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Had a test drive in Munich

I had a test drive on Jan. 26th. 2013 in Munich Germany. It was a Performace model. The result was mixed. I own a Mercedes CLS 350 CGI (300hp no Diesel). Please refer to this model when you judge my ratings.

Pros
Absolute Premium Performance!
Really fast reaction on the accelerator pedal.
Up to date air suspension.
Precise power steering (tight option).
Best computer screen I ever saw: My Mercedes has the 'big' (and expensive) navigation screen which looks like a tenth of the size of the Tesla.

Cons
Seats with no adjustable head rests. In the front just acceptable - in the back less than mediocre.
Too few storage places in the front for glasses, papers, tissues, cups, iPad, etc.
Far too few choices in wood colors. No warm, brown colors.
Side mirrors show a too small angle of the traffic behind.
Interior Feeling/Finish on an upper middle class level.
The offered all year tires are not acceptable for the given torque.
The back cover of the trunk looks like a lid for the iPad. As thin but as expensive. 300 EUR for a three fold plastic? You're kidding ...

Conclusion
The machinery and technique behind the car is absolute 1st class and superior to every car I drove in the past (BMW750i, Lexus GS 430). Accelerating, handling, braking - just perfect.

The outside of the car is also wonderful. Good gap tolerances between body parts. Perfect lacquer. And the design resembles the great grand tourisme like Maserati. I like this form (see the Mercedes from above)

Driving and seeing the car from the outside are the big pros of this car.

But as soon, as you open the door, you feel the missing - well - massiveness. I can not really find the words. The door is light. The door handle is light as well. The opening and closing sound is thin. The seat feels tiny and light as well. Head rests are tiny - there is a feeling of an unsafe car.

Sitting behind the wheel lets you forget all this lightness. The Wheel is thick and handy. The contact to the street very good. But as soon as you switch into the 'drive' gear (position), there is again this light-joystick feeling. The passengers in the back neither have the distraction by the big screen nor the steering wheel. They start touching the surrounding and there is quite nothing. No upper class feeling, no comfort transportation, far too small head rests, too few storage places.

Ok - energy is a problem in this car. And if you are speeding this vehicle (as we always do in Germany), you will end up with 250km/150mls range for the 85kWh model. Therefore the interior has to be light. But have to and getting used to are two sides of a medal.

Pricing
Then you begin to compare the asked price with the 'value' you get in return. My Mercedes costs 90kEUR including a top premium inside. The Tesla 85kWh (no Premium) will cost 95kEUR (128k$). Germany is a high price country - especially if you look at cars. But you receive not only good motors and drive trains - but also a luxury interior. I am not quite sure, if the high price calculation of Tesla will succeed. Asking for this price will be one thing - getting it a second - but the real question is: Will people buy a second one, if you are not able to resell the old one for a good price, if the first competitors ask for less.

horst I think your criticisms are all reasonable. The Model S is like buying a new piece of technology that just came to market. It's generally more expensive than existing alternatives and there's usually less options/models/etc.

@ horst

It's funny that you find the gear hanger light, they actually come from Mercedes... German quality isn't what it used to be I guess...

anton;
What really killed the (previous) electric car was lead-acid and NiMH battery limitations. They were just not "fit for purpose". The reason TM could create a superior car is that the batteries existed to permit it.

@Horst@whisky.de

Thank you for an objective review.

Is anyone else going to comment on the Munich Get Amped test drives?

Or can anyone summarize the feedback from the German-language boards?

Thank you for all the wonderful answers. I am not a person who spends 125k$ without asking questions. I think reasonably green but I am no extreme green guy who would pay all if the label is right.

I am an engineer and like all the technical aspects of the Tesla. But I also think in an economic way. What I pay and what I get in return has to compare in some way. For me, the P&L is positive. But I also have to argue in my family and what they will say, if I arrive in such a car.

