I’ve driven in a lot of cars, and I’ve owned quite a few. Riding in a Tesla was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I’ve had the chance to ride in 3, so I’ll tell you about each one.
The Early Model S
A friend of mine ordered a Model S early on. I don’t know how early, but it was certainly in one of the first couple years the car was available. He got the dual motor 90P performance model for around $90k.
Too rich for my blood.
One day I went out to lunch with him and a couple other friends. We met in Parker, CO and ate. Afterwards he offered us a ride in the car. All of us got in, me in the front passenger, and he started down the road. We got to a wide, 4 lane road (2 each way) that was relatively deserted at that time. He told us to sit back and hit the accelerator.
It literally took my breath away. I likely looked something like Doug in this video, though I’m sure that’s more amazing to ride in. In any case, the only thing that felt like that for me in life was the first plunge on a roller coaster. That’s literally what I thought.
My stomach jumped, and I was slightly scared for a second. With 4 of us in the car, a decently large sedan, it moved faster than any car. I really felt like my nailing the throttle on a Kawasaki 750, which I did a long time ago.
Crazy. Not worth $90k, but amazing.
The same friend ordered a Model 3 when they came out and sold his S. He got the performanace car again, and this was one of the first few thousand Model 3s. He pre-ordered this before they were made and waited over a year.
Again, lunch and a ride. I didn’t drive, but he showed me some of the Autopilot, which was early on in this iteration. It was somewhat disconcerting at that time. First, he told me he kept his hand on the wheel (not required then), because it could be funny. We saw a few examples.
When we were going down Parker Road, which is a 45-55mph, 2 lane road, there are some turn lanes. Meaning the white line on the right curves right and there’s an open space before the white line picks up again to separate the through driving lane from the turning lane. A common American road situation.
The car lightly jerked right when the lane dropped away, but came back. However, it’s a little unnerving.
The other things were a very conservative startup from a stoplight, really slowly getting going. Almost like it expected the car in front to slam on its brakes. The reverse happened when slowing, where it aggressively braked, but too far in advance, and then crept up a bit to the stopped car in front. Like a teenager.
I wasn’t thrilled, and honestly, not sure I liked the look of the Model 3 at the time, but it didn’t quite seem like it was ready for me. Plus, it was too small.
The Model Y Test Drive
The last experience for me was test driving a Model Y. We were considering it, and we scheduled a drive during COVID. This was hands off, so the salesperson got us to the car, gave us the key card, let us get in, explained a few things and told us to have fun.
I got to drive first, and I nervously backed it out of the space, hoping I wouldn’t hit anything. I started to drive, but the regenerative braking was on the highest setting, and we all jerked a bit.
As I’ve done in many cars, I hit the accelerator a bit to get going and then let off completely to coast to the stop sign in the parking lot. However, the car didn’t roll. It braked and stopped early.
My first experience with one pedal driving, which I’d seen people talk about in videos. I got used to it very quickly, but it was interesting. I navigated out of the Park Meadows mall, hitting multiple stop signs, without ever using the brake. It was really interesting.
This was rush hour, and we headed down the busy 3 lane road, a 45mph one. I got some space at a stop light and we started to roll through and then I hit the accelerator. Not quite rollercoaster speed, but not far away. Still the fastest car I’d ridden in.
I tested Autopilot, which worked very well for me in stop and go traffic. I have to watch for lights, and start moving, but it kept us easily in lanes, and away from the car in front. Well marked roads, very happy path driving, but I was thrilled.
Overall, I liked the car, liked the space, and so did my wife.
Next: I ordered a Tesla