NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Is there anything left to be said about Tesla’s (TSLA) all-electric flagship $75,000-to-$125,000 hatchback? From the perspective of having tested perhaps over 100 other new cars since writing my initial review of the Tesla Model S in August 2012, yes, there is.
As with laptops and smartphones, competitive benchmarks and goal posts shift with time. The more you test, the more you learn. As far as Tesla’s Model S is concerned, the most important things that changed with the car itself since the car started shipping in the middle of 2012 are the addition of an electric motor for the front wheels, various sensors for assisted driving features, and of course a variety of software updates for greater usability.
With that, let’s return to benchmarking the Tesla experience, almost three years later:
Getting into the car, the seat has been slightly improved and is one of the best in the industry. Even more importantly, I found the seating position to be equally good, just about flawless. Completing the ergonomic picture, the steering wheel is very good too -- large and thick, most like those provided by BMW.
The front seat experience is substantially on par with most upper-level BMWs and Mercedeses, but perhaps beaten only slightly by the best from Volvo and Volkswagen or Audi. Around the driver’s seat, however, the Tesla oddly lacks any door pockets, and the center console is not conducive for holding a variety of small items. The cupholders are very poor.
Where Tesla excels in the interior experience is clearly with the big touchscreen. The easy of use is superior to most automakers -- but not all -- and some of the functions are simply in a class by themselves.
1. The size of the mapping experience is miles ahead of the competition.
2. The ability to keep the rear view camera turned on while driving is unique and useful.