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Electric Avenue

Electric Avenue

It’s time to rock down to Electric Avenue as we welcome a first-timer to our service department.

As you may expect from the title and the tags (does anybody actually read those?), we had ourselves a Tesla Model S the other day. It was only in to have its summer and winter wheels swapped over, so while it wasn’t anything big, for most of us it was our first time seeing this car in person. And almost every single one of us walked away impressed. Not what you’d expect from a business whose entire being is based on the existence of the internal combustion engine.

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To say the car looks good is a bit of an understatement. Pictures don’t really do it justice, especially in regards to the width of the vehicle. You may have heard the news this week saying that Tesla’s Elon Musk is willing to put his own money into widening California’s highways. There’s a good reason for this — the Model S is WIDE. Like, nearly the size of an entire side street lane wide. You can really appreciate the cavernous feeling the car imparts once you get inside, but even from the outside, it’s a formidable silhouette.

It also has two trunks — front and rear — thanks to its powerplant, which consists of a three-phase AC induction motor coupled to a battery hung low along the floorboards of of the vehicle. Not only does it shove the center of gravity into the asphalt, but this drivetrain also provides for instant torque at any speed, from zero to the top. And the number’s don’t mess around — with the 80 kWh battery that this model has, the car puts down the equivalent of 362 bhp and 325 lb-ft of torque. It hits 60 in 5.4 seconds, which isn’t bad when you put it next to, well, every other non-Tesla electric vehicle. If you get the Performance pack, that 0-60 time drops to 4.2 seconds, which is faster than a 991 Porsche 911 Carrera S with a manual transmission. Jesus.

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The interior keeps the weirdness alive, but wraps it with a swath of luxury that temporarily confuses you into thinking you’re driving a Mercedes concept car. The seats have great leather and also great body support, there’s a massive panoramic glass roof up above, and the side pillars aren’t terribly large, so you really feel like you have all the open space in the world in that car. The door cards, though, look and feel pretty weird. The pull (which also contains a tiny pocket) is at the top of the door, near the latch, and the rest of it is a weird contour that feels like it was pulled from the wreckage of a UFO.

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Even with all the neat and interesting bits, by far one of the best parts of the Tesla Model S is the display setup. Both the center console and gauges consist of massive flat-screen displays. The stack in front of your face gives you range estimates, efficiency averages, road speed, as well as infotainment tidbits. The center console, which is even more impressive, boasts just about everything you can imagine, including a 3G internet connection. It’s like you’re driving a moderately expensive, incredibly complicated cell phone.

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However, that’s not to say that it’s without a downfall. Exhaust noise falls way short of anything, seeing as how it’s completely nonexistent. And it’s a little weird driving a whisper-quiet car at any speed, where all you have is some slight road noise to remind you that yes, you are in fact driving a motor vehicle on a road. That said, we came away impressed, and we’re glad that we were given the chance to have one through the shop, if only for a wheel swap. We’ll see you right back here on Monday, so have a fun and safe weekend!

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