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Tesla Model S P85: Electric car breaks new ground

Mikael Lindkvist | April 7, 2014
If you think electric cars are boring, it's time to reconsider. New Tesla S P85 (Performance 85 kWh) really stands out from the crowd. Not only because it is a stylish and sporty green car. It also offers a whole new mindset when it comes to user interfaces and infotainment systems. Tesla Motors challenge the traditional car manufacturers in several ways.

Slow browser

The browser is initially really cool. Until we begin to surf heavier pages. Then we quickly realize that it is incredibly time-consuming to both load and navigate sites. We end up picking up our smartphone instead. Also it's a bit strange that the car allows us to surf the web, pair Bluetooth devices and activate the rear view camera even when are running at a high speed. Most car manufacturers tend to block the functions for safety reasons.

The Media tab lets you tune in radio stations, analog or digital, and listen to Internet radio stations, or connect to your own device via Bluetooth or USB. The interface is neat, but unfortunately the integrated 3G-link doesn't always deliver a steady stream of digital music from the web. The sound however is absolutely amazing.

Superior sound

Tesla calls the sound system Ultra High Fidelity and it uses 12 built-in speakers and an 8-inch subwoofer. And the sound emanating from them is incredibly good. It is clean and clear even when we're pumping up the volume, and it's never hard on the ears. It works as well for airy acoustic music as for guitar-based rock. And it features a three-band equalizer and a really cool feature where you control the sound balance of the vehicle by sliding your finger over an image, to place the audio center exactly where you want it. Awesome!

If you're worried that the power won't last the entire trip, there is of course a separate tab to keep track of battery consumption, and a diagram shows how efficiently you are driving.

On paper Tesla can run up to 502 kilometers on one charge, but it's a very optimistic figure. When we tried to run it as gentle as we could we still got only around 300 kilometers. Even during highway driving we found it hard to squeeze out 500 kilometers before it was time to recharge. And charging the batteries in a standard wall socket takes time -- approximately 30 hours (using a 220 volts and 13 amps outlet). In other words, be sure to get a more powerful outlet at home, if you don't already have it. A clever feature of the car is that you can time when you want the car to be recharged, and set a maximum of how many amps it can use.

Schedule overnights

If you are considering a Tesla Model S, first you should think through your driving habits. Will you be at max 250--300 kilometers per day, and do you have the appropriate charging sockets at your fingertips? Visiting distant relatives will simply require a bit more planning than before, and at least one overnight stay.

 

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