Tesla Model S named '2013 Automobile of the Year'
'This thing is silly quick,' said tester after besting a BMW M5
Elon Musk's much-anticipated, long-delayed, taxpayer-supported, company-critical Tesla Model S sport sedan has been named as the 2013 Automobile of the Year by the Motor City–centric Automobile magazine.
"It's the performance that won us over," said the magazine's editor-in-chief Jean Jennings when announcing the award. "The crazy speed builds silently and then pulls back the edges of your face. It had all of us endangering our licenses."
The magazine's road-test editor Christopher Nelson was equally impressed. "Driving the Model S is decidedly not like piloting a Nissan Leaf or an electric Smart," he said.
One of Automobile's contributors, Ezra Dyer, went so far as to arrange a race with a 560-horsepower, $89,900 BMW M5 sports sedan, seeing which vehicle could first reach 100mph (161kph). The Model S – a $78,750 version with a big ol' 85-kilowatt-hour battery – bested the bimmer.
"It bears repeating: this thing is silly quick," Dyer bore repeating.
As Automobile rightly points out, straight-line acceleration is exhilerating and all, but there's more to driving than on-demand neck-snapping. The handling of the Model S, though, also impressed the magazine's testers, who lauded the "body control and vacuumlike grip" of the 4,643-pound sedan.
Automobile magazine's 2013 Automobile of the Year – a bit early, it being early November 2012
Also impressive to the Automobile staffers was the Model S interior's "appealing, Bauhaus simplicity" – although The Reg can't imagine Walter Gropius ever installing something as grandiose as a 17-inch touchscreen display in any vehicle he might have designed.
That said, Gropius was famous for his iconic door handle designs, so he may have been duly impressed with the Model S door handles: they sit flush with the car body, then rise with a tap of the fingertip.
Now, lest The Reg sound as if it's presenting an advertisement for Tesla Motors – or, for that matter, for Automobile magazine – let us hasten to point out that the Model S has one glaring drawback: it's from Tesla Motors, a company that has rattled over more than its share of bumps in the road since its inception in 2003.
Let us count the ways: delays of its flagship Roadster, job cuts, lawsuits, an alliance with Arnold Schwarzenegger, management reshuffles, more job cuts, financial troubles, legal setbacks, executive defections, bad reviews, price hikes, recalls, more lawsuits, an expensive and acrimonious divorce of founder Elon Musk, and ... well, we could go on, but you get the idea.
In Automobile magazine's video, above, announcing its 2013 award, tester Nelson says that Musk told the mag that the answer to the question of whether Tesla would remain a viable company would be known "in the next several months."
If the answer is "No," there's a chance that the title of 2013 Automobile of the Year may last longer than the company that produced the winner. ®
Re: I'll just wait....
Top Gear tests cars?
Re: 4,463 pounds???
And the current BMW M5 that they compared it to has an empty weight of 4,288 pounds. Your point is? It's not meant to be a lightweight sports car, it's a touring car/sports saloon built for comfort and touring range.
There's a lot of EV haters, but it's important to remember a few things, if you can get past the weird publishing schedules that US magazines have.
1. Cars over here are not efficient, typically. Sure, I'm in Texas, so my baseline is not the same as California for example, but if something gets more than 15mpg here, it's a good deal. Having a car that goes like stink, has a rating of 89mpg and range comparable with many cars (i.e. M5) is still an amazing design feat.
2. Tesla has a loan from the DoE. A loan, by definition, will be paid back. Musk has confirmed this. The amount was trivial compared to the money invested by the US government in GM.
3. The Model S, in the Performance guise, is in the same price range as an M5, S7, E63 AMG etc etc. Sure, it's not a car for everyone, but it's priced comparably. The GenIII model, which is currently in development, is expected to be a 3-Series class car. This is new technology. It's not cheap. It'll become cheap through mass adoption. give it time.
4. It's not a 'vanity project'. Musk invested huge amounts of his personal wealth to keep the company going a couple of years ago. Is SpaceX also a vanity project? These are all high-tech, high-glamour projects, but that doesn't make them any less significant.