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BabyDrive Verdict

To say I was excited to drive the Tesla Model S would be an understatement!! From the second I saw it gleaming in the showroom when I picked it up I was IN LOVE!!

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Look at that design… it is absolutely stunning! I felt like I was getting to drive an art gallery piece rather than a car. The simplicity and attention to detail are what I love the most, minimal and functional. Something that is a breath of fresh air to most mums!

The key is super cute and a lovely object in itself.

However, I do believe most parents would be sifting through their kid's toy box for it!!

The interior of the Model S is so clean, minimal and unfussy. Without the usual muddle of buttons, switches and levers, the interior is refreshing and the dash has a beautiful wood finish. Everything to control the car is within the media screens, or the three stalks behind the steering wheel.

The media system screen is ENORMOUS!! We are a family without a TV and my daughter could not believe her luck when she saw it!! The system is nothing like a usual car media system and just like the iPads or tablets we are used to using which made it instantly easy to use and navigate. It doesn't have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto but it doesn't need it. It integrates seamlessly with my phone and was simple to use. Having Spotify meant we could groove along to Daniel Tiger or whatever took our fancy at the time!

The only two tiny buttons on the dash you can see concealed in the screen surround are the hazard warning and glove box opening buttons.

Also within the screen are some wonderful little and big kids entertainment!! Fart mode allowed us to have different fart noises going throughout most journeys!! Or when we indicated. The Christmas and more cowbell themes were also favourites as the road visual in the screen in front of the steering wheel turned into a rainbow! I think if they had a unicorn galloping along with it instead of the car then they'd have been bang on trend and parents everywhere would be buying them for their daughters!!

These things were all fantastic for keeping our daughter entertained on journeys, unfortunately, the fun of fart mode never seemed to tire in our family and my daughter is still running around engaging fart mode! Thank you, Elon!! 😉

My daughter also loved the drawing screen and it was a lifesaver when waiting to pick someone up for example. Of course, it got used for writing and drawing ruderies, we're all big kids right!!

That's a picture of me apparently!

The Sat-Nav is just using GoogleMaps which we are all used to using and made it so simple to use! I loved that it would also tell me how much battery I would arrive there with and how much battery a round trip would use, so I knew I could make it home again without having to stress about charging the battery, it took the stress and guesswork out of it.

I didn't have the Model S for long enough to need to fully charge the battery, I did do a little top up during our Mother's Day day out, we just plugged it in for half an hour and that added enough to the battery to get me through the weekend's driving.

The media screen map shows you where all the fast ‘Superchargers' and slower chargers are located. I found that there are enough chargers around to just keep topping the battery up, like at my local supermarket or at my local zoo, park and places like Maleny Botanical Gardens. Or in reality, you can plug it into your normal socket at home too, so if your car is parked in your garage overnight just plug it in! It may not fully charge in that time but it will definitely have topped it up for most peoples' daily drive!

I LOVE that I no longer have to make an extra stop to fill up the car with fuel, I just charge the car as part of my everyday life! AND it is the end of the fuel station debate of whether to take my daughter out of the car when I pay!

Storage inside the Model S is not conventional, there are no door bins which was nice to not have the clutter in the doors and if I was without child I can imagine it would be wonderful to keep it minimal and not have clutter. However, with a child, I found this just wasn't practical.

The central console storage is great and the removable and adjustable bottle holder notches are great for fitting all sizes of drink bottles. I also like that you can cover it all over too. But really that was it for the front, apart from the glovebox (which is quite big) and in the back there are just two cup holders in a pop out drawer on the back of the central console. I feared these would get easily broken and we found our daughter didn't have anywhere within reach to put her water bottle.

The Model S is a sedan so I was expecting a low ceiling. However, in the Model S, it actually wasn't too low. The whole ceiling is a big glass panel, which made riding in the back lovely for looking up out at the trees and sky. At night driving through the city, the lights are nice and colourful too. There is not an interior cover for the glass roof. It is heavily tinted and felt fine for the few days I had it. However they were not hot, summer days and I did feel the roof one day when the car had been sat in the sun and I thought it was too hot to touch and would be worried that if my daughter touched it she might burn herself.

The rear seats are all very comfortable, they all have top tether anchorages on the seat backs and there are ISOFix points in the two outer seats. I could just fit three child seats in the back, which was a surprise. I am sure it wouldn't have been designed as a family car but was surprisingly practical.

