• First Driving Impression: An Honest Take on the 2018 Tesla Model S

373 totally silent horsepower were mischievously pondering their next victim

The first time I ever saw the Tesla Model S was sometime in 2012 or 2013 at one of the car shows in Europe. I will guess that it was in Geneva. I left the Tesla stand a bit underwhelmed by its interior, but the performance, the size, and the sheer fact that someone is buying an electric car like that was more than enough to show me its importance. After that, I drove it only once. And not for a long time at that.

Now, finally, I got my third chance with the Tesla Model S at the Continental AG organized event called the #blackchili. In Nice. Yup, the South of France. I know, I am a lucky guy.

This time I had the Tesla Model S for 40 or so miles. Not the P100D, but the one with 373 horsepower. More than enough, believe me. Considering I drove the car for less than 50 miles, it may seem like I don’t have anything to write home about. How can I call this a short test drive then!? Well, I can because I will tell you about the Tesla Model S from the perspective of a guy who drove European cars all his life, and who never really had an EV stint like this.

The Surprise Of The Model S

First Driving Impression: An Honest Take on the 2018 Tesla Model S Exterior
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The Tesla Model S may look like any other car. Heck, after being on the market for years, it looks a bit old-fashioned, but the thing is that this car, somehow, captures attention from the very start. It must be some kind of mind game on a subconscious level. I had the opportunity to get to know her (I wrote her unintentionally and wanted to correct „her“ into „it“ but didn’t because,... subconscious games) among cars such as the 718 Boxster, the M240i xDrive Convertible, the AMG C43 Convertible, and such.

Believe me, when I say it, the Model S draws eyes on its metal more so than some of the cars that were on display there.

And it’s silent. Like totally silent! When it is moving slowly, you actually cannot hear it at all.

Driving a car like this made me question the car industry as a whole. The Tesla Model S is comfortable, large, feels safe, it is fast, and it does not release any sounds whatsoever. Now, if Tesla could only improve the interior to the level of what, say, Mercedes-Benz is doing, I think that the car industry should be fearful of the Model S.

First Driving Impression: An Honest Take on the 2018 Tesla Model S Exterior
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This is what a guy who never had a serious relationship with the Model S figured out the first time he drove it for more than a few miles. The ride quality, composure, and the comfort inside simply do not correspond with the underwhelming interior. Sure, it is comfortable and, I believe practical, but it is also too simple. I may be spoiled a bit, but that large screen and the other one behind the steering wheel can’t replace the wow factor of sophisticated dashboards and ambiance features other cars in this price ballpark offer.

Effortless Speed And Acceleration

First Driving Impression: An Honest Take on the 2018 Tesla Model S Exterior
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My slight disappointment with the Model S was, of course, just the first thought. Then, I pressed the throttle. Well, not the throttle, but a pedal that tells the motors to use some of those electrons from the batteries. It is quite an experience.

The Model S surged to speed with some urgency.

But not at first. For a second or so after pressing the gas pedal, it seemed like the Model S hesitated. But just for a second. An unusual surge of intense strength pressed me hard to the rather comfortable seats.

Accustomed to ICEs of all kinds, I expected this intense feeling to diminish, but it did not. At all. The motors, it seems, pulled with equal strength from 20 mph to 80 mph. Of course, they didn’t, but it felt like they did because there was actually nothing that could distract me from experiencing the acceleration. The sound is gone, the interior is rather simplistic, the transmission is nonexistent, and the only thing I could do is surrender to the 373-horsepower motors.

At first, it felt eerie and bizarre. But good. It seems that I got used to it rather fast and rather well. What I did not get used to right away is the powerful recuperation system. This thing basically allowed me to drive with one pedal. The recuperation system is so powerful and overwhelming that I managed to accelerate effortlessly and then brake or decelerate only by lifting my foot off the pedal. The Tesla, of course, recuperated energy when just rolling downhill. Not that I was checking out this feature a lot. After all, unnecessary acceleration runs and overtakes were a lot more fun. I did a lot of overtaking with the Model S.

The reasoning is simple – I felt powerful behind its wheel, and the sheer speed it achieves effortlessly is somewhat addictive.
First Driving Impression: An Honest Take on the 2018 Tesla Model S Exterior
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Luckily for me, I was listening to some awesome music and could hear that cool whine of the electric motors when accelerating. The only thing that annoyed me was the wind passing over the open roof when I unintentionally opened it with a button on the steering wheel and let it remain like that. It sounded awful, and I was rather disappointed. Mostly because I just left the driving seat of two convertibles which were rather quiet and civilized (the BMW 2 Series and the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet).


First Driving Impression: An Honest Take on the 2018 Tesla Model S Exterior
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Unfortunately, I cannot tell you a lot about the range. I drove the car for 50 or so miles and the trip computer was quite precise in its range predictions. After 50 miles, I had enough juice for 180 more. I could probably achieve it if I evaded the overtaking runs. Nevertheless, the Tesla Model S did impress me with the powerful motors, but I felt a bit underwhelmed by the lack of proper luxury ambiance in the inside. The thing is that the Tesla Model S deserves that sort of thing.

It is quiet, comfortable, and refined.

It needs a bit more Mercedes inside – not only the stalks on the steering wheel and window power buttons.

Further reading

2017 Tesla Model S Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model S.

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Safet Satara
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