Quiet revolution

2014 Tesla Model S Review

2014 Tesla Model S Review
Our friends at Wikipedia define the Quiet Revolution as a “period of intense change in Quebec, Canada, characterized by the effective secularization of society, the creation of a welfare state, and realignment of politics into federalist and separatist factions.” The part I especially find interesting has to do with secularization, or drawing away from religious orientations.

The car business is something like a religion where countless consumers and enthusiasts swear by a specific brand, devoting time and energy debating and defending their choices, often in a secular way. Moreover, those who ascribe to the same make typically hang out together and share. It takes decades or centuries for a religion (or brand) to establish itself. Throughout history, they are challenged and new ones seldomly have enough clout to draw believers away from their old ways.

Tesla is here to test all.

Tesla’s Model S, although simply named, tests people’s faith in what they know and what they think a car can do. It has tried mine and I have converted.


What is a Tesla Model S?
The 2014 Tesla Model S is a midsize luxury sedan like no other for countless reasons. Conceived, designed and built in California by Tesla Motors, the Model S combines high-end amenities, class, and quality with a fully electric powertrain all wrapped in a seductive body.

The 2014 Tesla Model S takes on heavy hitters like the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class to name a few. In this segment of established, storied super luxo-cruisers, the Model S manages to shine and cast a shadow on these exceptional products.

2014 Tesla Model S Price and Specs
As a flagship luxury sedan, the 2014 Tesla Model S commands a price worthy of its position in the automotive hierarchy.

A base Model S 60 carries a retail price of $77,800. Moving up to the 85 increases the price to $88,500. The ultimate (which can be made more ultimate) P 85 starts at $103,300. There are many options available for all trims, which can increase the price to nearly $140,000.

The 60 has a 60 kWh battery, a 370-kilometer range, the equivalent of 302 horsepower, will reach 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 190 km/h. The 85 offers an 85 kWh battery, a 480-kilometer range, the equivalent of 362 horsepower, will reach 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds, and has a top speed of 200 km/h. With the P, power rises to 416, time drops to 4.4 seconds (!) and the top speed climbs to 210 km/h.

Of all the packages, if the 85 is selected, the Performance Plus group is the one to get. It adds upgraded dampers, bushings, stabilizer bars and tires (Michelin Pilot Sport PS2) that are 20mm wider in the rear and staggered. Range actually improves 10-20 kilometres. All of this can be had for $6,950.

My delightful tester was a P 85 with a number of options including the tech package, smart air suspension, and ultra-high fidelity sound for a grand total of $125,300. Worth every penny!

2014 Tesla Model S 3/4 view
Conceived, designed and built in California by Tesla Motors, the Model S combines high-end amenities, class, and quality with a fully electric powertrain all wrapped in a seductive body. (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre)

Driving the 2014 Tesla Model S
Seeing and feeling is believing. Allow me to begin by saying that everything positive you may have read on the Model S is true. Short of flying or making a great espresso, the Tesla Model S is the perfect model of personal and family transportation.

Performance is high on the Tesla’s list of strong driving pros. Throttle response is machinegun fast. Truly, keeping your right foot in check is a task -- at first. Usually, with an EV, I try and am reasonable but the S' available range quashed my ability to hold back.

Currently offered only with RWD (AWD is coming in the future), some restraint is required as the rear tires and traction control struggle to keep the car headed in the right direction. Power is immediate and its punch surprises every time.

What is most impressive are passing manoeuvres. Leaving left-lane hogs in snow swirls made me giggle. So rapid is this car that shooting from 80 to 120km/hr takes what feels like a single unique second. Yes, this 2014 Tesla Model S P 85 is insanely fast.

However, it’s not all about speed. The air suspension leans towards handling without sacrificing comfort. Four-way modifiable height-wise, it and the over 1,300 lbs. of batteries that make up the car’s floor keep the Model S insanely flat through sweeping onramps. These elements also make the rapid-responding, multi-adjusting electric steering very rewarding; turn-in is immediate allowing the large-ish car to feel far more nimble than it should.

As with all EVs and hybrids, regenerative braking is key in helping with range. The Model S has 2 settings and in standard mode is very aggressive. Be that as it may, it quickly became my main form of stopping, the big pedal needing application only to prevent creeping.

2014 Tesla Model S rear 3/4 view
Performance is high on the Tesla’s list of strong driving pros. Throttle response is machinegun fast. Truly, keeping your right foot in check is a task -- at first. (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre)

Inside and Out of the 2014 Tesla Model S
I do not think that any other car (or brand for that matter) has ever reached aspirational status as quickly as has the Model S. It is ridiculously easy to understand why; look at the thing. Tesla designers have managed to create something that is German-elegant, Japanese-sleek, and American-powerful all at once.

There are no wrong angles from which to gawk at the Model S. The 5-door hatchback body configuration reaches coupe-like lines that we so love as demonstrated by our recent comparo on Super Coupes. My tester was shod with 19” wheels, however, the available 21” Turbine alloys are positively sexy. Touches like the headlight LEDs and trunk-lid mounted carbon-fibre spoiler make me weak in the knees. In fact, the whole of the car is “dirty,” if you know what I mean…

The large, spacious cabin reserved for the lucky few that own a 2014 Tesla Model S is superb. The driver is best positioned to appreciate the level of attention given to this car. The central focus point is without a doubt the giant 17” touchscreen. Mind-numbing and distracting at first, the HMI experience provided by the screen quickly becomes familiar. It is essentially as functional as your favourite tablet, which in my case is an iPad.

The big screen holds all menus, and within moments what could seem overwhelming becomes second nature. This approach to combining technology, functionality, and controls far surpasses what all other car manufacturers offer. Really.

Instrumentation is also screen-based, customizable and a pleasure to consult. Of note but not necessarily noteworthy is the fact the shift-lever and window switches are lifted from Mercedes (Chrysler from the Daimler day). Obviously, they work fine and I’m simply looking for something negative (?) to say. As well, the seats aren’t perfect… I might be trying too hard.

2014 Tesla Model S cabin
The large, spacious cabin reserved for the lucky few that own a 2014 Tesla Model S is superb. The central focus point is without a doubt the giant 17” touchscreen. (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre)

Comparing the 2014 Tesla Model S
The 2014 Tesla Model S has defied and demolished the luxury flagship sedan. Other than the abovementioned cars, the Model S leans in on the Porsche Panamera and Jaguar XJ. As well, the A7 line and many others can fall victim to the cool charm and green vocation of the Model S.

The Tesla Model S blurs the lines between status symbol and social statement. It’s as though Tesla tapped into the minds of high-end car buyers and gave them a reason not to buy something other than a Model S because it’s as good as the others, plus its an EV.

This car is an incredible piece of technology that requires no compromises. In 2014, it is as close to automotive perfection as a car can be.

By Mathieu St-Pierre,

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