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Seattle Test Drive Review

Just tested out a black performance s. Absolutely unbelievable car to drive. I didn't waste a second on the ash tray or the screen. Went in just to feel the drive. The grip and pickup is amazing. The regen feel will take getting used to. Cornering is unmatched. I sped past some other test cars and let the car live a little. In my 10 minute journey, barely budged the battery tank. Confirmed my long wait will be worth every penny.

What was the course like?

I gave my observations in the Washington section. But I'm not local to Seattle, so I couldn't remember all the streets. However, we didn't get on the freeway and maximum legal speed limit was 40 mph. However, there was sufficient variation in the streets for a 10 minute drive.

I drove a performance model with pano roof. The ride (with 21" wheels) was no better (or worse) than my wife's 2003 Lexus. The noise level was about the same also. Most all the noise was road noise. The sun was out and it was a beautiful day so we opened the roof. My wife in the back seat said there was no wind back there and the noise level was not much louder than with the pano closed. I really wish we could have been on the freeway so we could at least get it up to 60 mph. After the ride, on our way home, I noticed how much of a slug the Lexus is. When I floored it, the car took a while to decide what to do and then down-shifted and accelerated. The Tesla beat the Lexus hands down.

"My wife in the back seat said there was no wind back there and the noise level was not much louder than with the pano closed."

Wow, that really speaks to the aerodynamics. Amazing. Thanks for doing that and reporting back.

Got up to 87 in a 40 on Aurora. Took my chances. The course was basically Westlake over to Aurora. Queen Anne turn around. Aurora to Denny and back to Westlake. Lots of street driving, turning, accelerating out of stoplights.

I drove the same car as cerjor right after he did. I might mention it's the first car I've driven that let me stretch my legs out to where they didn't feel at least a little cramped. Like cerjor I wasn't extremely impressed by the smoothness of the air suspension, although it's better than any other car I've driven.

I hope some of you can drive and ride in both a air suspension car with the 21" and another with the 19" wheels. I'd be interested in a comparison, especially on the Seattle route.

"I wasn't extremely impressed by the smoothness of the air suspension, although it's better than any other car I've driven."

If it's better than anything else you've driven, why are you not impressed? Are you currently driving a Yugo?

No, prob'ly a hovercraft. ;)

@Brian: +1

(I like the poem on the other thread, too. Thanks.)

@Konreal
I've never driven a luxury car and I'd hoped it would eliminate more bumps that it did.

I suggest getting the 19" wheels if you want a softer ride. The extra rubber wall height will smooth out the bumps a bit.

Compaired to most high-peformance exotics, I thought the ride in the S was softer with the air suspension and 21" wheels. Most high-peformance exotics are designed to feel every bump on the road, in sacrifice for amazing handling. The Model S gives you both!

If you want a softer ride, get the 19" wheels, which will add far more extra cushion in bumps.

I've never wanted the 21" wheels, but that's what I got to drive. I was hoping someone could ride and/or drive in one with the 21" and the other 19" to do a comparison.

I haven't driven either, except vicariously, but I've read every review (except Jalopnik's) and watched every test drive video posted on either TMC or YouTube, and so far everyone has said that the 21" tires actually have a better ride as tested. However, there are a lot of questions:

1. Tire pressures (The 19" tires may have been running higher pressures)
2. Suspension tuning (pressure in the suspension, different air suspension model)
3. Tires chosen (The 19" tires may have heavier belt construction)
4. Suspension settings (from the console)
5. Wheels (Do the 19" wheels weigh more)

I don't think we'll know the true answer until the P-series starts rolling off the line. Even if all the questions were answered today, that doesn't mean there wouldn't be changes as production ramps up.

My test drive on the 21's felt flawless. I am definitely happy with my choice to get them but it is my personal impression and I doubt you could go wrong either way.

I test drove in the very first group Friday morning in Seattle. We had maybe 20 minutes in the car with maybe a 15 minute test drive. Pulling out on 99, a cop was right there but I got to the speed limit in a blip.

Air suspension is worth every penny. Absorbed everything and the car had no noticeable pitch. It doesn't feel at all like a 4000 lbs plus car.

Acceleration at any speed was impressive.

Steering was predictable but less communicative than my '06 MINI.

From what I could take in in the short time I was in the car, fit and finish was well done. I had a Pacific Blue, tan leather with matte wood dash.

Speedo has a cool indicator for when you were using or regaining power. Essentially a horizontal bar marks 0 usage that would increase from orange to red when flooring it above the bar then to green (iirc) below the bar when decelerating.

Car can be held at a consistent very slow speed which will be great for the unfortunate times you're stuck in traffic.

An odd dynamic I noticed was rollback with no resistance. Any incline with no foot on the brake or accelerator caused the car to roll back at a very quick pace.

