If you’re not yet acquainted with a modern electric car, especially one like a Tesla, it’s all too easy to write it off
While electric cars of old tended to be slow and had a mediocre range, that notion went out the window when Tesla burst onto the automotive scene a decade ago with the original Lotus Elise-based Roadster. And if the world thought that was a flash in the pan, doubting sceptics were surely silenced in 2012 when Tesla debuted its first original car, the Model S. Boasting big speed and more-than-decent range, the Model S has been slowly evolving since that time, culminating in the car guest drivers at the recent Robb Report Ultimate Drives presented by Opus by Prudential had a chance to sample: the Model S P85D.
The 85 in its model name denotes its power rating of 85kWh and the D refers to the car’s double electric motors, one at the front axle and one at the rear. This endows the Tesla with 463hp and a 0-100km/hr time of 3.3 seconds, well in line with the fastest of supercars and marginally quicker than even the mighty BMW M5.
But more than what the raw numbers will tell you is how the Model S despatches that acceleration. Unlike a conventional car with an internal combustion engine, there’s no delay between flooring the throttle and the car leaping forward. With no turbos to spool or engines to rev, it’s about as close to teleportation as you can get with current technology. Small wonder then, that this left guest drivers floored and more than a little breathless. Gerald Goh said: “I really love the point and shoot ability of the Tesla. Maximum torque is almost instantaneous. You just step on on it and you’re there. It’s amazing.”
TS Lim loved its “instant power and acceleration”, and also Richard Koh, who called the Tesla Model S P85D “ludicrous”. Even Leslie Goh, a man with a self-confessed soft spot for vintage cars was taken by the Tesla Model S P85D. “There’s a sensation of being catapulted forward when flooring the throttle”, though he did voice some concerns about whether the car would remain reliable in the long run.
But while its acceleration and sheer turn of pace was beyond question, some concerns were levelled at the car’s lack of noise, something endemic to all electric vehicles. Perhaps more easily overlooked in an electric city car, but a little harder in a car pitched as a luxury sports saloon. Kelvin Koay, who liked the Tesla Model S P85D’s power delivery and indeed, outright power, nevertheless voiced his dismay at the electric sports saloon’s lack of aural pleasure.
“It lacks sex appeal because there’s no noise from the engine,” sighed Eugene Yang. “It’s incredibly fast, but yet, it’s not very fun to drive,” said He Jian Peng. But you have to wonder if it’s just that the world isn’t quite used to a completely silent sports car just yet. After all, it took the world at large some time to be completely weaned off horses.
One thing’s for certain, though. The electric car is here to stay, and as Terence Yong said: “It’s the future of driving.”