Getting the child seats through the doorways was probably the biggest struggle but once they are in there is plenty of headroom and legroom. We could easily fit a 182cm passenger in front of a rear-facing child seat and a 182cm passenger had enough headroom to sit in the back too. With two child seats installed, I could just sit between them and there is no hump in the floor, which helped with legroom.

Being electric, there is no engine under the front bonnet and instead you get the ‘froot' (the front boot)! Of course I tried it!! You can fit two re-usable shopping bags here with room to spare.

Or a large three-year-old!! I am only joking! I am NOT suggesting anyone puts their child in the boot or ‘froot' of their car!

In the back, the boot is very large and will hold fifteen shopping bags and all sizes of toddler, oops! I mean stroller fit in there with shopping too.

There is also an extra under-floor storage area that isn't quite deep enough to hold six shopping bags and shut the lid. The boot floor is nice and flat and carpeted for an emergency nappy change but you do have to bend down into it.

The Model S is quite different to drive, with the adaptive cruise control and semi-autonomous ‘Autopilot' driving mode on you really don't have to do much! The cruise control was the most accurate I have EVER experienced, it never once went over the set speed and held the correct speed whether it was fast or slow speeds or motorway or urban driving. I did find the ‘Autopilot' driving mode was nervous when changing lanes and would slow each time as the car changed lanes which irritated other drivers, especially in motorway traffic.

Because of regenerative braking, the Tesla Model S feels a bit different when slowing down too and it takes a little getting used to. When you take your foot off the accelerator the car starts to stop instantly, so you hardly need to brake at all. I found this especially so around town.

Out of habit, I rest my foot on the brake when I get into the driver's seat, which in the Model S, signals to the car that you are ready to go! Which then sets the baby waking, seatbelt warning chime off if you don't already have your seatbelt fastened! I'd hope over time I would break the habit of resting my foot on the brake. There is a fantastic visual on the left of the screen in front of you when the alarm is on, that lets you know clearly how many seatbelts should be fastened.

Apart from this beeping, the Model S is sooooo quiet it is stunning! There is not even whalesong like in the Hyundai Kona EV, the drive is quiet and smooth and perfect for driving kids to sleep without worrying about burning through your hard-earned fuel.

The Tesla Model S is shockingly fast and the one I tested didn't even have the famous ‘Ludicrous Mode'! I don't think I have ever felt G-Force like it, it feels like an extreme theme park ride and worryingly my daughter loved it!!

The Tesla Model S scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2014 and has six airbags as standard including dual frontal airbags and side chest and head for the front passengers and side head airbags for the outer second-row passengers.

How much can you fit in the boot of the Tesla Model S?

The boot of the Tesla Model S is enormous! It's nicely carpeted and flat, so it does make a good emergency nappy change station. The opening is nice and wide so I could easily lift strollers etc in and out.

 

The boot space and its functionality are really important. I like to have a big boot space and little side wells or areas I can divide things into. So something I don’t want to move around while I’m driving such as Tulsi’s lunch bag or her wet swimming gear can be sectioned off in a little well where it’s not going to spill or get squashed by the rest of the things in the boot.

Hooks for securing shopping bags to are also favourites of mine, I like being able to secure the bag containing more fragile things like eggs so they don’t move around on the journey.

I measure the boot space in freezer shopping bags, prams and dogs. Not because I think all there is to a mum’s life is food shopping, prams and dogs. (Although it can feel like it sometimes!!) But because these are visually mesurable items we can all associate with. For me, the car company boot measurement of litres is not an amount I can easily visualise and 400L in one car may differ in usability to that in another due to the configuration or shape of the space.

I could fit fifteen shopping bags in the boot when it was empty.

The Mountain Buggy Duet twin stroller fit with five shopping bags.

The Britax Flexx tandem stroller fitted with seven shopping bags.

The Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle single stroller fitted with nine shopping bags.

The Mountain Buggy Nano stroller fitted with ten shopping bags around it.

If you are wondering if your dog will fit in the Tesla Model S, the answer is yes if you remove the parcel shelf and there would be room for a large or medium size dog.

Underneath the boot floor is another great storage area. To give you an idea of its size, it was large enough to hold six reusable shopping bags but not deep enough to close the lid on them.

Or it's about the size of a large three-year-old!! We had to test it just for fun!! I am not suggesting anyone puts their child in there.

Then of course because the Tesla Model S is electric there is no big engine under the bonnet and instead, there is the front boot or froot!

To give you an idea of the size we could fit two shopping bags in it and we did try the large three-year-old again for fun too!! Please, no one think I am suggesting anyone puts their child in there.

