Readers Write

The tide is turning and Tesla is on top of the wave

Tesla is changing the way the world thinks about automotive transport and it’s sparking an electric car revolution.

I’M HURTLING DOWN the highway of the future. A car with an internal combustion engine, a relic of the past, suddenly cuts in front of me. I see him coming but so does my vehicle as it gently applies the brakes and falls in behind the smoking tailpipes.

There’s no cause for concern, no action required on my part, I’m free to coast along in my whisper quiet cocoon of comfort, smug in the knowledge that with one press of the right foot I could effortlessly glide past this petrol drinking, CO2 spewing luddite.

This is the new Tesla Model S P90D and apparently they will let any mug have a test drive whether or not the $200,000+ asking price makes you weak at the knees. It’s the car for here and now. A car for the highly regulated, tightly enforced roads we all drive on.

Top speed and lap times have become irrelevant, gadgets and gizmos sell not handling and horsepower. So here we are; in a world where a car has become an appliance and the last legal, socially acceptable joy to be found in the fading art of driving is accelerating quickly. Tell people you cracked 140km/h on a backroad and you’d get a nicer reception saying you just murdered baby kittens, go around a few corners quickly and you’re branded an irresponsible hoon. But, for now at least, a quick squirt on the throttle is not punishable by death in the court of sanctimony.

This is where Tesla really shines. There is possibly no better car to show off to your mates, your colleagues, your in-laws, greenies, car nuts and the genius at the Apple store. It’s got so many party tricks. Look up ludicrous in the dictionary and you get ‘so unreasonable or out of place as to be amusing’, engage ludicrous mode in the two tonne Tesla and you get 0-100 in 2.8 seconds. No revs, no gear changes, no tyre squeal, no fuss and yes, it is definitely amusing.

It’s also quiet, seriously quiet. You may think without the racket of pistons firing that the road noise would become an issue but no, at 100km/h this thing is barely a whisper. Mash your foot to the floor and you hear a small whine from the motor, take your foot off and the kinetic energy is fed back into the battery leaving your brake pads for use only on special occasions.

It’s seriously comfortable. Big soft lounge chairs with every way adjustment, air suspension that not only irons out the imperfections but can raise and lower at command, even geocaching locations where you’ve previously jacked the ride height to the max so that it is automatic next time you meet that dodgy driveway or particularly brutal speed bump. Scraping the front end? That’s so last century.

The tech is next level. Sensors in every direction giving you eagle eyes on every corner, a reversing camera which tells you in centimeters just how close that pole is and door handles which retract into the body when not needed, like a turtle turning in for the night.

The jumbo-sized iPad dominates the centre console giving you the best connectivity imaginable; apple maps, calendar, music, podcasts, all connected to the car’s own 3G network and synced to your device. You could spend hours swiping through the options like a lonely millennial on Tinder. This becomes a possibility thanks to Autopilot, which once you come to terms with your newfound obsolescence, can easily handle your commute for you. Feeling the wheel turn in your hands is a very strange feeling but you quickly adapt, soon this will be as natural as not needing to pull the choke on a cold morning.

At this point you may be frothing and spewing about how important you are, the driver. The person who has spent years learning to read the road, to anticipate, to control a car, to downshift with a nice heel toe throttle blip. I’m with you, I like driving, I like shifting gears and making a car dance but our capital cities are fast becoming places where driving has become such a mundane task that people are more likely to have a hand on a phone than a gearstick.

The Tesla is the car for this reality. If you have to drive from Melbourne to Sydney straight up the Hume, this is the best car in the world for the job. The safest, the cleanest, the quietest and the most enjoyable bar none. Engage the autopilot, enjoy the premium audio without the rumble of an exhaust polluting the serenity and head for The Dog On The Tuckerbox where Tesla will recharge your car for free whilst you enjoy a burger before setting off, accelerating down the on ramp at a rate that would make any V8 weep. I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.


  • Darko

    great article!

  • Mr F

    Best. Review. Ever. Bravo!

