Went to the Model S test drive event in So. Florida yesterday. I know the Model S is outside of the price range of many buyers but it is an excellent vehicle for the intended market. It excels the competition in many areas with the only meaningful exception being range. For those interested in a $40-90K car, the Model S has a lot to offer.
For those of us familiar with the Volt, you will appreciate a lot of the same virtues but at a higher level style and refinement. The car is larger, especially in the usable interior space. It fits well in the mid to large sedan arena but with extra storage space. The exterior design is elegant in most respects and with a few unique luxury details, i.e. retracting flush door handles. The only nit is the front end is slightly small in proportion to the rest of the vehicle but this only shows subtly in a few viewing angles. The exterior fit and finish looks excellent, including the color selections.
The interior is definitely on the luxury side but I think it best be described as spartan luxury. It fits with clean lined modern European design. It appears some decisions were consciously made to create this feel, e.g. frameless rear view mirror and open area in the space between the front seats. This augments the space advantages of their skateboard platform and EV drivetrain. It is nice in a sense that it gives the cockpit a more spacious feel but they went a little far IMO by not including some storage in the center console. It has a split armrest/cup older but each side can only serve one function at a time (arm rest or cup holder). Seems like they could have easily incorporated a storage cubby in the unit with much added cost or loss of space. The fit and finish is high quality to be expected in a luxury sedan but not much seemed special to my eye beyond those aspects already mentioned. It is a step above the Volt's fit and finish but with less interesting design IMO.
The ride is awesome. It is a level or two higher than the Volt's in almost every respect and I think the Volt's is excellent in many ways. The version I drove was the standard 86kWh model, which has 5.6s 0-60 time. It did include the active air suspension. It exceeds the Volt is smoothness and greatly exceeds it in power. The steering and accelerator are tight, maybe even a little too stiff for the accelerator pedal. The lift regen, Model S only has lift off regen BTW, is much more refined than the Volt in L. It can go above 60kW but is dependent on speed and much more graduated than the Volt in L. It takes some getting used to in the Volt to avoid jerky driving in L but the S in the highest regen mode is seamless. The is definitely makes for an easier, smoother drive but may be a detriment in heavy traffic. Another strange choice as the have the regen setting on a skin of the main screen. They have three control stalks attached to the steering wheel and regen control should have been assigned to one of them or an on-wheel control button IMO. Accelerating up a steep hill is like launching in a speedy amusement park ride, pretty amazing. Visibility is OK but a little limited but having the trimless rear-view is a nice luxury touch. Braking was very strong if a bit touchy like the Volts when stepping on the pedal. It was much better than the Volt's in normal breaking to a stop in that there is no creep to fight against and the brake pedal always engages friction braking so there isn't the awkward surge when braking lightly in the Volt and the regen disengages.
I did not play with the screens, controls, or audio so I cannot comment to much on them. The instrument display is very well done and looks more refined than the Volt's. I don't know if you have all of the informational display options that the Volt does but the digital/analog view combo is very nice and includes a kW meter on one side which is really cool. This is something I've always that the Volt should have somewhere on the two screens. The 17" center screen is obviously huge but is a bit awkward fitting in the dash. I think Tesla did as best they could blending it in without sacrificing screen area. Personally, I would prefer they sacrifice a little screen real estate for the sake of design.
As to be expected, there were numerous high end luxury car drivers there for test drives. All in all, it is an excellent car for the money EV, gas, hybrid, or whatever. For those that the range works, they should be extremely happy with Model S.