Last year, my wife and I decided it was time to swap out our old car with a newer one. After a lot of discussion, dreaming, and looking for small change in the couch, we landed on ordering a Tesla Model S. This is my review of the car after having driven it for 2500 kilometers.
Since taking delivery in mid-December of 2015, driving the first 2500 kilometers went by very quickly, in just over a month. We have had the car for three iterations of the software (6.2, 7.0 and 7.1). Each iteration has been a marked improvement over the previous version. I will not review these three, but I expect to review future updates.
Soon after we got the car, the weather took a turn for the cold, with some snow fall and slippery conditions. As I noted in the first impressions review, the car does tend to oversteer, and that tendency becomes significantly more pronounced on winter conditions. That is, however, simply a matter of experience, and making the very minor changes in driving style to accommodate that tendency was quickly done.
Because we wanted to have the option of a roof rack, we went for the panorama roof. As many others have noted before us, there is a tendency for cold down drafts from the panorama roof, a problem which is easily remedied by buying some sound dampening material for speakers (NOK 159,- as this is being written), which I locked in place using Tesla’s sun shade for the panorama roof. This also had an effect on the road noise experienced in the car, particularly when it’s raining.
During late fall and winter, I have found the range estimation to be so far off as to be bordering on the ridiculous (projected range is not too bad, but rated range is simply laughable unless you’re doing some serious hypermiling). As a result, I have set my displays to display percentage of battery left (which conveniently echoes my experience with fossil fueled cars and their fuel gauges). I will write a separate post on my thoughts about range. For now, it is sufficient to say that using low-wattage chargers serves me well enough to cover the in-town driving I do. For longer journeys, there’s always the Supercharger network, as well as other occasional high-speed chargers.
As I intimated above, the car handles beautifully, even on slippery winter roads. With non-studded winter tires, the only thing that is challenging is ice, and even that is manageable on flat surfaces. The car is, however, not a pure-bred winter car. The auto-presenting door handles stick from time to time, as does the charge port cover and rear-view mirrors. Although we went for the subzero weather package (which is both useful and worth the money), the windows tend to stick to the rubber sealing strips if you don’t coat the with silicone lubricant.
The option to start heating the car from the app is nothing short of brilliant. It does away with frost on the front window, and heats the cabin to a comfortable level very quickly. I do wish that it allowed you to start defrosting the side mirrors, turn on the heating in the steering wheel and seats, and the wiper blade defrosters, too, but one can always hope that that is functionality they bring in a future software update.
Finally, a few words about size. There’s no getting around it; the Model S is a large car. It is significantly longer, and noticeably wider than our former car, an Opel Astra station wagon. The size is a challenge, for all of fifteen or so minutes. The thing is, the car has sensors pointing out in all directions, and (starting with version 7.0 of the software) shows you if it is detecting anything on the dashboard. The size ceases to be an issue at all very quickly indeed.