If you are wondering how much storage there is inside the Tesla Model S, then in the back there is not much at all. It is very sparse and minimal and they have eliminated door bins altogether in the front and back. There are no map pockets either and the rear passengers just get two cup holders that come out a drawer in the back of the central console box. They would hold a re-usable and disposable coffee cup but I worry this would get broken easily if it is trodden on by a rear passenger.

Storage in the front of the Tesla Model S is better. There is a large central console storage box which has movable silver guides so you can hold different size bottles. Behind that is another covered well which was a good spot for my phone but I found the key kept sliding out between the lid and the box in front.

Behind that is your armrest which if you slide the cushions back reveal two cup holders. They were a good size for a reusable or disposable coffee cup but I did find if you put two disposable coffee cups in the lids knock together and spills your drinks!

No tired parent wants a caffeinespill!

Just in front of the central console box is a small shelf too, this was a good spot for sunglasses because there is no sunglasses holder in the ceiling.

The glove box was just large enough to hold my iPad and wallet. It is discreetly opened with a tiny push button beside the media screen.

How noisy is the Tesla Model S?

Well, it isn't! Being an electric car, there is no engine noise and the Model S is silent! It is a breath of fresh air! There is not even any whale-song like the Hyundai Kona EV has to let pedestrians and other road users know you are moving.

There are a few baby-waking noises to be aware of. When you first get into the Model S, if you put your foot on the brake before you put your seatbelt on then it starts the seatbelt removal warning alarm going. For me, it is just habit to rest my foot there but I would have to get out of that habit very quickly if I owned a Tesla! There is a great seatbelt removal warning display on the screen in front of the steering wheel which shows you how many seatbelts need fastening and whether they are in the front or the back.

The cruise control in the Tesla Model S is EXCELLENT! It is actually the most accurate I have experienced to date. I had just come out of the Volvo XC40 and thought that was extremely accurate but in the Model S it never once went above the set speed, at any speed or on undulating roads.

The controls were simple to use, they are situated on the lower stalk on the left of the steering wheel. This one also controls the semi-autonomous driving mode Tesla calls ‘Autopilot'.

I found the ‘Autopilot' driving system was really good to use on the motorway and found like most things about the Tesla Model S it really changed the whole driving experience. I did make a couple of observations, though. When I indicated to change lanes during motorway driving, it was amazing that it could accurately judge the size of a space and move the car over into it although I did find as it crossed into the next lane the car would slow and that really annoyed the other motorway drivers, as you can imagine!!

I also found that when the ‘Autopilot' driving system asked me to move the steering wheel so it knew I was still there when I did that on quite a few occasions a big warning and loud alarm would come on and then the ‘Autopilot' turned off. On another occasion, the system banned me from using the ‘Autopilot' altogether for the remainder of my journey because I had ignored too many prompts! This is, of course, an important safety feature but the wording was quite scolding and I did feel like a naughty school girl!!

I think it is great technology and I loved using it, and would definitely use it in everyday life. I found when I turned this function off (and the music) that the car's predicted battery usage went up, so on a journey when I was running a little low I could just drive without them both.

The media screen in the Tesla Model S is enormous! It is nothing like the media systems you would be used to finding in cars and instead is much more like just using your iPad or tablet. It's all touch screen and so intuitive to use, no jumble of buttons, knobs, dials and touch screen like I find in so many cars!

You just want the media system to be easy to navigate when driving with kids because you are already so distracted! I found I didn't need to really have to think when using the Tesla Model S media system which was great for keeping my attention on the road.

The media screen controls most things about the car that would normally be on a button or lever so it kept the dash and interior nice and minimal which again is a breath of fresh air for parents.

The Tesla Model S does not have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. I found my phone integrated easily with the media system though and I didn't miss it. There is Spotify as well as radio, which meant I could listen to what we wanted to.

My daughter loved the instant access to Daniel Tiger theme music!! 🙁

You can drag and drop the sound to be above any seat, within the sound screen, which thankfully saved us from many hours of Daniel Tiger listening in the front!!

The sat nav uses Google Maps, has such a good quality image and we are all so used to using it. I loved that I could put in my destination and the return journey and see how much battery it would use so I knew I had enough to get there and back home again.

The reversing camera image is enormous, and excellent image quality in the Model S. I loved that I could easily mute the sound of the reversing sensors with the little icon at the bottom left of the screen and still have the visual as well as the distance measurement to the object, with a final stop warning when you are close enough.

This visual also came up in the display in front of the steering wheel too.

You can keep the reversing camera image on while you are driving which I found really useful on the motorway when changing lanes and I liked having more visuals of the traffic around me.

