I recently started a new job as a Product Specialist for Tesla, at their new Boston location in the Prudential Center. When I started the position, I was told I would be able to -at some point- take a Model S home in order to familiarize myself with it. Little did I realize that opportunity would come at the beginning of my second week working there!
On Monday night I “took delivery” of a Model S P90D. Being that I had to drive the car back to work the next day, I wanted to maximize the amount of time I could spend with it. With a pick up time scheduled for 8pm, and factoring in that I typically go to bed at around 1am, I only had about 5 hours to really explore the car. I needed to organize a way to get the most out of that 5 hours.
I wanted to include as many people as possible in my opportunity to very temporarily “own” a Model S. Knowing he would want to come, I brought my Dad with me to pick the car up from the Pru. After a short pre-flight inspection, I set the navigation for my home address and the adventure began.
I literally have never driven (a car) through Boston before. I know how to get from point-a to point-b on my bike, but a bike is a different story than a car. On my bike I can scoot past traffic, go down one way streets the wrong way (if necessary), ride on the sidewalk (if necessary) and many other things that just won’t fly in a car. In a car you need to adhere to the rules of the road.
Using my knowledge of the streets of Boston, combined with some playing around with Google Maps before heading into the city to pick up the car, combined with the GPS (as a back up), I was able to get us home without a hitch. In the parking lot of the Pru I had connected my phone via Bluetooth. While on the way home I used the cars connectivity to call my Mom. I asked if she would want to come out for a short drive. At first she refused because she was already in bed, but after a bit of convincing, she agreed.
My Dad and I pulled up to our house and my Mom was waiting outside. She hopped in and we drove to the commons so that my Dad and I could switch and he could drive for a bit. He basically took the car up and down a few blocks. Part of me wanted to suggest that he take it on the highway and open it up, but I wasn’t sure if he wanted to. Also, I wanted as much time driving as I could get and so, after a short jaunt around town, we ended up back at our house.
With my parents “dropped off” and the Model S safely in the driveway, I began to send text messages and make phone calls. I texted my friend Christian but he didn’t respond. I then called my friend Pete and he said he would let me know as soon as he got home. I then made my way back into the car to play around with a few of the features that had stumped me, or figure things that I still wasn’t sure about.
After fiddling around for a bit I got a call from Pete (which I answered through the car) that said he’d be home shortly, I pressed the brake (to turn the car on), selected drive and headed over to his house. He and his Mom came out to greet me. His Mom hopped in the front and asked if I would take her around the block. Pete got in the back and I took them on a quick loop before returning to Pete’s house to drop her off.
Pete got in the front seat and suddenly we were faced with an excellent problem; what to do with a $120,000 car at 9pm on a weeknight? The obvious answer, go for a cruise. We headed up and down a couple of different highways to stretch her legs a bit. I tried Autopilot for a bit and it was quite weird. It was really cool to see the car follow the curves in the road and maintain the distance from the car in front without any input from me. A few times it disengaged because there was not a strong enough line delineation.
Though it worked well and would probably be nice on a long road trip, I was never fully comfortable using it. This is not the car’s fault, but mine. I don’t even use regular cruise control so this was quite a leap for me to take. I think over time though, it is something that I could get used to.
One of the things I had mentioned to Pete, being that he is a photographer, was that we should do a little photo shoot while we had the car. We drove to Assembly Row, to the top of the parking structure where he was able to get the great shot at the top of this post with the Boston skyline in the background.
After that we were kind of stumped. I had wanted to stop by Highland Kitchen to grab a drink and to see if my friend Tyler was working. I was gonna park out front, point to the car and tell him it was mine. However, by the time I remembered this part of my game-plan, HK was already closed. I knew I needed to get up early to drive the car to work the next day so I didn’t want to stay out too late. At that point it was around 11:30pm so I decided to drive home.
Pete and I chatted while we sat in the car in my driveway and messed around with the settings. We discovered that the child locks were enabled, thus why my Mom had to be let out from the back seat. After a bit of general catching up conversation I drove him home. Along the way I may have enabled Ludicrous Mode and tried a nice acceleration run.
The next day…
…I got up super early so I could leave for work at a reasonable time. Being that I never drive into Boston during rush hour, I had no real idea -apart from the advice given to me by Google- how long the commute would take. I like being early for things and so, despite Google telling me it would take an hour and twenty-five minutes on the route I had selected, and despite the fact that my shift wasn’t until 9:30am, I left my house at seven.
Listening to my music on the way via Bluetooth and using the Hold feature to keep the car in one spot without having to keep my foot on the brake made for a relaxing commute experience. I felt undeniably cool in the car and thought, “Ha ha, everyone’s looking at me.” I was almost compelled to pick up a few people waiting at the bus stop to give them the chance to experience the car, get them out of the cold and to, in general, make their day a little better. I decided against it simply because it wasn’t my car but now I’m regretting it; that would have been cool.
The commute was fairly uneventful apart from the nightmare of traffic on the rotary in Everett. Despite taking the same route I would if I were biking to Boston, I had the GPS fired up just in case. It did help to reassure me a couple of times and it even told me what lane I needed to be in for certain turns, which came in handy.
Driving through early morning Boston on routes I’d only ever biked before was strangely exhilarating. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was amongst traffic or that I was in such a fun car or a little bit of both, but I actually enjoyed the commute much more than I thought I would. Eventually I got to the Pru, pulled into the parking garage, parked it at the charging station and plugged it in. That was it, no more Model S for me.
The day previous a customer had come into the showroom and told me that his brother owned one. He described the car as “irresponsibly fast.” I really liked this description, so much so that I used it as the title of this post. Do you really ever need to accelerate from 0-60 in 2.8 second? No, of course not. Do you want to be able to and is it cool to say you can? Absolutely. Model S stands for more than just a useable fully electric vehicle, it maintains the joy of driving that “true driver’s” love about cars.
This “short term review” was much less a review than it was a detailed description of my experience with the car. Of course with long term ownership you might find more things to critique. However, for the short time I got to spend with it, I couldn’t have been happier.