Growing up, life is full if a lot of “firsts” that we can somehow always seem to remember, be they influential on the rest of our life or not. My first kiss was a girl named Heather, my first car was a Mercury Villager minivan, and the first concert I attended was Ozzfest, the summer of 2001. This past weekend, I finally drove my first legitimate supercar, the Tesla Model S P85D, and now nothing I drive will ever feel the same way.
It’s not that I’ve never driven a fast car before, or that I haven’t “gone fast” either. The Saab 900 Turbo that was my second car took me me north of 140 MPH more than once, but it took a lot of road and time to get there. My 1995 Trans Am was in a different class from the Saab, leaving strips of rubber in my wake wherever I went and getting me into trouble with Johnny Law on more than one occasion.
But the Tesla P85D is so fucking fast you barely have time to register just how fast your going. You just look straight forward, go woah, maybe swear, and then laugh and smile. I don’t cuss often here, because when I do, I want it to leave an impression. This is one of those times. The Tesla P85D is just pure, confident acceleration on four wheels. It feels like a rollercoaster just launched you into a loop-the-loop. When my co-pilot switched it into Insane mode, it was like somebody forced Bruce Banner to sit through Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Things got really angry, really fast, in an extremely satisfying manner. That’s a Hulk reference for you not-nerds.
I’m not sure insane is even the right word for it. If I may be so bold, the Tesla P85D is the definition of awesome, a word so overplayed and overused (yes, I’m guilty) that it has lost all sense of what it used to mean. Google defines awesome as “extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.” That’s the Tesla P85D for you, all wrapped up in one word.
The backroads stuffed into the corner of Greenwich, Connecticut where my road test took place weren’t long enough to fully wring out the P85D, but I had more than enough room to test the much-publicized 0 to 60 MPH acceleration. I didn’t bring any official instrumentation, but it sure feels like 3 seconds, and in the span of a couple of breaths I found myself practically floating my way from 25 to over 75 MPH. Just, whoosh, suddenly you’re pushed back in your seat and going faster than you ever thought possible. It’s like going mad with power; suddenly anything seems possible. You feel invincible, especially after the presentation boasting of their 5.4 star safety rating (yes, really).
My wife came along for the test drive, and her reaction can be summed up as “Holy shit.” In public settings she’s usually pretty quiet and reserved, but after the test drive all she could do was ask how I was planning on affording one. All in due time, sweetheart. All in due time.
Let me throw a few more descriptive sentences your way. It’s like, Google search results on gigabit Internet fast. It’s smoother than anything you’d find in the Victoria’s Secret catalog. It was every bit as glorious as time I saw my first-girlfriend’s boobs (not Heather). It is more motivational than any Hollywood-scripted high school sports team speech you’ve ever heard.
If you told me I could feed a thousand hungry children for a year, or I could have a Tesla P85D if I drove it past those same starving children, I’d have to think about it. Like, really, really think about it. I know that makes me a terrible person, but it really is that good.
I’ve never felt more motivated to make absurd sums of money than I am now, if only to one day own a Tesla P85D. I’m not a materialistic guy; I drive a Chevy Sonic, I live in a 900 sq-ft house, and the little extra money I earn tends to go towards new experiences rather than things. I still love concerts and road trips, and covering events like the New York Auto Show. Sometimes, I get a free trip on an automaker’s dime, but more often than not, it comes out of my not-very-deep pockets.
Stuff doesn’t matter as much as experiences to me. What I’m trying to say is, the Tesla P85D is an experience. It has changed the way I look at all cars. It’s like finally turning 18, and all the cool stuff adults have been hoarding for themselves suddenly became available. This is not the end-all, be-all of automotive creation, but it is a revelation of sorts. Imagine where electric cars might be today if automakers hadn’t been so stubbornly defiant about not making it work.
There’s a part of me that feels bad for liking Tesla so much. I was a loyal and devout Ford fan for many years, and while I bounced back and forth between different brands, I always came back to Ford. I have a 1969 Mercury Cougar in my garage, and I’ve almost lost all interest in it. Even if I had an unlimited budget, I’d go talk to the guys at Bloodshed Motors before stuffing any sort of gas-powered engine back in there.
You can call me a Tesla fanboy, I really don’t care. If I did, I wouldn’t have lasted very long as a writer in the Internet age. I have my doubts that Musk can achieve the lofty sales goals he has laid out, and the Model X will be a good indication of whether Tesla was just a fluke, or Tesla can be a real player in a highly competitive industry.
It’s not like I won’t ever enjoy driving another car. Variety is the spice of life, and I’m always seeking another new “first” to mark off my list. My dream garage includes classic Mustangs and Porsche, modified Jeeps, lead-sled Mercurys, a lot of 80s and 90s cult classics from Japan, and in the real world I’ve owned a bunch of low-budget-but-interesting rides from a Nissan 240sx to my beloved Wrangler. I love cars, I really do. I have so many great stories with so many different cars.
I’ll always remember my Tesla P85D test drive with the same fondness that as my rebadged Nissan minivan, the first time I fell in love, and the organized chaos of an amazing live music performance. Punching the throttle of the the P85D gave me the same rush of energy and adrenaline, and every sports, performance, or supercar that comes next (may there be many more) will be judged by those first few moments.
What I felt was speed and excitement, my fears and anxieties left behind by the brutish power of the Tesla P85Das I charged headfirst into the future, no looking back.