I found I drove differently in the Tesla Model S than in any other car I've driven. I used the screen in front of me and the reversing camera image as much as the traditional rear and side mirrors and of course the windscreen.

The image in the screen in front of you is quite accurate for letting you know what vehicles are around you and it even detected pedestrians.

Becoming a parent I soon realised there are some noises and sounds I feel are unnecessary and I could happily live without if it meant my baby stayed asleep!!

That often the distraction of my screaming, distressed baby is more dangerous when driving than not having a lane departure warning for example.

If it is the lane departure warning beeping that creates distress with my baby then which is safest?

It’s where I think we need to be able to strike a balance and choose when we can mute the warnings or swap them to a vibration in the steering wheel or flashing light perhaps?

A lot of these noises come with the increase in technology and especially linked to safety features and alerts. For me these all have their place.

Another thing I have realised is I spend my time in a lot more places where small children roam, parks, beaches, play gyms, swimming lessons, daycare centre etc. I have become more aware that when I’m reversing or manouvering in the car parks I have to tripple check for small children running around behind me or being in my blind spot when reversing. For this I LOVE reversing cameras, I just don’t like their beeping sounds!!

I have become so much more aware of safety and potential accidents or hazards since having a child and so I love the peace of mind that I get from the cameras and sensors combined with my own vision from windows and mirrors as I don’t trust cameras alone.

The indicator volume in the Tesla Model S is not baby-waking but of course, you can always change it to fart sounds which we found hilarious!

The windows are lovely and quiet to open and close in the Model S and so are the doors. You can lock the doors by pressing on the lock icon on the top left of the media screen.

With baby asleep you want to be able to get in and out without worrying the doors will be too noisy and wake Bub up!

You can come to a stop in the Tesla Model S, leave the aircon running and get out of the vehicle without setting off any alarms, which is great!

Since becoming a mum I spend A LOT of time parked up somewhere with a nice view while my daughter is asleep in the back! If it's hot I need to leave the engine running and the aircon on but I do like to get out and drink my cuppa tea in the fresh air while enjoying the fact my limbs are free from said dangling child!!

SO this is a very important test as I have found that sometimes I have been held hostage by a cars BEEEEPING alarms when I have taken off my seatbelt or opened the door while the engine is still running!! (I only stand outside the car, I am not a bad mother!!)

There is also a special setting for dogs where you can set the climate and lock the car doors and a special screen appears telling any concerned passers-by what the temperature is within the car and that the owners will be back at a set time. This is an excellent feature for furry family members!

How many child seats fit in the Tesla Model S?

The Tesla Model S I tested has IsoFix points in the two outer rear seats. They were not within plastic guides but were quite easy to connect to.

There are top tether anchorage points on the back of all three backrests, they are not within plastic guides and are hidden behind the seat upholstery but are clearly labelled. I did find getting through the seat covering a bit tricky but once that was overcome, they were nice and easy to connect to.

I also found reaching across to fasten them a bit tricky with such a large boot, I'm 162cm.

I was pleasantly surprised to find I could fit three child seats in the back of the Tesla Model S.

It was definitely a bit of a squeeze and two fitted much more comfortably. I found I could just sit between the two child seats as well. There is no hump in the footwell it is completely flat which made sitting in the back more comfortable and gave much better room for kids getting into their child seats.

Legroom and interior space is excellent in the Model S. We found there was plenty of room in front of a rear-facing child seat for a 182cm passenger or taller.

One consideration is that there are no handles above the rear doors that you could hang a toy from and the headrests are an integral part of the seat so you can't easily attach a mirror for rear-facing children.

Being a sedan, the roofline is low but nowhere near as low as most other sedans. The Model S has surprisingly good headroom when sat in the back, and we had a 182cm passenger in the back with plenty of headroom, even in the middle seat that is usually a bit higher in most cars. The big glass ceiling makes it feel lighter too.

Posting Bub into their seat from inside the car is easier for this reason. From outside the car, the doors open wide enough and there is quite good posting space for a sedan.

Australia being a country of weather extremes- blazing sun and torrential rain, mean you may find it easier to put Bub into their seat from inside the car sometimes. If it’s hot you can get the air-con going, cool the car down and not stand out in the sun while you fasten them in or shelter from the rain and not get soaked yourself whilst you’re doing it. So it is important to test whether Bub can be easily installed from either direction!

With only one child seat installed, there is plenty of room for feeding bub in the back.

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How comfortable is the Tesla Model S?

