Tesla Model S Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Friday 8th December


What is it like to drive?

Driving an electric car is always a serene experience. The lack of noise from the drivetrain – except for a bit of whine from the e-motors – is unsettling at first, with only wind- and tyre-roar to keep your ears company. Thankfully in the Model S these are both pretty well suppressed.

Is it comfortable?

Yes, on the whole. The seats are very supportive, and the ride smooth enough on the standard height-adjustable air suspension, making the Model S good over long distances.

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It’s good in town too – a bit of practice and you’ll be using the retardation when you lift off the accelerator (which regenerates energy back to the batteries) for most of your braking. Just watch the size – this is an American car after all, so it feels very wide on narrow city streets.

What about country lanes?

These are a bit tight too. But find a wide one and the Model S reveals itself to be a decent drive. Because they’ve kept the weight low it stays pretty flat, and while there’s little feel to the steering, it’s accurate and quick enough to make the S feel pretty agile, especially given the size of the thing.

What’s this ‘yoke’ word I keep hearing?

Ah yes, thought you’d mention that. The latest update for the Model S did away with the conventional, round steering wheel and replaced it with an F1-style, aircraft-inspired yoke… thing. Having tried it we reckon the yoke is best avoided, and in markets where the Model S remains on sale you now have to pay to option it over a normal steering wheel. Save your cash.

Righteo. And Autopilot, what does that do?

Autopilot is Tesla’s suite of semi-autonomous driving assistance tech. It’s a pricey option, but probably worth having if you spend a lot of your time on motorways. Like systems from Merc, Audi, etc, when activated it handles the braking/accelerating and gives steering assistance. Another YouTube search will show you lots of videos of this being unwisely used.

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Don’t get drawn in by the name or any references to ‘Full Self-Driving’. In the UK and Europe you need to keep your hands on the wheel at all times. Unless you’ve parked up for the night. Then you’re allowed to let go.

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