Driver's Notebook: Behind the Wheel of the Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S Interior

The Model S has an Internet-enabled, 17-inch touch screen controlled via gestures that iPhone users will find familiar. Says hendriks, “our chief designer created the touch screen to be the ‘hero of the cabin.’ ”

Five impressions from the THR test-drive of the all-electric sedan.

This story first appeared in the Dec. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

A handful of THR staffers logged seat time in the top-of-the-line Model S. The drivers, ranging from a mother of three to an automotive geek and a green car skeptic, had praise for its performance and a few concerns about its futuristic features.

1. Outstanding performance: The Model S impressed with its "awesome acceleration" and terrific handling, one driver said. Because the car lacks multiple gears, there is no delay as power is delivered. "It is so completely badass. Merging onto the 10 Freeway and changing lanes became a huge pleasure," another driver said.

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2. Touch screen concerns: The car's 17-inch center console screen, which controls such functions as stereo navigation and HVAC, impressed with its clarity and functionality. But drivers worried that Internet connectivity would be distracting and dangerous. "Why encourage people to look on a screen while they are driving?"

3. Charging: Most Model S owners charge their cars via 240-volt outlets -- speedier than the conventional 120-volt socket one staffer used. A 10-hour, overnight charge "ended up only charging the car one-fourth of its capacity." (Tesla-built Supercharger stations offer the fastest charge time.)

4. Ingress/egress issues: The Model S key fob is cleverly designed to look like the car, but drivers had trouble locating the hidden buttons that lock and unlock the vehicle. The car's handles, which emerge from the doors after being touched, were a treat for kids, but one person felt they were a gimmick and could break.

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5. Head-turner: The Model S attracted attention across L.A., from a delivery man in Mid-City who had plenty of questions to a middle-aged poodle walker in Santa Monica who said he might buy one. One staffer said, "I think this car is going to own the whole Westside in a year."


Twitter: @DanielNMiller