First Coast Gears Instant torque sums up Tesla Model S gathering …

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Tesla Model S

First Coast Gears: Instant torque sums up Tesla Model S gathering in St. Augustine

Automotive performance fans: The future is secure.

That was my take-away after driving the 2014 Tesla Model S P85, an all-electric car that proves blazing zero-to-60 times and saving the environment can go hand-in-hand.

Tesla owners came together at the St. Augustine Premium Outlets Monday for the grand opening of a new Tesla Supercharging station and their comments had a common theme: instant torque = instant fun.

Pat Norris, who lives in St. Augustine, picked up his Model S in November. Norris knows a thing or two about performance. His other car is a 2004 Corvette.

It develops maximum torque at zero RPM. Most cars, including the Corvette, to get full acceleration out of it, or full power, you have to get up to 4,000 or 5,000 RPMs,” Norris said. “This car is quick, instantaneously.

That’s a great summary.

I’ve driven the Dodge Viper, Ford GT40, multiple Corvettes and Porsches along with modern and vintage muscle cars. The Model S provides the same thrill but without the lag of a turbo spooling up or that momentary power drop-off during gear shifts.

David Smith of Orlando got one of the first Tesla sedans to come off the assembly line: number 218.

I signed up online four years ago to get it, Smith said.

Smith said his Model S Signature has greatly exceeded his expectations.

The driving, it’s absolutely unbelievable — the comfort, the pickup,” Smith said. “When they tell you it can accelerate zero-to-60 in I don’t know how many seconds, 5 seconds or less, they mean it. It’s really awesome.”

Susan Garner of St. Augustine first entered the world of electric propulsion about five years ago, buying a Ford Escape hybrid, which she still owns and loves. But her new Tesla takes electrified driving to a new level.

I like that it’s electric, that I don’t ever have to pollute the planet again and I don’t have to buy gas, Garner said.

First Coast Gears test-drove a Model S P85, which is the high-performance version, along side roads and Interstate 95 in the northern St. Augustine area. What struck me about the car is that it provides a glimpse into the future of the automobile industry.

Cadillac, BMW, Porsche, Ferrari and Acura all have plug-in hybrids either here or on the way. But, the Model S trumps them in the sense that it’s a pure electric that solves the range issue that has plagued other electric-only cars.

Norris said he averages about 230 miles on a charge while Smith estimated he’s getting about 220 miles between charge-ups. The EPA rates the Model S with the 85 kWh battery at 265 miles to a charge.

Tesla Model S

Tesla also is working to solve the other missing piece: charging stations. Supercharger stations like the one in St. Augustine can add about 170 miles of charge to the Model S in about 30 minutes, according to Tesla spokeswoman Alexis Georgeson.

Tesla is building the stations across the country, providing free charge-ups to owners. By the end of the year, Tesla expects to have 80 percent of the U.S. population within driving distance of a Supercharger station.

Tesla is also showing off battery-swapping technology it’s working on that would allow owners to swap battery packs in less time than it takes to fill a similarly sized car with gas.

But back to the old, What’ll she do? question.

Motor Trend timed the Model S, which it named as its 2013 Car of the Year, as nailing 60 in 4 seconds flat and the quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds. To put that in perspective, Motor Trend timed the 2014 Corvette as hitting 60 in 3.9 seconds.

The Tesla Model S offers a glimpse at the future, and I’m happy to report that it proves performance doesn’t have to take a hit in a post-petrol world.


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