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Tesla Model S: Quick and quiet

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TECHNOLOGY turns ideas into reality.

Before the Wright brothers and Alexender Graham Bell, flying and speaking across the sea used to be fantastical dreams.

If ten years ago someone told us that an electric vehicle could have the dimensions of a full-size sedan, with the range of a normal petrol car and 0-100 kph sprint to beat a Ferrari, we would not believe him.

Back to the future, here is the Tesla Model S, a full-size electric car that has the emotional line of a Maserati Quattroporte and is faster than a Ferrari 250 GTO.

Cars Bikes & Trucks managed to get behind the wheel of one of the Model S recently for a short drive.

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Sitting inside the car, with no engine sound, a big iPad-like screen at the center and barely no buttons on the centre console, we would know that this is going to drive like something we have never driven before.

Since the car has no gear, selecting into forward err, gear.. I mean engaging into Drive, the car crawls fluidly and all the torque is available from zero rpm. Yup, you read that right, from zero rpm.

With that wide power band 0-12,000 rpm the Model S has an impressive acceleration from any speed.

Zero to century sprint is achieved in around 5.4 seconds, although it managed to clock faster time on several unofficial runs according to Edmunds.com.

Both model that are brought in by GreenTech are the P85 rear-wheel drive version. The all-wheel drive model, the P85D, accelerates faster, since D stands for dual motors, effectively making it an all-wheel drive since there is a motor for the front drive and a motor at the rear for the rear drive.

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Slipping through Bangsar’s busy roads, it does not attract too much attention. Glancing at the side mirrors, the rear haunches of the car are prominent but overall there is an excellent view for the driver.

The Tesla S shows the rear view not just from the mirror, but more from the centre console. In our test car, the centre console had been set to show a live feed from the rear view cameras streaming a live video.

The Model S is equipped with LCD-controlled driving modes, suspension and other settings that we would have loved to explore given time.

As for ride height, the car has air suspension and can be adjusted to Very High, High, Medium and Low. Therefore getting it into basement parking lots with steep driveway would not cause any problem nor the occasional floods.

The steering and suspension also have Comfort, Normal and Sport for each of them separately.

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All of those controls are from the menu in the center console, including main headlights and air-conditioner.

Only the windscreen wiper, turn signals, high beam and cruise control functions are controlled with stalks near the steering.

At a three lane road just off Lebuhraya Sultan Iskandar, we experienced the enormous torque of the car when we pressed pedal to the metal: The car surged forward and we were pressed into our seats more than we had ever experienced in our lives.

At that moment, we felt like in a plane taking off.

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But the driver’s screen in front of the steering that displays numbers and graphs in kW straight away reminding us that we are in an EV.

With capacity of carrying four adults comfortably and full operating range of 497km depending on driving pattern, we would surely like to have a go in the Model S for a proper long distance journey.

We would also like to test the feel of each mode on different road surfaces and speeds.

So folks, the Tesla car is a good example that environmental correctness doesn’t mean dullness. Let’s hope for more green cars like this. Tesla is already talking about a sub USD30,000 electric car for mainstream markets.

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Specifications of the Tesla Model S
Engine: 85 kWh battery
Transmission: 1-speed fixed gear (9.73:1), rear-wheel drive
Max power: 362-bhp
Max torque: 440 Nm
Range: 497 km
Safety features: Eight airbags, parking sensors, blind spot warnings, lane
departure warning and automatic emergency braking
Top speed: 225 km/h

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About Amirul Hazmi

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