Tesla Model S: First Look Review


The Tesla Model S has played a pivotal role in the world’s ongoing transition to EVs, proving that EVs can be practical, fun, and luxurious, just like any ICE vehicle. Launched in June 2012, it’s still in its first generation, although it has received substantial upgrades through the years. Recently, I sat in a Stealth Grey-colored unit and checked out all its details. Here are my first impressions of the popular electric sedan:

Design

The Tesla Model S may be over a decade old, but it was a car designed ahead of time. It has received a facelift twice, once in 2016 and then in 2021, and in its latest form, I think it still looks pretty slick.

At the front, I like the slender headlamps and the covered nose section, something many legacy automakers fail to execute with such poise. The front is visibly low, and I think it gives the Tesla Model S a particularly sporty look.

On the sides, I like the low and quickly dropping roofline, which, along with the rising beltline, helps the sleek greenhouse get fashionably narrower toward the back. The 21-inch Arachnid wheels and the flush door handles add to its sportiness and flamboyance, respectively.

At the back, the liftgate includes a subtle spoiler to help the Tesla Model S’ aerodynamics. I think the electric sedan looks particularly stunning in the Stealth Grey and Solid Black colors, but in other shades, I would’ve liked it better without the dark details.

Interior

The Tesla Model S features a futuristic and luxurious interior. The available Cream and Black and White color schemes along with Walnut trim help it look rich and classy, but this particular car has the all-black color scheme with Ebony trim. I missed the fancy ambient lighting system Mercedes-Benz offers in the EQE sitting in the Model S, though.

Tesla Model S interior dashboard live image

Some critics have pointed out that the interior of the Model S lacks refinement. From my experience, I can share that the quality of the little switchgear, the trim parts, and the upholstery Tesla has used in the car offer a premium impression, especially after the updates that the sedan received in 2020.

Just aesthetically speaking, I think the optional yoke steering is crucial to the futuristic feeling in the interior of the Model S. I’d still prefer the standard-fit steering wheel if I were to buy one for myself, though. The Model S I sat in was equipped with the regular steering wheel which felt firm to grip.

The horizontal dashboard of the Model S houses an instrument cluster in front of the steering wheel/yoke steering and has a 17-inch touchscreen infotainment system attached to it in the center. From my experience, I can say that the instrument cluster’s graphics were excellent. The touchscreen infotainment system, which can be tilted left or right from the Profile menu, has a 2200 x 1300 resolution and up to 10 teraflops of processing power. I expected it to have vivid colors and superb performance, and that also describes my experience.

I’m six feet tall, and for me, ingress and egress in the Model S was nothing unusual for a sedan. As for space and comfort, in the front, I had ample headroom. The under-thigh support could be better and the lumbar support felt comfortable. In the back, my head was quite clear of the glass roof, which greatly enhances the feel of the cabin. Legroom and knee room would not be an issue for shorter people. I’d love to see Tesla improve the Model S’ rear seats in future iterations.

The Model S has 28.2 cu. ft. of cargo space, which can be expanded to 64.6 cu. ft. by folding the rear seat. Moreover, it offers 3.1 cu. ft. of additional luggage space under the hood.

Specifications

The Tesla Model S is available in standard and Plaid variants, both in an all-wheel drive drivetrain layout. The standard variant has two motors, one at the front and one at the back, producing 670 horsepower. It hits 0 to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds and has the potential to keep going further till 130 mph. On a full charge, it delivers an EPA-est. range of 405 miles (19-inch wheels)/382 miles (21-inch wheels).

The Plaid variant adds another motor at the back and gets 1,020 horsepower from this tri-motor setup. It has a 0-60 mph time of just 1.99 seconds (with rollout subtracted) and a top speed of 200 mph. Its EPA-est. range is 359 miles (19-inch wheels)/320 miles (20-inch wheels).

Price

The Tesla Model S retails at USD 74,990 in the standard variant and USD 89,990 in the Plaid variant. Both prices exclude a USD 1,390 destination fee and a USD 250 order fee.

TopElectricSUV says

The Tesla Model S is great in style, space, performance, and technology. Save for the lack of physical controls and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, I think it’s a fantastic premium electric sedan. However, the Mercedes EQE still makes better sense for customers who prioritize quality and luxury above everything else.

What is the Tesla Model S price?

The prices of the Tesla Model S start at USD 74,990 (excl. USD 1,390 destination fee and USD 250 order fee).

What is the Tesla Model S range?

The Tesla Model S delivers an EPA-est. range of up to 405 miles.

Which cars are Tesla Model S rivals?

The Tesla Model S competes with the Mercedes EQE, Lucid Air, and the Porsche Taycan.

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