Tesla continues to ramp up production. It has also added a Performance Plus trim line to the 2014 Tesla Model S, which features a retuned suspension and staggered tires (wider in the back than the front). Tesla claims that the 2014 Tesla Model S handles better and achieves slightly better range...
The 2014 Tesla Model S is that rare vehicle that actually lives up to its hype. It's an electric car that offers enough range for daily driving while also matching the driving dynamics of European performance sedans. Not bad for a car company that came into existence only a decade ago.
Automobile Magazine named the Tesla Model S our 2013 Automobile of the Year. We did not take this decision lightly. More than one editor wondered at the time whether we were recognizing the next Model T or the next De Lorean. Despite those reservations, we ultimately agreed -- unanimously -- that it would be wrong not to recognize this once-in-a-generation car.
Simply put, the 2014 Tesla Model S is brilliant. It's quick, it handles well, it's well designed inside and out, and it's safe. Oh yes, and it's electric, powered by lithium-ion batteries that sit under the floor. The cabin is very roomy, and with the optional rear-facing seats it'll seat seven. We especially like the gigantic, easy-to-use touchscreen.
Pricing roughly parallels that of the Porsche Panamera, only you're paying for battery range as well as performance. About $80,000 (before tax credits) buys you a base model with an estimated 208-mile range and enough power to hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. For another $10,000, Tesla offers an 85 kilowatt-hour battery that extends the range to an estimated 265 miles. The performance model, which starts at $93,830 (again before tax credits), uses that same 85-kWh battery and has the same 265-mile range but blasts to 60 mph in a silent 4.2 seconds. That's not to say you'll go unnoticed. The Model S has received enough press coverage and yet remains so scarce that you'll attract onlookers wherever you drive.
Any discussion of the Model S must include two provisos. The first is range anxiety. Unlike a plug-in hybrid like the Chevrolet Volt, the Model S does not have a range-extending gasoline engine. Although the Model S, in any form, has enough juice for worry-free errand running, it isn't the right car for someone who regularly travels long distances. Tesla is lessening these limitations with a network of quick-charging stations it calls Superchargers.
The second concern lies in the simple fact that Tesla is a young company producing a very complex car. Although Tesla has silenced skeptics who said it would never produce more than a few cars, it still can't offer the worry-free ownership experience of an established automaker. Expect a wait to receive your car, and beware that the growing dealer network has some holes. That said, those who experience the 2014 Tesla Model S may find it worth the gamble. It is a truly exceptional automobile.
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