The car of the future | Do I think the 2015 Tesla Model S P85+ is the car of the future?
As I concluded from our winter test with the car, the Tesla Model S is the car of the future. Elon Musk is very likely to take over the world with his absurd (in a good way!) ideas, and the brand’s business model is quickly going to take them to the top. I was given the opportunity to drive the latest flagship in the Tesla lineup, a 2015 Tesla Model S P85+. Apart from the P85+ being the most performance-oriented model they offer, the importance of this test to our magazine is that it takes place in the summer, when weather conditions for electric vehicles are ideal.
Despite falling in love with the slightly lower trim-level Model S P85, I had some issues in the winter. For instance, I had the car during the biggest power outage in over a decade. With Level 2 charging stations in my area down as well as the regular wall outlets at home, I was forced to have an extended meal in a local Pizza Hut on Christmas Eve while the car charged on a wall outlet outside their building. My range also took a hit, but not hugely so that it was detrimental to my overall opinion on the car.
The Model S P85+ is the “Performance Plus” model in the lineup, and it drives accordingly. Torque is instantaneous as in any other electric car, and the car takes off like a rocketship with just a light tap on the accelerator. It has regenerative braking as other models do, so one-pedal driving is entirely possible. Letting go of the accelerator automatically applies the brakes lightly, and this system definitely has somewhat of a learning curve to it. The new BMW i3 has a very similar system.
Although numbers like horsepower and torque don’t really mean as much when talking about a full electric vehicle such as this one, the P85+ packs 416 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque (available at 0 RPM). The 85 kilowatt-hour battery pack means the Model S can go up to 450 kilometers between charges in ideal conditions. The ride feels firm and the car handles beautifully, but the most shocking (pun intended) thing about the Model S is how quiet it is. There’s literally no sound from the motor, other than a faint electric whirring noise when going wide-open on the accelerator.
With the new supercharging stations finally installed in the Greater Toronto Area, it’s theoretically possible to charge this car in the same amount of time as it would take to have a quick lunch. Implementation of these superchargers across the 400-series highways as well as the interstates in the United States would mean that road trips with electric vehicles are entirely doable. This is huge – the future of the automobile could very well depend on how well Tesla does in the coming few years.
The styling of the Tesla Model S is definitely worth talking about. From the outside, it doesn’t look that different from any other upscale four-door sedan from the Germans. The lines are stunning and the LED lighting is fresh and modern. Charging is done via a charge port that’s hidden cleanly in the taillight design. Even the interior is a game-changer; there are no buttons anywhere other than the four-way flashers, the power window and mirror controls, and the glovebox release. Everything else (including sunroof operation, climate control, navigation and entertainment) is done through the gigantic 17” touch-screen that’s the centerpiece of the interior. Given the fact that there’s no engine, there’s a “frunk” ahead of the passenger compartment for storage, along with the rear hatch (where there are also two child-friendly rear-facing seats).
My only dislikes with the Model S revolve around the driving experience as a whole. It’s insane levels of fast, and it handles superbly for a car its size. This isn’t the issue. I definitely mentioned this in my winter test of the car, but it’s just too quiet and lacks feedback. As a petrolhead, I appreciate the sounds, vibrations, and smells of a conventional engine and consider them an essential part of the car. Additionally, the USB port in the Tesla isn’t capable of playing your mobile device; it simply charges it. If your iPod (like my 160GB Classic) doesn’t have Bluetooth capabilities, you’re likely out of luck.
I definitely believe that Tesla is onto something bigger than we can even imagine with this car. It may not be the ideal choice for a true gearhead, but it’s a solid choice for 99% of commuters. With further additions of high-speed charging stations throughout the nation, Tesla will need to ultimately install more stations in the same location to ensure there are enough ports available for commuters. This car is a true performance luxury car in every way, shape, and form, and I’m proud to have spent some time with it.