Without a doubt, one of the most common questions I get asked, when people find out what I do, is: “Have you driven a Tesla?” For what felt like forever, I would answer with a hangdog expression and bitter disappointment in the negative.
Well, Tesla has cured me.
Tesla has converted me. Okay, I lie, I was already a convert, essentially since it leaped onto the major magazine’s test circuit, glowing review after glowing review, crowned by winning Motor Trend’s Car of the Year and Automobile Magazine’s Automobile of the Year in 2013. Oh, and it was also Consumer Reports Best Car Ever Tested. I’m not sure if that’s a real award or just a ridiculously cool accomplishment, but there you go.
I ate it all up, reading everything I could find, from geeky battery threads to the drama with New York Times’ questionable reporting… But what truly sealed the deal was The Oatmeal’s brilliant tribute to the Model S that he bought. The Oatmeal isn’t an automotive journalist, and realates that his enthusiasm for all things automotive was stifled at an early age. But he bought the car, and it’s an insight into both his beautiful and bizarre imagination (he’s essentially a cartoonist in Insane Mode) and the reasoning of at least one owner, and perhaps many more.
While some people put the Tesla up on a pedestal and deny that it has any competitors, it still has four wheels, four doors, costs at least $75K here in Canada and has at the very least 329 hp, so let’s take a moment to look at it as simply a car, even though we all now realize it is really an Intergalactic SpaceBoat of Light and Wonder.
As mentioned, the Model S lineup starts with the $87,200 70D, with all-wheel drive and 329 hp and accelerating from standstill to 100 km/h in 5.4 seconds. Of course, Tesla wouldn’t stick me with that slowpoke, and the vehicle they have committed to automotive media in the P85D, bumping horsepower up to 691 hp and accumulating 686 lb-ft of torque from a 221-hp motor on the front axle and 470-hp unit at the back. It starts at $121,300.
In Insane Mode (Tesla’s clever name for their more aggressive throttle response/power delivery setting), those 691 hp and 686 pounding feet will pick you up, rearrange your molecules and place you at highway speeds in 3.3 seconds. There is only a subtle high-pitched whine and whirr, and your brain spurts out of your ears in geyser of grey matter splattering the window and passengers. There is no tire spin (the computer will not allow it; after all, why waste energy?), there is no slow rolling wave of torque – it is simply a wall of crushing force catapulting you to silly speeds at levels of acceleration never experienced without afterburners or rocket thrusters or custom drag-racing machines.