THE 2019 Tesla Model S 100D is like a golf ball sitting on the green at the final hole of the Australian Open, and you’re about to win. As you approach it, much like said small round white thing, you want to look at it from every angle.
Such is its presence and immense street appeal. Unlike the golf ball though, it has a front end that looks low and sleek, and a rear end that resembles that of a Maserati, thanks to its wide rear guards.
Getting inside this fine looking automotive can be done using the remote key, which if you’ve never seen one looks exactly like a tiny Model S. But you can also use the Tesla app on your smartphone.
You could even simply grab the chrome door handles which are illuminated and present themselves to you as you get close, providing you have the key with you of course.
Once inside, you’ll find a lush interior, with faux leather seats, carbon fibre look trim and more high tech gadgetry than you can poke a stick at, including the 17-inch touch screen which controls most of the car functions.
The dashboard is clean, if not a little sparse due to the fact everything is controlled from the touchscreen, and two scrolling buttons on the steering wheel. Front seats offer 12-way power adjustment and are heated.
They come with a memory function for the driver, and are comfortable, although could do with being a little longer on the base for taller people. Passengers don’t miss out on having toasty buns though, as the entire cabin features heated seats.
Now back to that control screen. There’s maps and navigation with real-time traffic based routing, Wi-Fi and cellular internet capability; with the latter being used to update the vehicle software on the fly.
It also has a location aware garage door opener, Internet radio, full media streaming and these little things called Tesla Eggs. If you’ve never heard of the ‘eggs’, they include a raft of cool things available on the touchscreen system.
Following the most recent software update, the eggs include a whole host of 70s arcarde games, like Missile Command, Centipede and Lunar Lander. You can also turn on the fireplace which displays a crackling fire that warms the seats and blows warm air.
We’re not joking. Tap the screen again and your Model S 100D adds romantic tunes to this odd scene. What’s instantly clear though is that Tesla has a sense of humour. That’s never more apparent than in the fart option you can set to go off when you indicate.
On a more serious note, the Model S has a laminated glass roof which is ultraviolet and infrared protected, adding a great visual experience and a sense of spaciousness that enhances the super saloon feel of the 100D.
The glass roof flows into the rear hatch of the 5-door lift-back, which has an incredible 894-litres of storage space. There’s more space in the front bonnet area as well.
Safety is a high priority too, with forward-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking. There’s also blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist.
And then, there’s autopilot. The autopilot feature takes control of speed and matches the speed limit of the road, also managing steering and braking utilising cameras and sensors. It’s a very precise system, that will perfectly center the car in the lane.
In its current format it is best suited to being switched on as you hit the on-ramp of the freeway, and then during its time on the motorway. It’s a little unnerving the first time you switch it on though, especially when it drives and steers its way down the road.
The system will allow for up to 60 seconds with no hands on the wheel and then a warning flashes on the dash, along with a message to prompt you to place your hands back on the pressure-sensing steering wheel.
Once you get used to the concept of autopilot though, it’s kind of just like traffic intuitive cruise control. It’s also super useful in slow moving traffic.
An update due later this year will actually identify stop and give way signs as well as traffic lights, roundabouts and traffic. Once fully activated, that system will actually allow the Model S 100D to pass slower vehicles while abiding by the speed limit.
The Model S in our specification is capable of 0-100km/h in an absolutely insane 3.8 seconds. If you’ve never experienced pure electric vehicle acceleration before, let’s just say the Tesla will snap your head back and press you into the back of the seat.
The P100D (the next model up, if you will) has Ludicrous and Ludicrous Plus modes, making that same speed trip in a nauseating 2.6 seconds, but it will cost you an extra $8000, and may cause internal organ damage to your vehicle occupants.
We jest of course, well maybe. The power delivery is instantaneous, and is always on tap, with a capped top speed of 245km/h. There’s also virtually no vehicle noise, save for the subtle electric drive wind up and spool down as you accelerate and brake.
If we were looking for something to compare it with, we’d go with a spacecraft kind of noise from some expensive science fiction movie. The handling is excellent given the batteries are underneath the floor, and the Model S has a very low centre of gravity.
It’s all-wheel drive, and feels sure footed while cornering. One criticism we have though is the lightness of the steering, and lack of road feedback, despite driving in sport mode, which offers the firmest ride.
Underneath the outer skin of the Tesla is self-leveling adaptive air suspension, making for an enjoyable drive experience, with the system intuitive enough to detect the load in the vehicle and adapt the ride height accordingly.
You can also adjust the ride height manually, to one of four presets, should you need to, and the Model S will even remember the location where you needed to alter the ride, and do it automatically the next time you drive there.
It is heavy though, at 2,200kg – despite being mostly aluminium in construction – but does feel pretty nimble. Forgetting all the driving dynamics and remembering it’s a fully electric vehicle that needs to be charged might also have you worried.
It’s called battery anxiety, or charge anxiety. But the Tesla gives you continuous updates on the distance to empty, and maps the locations of chargers (and what type of charger is at that specific location).
Remembering that it charges a little each time you lift off the accelerator going down a hill or brake the numbers can fluctuate, but the closest charging station is simply a map click away, with superchargers offering the fastest return to full batteries.
Around an hour is a good amount of time to set aside for a full charge if you’ve run the battery low, but the Tesla Model S will actually map out a charging plan for you.
Our test vehicle came in Midnight Silver, with 19-inch Sonic Carbon Slipstream wheels and the black premium interior option, along with autopilot. It hits the road at $169,925 in that exact specification.
The 2019 Tesla Model S 100D is also available in Solid Black, Deep Blue, Pearl White and Red. Interior choices include white and cream (as well as the black we had), and there are three choices of wheels.
Our test vehicle was provided by Tesla Australia. To find out more about the 2019 Tesla Model S 100D, contact your local Tesla dealer.