Love it! I have to trade my MINI and sell a kidney but looking forward to my December delivery.

I drove the black non-performance, 19-inch wheels car (I'm not a "performance car" guy and this is by far the fastest car I've ever driven), and I won't repeat all the things about the driving experience that others have said better than I could. It was a very fun drive.

But I wanted to add my 2¢ about the sound system. I don't know if this was the premium system or not, but I sure hope not, because it was laughably bad. Just no bass at all, and it didn't get any better when the co-pilot adjusted the EQ. It wasn't tinny or distorted or anything like that; in other words, the sound that did come out sounded fine, but I did not feel like I was enveloped by the music. The best I can describe it is if you took a decent stereo and then turned off the woofers. I was disappointed since I was looking forward to the sound quality in the quiet ride. Here's hoping it was not a production-quality system.

Otherwise the drive was great. I was very impressed by the quality of the screens; both look very slick in person. The instrument cluster in particular looks fantastic.

For the first time, I'm glad my number doesn't come up till the end of this year. That way I'll be able to spend more time in the cars and compare the various options/colors, and Tesla can work out a few bugs.

@chrissam42

I drove the white non-performance yesterday and agree that the sound system wasn't up to par. Before my drive, the factory rep told me that all of the cars at the event had the premium sound in them... I'm not an audiophile and the sound system bugged me.

Loved the drive otherwise.

I mentioned this in another thread, but I put my thoughts at the link below.

http://bit.ly/NzZpgD

Did anyone happen to get pictures of the pacific blue car? When I was there it was off charging (on the super charger they said) and wouldn't let me near it.

Interesting info about supercharger. I was told all the chargers there are Roadster HPCs. The reason I couldn't take photos of the blue car while it was charging was that it was using a "not production ready" adapter.

Was amazed by the sound system. Was in the back, and the car had incredible spacial seperation, both side to side, and was really shocked by the digitaly seperated front to rear seperation. Loved it lots...

@bsimoes,

Wife is 5'-2". I asked her to keep you in mind as she drove. Seat is great, visibility good, controls in the right places. She said dont worry.

jbunn, thanks so much! I am getting so excited; I know I have a wait in front of me,(#8554) but this car consumes a lot of my waking hours just daydreaming; this a.m. I woke to realize that I was dreaming about being on this site...just a little obsessive!

jbunn, bsimoes;
jb's wife has a waist 4" higher than yours, and a torso 4" shorter, and legs 4" longer. Men and women the same height are very different when seated!

Jbunn: Was amazed by the sound system. Was in the back, and the car had incredible spacial seperation, both side to side, and was really shocked by the digitaly seperated front to rear seperation. Loved it lots...

JBunn: Was this regular or upgraded sound system?

Thanks

Bsimoes,

Brian is funning us, I suspect... : )

for comparison, i am 5'-10", 29 inseam. Long in the torso, and the rear seat has a close ceiling without pano.

She is a 27" inseam. She claims 29" in heals, but that doesnt count... I think youll love it. Sorry for the wait. Been over a year for me so far. Some of the others going on three years. When do you drive?

Ohms,

We drove the black sport. Premium possibly. Did not explore max volume, but didnt need to to hear the dynamic range in a car that quiet. Much better than the premium on the wifes volvo c70. we were very happy with it.

jbunn;
Not funning at all. E.g. My sister is 4" shorter than I am, but our hip bones/waists are exactly the same height above the ground when both of us are in sock feet.

There are some genetic sports and mutants with different numbers, but except for the very tall and short, men's sitting height (torsos) are 28" or 70cm, and women's are 24" or 60 cm.

My passenger had a serious issue with the seatbelts. The belt on the right rear either was sticking or just way too short. After moving to the right side, there was just enough belt to barely snap it. The next group had a passenger who outweighed mine by at least 50 pounds and was probably 4 inches shorter. There's no way either belt was going to make that stretch!

I was already belted in, so I didn't really get to see how much spare belt I had in the driver seat.

There had also been reports of negative interactions between polarized sunglasses and the displays in the beta cars. I wore my sunglasses and tilted my head to try and cause a problem, but both displays stayed bright and the colors true, unlike my iPhone with my sunglasses.

So 1 serious minus, 1 plus.

There had also been reports of negative interactions between polarized sunglasses and the displays in the beta cars. I wore my sunglasses and tilted my head to try and cause a problem, but both displays stayed bright and the colors true, unlike my iPhone with my sunglasses. (Teoatawki)

Very good point, thanks for bringing it up! That's definitely an additional requirement for the Model S displays, that computer screens or mobile phones usually don't have (or at least don't care about). Have you tried tilting your head to the left and to the right, with polarized glasses on? If that does not change the look of the displays, then they really hit the mark.


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