Tesla Model S P100D: Sure It Electrics, But How Does It Car?

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You’ve likely read a fair share of opinion pieces about Tesla as an automaker, cultural force, or political icon. Most of those seem to either paint a glowing picture of a savior company which will lead us into a new golden age, or some vile fiend dead-set on destroying the world. The reality is somewhere in the middle. And that’s made quite clear by driving Tesla’s oldest vehicle on the market currently, the Tesla Model S sedan.

Not perfect but not awful, the Tesla Model S has some unique qualities you might not hear about too often. Strap in but don’t activate the Autopilot. Because what follows are some interesting quirks about the electric car you might not even know exist.

Not So Creepy

One of the biggest adjustments you need to make when switching from an internal combustion car with an automatic transmission and the Model S is the lack of creep.

In traditional cars with an automatic, when you take your foot off the brake but don’t touch the gas, it still moves forward at a slow creep. With some practice you adjust to this fact. Although plenty of people reaching to pay for parking when leaving a garage have momentarily forgotten about this tendency, suffering the consequences.

With the Model S and other Teslas, as well as most electric cars, there’s no creep. Put the car in drive, take your foot off the brake, and the car just sits there. It’s a little strange at first. When the vehicle is moving, the fact that taking your foot off the accelerator results in a sudden slowdown also takes some adjustment.

Some people might not like this feature, but after driving a Tesla for a short while, I came to prefer it. Without creep, you enjoy greater control of the car. Plus, if you don’t like how much the car slows down when you’re moving and remove your foot from the accelerator, you can change that setting using the touchscreen. That level of customization is nice.

I especially appreciated it since I tested the P100D, and when accelerating hard it was great to bring the speed down in a hurry. Afterwards, I found myself wishing I had such a feature on my car.

Fog Prevention

When I tested out the Tesla Model S, it was a cold and rainy day. As a result, windows fog up quite easily, which is exactly what happened in my tester car in short order. I asked the Tesla employee how to defog the side glass, he seemed perplexed. The front windows both fogged over partway for longer than I would’ve liked.

Doing some digging through forums, apparently, there is a defrost setting in the HVAC system designed to defog the windows quickly. Why the Tesla employee didn’t know that, especially on a cold and wet day, is beyond me.

I can’t speak to how well that defrost setting works. However, I did look for small vents which were pointed toward the side windows, like what you find in most modern cars. I didn’t see any. Either they were cleverly hidden of they didn’t exist. If it’s the second option, I would consider that a design flaw Tesla might want to correct. I know that the company is constantly tweaking designs, so hopefully, someone with influence is reading this.

While small vents pointed at glass might not seem like a big deal in California, those of us who live in colder climates have come to appreciate this simple and effective design.

No OSHA

Back in high school, my friends would call the grab handles in a car’s interior the “OSHA” handles. The name’s supposed to mimic the thing you say when gripping the handles. I swear they didn’t use the handles in my car when I was driving.

Those handles can be nice for people who have a bad back or maybe did too many lunges during a workout (I’ve dealt with the latter before). Apparently, nobody inside Tesla thinks they’re useful, because the Model S has no grab handles.

Perhaps grab handles were deemed too last century. After all, the exterior door handles pop out of the body when you approach. Maybe the engineering team could design grab handles which pop out of the headliner when you scream “OSHA”?

Also, many cars feature hooks on the rear grab handles. Those are great for transporting dry cleaning, suits, or other clothes you don’t want to wrinkle by throwing in the trunk. Considering the Model S is a luxury car, you’d think the clientele interested in it at least some of the time would use such a feature. Obviously, Tesla didn’t include it and I think it’s an oversight, albeit a small one.

Autopilot

Then there’s perhaps the most controversial feature of the Tesla Model S: Autopilot. I’m not a fan of the name, because it makes some people think you can just switch the system on and then do nothing. The Tesla rep was proactive in explaining you still need to pay attention and place your hands on the steering wheel periodically.

First off, as one who doesn’t text or do other things with my hands while driving, taking both hands off the steering wheel completely on the highway with an 18-wheeler right next to me was extremely disconcerting. The car navigated the road with ease, driving more conservatively than I normally do, which was extra reassuring. Changing lanes just requires putting on the turn signal. I can see why Californians, who spend far too much time in heavy stop-and-go freeway traffic, love this feature.

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Conclusion

The Tesla Model S, while an impressive car, is far from perfect. It’s still surprisingly fun to drive, especially the riotous P100D, which was something I most definitely didn’t expect. Build quality seems to be continually improving, with the latest batch of cars looking light years ahead of the first wave.

Despite the above quirks, it’s easy to see why Tesla owners are so loyal to the brand.