Tesla Model S handles like a sports car with super quick steering and tidy body control

Auto & Audio August 06, 2017 01:00

By Kingsley Wijayasinha

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Although American EV (electric vehicle) manufacturer Tesla is not officially present in the Thai market, it’s still possible to purchase one of its cars here through various independent importers.

For example, Wasutha Group, located on Rama 9 road, offers various Tesla models including the Model X and Model S.

Thanks to the company, which does many other things including charging boxes for EVs, I got a chance to drive the Model S for a short distance last week.

Wasutha Group offers the Model S P90D (with a 90-Kwh lithium ion battery pack), priced at Bt7.6 million.

In my opinion, expensive EVs don’t make much sense as you can purchase a cheaper car with a conventional engine and save more money. And even with the tax privilege for EVs, the Model S is a luxury sedan that’s not cheap to start with.

Which means it competes against the German powerhouses namely, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, in the luxury car neighbourhood.

I went for a short drive in the Model S, taking the Motorway to the Suvarnabhumi airport before heading back.

As with any electric car, there is no engine noise and the electric motors are super quiet. The front and rear motors deliver a combined 417 horsepower and 441Nm, giving the Model S 0-100km/h acceleration in 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h (which is at the same level as the powerful German sports saloons).

Charging it for 8-10 hours (costs you roughly Bt70-90) at home will give you a maximum range of 470kms (charging boxes can be purchased to shorten the charging time). The range is updated depending on the driving situation and history, and if you are heavy on the accelerator, the range drops accordingly.

And you will often find yourself speeding in the Model S. It handles like a sports car, with super quick steering and tidy body control, despite its 2,200kg weight (there is no engine and transmission, but the battery and electric motors do add up).

Nevertheless, weight distribution has been done nicely, and the Model S offers a pretty dynamic performance. The drag coefficient is claimed at just 0.24 and the underfloor is smooth with no exhaust pipes. On the motorway, it delivered a smooth ride too, with the adaptive air suspension ironing out vibrations effectively.

What you’ll appreciate about the Model S is the attention to details both outside and inside. The door handles are usually concealed and pop out when you unlock the vehicle, and inside there is an elegant atmosphere along with glass roof and a 17-inch touchscreen that is the largest I’ve ever seen in a car.

While the combination stick and gearshift lever on the steering column are clearly Mercedes-Benz style, all the other functions in the car are accessed through this touchscreen.

With respect to functions, there is everything you’d expect from a luxury saloon, plus autopilot with park assist, and all sorts of driver assistance such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot sensor, lane departure warning, auto-dimming LED headlights and navigation.

For those eager to jump on the EV bandwagon, the Tesla Model S P90D will serve the purpose nicely, along with delivering sportscar performance and high-end packaging.