  • JohnGC

    Ohh c’mon, there are so many holes in this I sense you were being deliberately provocative. Ok, I’ll bite. “A car for the here and now”…it’s over $200,000, so did you mean “.a car for the here, now and the very wealthy?”. Plus you need to have a charging station at home, which eliminates it as an option for those without garages (inner city, unit living). And the charging network eliminates it as an option for many who live in country areas. So is it really a car for the roads WE ALL drive on, as you state. And how does the auto pilot work on our country roads with absent or inconsistent line markings?
    And you say it’s “seriously quiet”, “whisper quiet”….but Jane’s review commented on it being noisier than you think and that road noises replace engine noises. I like electric cars, but this blind love for Tesla really doesn’t do the cause any favours. Don’t overstate things, it doesn’t warm people to the idea of an electric car, it just makes you sound biased, ill informed and lacking any ability to think critically (no wonder you like robots). And it’s the “cleanest” and “most enjoyable” way to travel up the Hume. I think the i3 wins the environmental argument and enjoyable driving is a bit of an oxymoron with a Tesla and auto pilot. Stop at the dog on the Tuckerbox and enjoy a burger…..is there another option? The S is a milestone in an electric future, but at the moment, petrol and hybrids are still the more sensible and often only choice for most drivers.

    • Hi JohnGC, thanks for the comment… now, you’re about half-way to a rebuttal yarn. How about joining the PM team and writing your own article?
      https://practicalmotoring.com.au/contribute-to-pm/
      Cheers Isaac – Editor

    • Kyle Raftery

      Hi John, I appreciate you taking the time to give your thoughts. It certainly is expensive, I did mention the price, right before the ‘here and now’ comment which just refers to the car’s modernity. The roads we all drive on are tightly enforced, the Tesla is very good at obeying the rules. I have no idea how it would cope on country roads so I chose not to comment on it.

      I enjoyed Jane’s review on the Model S. She had a different opinion to me, that’s cool, she’s the motoring journalist so has a lot more to reference from but I was very pleasantly surprised with the NVH levels.

      I stand by my claim of the best car in the world to travel from Melbourne to Sydney on the Hume. The BMW i3 only has a range of about 160km and would take six days to drive from Melbourne to Sydney, I think I could rollerblade there faster. Certainly enjoyable driving is at odds with using autopilot so I chose to say most enjoyable way to travel. The most enjoyable way to drive the Hume is to not have to drive the Hume.

      As for the Dog on the Tuckerbox, absolutely, plenty of options. They do sandwiches, cakes, biscuits, eggs on toast, all sorts of things. In my humble opinion the burger is the best and that’s all I can hope to offer here, my humble opinion. Thanks for reading!

      • JohnGC

        Cool, thanks Kyle. I might take Isaac up on his invite and write something more comprehensive. regards
        John

  • Jane Speechley

    Worth noting you don’t need $200K or a test drive. The one in the photo can be hired from http://www.eveeh.com.au for around $600/day or a measly $319 for the Sydney/Canberra commute.

    I’ve written about it previously here: https://practicalmotoring.com.au/voices/drove-tesla-or-rather-it-drove-me-and-it-can-drive-you-too/

  • Simon Mustey

    Fantastic write up Kyle, beautifully written, the words danced from
    paragraph to paragraph. While without a doubt the Tesla is the best of
    the current crop, it’s at best a very expensive technological oddity.
    Somewhat akin to owning a LaFerrari or dating a supermodel.

    In
    theory sound fantastic, but when the 10K service bills come in, or it
    takes 3 hours and a gaggle of makeup artists to leave the house, the
    reality would come crashing down.

    The battery pack costs
    12,000USD and after 8 years drops 30% of it’s capacity, but not to worry
    I’ll pick you up on the side of the Hume in my trusty Land Cruiser,
    with over 1500km of range, I’ll be able to drop you back in Sydney and
    make my way on to Melbourne 🙂 I can also fill it up half way along the
    canning from a 44 Gallon drum.

    Would the Tesla make a good
    second car for an affluent metropolite? Certainly, the extra cred at the
    cafe would be worth the massive depreciation when you try to move it on
    in 5-6 years. Is it a decent family hack? Not without the
    infrastructure the would be economically unviable across our boundless plains girt by sea.

    • Kyle Raftery

      Thanks Simon. Absolutely, it cannot replace our current crop of gas guzzlers yet. It is interesting to read the Elon Musk’s Master Plan, Part Deux which addresses some of those concerns. Hopefully the cost, the battery technology, the supercharger network continue to improve to a point where owning a Tesla is realistic proposition for us mere mortals. Until then, I’d be happy to hitch a ride in your Land Cruiser! Cheers.

Kyle Raftery

Kyle Raftery

Acrobatic musician/musical acrobat by trade, Kyle is a passionate lover of all things automotive. His company car only has one wheel but he is a proud Toyota 86 owner and rally fan.