Its score in Consumer Reports’ rating tests hit a cool 103 (out of 100). The organisation’s auto editor Mark Rechtin admitted that the result left them with no option but to change their scoring system to create room for it. Much can be said about the Tesla Model S, but here are 15 lesser-known facts.
1 The Tesla Model S’s motor is surprisingly small
There are lots of perks of not having to haul around a big engine, but you’d be amazed how small the motor is that Tesla use in the Model S. It fits neatly between the rear wheels (although the P85D has one at the front too) and leaves you with pretty much the entire rest of the car to use as space. Which leads nicely on to…
2 It has more cargo space than any other car in its class
At 31.6 cubic feet, the Model S’s cargo space is large enough to fit everything in – including the kitchen sink. That’s thanks mainly to the fact there is no engine. The front trunk, known among those in the know as the “frunk”, is actually big enough to fit a full-grown adult, though that’s generally not recommended. You can also apparently also fit a surfboard, 55in TV, and bike inside the Tesla Model S all at once…and still have space left.
3 The door handles draw back into the car’s body automatically
The door handles on Model S are embedded in the side of the door. They smoothly glide out with the touch of a hand, then automatically retract after you’ve closed the door. This is done to facilitate a smooth, aerodynamic drive. Talk about attention to detail.
4 The optional panoramic sunroof is massive
The Model S has a larger panoramic sunroof than any other car on the market. It also blocks 98 per cent of UV light and 81 per cent of heat from the sun, meaning the car stays cool. The only downside is it costs $2,500 as an optional extra. But if you can afford a Model S in the first place, you probably don’t care about that. The Model S also has one of the lowest drag coefficients of any vehicle.
5 It’s really safe
The car is incredibly sound structurally. So sound, in fact, that the machine used to test roof crush resistance by the NHTSA broke down while it was putting the Model S through its paces. The car’s roof crush resistance is said to be more than half of what’s required by the NHTSA. It also excelled at other safety tests.
6 It has the largest display interface of any production car
Pretty much all of the center console is made up of its 17in touch-screen display. It basically includes all the knobs and dials you’d normally want while driving – but is more like piloting a spaceship.
7 The Model S was the first electric car to ever receive the Motor Trend’s Car Of The Year award
Despite the fact an electric car had never topped Motor Trend’s listings, the panel of judges that decided the prize in 2013 were surprisingly unanimous on reaching their decision. In addition to that, the Model S also received Autocar and Yahoo’s COTY awards and has had a consistent stream of positive reviews, as well. The only really negative thing that’s happened, aside from a few public fires, is Consumer Reports stripping the Model S of its ‘recommended’ status due to some reliability issues.
8 It has the same Center of Gravity as the Ford GT
Both cars share a center of gravity of around 17.5 inches. And you don’t need us to tell you that the GT is no slouch.
9 The sunroof is opened on the steering wheel
Yup, it has no conventional buttons to open the sunroof. Instead you just ress the right-hand scroll button on the steering wheel, dial it to sunroof, then press it again and…hey presto! Obviously you can also do it on the television-sized control screen.
10 It has the owner’s manual saved in its memory
No car needs a manual more badly than the model S, with so many high-tech things going on. But there’s no dog-eaten instruction book in this car. Instead, all the info you need is stored in the car’s computer and can be read on the center console. There is a paper version too, though, in case you need it.
11 The parking sensors show you how far you are from obstacles in inches
Parking sensors are one of the biggest motor car innovations of the century. And while most other sensors beep as one approaches obstacles or make some sort of display go green, yellow and red, the Model S takes it to a whole new level by displaying the distance to obstacles inch by inch.
12 The car has no starter button
With Model S you’ll never worry about starting your car. All you have to do is get in with the key – shaped like a mini Model S – then sit down, relax, close the door and the car will automatically turn itself on. Just do the opposite to turn it off.
13 ‘Slip Mode’
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) stops your tires from slipping when travelling round corners at high speed. While lots of cars enable you to turn this off, the Model S version is called ‘Slip Mode’ – especially good on the track.
14 Its charge port door shuts automatically
The car charge port opens when you touch it. Once you’re done, unplug the carger cable and the port will shut itself. Just like magic.
15 The car has a secret ‘underwater mode’
Yup, we saved the best till last. If you buy this car for just one reason, it’s because it’ll make you feel like James Bond with all its gizmos and gadgets. And in a tongue-in-cheek hat-tip to the famous spy, the Model S even includes a fake ‘underwater mode’. The screen is found by going into the control panel and pushing in the access code 007. Up pops the Lotus Esprit submarine from The Spy Who Loved Me. Obviously, the car doesn’t actually go under water. But you can set your depth to 20,000 leagues under the sea. Get it?