The front seats in the Tesla Model S are very comfortable and easily adjusted with electronic controls on the sides.

You can also save the driver's seat, steering wheel and side mirror positions, which are also electrically adjusted, in a tab at the top of the screen. Each time you adjust any of them then it just asks you to save it, it's so simple!

I found I could have a ponytail in the Tesla Model S.

I had spent hours styling my hair this morning to get this ponytail just right too… said no new mum ever!!!

The front and rear seats are plain black leather, they are all individually heated and can that can be turned on and off in the media screen. None of the seats are perforated, making them nice and easy to keep clean.

The rear seats are incredibly comfortable, including the central seat not having to straddle a hump in the central floor.

The rear seats do not slide and adjust for legroom they are fixed and the backrest fold is split 60:40.

The steering wheel is fully adjustable in/out and up/down using the electronic switch on the side of it.

There are four aircon vents across the front dash, they re easily controlled from the bottom of the media screen.

In the rear, there are vents in the back of the central console box and two USB sockets here too.

Visibility is quite minimal out of the Tesla Model S, especially with three child seats installed. That's why the rear view camera visual is really helpful to have up on screen while you are driving, and it's available while going forwards as well as backwards. I loved this feature.

Although it is a big car, the Tesla Model S is relatively easy to park,  because the reversing camera image is so good and showing distance measurements makes reverse parking so much simpler.

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It's great that it comes up in the main media screen as well as the screen in front of the steering wheel.

One thing I have noticed since being a mum is I hate it when I reach a destination or get home from being out and Tulsi has either done really well in the car or she is screaming her head off and I have done really well to keep it together for the entire journey (usually the latter!!) and it takes 10 minutes to park the car! It can be really stressful. Usually I dread when we get big cars or Utes as they take longer in our tight apartment block carpark, but the great camera quality made the Tesla Model S is quite easy to reverse park too!

For forward and rear-facing passengers in the back, the windows are nice and quite deep. The huge sunroof was definitely a novelty that made the car feel very light and airy and was great for looking out of while we were driving along.

The whole roof of the Model S is glass, I am told it is UV protected glass with the darkest possible tint. Passengers loved looking out of it while driving through the city at night and along tree-lined roads.

However, I did find when the car had been sat in the sun for half an hour the roof glass itself was roasting, and that was not even on a Queensland summer's day! I would definitely take care that my daughter did not touch the roof glass as it might get hot enough to scold her after it has sat for a while in the sun.

In the front, both passengers have vanity mirrors in their sun visors, they are not lit and very small.

The interior lights in the Models S are little round spotlights, there are two in the central front and one above each rear door. I could not reach them at all while driving.

I have found Tulsi does not like travelling in the dark in the car so if it gets dark whilst travelling then I reach back and turn the interior light on for her. So it’s really important for me that I can reach the rear ceiling light.

Also if I am traveling home and it is getting near to bed time and I DEFINITELY DON’T want her to fall asleep in the car as even a 5minute nap in the car means bed time is all over!!!! I lean back and pop the light on so it’s not dark and try to keep her awake!! Along with screaming/singing at the top of my voice!!!

It is also useful when there are lights situated above the doors where the handles are usually positioned. These are good for when putting baby into their child seats when visibility is poor, so you do not have to reach across them to a light situated in the ceiling centrally etc.

I have found the Tesla Model S a great family car, although I have found it has attracted a lot of attention where ever we have gone in it, even though it is a sedan and SUVs are the popular family car shape at the moment.

The interior is beautifully crafted and all the surfaces used would be easily wiped clean.

The Model S has carpet floor mats throughout.

How safe is the Tesla Model S?

The Tesla Model S was given a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2014. In testing, it scored 35.45 out of 37 for its overall score. 14.45 out of 16 for the frontal offset test, with top marks for the side impact test and pole test and pedestrian protection was deemed acceptable.

The Tesla Model S has six airbags as standard dual front passenger airbags and front side airbags as well as head airbags for the front and rear outside passengers. In the Model S, only the front seats come with pretensioner seatbelts, not the rear seat belts.

As standard, the Tesla Model S comes with anti-lock brakes (ABS), automatic headlights, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), daytime running lights (DRL), electronic stability control (ESC), emergency brake assist (EBA), Hill launch assist, lane departure warning (LDW), lane support system (LSS), reversing collision avoidance, roll stability system, rollover occupant protection system, speed assist system (alarm and limiter), blind spot monitoring (BSM), speed limit information system, traffic sign recognition, tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), adaptive cruise control (ACC) and ‘Autopilot' semi-autonomous driving.

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