OHMigod! A Dance with an Electric Beauty

OHMigod! A Dance with an Electric Beauty

Sus and I had a romantic weekend in Denver that ended with a quick kiss at the airport as she headed for New York and I, with one major stop, drove back to Telluride. Before making my way through the mountains I had a date with a new love: an opportunity to drive the new Tesla Model S 85 D.


The “D” in the designation stands for Dual Motor, which means that this one has an electric motor in front to complement the one in the back of the car, which, not coincidentally, means the D is all-wheel drive. Nice to have in Telluride, if we ever get snow again.

My love affair with Tesla goes back several years to a single drive of the Tesla 2-seat roadster, when this little beauty, more appropriate to the fighter pilot I once was, slingshotted the Tesla rep and me up Boulder Canyon. A year or so later it was announced that the company was introducing a luxury sedan, designed from the ground up to be an electric car with the range to make it a long-mile country crosser. That got my attention, and I finally got a chance to drive the Model S, albeit in its rear-wheel drive format. Last year Tesla of Denver brought two Model S sedans to Telluride in February. I drove it on muddy gravel roads, and even with rear-wheel drive, it performed well, though I was apprehensive about driving only the back wheels in the winter. And the car, in the configuration I wanted, with the big battery, is expensive. Not crazy expensive, but comparable to a European luxury sedan. So, it remained a semi-secret obsession.

Then, this past Fall, Tesla announced they were building an all-wheel drive version, and that it would actually exceed the full-charge mileage of the original. Obsession raised its lovely head, big time!

Now it must be said: Sus is a life-long New Yorker, and cars just were not part of her DNA. Not like they are part of mine. I think of myself as being pretty persuasive, but this was a tough sell. In the end, she gave her assent, and I booked a test drive on Monday morning after Sus got on the plane for New York.

I got to the Tesla showroom at Park Meadows Mall well ahead of my scheduled drive, but Steve Innerfield, the rep I was scheduled with, and the cobalt blue sedan, were both ready. We moved sedately out of the parking lot, and took a short drive south on I-25 a few miles. One is immediately aware that this is a thoroughbred, but not at all twitchy. One drives primarily with the go pedal- the regenerative braking system means that, in its standard setting, if you lift off the accelerator the car begins slowing (also recharging the battery). We exited the highway, crossed over on an overpass, and started down the on-ramp to join the northbound traffic. The highway was not overly crowded, so Steve suggested I tromp on it. I have to digress a moment here. When you tromp on the accelerator in the Tesla, especially the dual motor edition, you don’t get the scream of exhaust, no spinning, smoking tires. You are just quietly, very quickly “magicked” up to the speed you desire. That’s what it feels like: magic. One moment you are loafing along, your foot applies a little pressure, and then you are joining the traffic moving along at 75 miles per hour.

But the demo wasn’t finished. My guide found some roads not far from the interstate that had some interesting curves. The Tesla has a 900 pound battery very low in the vehicle, and nearly even weight distribution, a beautiful traction control system, all digital, and the result is you have no idea you are piloting a two-ton plus sedan. With no body lean and perfect traction, the car telegraphs the information that the two of you are a team, a highly accomplished team.

I was grinning all the way back to the showroom, and then we sat at the computer and my new friend guided me through the process of making this beauty mine. She should be in our garage in mid-May.

Tesla has battled perceptions of a dubious public since they started. These doubts run the gamut of, “No one has done this, so you can’t,” to, “Tesla is just building cars for millionaires, with government help,”  so it has to be said the company has moved from the roadster platform from Lotus; to the beautifully designed Model S in its several variants; will introduce the next model, the crossover Model X, this Fall; and in two years (or so), the Model 3, meant to be a more affordable solution for a wider audience. The roadster and the Model S were to capture the imagination of the enthusiast contingent, but the idea all along has been to build sexy, beautiful automobiles to move us past the gasoline engine, do it in an exciting way, and to make them affordable for more people. In addition, the company has built its Supercharger recharging stations all across the country, that make it possible to quickly “refuel” on longer drives. By the end of 2016 there should be a Supercharger station within driving distance of most of the US population.

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