Car & Driver has added the Tesla Model S 60 to its annual roster of the ten best cars sold in America, marking the first time an all-electric car has made the cut. The magazine calls it “A revelatory machine with possibilities that are still unfolding.”
The editors correctly identify the number one reason why the Tesla is so good – it is a purpose built electric car that is designed around the battery rather than a standard production car with the battery added as an afterthought. Putting the 1,125 pound battery pack close to the ground gives the Model S a lower center of gravity – just 18 inches above the road – than the Porsche Boxster, which just happens to be one of the best handling production cars on earth. The Boxster also made the 10 Best list, by the way.
With the battery mounted low in the chassis and no extended range engine to take up space, the Tesla allows for creative packaging solutions, like having a trunk in the front and the rear. It also makes it possible to add two extra seats at the owner’s request, making it the only 7 passenger sedan available on the market. That flexibility is what allowed Tesla to add an electric motor in front for true all wheel drive capability recently.
Car & Driver raves about the sure footed handling of the Model S 60 and the amount of room in the interior. They also appreciate that updates to the car’s electronics can be downloaded like a smart phone app. All that interior room permits Tesla to mount a far bigger than normal touch screen in the dashboard between the driver and passenger. Taking a shot at other touch screens, C&D says, “It turns out that touch screens are really easy to use when they’re huge and right in front of you.”
While the automotive world is all agog about the new twin motor high performance 85 kW Model D that blasts its way to 60 mph is a mind bending 3.2 seconds, it costs more than the $100,000 limit Car & Driver imposes on candidates for Ten Best status. The magazine finds the standard Model S 60 more than satisfactory for normal driving and is unstinting in its praise for the car’s gobs of torque, nearly silent operation and serene ride at any speed.
That this car has landed in Top Ten territory so soon after its introduction to the marketplace is a testament to the overall greatness of the Model S and the vision of Elon Musk and his design team. I might still prefer the Boxster for my own driving needs, but the Model S is making that choice more difficult than it would have been just a few years ago.