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Driving the 2012 Tesla Model S

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Alexandra Straub
Cars and motorcycles make me giddy. Perhaps that's a good thing since I live and breathe them on a daily basis.

But not all cars or motorcycles generate the same amount of giddiness. There is a hierarchy. That's not to say I can't get excited about a subcompact vehicle - because I have and it's kind of a rush - but I tend to save my schoolgirl-like hysteria and high-pitched "eeee-ing" for a certain breed of automotive product, namely electric cars. Heck, I'm going to make noise even if the car doesn't!

A recent test drive with the 2012 Tesla Model S had me pretty stoked. After all, I love performance vehicles. But combine that with a car that goes from 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, has zero emission and room for up to seven individuals, and it's all pretty dang awesome.

2012 Tesla model S 3/4 front view
Photo: Alexandra Straub

As a fan of ‘alternative fuel,' - which can range from diesels, to fuel cell vehicles, to hybrids and electric vehicles (EV) - it's been fascinating, to witness how they've evolved over the years.

A major issue that a lot of people have with cars powered by electricity is range. How far can it go without having to be recharged? It has an estimated range of 480 kilometres, so any of that anxiety people may have melts away faster than gelato on a hot summer's day.

With the Model S, there are three battery pack options available. There's a 40 kWh (kWh meaning kilowatt hour - unit of energy used when referring to battery backs of EVs), 60 kWh and the impressive 85 kWh. The latter was the Model S I drove.

Aside from not having to check how many clicks I have left on the charge, this EV drives like a car. Sometimes people tend to think and EV is like something from ‘The Jetsons,' but it's not.

It has the capabilities of a performance sedan, thanks to its dynamic ride quality and great steering feel. It's firmly planted on the road and is a hoot to take around hairpin turns and even straight stretches.

But enough about the tech stuff. It's this sedan's pep that really had me howling. Since there's no gasoline engine, torque is available from the get go. Press the foot on the accelerator and you literally feel like you're about to take flight. It's totally fun and you don't even need a pilot's licence. Bonus.

And when I wasn't thoroughly enjoying my time driving, I was navigating my way through the 17-inch touch screen that acts as "Command Central" to the Model S. It controls functions such as suspension settings, opens the door to the charge port, allows you to browse the web and much more. It has both the goods tech-toy lovers and car enthusiasts will appreciate.

At the end of our test time together, I really didn't want to give it back. Then again, I technically could keep it... If I handed over a cheque for $114,300!

2012 Tesla Model S interior
Photo: Alexandra Straub

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Alexandra Straub
Alexandra Straub
Automotive expert