It’s amazing how taking away an engine you get something greater in return… that’s right an amazing and natural user experience.
Like most people, I was curious to know what an all electric car would be like to drive. Curious to know what compromises lie behind it’s adoption and what lifestyle change it can imply. So when I was walking in the Cribbs Causeway in Bristol (UK) and saw the Tesla Store if felt like I had to see what this car was about.
Walked into the store and found myself looking at the car from all angles and touching it and experimenting with how it felt, a bit like when you go into an Apple store and have your first contact with the latest and greatest device… like it had happened with the first iPhone… the first and with the Tesla it was the same.
The look and feel of the car gave a sense of secure, technologically advanced and that sensation of this is how an all electric car should be. We spent the following 3 weekends popping in and out to look at it again and again, with my son climbing all over it and telling me every time, this car is great… can we buy it? “Children’s ingenuity.”
Then the last time we visited the store one of the Tesla staff asked me if I wanted to have a test drive… my heart stopped. I had navigated the Tesla website many times in the days prior to my last visit. Had collected all the details, read all the specs and looked at all the videos. But suddenly that prospect of trying it caught my attention, I replied Yes I would love to try it, when can I book for? We looked at the free slots and I ended up opting for the following Sunday. Left the store and started to think what it would be like to try it. My head cycled around different ideas, from smug to concerned, to curiosity.
I spent some time the evening before on the website again to remind myself what had struck me about Tesla and what had left we with some questions. I would defiantly bring them up at the test driver the following day.
Arrival – Reception
Finally, the morning of the test drive arrived. We went to the mall and walked into the Tesla store, I was greeted by one of the Store staff which asked me at what time I had booked and for my driver’s license. Then told me Emma would be my host (Emma, hope you don’t mind me mentioning you, but your dedication and passion for the product struck me). Something about the entire experience felt familiar, I have worked for years in Apple and that whole polished user journey came shining through the Tesla experience too.
We walked out of the mall and straight to the car, I get handed the car key… well, key isn’t probably the best name for it. The key is a stylized model of the Tesla with active areas to press.
For example, we started the tour of the car with touching the boot area of the key and surely the boot of the Tesla opened electrically. Smoothly and silently. Greeted by loads of space and by a very polished look and feel. Great the backward facing additional children’s seat.
Right, so now Emma tells me we can get in, and I notice something I hadn’t seen on the website… the handles of the doors aren’t protruding… so how to pull them? Well, easy, hold the key in the proximity of the door and sure enough, out come the handles of all four doors.
In less that a second I’m already sat in the car and so is my son, wife, and Emma. We start to chat about peculiarities and uniqueness of the car. Of the things it does and how. I get most of the answers to my initial questions. Then satisfied and even more curious to try… we finally set off.
The drive, the unique experience
Foot on break and then off and onto the accelerator. I’ve driven plenty of automatic fuel powered cars over the years, so it feels immediately familiar. I say familiar, but in reality nothing like what I had driven before… Silent very silent, smooth and solid at the touch. Like being in a hovering silent cloud.
Once we’re out on the open road and my foot and eyes and mind get acquainted with the Tesla, soon we feel like one, just as if having driven it from ages.
The silence and complete absence of any vibration, was incredible. The electronics and screens are seamlessly present and without being invasive.
The Large central touch screen is incredibly crisp and clear.
All the functions work exactly how they should. The sunroof opens with a “swipe”… yeap that’s right a swipe… the screen reacts to every touch with the precision of a clean and polished iPad, only bigger, much bigger. It’s truly the focal point of your user experience and control of the car.
The wheel feels very comfortable and solid. Handling amazing and breaking incredible controlled. I’ve left the most important for last, the power… it’s outstanding until you try it you don’t really know what to expect because it’s something we don’t have in our senses.
When you are little, you learn to admire the power of “dad’s” car and you aspire to drive it or something similar when you are grown up. But the Tesla is truly like nothing before.
The torque is immediate, overwhelming and constant, from the very first instant you accelerate to the very last before you release the accelerator. It reminded me of when you play as a kid with the Polistil racing cars. Only on an entire new level. Insane!!
While you drive the environment and the surroundings become one with you and the car. It’s sheer driving immersive poetry. You feel safe, secure, in control and at the same time you know that at the slightest pressure of your foot the insane power, just transmits to the wheels and to the road.
Every aspect of the experience is taken to the limit, for example while you drive along a road the car “reads” the road signs… that’s right! Reads the road signs and the speed limits are viewed on your screen. The car is surrounded by loads of sensors and technology that remain simple, essential and natural.
The whole thing feels like it’s the way a car should be.
I could spend hours describing my every thought on the car and on it’s features, but the only way to really understand how great it is, is to try it.
Back to earth ->
Not all things are great… what do I mean by that?
Well, simple, after an hour you return and park the car, get out and return to the Tesla store and get all other questions answered. But as soon as I leave the store I realize that something has changed in me as a driver. Not quite sure how.
Anyway, the rest of the day goes by and we return to our car and start returning home. And that’s when it really sinks in…
oh wow… what am I driving?
What are we all driving…?
You pass cars on the motorway leaving a smoke trail behind or passing by in a roaring thunder.
What a contrast to the velvet, the silent and peaceful drive of the Tesla.
Everything about it makes me regret to being back on a fuel powered car.
The sense of waste, the feeling of entrapment in a useless system of fuel consumption and constant spend. For all the return journey thoughts through my head about how the charging is quick, how the car is silent, the power that is available, the enormous amount of safety measures present just makes me say:
All cars should be like that to drive.
An unforgettable experience! Well done Tesla, well done Elon for having made this dream car a reality.
My son should hopefully, when older, get to consider Tesla the norm. Lucky him!!