2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Electric or Not, It's a Great Looking Car

March 12, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

As I drive the Tesla Model S, I notice that people stop short, stick next to me in traffic and gaze for long periods of time. Most people probably have no idea what it is, or even that it's electric, and that's a good thing. It's not just a good looking EV. The Model S has got great body lines, a sleek sloping rear window, and really cool wheels. For cars like this to succeed, or for technology to advance in cars, form needs to meet function somewhere in the middle.

Sometimes, as automotive journalists or car enthusiasts, we make concessions (excuses really) for the aesthetics on fuel-efficient or electric cars. We say, "That weird looking headlight is extremely aerodynamic," or "that mirror is funny-looking because it was designed in a wind tunnel." But with the Tesla Model S, no compromises seem to have been made in the design studio. This thing is beautiful.

Travis Langness, Associate Editor @ 900 miles


  • legacygt legacygt Posts:

    Funny, because the car that gets the form/function balance wrong is the Volt and it's because they tried too much to be different with the design, sometimes letting form take precedence over function. There's a silly black strip below the windows that's supposed to mimic the glass from the concept but is now just a design flourish. Same with the silly shifter handle. Tesla got things right. They wanted the car to be beautiful. They took advantage of the things that make the platform unique and were able to add the frunk and the rear facing 3rd row. But they never said, "we need to make this car look different just because it's electric." Chevy did that with the Volt and it's a visual mess.

  • ajbbb ajbbb Posts:

    I've seen one (only one, in maroon) in the flesh, and it definitely has road presence. Part of that presence is due to its size--it's a huge car and that does not always come across in photos. The design is attractive and the proportions are right but overall it is too bland for a halo car. Maybe that's what potential buyers want--the Merc S-Class, BMW 7-series and Audi A8 are all very conservative. Tesla did miss an opportunity to create some distinctive design element that would identify its cars to onlookers. Even a creative headlight design or grill would suffice. Considering the designers were not limited by the size and placement of an IC engine, they (Peter Horbury, isn't it?) played it safe.

  • sharpend sharpend Posts:

    Test Case #1: Tesla = Win and Coda = Fail

  • zhangrenhou zhangrenhou Posts:

    I agree, and I like that even put a piece resembling a grill on the front, even though it has no functional purpose.

  • I'll never understand styling. I like the looks of this car. Slam my new Crosstour and put 20's on it, photograph it from the same angle.................? Have pity on my ignorance.

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    I agree, the Tesla has great lines. It competes with the handsomest sedans from Europe. I think "Maserati" every time I see it.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    I agree. What I like most about the Model S's styling is the self-confidence (that's the only time I'll use the phrase self-confidence in regards to the otherwise extremely paranoid Tesla) where they just went for a no-excuse, no-gimmick beautiful shape. They know what looks good and they did it.

  • jeffhre jeffhre Posts:

    Chevy never said "we need this to look different from gas powered cars," but rather make it distinct enough to succeed as a concept car. They had a large following by the time the production car was designed and a history of complaints about plain jane cars that don't follow the concepts, and just plain no cars from GM's great concepts. So they tried to please people by imitating the concept car at a smaller scale, as opposed to Tesla's make it beautiful.

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