I was able to test drive a Tesla S tonight. 40kw version. In regular mode, it feels like a larger Lexus sedan. Setting the car to 'sport' and the air ride to 'low', it felt on par with a BMW. On first impression, the car is BIG! The details are all there for the luxury segment.
The interior is fantastic; the stitching, the material quality, panel gaps, the textures and shapes.
The power is intoxicating and the cabin is eerily silent, sans the tire and wind noise. The touch screen that replaces the center stack is gorgeous and the interface is easy to navigate. Just my 20-30 minute drive on the curvy back roads of Raleigh, it is a very stable, interesting car to drive, for such a young auto manufacturer, it is very well put together.
The regenerative braking system is odd at first. It is like leaving a manual transmission in a lower gear winding it out and lifting off the accelerator, though not jerky at all. It feels hard to modulate the accelerator and regenerative systems, but after a couple of tries, I got the hang of it and started using each as an advantage when entering corners.
The seats are fantastic and feel sporty without being confining. It is a beautifully styled car. After a little study, the lines make sense for functional use (aero, wind resistance, etc. The bottom is flat, trailing into a functional diffuser in the rear) and the shape is elegant, not at all gaudy. I was also surprised how much cargo room there is with the rear seat folded down, about as much as a large hatchback.
Here are a few shots and videos:
Hawaian living in North Carolina, what can you do?
Trick door entry:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnzcQ8ofaAM
Short acceleration burst:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgoF_RhxCKQ
Interesting comment from the owner...he says he didn't necessarily buy the car for the ecological/environmental perspective, rather the technology of the car was the primary draw. He was #510 on the list, having put down the required deposit on 04/2009 (!!).
I forgot to add, during my test drive, I came around a left sweeper to find a pickup in my lane while trying to move around a cyclist. For a car this size, it's very nimble in emergency maneuvers, regenerative braking FTW! I think the owner, as a passenger, may have left a little stain on the seat.
One last shot for irony:
"Furniture that is too obviously designed is very interesting, but too often belongs only in museums." - MBJ