@Horst:
"[...] I also have to argue in my family and what they will say, if I arrive in such a car."

I have had some family members ask why we'd buy an expensive car that can't go as far as some gas models. I've learned to ignore their arguments although I have to admit I'm ready to let some people know to mind their own business. Soon.

+10 Kleist

I looked for a new car for a long, long time but I was so unsatisfied until I found the Model S for the very same reasons you mention!

I love the car.

+10 for anton.arnesen too.

horst & Jewsh;
"Eat my dust!"

All fair points, but complaining about overpriced accessories (300 eur cover) is a bit ironic, considering mercedes has many more ridiculous highly priced options, like the lighted door step with engravings for 600 eur. Not to mention the CLS itself, which is a reskinned E-class, offering less interior space, less rear headroom, but a 10k eur premium for "styling". And just give your ipad to the passengers on the back seat, that way you don't have to worry about putting it anywhere, and the passengers will be distracted and not touch every surface in the car and be disappointed by the lack of premiumness.

I very much agree with the author here. I did a testdrive week ago in Miami. Really nice drive, pros we know. This car had very poor quality of body and interior. Very bad gaps in body parts, loose plastic interior, leather stitching etc. Standard was on chinese level. The salesman told that this is the preproduction car never to be sold to customer and all these faults are not present on real production. I'm very happy to learn that the Munich testcar is different and fine. There were though couple more things I did not like. There is no whatsoever comfort on back seat, me beeing in that car only on drivers seat will not complain. For kids I quess it's fine. The other thing is already described- lightness, sound of interior, frameless doors etc create quality feeling which is clearly behing any German production. These are things I forgive to such a new producer and it for sure will get better. Most carproducers have very long history and experience, considering this Tesla has done wonderful job. I hold European reservation ca 2480. As I live outside any country listed with pricelist, meaning I live in other Europe, then I had some challenges to get a reservation. I could do it under "other Europe", got confirmation, but nothing about payment or reservation number. I did this last year to qualify for discount. After couple weeks I got worried and managed to get on hold of their Amsterdam rep. He advised me to use one of the certain countries to get a reservation. We managed to do it under Germany and got the reservation finally. Altough this was done first days of this year I hope that they respect the discount as I did get "confirmation email" last year. Luckily our incentives here are valid until end of 2014, then I do not have to worry like Dutch to get their cars rather fast.

Horst

well written and balanced

Despite all the 'electric fans' Tesla will need to compete with other upscale cars if they want the volume to be profitable.

And yes that includes items as you described(and parking sensors!).

Lets hope that tey keep upgrading the hardware and not just the software.

@hsadler
It's nice to get all the tax incentives (I'm in Holland), but I will not buy the Model S for savings on energy bills. Diesel is 1,50 euro per liter, electricity is 0,25 euro per kWh. With me doing 30k km per year it will save me less than 900 euros per year.

Sigh. If I hear about parking sensors one more time....

On topic: I'm with Horst for the most part. Very nice car to look at, but lacking on the interior. The test drive next week in Antwerp will have to take away my doubts.

For comparison, I had a test drive this afternoon in the new Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid. The electric drive (Pure as Volvo calls it) is nice and quiet, but nowhere near as spectacular as I hoped for after reading your reviews on the Model S on this forum. The big D5 diesel engine (ev+ice = 265hp) was powerful enough. But that is not what I have in mind when thinking 'electríc'. The exterior is like ... well ... a V60. No surprise and nothing special. The interior has all the luxuries Horst is talking about.
It will cost me nearly 70.000 euros. That is close the Model S 60kW mark. Unfortunately (or fortunely from a Tesla perspective) the Volvo is sold out in 2013. That makes it a no-go.

@FredO - you can't expect a PHEV to compete with a pure EV for performance, as when you have two drivetrains you have to make compromises with each of them compared to just having one drivetrain that you put all your effort into. A bigger electric motor would need bigger batteries, and before long you are just carrying around a gas/diesel engine as dead weight. I view hybrids in general as just a stepping stone to pure EVs (and I drove one myself for 5.5 years).

