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Impressions From the Los Angeles Test Drive Event

The test drive event is being held at Tesla's Design Studio at the Hawthorne, CA Municipal airport. The test drive is a rectangular route that takes you east on Jack Northrup Ave along a specially coned off lane where you "punch it", then north on Crenshaw Blvd. to the I-105 west on ramp, I-105 west to the Prairie Ave. exit, and south on Prairie to Jack Northrup Ave. The only spots you can hard corner the car is the on and off ramps.

Nothing to add about the performance of the car that hasn't already been said from the factory drives last weekend. They gave us a choice of driving a Performance or non-Performance Model S. I chose a non-Performance with 19" wheels. Smooth ride and plenty enough acceleration to convince me I really don't need the Performance model. They told me all the test drive vehicles are production models. There are several Beta's on static display.

Some specific questions I was asked to by other forum participants:

For Volker.Berlin: Driver's seat headrest. I took a tape. The measured distance between the seat cushion and top of the headrest was 34 inches. I am 6'0" with an average length torso. The center of the back of my head was well within the headrest cushion. Hope that helps answer your question.

For mvbf: 1) Audio system. Was able to listen to the standard audio system. Have to say the tonal quality was pretty darned good. Was going to get the upgrade but I'm leaning toward not. The car is so quiet, the extra power in the upgraded system isn't necessary to drown out the ICE and road noise. Don't want to get into a big discussion with the audiophiles out there, but suffice it to say, if you can't afford the upgrade, I don't think you will be disappointed with the standard audio.
2) Air Suspension. Very Smooth. They would not let me measure the height when raised. Too many people to push through in too little time. Interesting that the co-pilot had me take the return driveway entrance at an angle. It didn't seem that steep, but maybe he was just being cautious.
3) Pano roof open and close while driving. My test vehicle didn't have one so no help there.
4) Jump seats. No children under 8 were allowed to ride. All children were seated in the back seats so no opportunity to get anyone's impression of a jump seat ride.

Some other impressions:
1) No side-to-side pitching in the hard acceleration. I drove the green non-performance with the 19" wheels.
2) Rear seat headroom. It is definitely a problem in the non-pano hardtops. As mentioned above, I am 6'0" with an average length torso and I could not sit up straight without crunching my head on the headliner. If you are going to routinely carry back seat passengers 6' or taller, you need to get the pano roof for the extra headroom. Additionally, the non-adjustable back seat headrest did not extend beyond the middle of my neck. No head support at all. Seems like that would be a safety issue but I don't know what the regs are on that.
3) Rear view mirror. Properly adjusted, I had no problem seeing out the back, but your field of view is definitely diminished due to the slope of the hatchback.
4) Obeche Wood. They had a sample with the matte finish. Very dull and unappealing. I commented to one of the associates and she asked if I had seen the gloss finish. Duh, no. She brought up the matte and gloss finish side by side on her laptop and all I can say is WOW! The difference was night and day. Very bright and somewhat similar to the banana leaf in appearance. I'm definitely getting the Obeche Wood gloss and would recommend anyone considering it, make the comparison. Hope they post the two side by side on the TM Website if they haven't already done it.
5) Tinted Windows. All the test drive vehicles had factory tinted windows which I'm was told was standard.

cosmomusic - Your point is well taken, and I don't disagree with you at all. I thoroughly enjoyed my "Test Drive". But, for many of us who don't live near a Tesla store, this test drive is our one and only chance to give a production version of the Model S a critical review (beyond the drive itself) before we make, what for many of us will be, the second largest purchase decision in our life.

What do you mean "Second largest"? :-)

Although I likely won't be getting the pano-roof option, I will say that it didn't feel any hotter than what I drove there in (with a solid roof), in mid-80 degree temps, with full sun. However, it does really brighten up the interior with all the extra light (some may like this, and others might not). The touch screens had no glair what-so-ever!

Has anyone driven the car when the sun was at a low level (coming in from the side windows)?

jerry3, I'm assuming steven meant the largest purchase decision for most people is a home.

Cmlaff. I asked about the suspension today on our test drive because we also have a steep entry to our driveway. He showed my wife how easy it is to do on the screen. 2 buttons touches is all it is. He just showed us on the screen, not actually doing it. I forgot to ask him before we pulled back onto the service road.

I had a great time at the event and was glad to finally be able to DRIVE this car I've been dreaming about.

That being said, I was a little disappointed with my drive. It didn't last nearly long enough and my 'minder' wasn't willing to adjust anything on the car. He couldn't even tell me what regen mode I was driving in. I had some reservations about the steering and suspension feel, but didn't get any chance to adjust them to a more 'sport' like setting.
But, there will be plenty of time in the future for longer more complete and satisfying test drives. I'm happy for now.

