Inside the new Tesla Model S P100D with our letter to Elon...
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We have the first test drive of the Kiwi-new Model S P100D attention grabber
Dear Elon, I know I should probably call you Mr Musk, or the Tesla boss, but as I've watched enough documentaries, read your book plus numerous articles, I think you'll be fine with familiarities.
As you know, you've just launched Tesla into New Zealand -- although Kiwi fans of your brand had, for the past few years, imported the Model S from the UK or Australia.
As you're such a social media fan, you probably also know that Kiwis were so desperate for Tesla to launch here that some started a Facebook page to encourage a store or two in New Zealand. You probably brought it on yourself, though, Elon when you allowed Kiwis a chance last year to order the Model 3.
So imagine their delight when your company was officially launched here a few weeks ago with the first New Zealand-new Tesla Model S and Model X.
I was lucky enough to snaffle the first motoring media test drive of a Model S and, of course, if you're going for a Model S it has to be the top of the range P100D.
Now on that name, I know that it gets that moniker due to the addition of a 100kWh battery and the D stands for dual motors, but maybe your marketing team can work on something a bit more snazzy -- just a thought, Elon.
The all-electric powertrain means it hits 0-100km/h in just 2.7 seconds plus the dual motors front and back mean the Model S controls torque to all the wheels, so it's an all-wheel-drive. Nice work.
I loved the instant delivery of torque once I pressed my foot down (meaning I was first away at the traffic lights every time - and I bet you do that on your LA commute every day too).
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The P100D starts at $227,000 with my model specced up to $261,200 due to the red multi-coat paint, tinted glass roof, 21in alloys and the premium upgrades package.
I'm sure you've had this feedback before Elon, but that hefty price tag surprised the many people who approached me when they found out I had a Tesla Model S.
In New Zealand, that amount of money can get you a luxury European sports car or nearly a BMW's i8 plug-in hybrid.
Although some of the luxury sports cars have launch mode, you have the upgraded Ludicrous Speed, and, seriously Elon, you have to credit your marketing team for coming up with that moniker, because deploying that function is Ludicrous-ly fabulous.
I liked the Spaceballs nod, Elon, when you hold down the Ludicrous mode on the huge touchscreen and you get the animation of "warp drive" and then up come the two options asking if you want to continue. There's "Yes, bring it on" or the hilarious "No, I want my Mommy" (though in New Zealand it's mummy, so maybe in the next software update you could fix that, please? ).
Hit "yes" and be prepared to have your head thrown back into the seat as the Model S shoots ahead at a warp speed. Seriously, Elon, that never got old, though I always made sure I deployed it on quiet streets without any pedestrians as I didn't want to startle people when the red beast silently launched off.
Of course, when you deploy Ludicrous mode a few times, you not only power though the battery charge but also your power usage graph on the touchscreen goes from a flat line to looking like the Remarkables (a big mountain range in New Zealand).
When I picked up my test model it was 90 per cent full of charge, giving me about 400km of driving - and, although I could have plugged the Model S into a socket at home, I used a free supercharge station in central Auckland. (I'd love to see charging stations in more carparks - as you find in Santa Monica - but, hey Elon, we're getting there.)
I loved the Model S's strong regenerative braking that gives you a more relaxed driving style than the Hyundai Ioniq. You can also use "low" mode.
Inside, the Model S is luxury up the front, although my rear passengers on the bench seat did find a few gaps around the window seals. But the main feature of the cabin is that huge touchscreen that is the size of two iPads. That generous size allows room for displaying a map at the top as well as your power usage graph below.
Mention you have a Tesla and suddenly you find that you're busier than an Uber driver in an imported Prius with colleagues, friends and even strangers wanting to go for a ride.
Now, please don't hold this against Driven's staff, Elon, but there were a few issues. One was an enthusiastic user error and one is something that you'll need your staff back at Tesla HQ to look at.
I took the Driven staff for a blast on the Auckland motorway and when I dropped one back at Driven HQ, the rear passenger decided to hop into the front passenger seat. Exiting the car, however, he put his hand on the C-pillar panel to help get out and, not realising the door shape is angled, not flat, he slammed the door on his hand. As I said, user error, but that did mean ice packs, an x-ray (nothing broken) and much taunting for the next few days from us.
But the other door issue, Elon, is something you should look at (just don't replicate what happened).
While the car unlocks off the Model S-shaped fob or the door handles pop away from the panel when the car senses the "key"; if you open the door by pushing on the handle (to make it pop out) unless you then pull the handle a few millimetres (to "click" it in place) the handle retracts, taking your fingers with it.
I only bruised my finger the first time it happened as I pulled it away in time, but as I went to open the door when dropping the Model S off to the Tesla employee, the handle again snapped back on my four fingers - much to the alarm of the employee.
If you own a Tesla Model S, you'd make sure you opened it via the fob or "click" it in place, but owners should warn new passengers to the niggle.
Thanks Elon. And next time I'm in LA I'll give you a bell and maybe we can go for spin in your Tesla - and don't forget Ludicrous mode.
Tesla Model S P100D
Pro: Ludicrous mode
Con: Mind your fingers