I personally find the comparisons to BMW and Mercedes very interesting. To me, the comparator is a Porsche Panamera GTS. Go to the Porsche web site, look at what they charge for every single upgrade. Loading the car with the same options as a P85 will cost you about $150,000.00. With that you get a smaller car, less interior room, less storage, maybe equivalent handling, an and an enormous gas bill every month. If you feel the need to compare it to a BMW--the new M5 is getting lackluster reviews. I don't think comparing the P85 to the german Luxo-Barges like the 7 series , the S or the Audi 8 is a good comparator at all.

@SD Supercharger
+1 That's what i think!
I love the reduced clean straight fortward interior! No need for multiple "cup holders"- the more storage room inside the more cluttered.. so for me no thanks.
i'll get Amped this saturday in Zürich. :-)))

I'm happy for all you guys who are able to get a test drive during the European Get Amped tour. I had a reservation for Antwerp next Thursday and was counting down the seconds. But in the meantime I have to head to Stockholm for a customer meeting. :-(((( I suppose that getting the customer has to come before getting the nice new car. Unfortunately, business & family obligations prevent me from taking advantage of any other date.

But the points that Horst raised are well made and double my desire to get a test drive before having to cough up the readies. Fortunately a friend of mine in the US recently took delivery of his S... ...but it's a damned long way to go for a test drive. Would I win a prize for the most determined customer if I flew to the East Coast just to drive a Tesla. ;-)

I LOVE my Model S. It is simply fun to drive. I couldn't go back nor want to to a Mercedes or any other high end luxury wehicle. I love the clean interior and I AM a chick and do have lots of "stuff" but love the uncluttered interior.

@roberthowe

I flew from Honolulu to Miami for my test drive. Not sure who will have gone the furthest. It was incredible (the test drive)

Some Photoshop artist should gift us with a pic of an S with 15 cupholders.

Concept

Where are the other 5? Soflauthor, RU on this? :)

Horst: I totally agree with you and I am worried about having second thoughts with the interior finish. Seemed cheap and unsubstantial when I reviewed it at Santana Row in San Francisco area about a year ago. Now hoping tomorrow when I review it in Antwerp I will think differently.

As for the range from the German autobahn, I just post a question asking for potential opinions on this with 250 KM seeming right, but I hope you are wrong. I did see after researching many charging stations in Germany just hope the plugs match up and they are standardized or Model S will come with an adapter.

Just looking at the Get Amped Soon photo of the interior and the leather is not plush. Perhaps they tried to keep the weight way down? Damn thing at that price should have as nice an interior as a Porsche Panamera no or BMW or Mercedes.

Will start researching the safety crash ratings.

Keep in mind that weight savings is paramount in an EV which has to carry around a heavy battery pack. The car weighs some 4600 lbs. overall despite being aluminum alloy construction.

If you want a baroque victorian luxo vault interior, buy a BENTLEY MULSANNE ! The future has arrived! with Model S Get used to it!

When you compare the S as a whole package it hits it out of the park! Room for 5 + 2 unprecedented interior volume in a 5 door sedan, no gas, attractive styling, unmatched range, state of the art user interface again "unmatched" integrated internet! not to mention the performance! the list goes on and on.

What you are paying for is a ground breaking driveline and ground up chassis / battery integration / charging capability, that is decades ahead of nearly everything out there even all other EV offerings currently available. It just cannot be compared to an ICE just because the price point is similar, the shoe just does not fit. The Model S is a class of car that has never existed until now!

@Hobart - That's a computer rendering from the TM site that I Photoshopped as a joke. I wouldn't draw conclusions from it. Many agree that the interior of the Model S isn't as plush as the high-end German or Japanese luxury brands, but many also praise it's simplicity and modern look.


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