Model S P85

On Friday, I wrote about my experience dropping my Model X, Pensive, off for service. In-person conversations I've had since have been around the loaner car itself, which is surprisingly bad, so I figured a dedicated review was in order.

The Model S provides a much lower seating position than the Model X, it feels more natural to me given the performance-sedan focus, but at 34 weeks pregnant with twins, it means my wife has a bit of trouble getting in and out, and once in, she can't reach the door to close it. Unlike newer model Teslas, this pre-facelift S lacks the facility to open and close doors from the console or keyfob, which means there's no work-around for this ergonomic short-coming. Unlike the Model X, there are no storage spots inside the front doors, and I can see both pros and cons to the long central channel which can protected a small bag from sliding, but would make smaller items hareder to store and access on their own.

The Model S has its cruise-control and signalling stocks swapped compared to the Model X, leading me to mistakenly flash high-beams behind an 18-wheeler the first time I tried to engage Autopilot. It turns out the car didn't have Autopilot, or even traffic-aware cruise control, so the basic cruise control stock was mostly an annoyance to remind me that I was not in my car. The central screen was in need of a cleaning, with a sandy, sticky, grime over much of it, and the left thumb wheel was mis-aligned and wouldn't scroll, leaving the sound setting stuck on mute. (It could be worse, had this been a different car, and it had been stuck playing talk radio the whole time.) The driver's instrument cluster has a much more efficient display, showing a spedometer and power-usage on the left and right halves of a circle filling the central section of the display. This meant that the power-usage was visible, even without using the widget in one of the extreme sides; and it also meant that the speed was visible even when the steering wheel occluded the digital read-out.

The car initially feals fast; from the start, the initial power feels faster than my Model X 100D; but the car has trouble laying down that power and after an initial thrust you feel like the car should be going much faster than it is. 0-60 was just over six seconds when I tested an actual sprint, slower than my WRX, with the principal issue being tire slippage to a degree that the traction control would issue warnings.

The car doesn't fit our three seats across the rear, but does provide a reading light with a fun button for toddlers to push as they're buckled-in or getting-out of the car. With only one car seat and a pregnant passenger, I found putting the car seat behind the driver's seat provided even better leg-room than the Model X, but required going through the passenger-side rear door since the rear driver-side door did not consistently open. Even though the car did not feature the automatic opening-and-closing of newer Tesla's the acutal locks and latches are apparently still controlled in the same manner, and the door handles only trigger a signal that tells the computer to open the car. The signal from the rear handle didn't seem to trigger the un-latch command consistently. Putting your foot on the break and trying to shift into drive or reverse might sometimes take upwards of a minute as well before the car acknowledged the direction, which was quite frustrating. There was no brake-hold which meant holding your foot on the brake at long lights or switching the gear into park; I'm surprised that what should have been a simple software option wasn't implemented, but there seemed to be more of a disconnect between the breaks and the central computer than in newer cars (where putting your foot on both pedals appears to cut the accelerator, unlike in this Model S).

Pros

  • Auto windshield wipers work better than on the Model X

  • Rear seat has reading light for toddlers to turn-on-and-off

  • Screetching from rear tires punctuates sounds of silence on long drives

Cons

  • Charge port frequently opens when driving, although the car thinks it's closed

  • Rear door doesn't always open

  • Auto-present door handles doesn't always work

  • Shifting into gear (drive/reverse) from park doesn't always work

  • Left scroll-wheel doesn't work; no way of setting volume

  • Left mirror has physical damage. It loses its position when un-folding

  • There's essentially no tread on the rear tires. It takes a bit more than 6 seconds to do 0-60 because of wheel spin, and stopping distance is harmed.

  • Too-low for a pregnant woman to close her own door from inside the car

  • Doesn't fit two infant carriers, a rear-facing car seat, and two 6' passengers