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Tesla Model S

Putting the “new” in the ULTIMATE NEW CAR GUIDE.

ELECTRIC

Tesla, known for its Lotus-based electric Roadster, started from scratch with this effort. The aluminum chassis, the streamlined styling, and, most important, the battery-electric power source, were all internally developed. That motor will eventually come in four varieties that scale up in battery range — Tesla estimates the increments at 160, 230, and 300 miles — and straight-line performance. The top-of-the-line Model S Signature Performance will hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. It also handles extraordinarily well, a credit to the low center of gravity provided by the floor-mounted batteries and some fine chassis tuning. An enormous touch screen dominates a modern, austere cabin. There’s plenty of room for five adults. If you opt for rear-facing third-row seats, two children can fit, too. Front and rear compartments offer plenty of room for luggage. All these qualities make the novel Model S a rather sensible alternative to the typical mid-size luxury sedan. Be mindful, though, that this is an unproven product from a young company. There’s also the matter of recharging. Tesla is installing so-called super-chargers throughout the country that can replenish a 300-mile range in only an hour, but a more typical 240-volt charger will need about five hours to accomplish the same feat.

COMPETITORS

BMW 5-series

Fisker Karma

Porsche Panamera

new for 2013

Practically everything, beyond some familiar Mercedes Benz–supplied switchgear.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front head, knee, and pelvis air bags; rear side curtain air bags; ABS; stability control; and rollover and crash sensors (the latter disconnects the battery in an accident) are standard.

High Mileage

MPGE

CITY 88

HWY 90

PRO

Explosive acceleration

Impressive battery range

Balanced handling

CON

Nondescript styling

Austere interior

Base Price Range: $57,400–$106,570

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Rear-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: Model S, Performance, Signature, Signature Performance

BODY STYLE: Sedan, 5-passenger

MOTORS: AC induction, 362/416 hp, 325/443 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION: 1-speed direct drive

PASSENGER VOLUME: N/A

CARGO SPACE: (rear seats up/down) 31.6/63.4 cu ft

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