I would suggest to any future test drivers. I found a wide range of Tesla people at the event. Not just salespeople, but mechanics and designers and engineers. Chat them up and you can get a lot of information. I must have spent an hour talking to one of the suspension guys. Someone who's driven 100s of miles in this car and knows every little difference that we sit here online and speculate about.

It is refreshing to see people so passionate about the car they designed. I have a big thank you out to Elon and all the staff and employees at Tesla. It's nice to see the return of 'passion' to the design and production of vehicles.

My experience today was very good, mostly. There are many similarities to drkrause's comments. I also echo your compliments; I love the passion and desire to achieve, from many of the Tesla employees. I spoke with several of them over a couple hours and it was fun and very educational. That was great; take advantage of it if you can.

My test drive was a little too much touch screen descriptions and not enough ride conversation. If I had to do it over again I would have had the copilot limit the comments to instruction and experience the ride. There were a lot of folks at my 11am time slot so things were understandability rushed.

I drove one of the performance models, necessary because I needed to see how I would fit with Pano Roof. They only had Panoramic on the performance models there. I'm 6'5" (sit about 39" tall) and was concerned the side "frame" would bump the side of my head too much (the side is lower then the standard roof and it seemed to hit my head sitting in the betas). Fortunately it wasn't a problem when driving, settling in I was just under it and it didn't bother me. I was very pleased.

I may not be going for the performance, but it was very very nice. We had the car loaded with 5 people but still did 0-60 well under 5 seconds (and I believe over some train tracks).

It was a perfect day too, lots of sun. So I tried to grab pictures of all the colors (with my limited locations to shoot from). The link is below. There's lots of duplicates but I'll clean it up tomorrow.

http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/23888057_qHfFSb

Enjoy,
Michael

@mdennick I was looking at your pictures and i noticed that several cars have the same licence plates. Ara CA licence plates not supposed to be unique?

Yes, there are only 2 numbers used, I noticed. 68106, and 63277. Perhaps those are dealer plates?

BTW, photo 165 shows both reds (Sig foreground, Sunset background).

olanmills,

I was assuming that's what he meant too :-)

Thanks mdennick for the great pictures. It is helpful to see all the colors from so many different angles and all the seat colors together.

I agree with stevenmalfert's comments. Attended the L.A. test drive event yesterday. WHAT A RUSH!! My one and only disappointment - I'm production #229 (Sig-Perf) and was told by my "Co-pilot" that I could expect delivery by late August-early September. I was somewhat disappointed, having hoped for delivery within the next couple of weeks, but after waiting for 2 years already and now having driven this magnificent piece of work, I must say it's definitely worth the wait. Hope this helps some of you estimate your delivery timeframe.....

Does anyone as a chance to try the windshield washer and the wiper?

At stop and on the highway.

During spring time here the window get dirty very quickly and need to be clean often.
So this is important for Canada owner.
Thank you for your feedback.

I attended yesterday afternoon. like most everyone else,I was very impressed with the acceleration and the handling. I have a bmw 535 and the handling seemed even better. After killing the on ramp for the 105, i commented that the steering did not feel non responsive like some of the reviews mentioned. fortunately my handler was able to show me that i was in sport mode. there are 3 modes; comfort, standard and sport. also the seat seemed good in lateral support. One thing I forgot to ask about was the details of the battery warranty. Does anybody know at what point is the battery deemed it should be replaced under warranty. I would think volker or brian know the answer

thanks

In one video where Steve Jurvetson test drove a beta, the windshield washers came on automatically.

mbcaffe, I asked about battery warranty at the test drive yesterday. The rep said they haven't published the details yet.

Just for a fun comparison/contrast, here's the CNET full review of the Roadster S when it first came out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=rF8fFVuIS2M

Note the wee nav screen.

Just dazzling. Incredible head snapping back of seat acceleration. I drive the same 405 and have no hesitation in getting the performance model - love the acceleration for lane changes and on ramps. Talk about "on ramps" - the curved one is for 25mph and most of us took it at 50-60mph (I can already hear Car & Driver moaning about the lack of road feel and the tail end not washing out, etc, etc).

One important point in scheduling your test drive - I think Sunday AM is the best as there is so little traffic - coming out the gate my co-pilot said "floor it' and we were up to 60mph on a side street in the proverbial 4.4sec (no traffic on Sunday).

Also, the Hawthorne location was special...as you make the turn there is a great big sign..."SPACEX" and a smile crosses your face and it stayeed there for the next hour. A truely memorable day.

My wife remarked, “The ‘S’ is amazing, I drove a 21st Century car! Everything I have ever driven, is so … yesterday!”

