Tesla, a Silicon Valley electric vehicle startup that first came to prominence with the all-electric Roadster sportscar, isn’t yet known as a mainstream car manufacturer—unsurprising since it’s first product had a base price of $109,000. The Model S, a five-seat sedan released today, is Tesla’s debut into the mainstream market. If it succeeds, it could bolster the entire EV industry. If it fails, Tesla will be in trouble.
This week, I had the chance to test-drive the Model S at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif.. I can’t predict how well the car will do (though there are 10,000 reservations), but I can say this: it’s one of the most fun vehicles I’ve ever driven—and certainly the most exciting sedan. The car’s mammoth 17-inch central console touchscreen, which controls the sunroof, regenerative braking strength, music, maps, and more, doesn’t hurt. I experienced the Model S as both a passenger and driver.