Vancouver, BC — Tesla has taken everything we’ve ever thought we knew about the electric vehicle and turned it on its head, covered it in shiny attractive things and made it fun. I didn’t think I’d fall victim to the bedazzledness of the Tesla, but by golly have I ever.
My time getting acquainted with Tesla’s newest member was spent on the gloriously twisty, dipping and climbing Sea to Sky highway in British Columbia. As breathtaking as the views were, the performance of the Tesla Model S 70D was equally impressive.
From the moment you walk up to the Model S 70D, something amazing happens. With proximity sensors, the vehicle will unlock as it senses the key, unfolding the windows and popping out the chromed door handles to greet you. As you slip into the driver’s seat, the fully digital gauge cluster and 17” touchscreen centre stack welcome you. This is your personal space, this is your domain: This is your car.
Create your own driver profile via the onboard system on the gloriously easy to use and visible centre stack and the Model S 70D will remember everything from your seat setting to your favourite music, suspension settings, recent phone calls and route guidance inputs, as well as your energy consumption.
The cockpit is equal parts serene and overwhelming. I found myself intimidated by the screen at first, but by the end of the day, usage was second-nature. Never have I felt so comfortable with such an intricate system so very quickly.
You become one with the Tesla Model S.
Journey to the top
While I was well aware of how I planned to get to Whistler from the heart of downtown Vancouver City, I wanted to test the Tesla Model S 70D’s onboard navigation system that utilizes distance as well as topographic information to ensure you’ll arrive at your destination with more than enough charge. How intelligent is that?
And it’s the little things like that that really blow my mind with Tesla, things like that that prove how revolutionary such a vehicle actually is. Knowing the elevation climb needed to make the journey up to Whistler in a fully electric vehicle could very well be the difference between you arriving safely or being stranded on the side of the road. Absolutely brilliant.
When I arrived at the entrance to Route 99, the open road, after crawling through downtown VanCity traffic, I let my right foot fall heavy on the go-pedal.
The swell of power from the 70kWh battery is immediate, intense, and addictive. Power is instant, and the only noise was the sound of performance tires on wet, rain-covered roads. With 329 horsepower, the 70D is the “weakest” of the lot, but will hit the 100km/hr mark from a standstill in 5.4 seconds and still manages a 225km/hr top speed.
All just numbers until you get behind the wheel.
Both hands on the wheel, deep breaths, an ambient chill music station selected on Slacker radio (as the Tesla Model S featured a few month’s worth of internet radio service as well as web-browsing capabilities), I let the car take me.
Equipped with AWD, the Model S 70D immediately feels weighted, but not in a way that hinders performance. It’s grounded and stable, even in wet conditions. It holds corners beautifully, and using the car’s weight to ensure corner-to-corner turns are precise is sure to put a smile on your face.
Then there’s the customizable regenerative braking. I’ve often seen regen braking as an annoyance. Something that pulls back too hard or makes actual braking too bite-y and unpleasant and jerk-y. Such is not the case with the 2015 Tesla Model S 70D.
No, this system is so very sophisticated that it helps you become a better driver, especially in situations like the Sea to Sky highway.
As I approached corners as speed, I never had to touch the brake. Letting off the throttle was enough to slow me down, at which point I’d turn in and the Model S 70D would make a crisp, tight, turn. If any body roll or understeer was detected it was minimal and instantly corrected. I could almost feel the car learning, learning how I was driving, learning the roads it was on. Truly fascinating.
Recharging the soul
With a 385km range (best case scenario), I had more than enough power to get me from Vancouver to Whistler then back to the city. However, I chose to stop off in Squamish on my way back down.
Squamish, the very simple town I grew up in, was the first Canadian Supercharger station to be put in place by Tesla. Located behind a Starbucks and Boston Pizza, stopping there with the 2015 Tesla Model S 70D was about more than just both of us refueling.
So, sitting there in the brand new Starbucks sipping my grande capp while my $75k vehicle charged outside (of note, I pulled up with approx. 90km range and was only there for 35 minutes max, and I left with 324km), I couldn’t help but think about life, and how good it can be.
As I drove away from Squamish in the 2015 Tesla Model S 70D I was reminded of not only where I’ve come from, but where the automotive industry has come from and where it’s going, rapidly.
We mustn’t be afraid of this change. We mustn’t think it’s going to hurt us. We have to see it as a necessity, learn about it, learn from it and spread the good word.
The 2015 Tesla Model S 70D is as much a driver’s car, a performance vehicle, as its German counterparts, as it’s gas-guzzling competition. But it’s better because it’s different. But its roots remain the same. That’s the real beauty in it, the true art.