We took our chaperoned drive. As said by one and all - an excellent adventure. Judging by the vids, the Fremont route was far more dynamic/dramatic. Hawthorne was too controlled, no real turns except for the freeway on-ramp (we were slowed by a mini-van) we had no way of judging the handling characteristics. The hang loose, go for it camraderie at Fremont was not to be in Hawthorne (thanks Jack). On the “floor it speed run” the straight-a-way was not long enough.

We drove the base model S, 19” wheels, and clothe interior. The rear headrests are low (it was low for me and I am 5’7”) and not adjustable. I guess TM doesn’t want to impair rear vision. 3 positive surprises: the fabric interior was nicer than expected, the tan leather color was fine (not great), and the rear camera. The backup/rearview camera provides an amazing rear view while driving or backing up. It is a big plus.

The interior accents were all disappointing to me. The piano black, lacewood, and obeche matt seemed ordinary. If you want rich-elegant wood look at Jaguar’ accents. The staff was gracious and plentiful, TM is thoughtful and we appreciate all their efforts

We did the Hawthorne test drive and won't re-iterate the car's accolades from the past two weeks. I will just say it is the most extraordinary car I have ever driven. My wife was in the back and she commented on the side-to-side movement during the hard acceleration (standard package, red car). I did not feel it; but it could have been masked by my exuberance.
One additional, albeit minor note for dog owners...Tesla provided dog sitters for our two golden retrievers while we did the test drive. Nice touch.

About the side-to-side; I wonder if a slight 'biker lean' could be programmed into the air shocks. (On a bike, a passenger should be sitting and pressed straight over the seat, not leaning or pushed in either direction during a turn.)

For Volker.Berlin: Driver's seat headrest. I took a tape. The measured distance between the seat cushion and top of the headrest was 34 inches. I am 6'0" with an average length torso. The center of the back of my head was well within the headrest cushion. Hope that helps answer your question. (stevenmaifert)

Thank you very much for making the effort! To some extent this seems to contradict the following statement from another thread:

This very comfortable seat is marred by the fixed headrest. It comes down so low that it pokes your upper spine. I was aware of it during the entire drive. It is not a good design and I can't see where it helps short people. It will be necessary (and not difficult) to take the padding out of the lower 2" of the headrest. (RobQ)
http://www.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/tall-people-rejoice

Which is simply to say: I won't be able to clarify this for myself until and unless I take a test drive of my own. Thank you all for your detailed reports, anyway!

Volker.Berlin - It is what it is. With so many other user adjustable features in the car, the puzzler is why Tesla went with fixed headrests front and back. Another case of form over function? As someone else commented, Consumer Reports will have a field day with things like this.

Got to attend Sunday’s LA test drive event. The event itself ran very smoothly and was orderly.

I’ve been on the fence on whether I wanted to buy the Performance edition or not – and decided to test drive the Non-Performance edition, thinking that the only difference I would notice in a short test drive would be the fact that I would get up to speed faster in the Performance model (and maybe the Alcantara bolsters).

On the one hand – I liked the fact that I got to drive on road conditions I will likely be driving in on a regular basis. On the other though – It was pretty short.

My opportunities to get to check out the low center of gravity were blocked by a REALLY slow driver in a Performance vehicle (what a waste - both for me and the occupation of a Performance car!) The only times you get to feel that low CoG were on the on and off ramps (and yes, I tried to put space in between us – but you can only respectfully slow down so much on Crenshaw and the 105 Freeway – you can’t just stop).

Nevertheless, having the steering input set to sport mode had very nice feedback. I drive an Audi S5 and know how artificial the steering can be compared between different steering input settings.

One thing I wished I got to do was to tune the sound settings of the sound system. It was definitely set to flat (or at least I hope it was, cause it sounded like it) and listening to Ellie Goulding’s Lights had no dynamics.

Regen was easy to get use to – became second nature real quick.

Straight line performance is “fun” and was demonstrated on the police closed street for our enjoyment – but I live for the turns and simply had no opportunity to experience it during the Event.

That being said though – I’m still in!

@jerry3

Does anyone know what the heat passthrough is of a standard metal roof? My metal roof passes a fairly decent amount of heat (Californian, not Texan, though) and I would guess it is not stopping much. 80% might be a good number, but you can't compare. And it is also fairly well known that most of the heat gain in a car is from the windshield and other windows. The pano roof with IR blocking may be actually cooler that a normal car.

Don't toss out the baby until you check the temp of the bathwater.

In a standard roof, most of the heat is absorbed by the headliner. At least I've never felt a headliner that was particularly hot -- even on 120F days. (Admittedly I don't check all that often either). Actually, I have a real dislike for holes in the roof of any kind. They seem to me to be a triumph of advertising.

jerry;
Think of it as a 1/8 convertible.
;)

LOL. That doesn't help much as I'm not a convertible fan either.

Any reports on the sunshade that was added late at customer request? How much of the Pano roof does it cover?

Thanks


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