which includes safety, first and foremost. The Model S is programmed to warn the driver by beeping if the car is too close to another vehicle in front, behind, or in the next (parallel) lane over. In an emergency situation, the car will bring itself safely to a stop. Fortunately, an emergency stop wasn’t necessary this trip.
Acceleration was silent and smooth––one moment the speedometer read 60 miles per hour, and instantly it shot up to 90. Insanely enough, it only felt like we were driving 60 mph. We thought how easy it would be to (inadvertently) exceed 100 mph; and yes, we may have once or twice.
As we entered Philly, we pulled up next to a Ferrari that was driven by an older gentleman, approximately in his 50s. His proud grin turned upside down at the sight of our sophisticated ride. Aside from the car’s exceptional reputation, I’d imagine the sight of three 20-something-year-olds in a Tesla isn’t one often seen.
In need of a quick restroom break, we pulled over to a rest stop. Exiting the car, we scratched our heads, now wondering, how do the doors lock? We were as puzzled as the toll collector, and we’ll admit, we had to Google it. The answer: Simply walk away. When the car is no longer in use, the handles retract into the doors, creating again that seamless metal surface, and the doors lock automatically.
When it was time to refuel, we stopped at a supercharge station near the New Jersey Turnpike, where we ran into another Tesla recharging. Like the handles on the doors, the car’s charging port––also seamlessly integrated into the exterior design––is hidden near the back left taillight and only opens when a charging connector approaches it.
A 20-minute charge was all that was needed to gain close to another hundred miles of range, enough to get us back to New York City.
Recharged and ready to go, we were back in the fast lane.