Unveiled in prototype form at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Model S was styled by Franz von Holzhausen. This all-electric car is a key moment in automotive history, much like the Ford Model T was all those years ago and is the second model to come out of Elon Musk’s company after the Roadster. Musk was the co-founder of PayPal and is probably the closest thing we have to a real-life Tony Stark (just look at all his projects like SpaceX and Hyperloop)!
The car was officially launched in their Fremont, California factory on June 22nd 2012, with the first 10 customers picking up their new game-changing machines from the factory. Production initially started at 15-20 cars per week and is now somewhere around the 1,000 mark per week! The now discontinued P85 has a top speed of 130mph, with a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds and an official range of 320 miles from the 85kWh battery pack. Cars with a ‘D’ designation on the badge are the dual motor AWD versions introduced in October 2014 – our review model is “just” the RWD P85 (‘P’ stands for Performance).
It was previously believed that either CSM (who make the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) or Paudi made this model for the Tesla Online Store. After I spotted a comment from Century Dragon on a YouTube review of one of these models, I asked them if they made it – they said yes, so that clears up that mystery! This model is available in either Red Multi-Coat with Silver Turbine wheels, with tan interior/Obeche decor or the Midnight Silver Metallic with Grey Turbine wheels, with black interior/carbon fibre decor that we have here. It retails for $210 before you take shipping or customs charges into account. I did a dummy checkout run to see how much it would be to ship to the UK and it came to $45 just for shipping! A fellow collector tipped me off to a Dutch model retailer who had a few of these silver ones left at just 173.49EUR shipped, so I snapped it up!!
Let’s start with the unboxing experience first. The model comes boxed in what I guess you’d describe as Dealer Edition packaging wrapped in a protective plastic covering like GT Spirit models do. The long sides show a stunning picture of the Model S in motion with the top showing the Tesla logo found on the bootlid and the bottom showing the badge found on the front end and wheels. The two ends show another picture and Tesla badge. When you open the cardboard outer box, you are greeted by a polystyrene shell with a black plastic square with the Tesla badge on slap bang in the middle. It turns out you remove this to allow the two-part polystyrene lid to open up in two separate pieces – probably one of the more unique unboxing experiences I’ve had. So far so good! There is also a Certificate of Authenticity in the box and some protective tissue paper covering the top and bottom of the model.
The model itself feels quite heavy, with the Tesla Online Store stating this weighs 1.25kg, but without actually weighing it myself, I’d say it feels like it weighs more than that. It certainly feels like a really solid piece in the hand, something collectors will no doubt be pleased about. The metallic paint is really rich and deep and reflects the light rather nicely indeed. At first glance the shutlines seem pretty good, but when you have a good look at the model, you will probably think that the lines on the front boot, otherwise affectionately known as the “frunk” by Model S owners, are perhaps a little too wide. It doesn’t overly bother me, but they could be just that little bit tighter.
Looking at the overall shape of the body, I think Century Dragon got it spot on. All four doors and front and back boots open. They also included the full length panoramic sunroof so you can really get a good look inside the interior – had Paudi made this, I suspect they would have included a functioning sunroof, but it didn’t seem like this one moved at all.
All the badges are photo-etched and I love the P85 one at the rear with the ‘P’ in red! Another really nice touch is the rear number plate that says “MODEL S” with “Made in California” written above it in red script. Definitely not tacky and I’m so grateful they left the front number plate off as I think it would have spoiled this model as a display piece.
The headlights have a nice level of detail with the integrated parking sensors and perforated front grille also present (although the front badge does look a tiny bit wonky). The indicators on the sides just behind the front wheels also feature the Tesla logo and you wouldn’t necessarily notice it at first glance.
The rear windscreen is a really good effort. The heating elements look like they’re done nicely to scale and the little black dots and surround around the edges of the glass take it up a notch, along with the strip of red LEDs for the brake light at the top of the window – the little details really do count!! There is also a carbon lip spoiler on the bootlid. It’s certainly not the best attempt at carbon I’ve seen, but it is perfectly passable along with the carbon on the dashboard you will see later.
The optional 21 inch grey Turbine wheels are amazing to look at. Matched with the silver paint, I think it gives a really cool ‘murdered’ out look. I’ve seen pictures of the red version with silver wheels and think that having these grey wheels with that body colour could be the perfect colour choice for this model. I’ve seen a few on the road in real life in this spec and they look great. Painting the air cap on the wheels with a dab of black paint could have added an extra layer of realism, but I haven’t seen many models with that anyway. The brake calipers are a nice shade of red with the Tesla branding on and the discs are accurately replicated. The slightly 3D wheel nuts are a really nice touch and enhance the overall look of the wheels, but the tyres haven’t got any branding on the sidewalls.
When you open the front and rear boots you are greeted by a couple of struts at each end. They operate very smoothly and don’t feel like the two halves will pop out at all if you open them too wide, as has happened on a couple of other models I own. The only negative point I have here is that the diecast ‘doglegs’ don’t look like they were finished properly and the paint looks a bit rough – certainly not a deal breaker, but then again you have to remember the price of this model.
The blue washer fluid tank and a couple of safety stickers are all present and correct and again add that little extra level of detail to the model. Both boots are carpeted and the frunk has a nicely placed mesh net.
The frameless doors look great and the doorhandles sit flush like on the real car, where when you approach they glide out. This helps to keep the drag co-efficient down whilst on the move. It would’ve been cool if they came out (maybe magnetic), because it is very difficult to open the doors otherwise. You can open the front ones by gently pulling on the wing mirrors, but the rear doors are a pain to try and open. You also have to wonder if one day you will inadvertently pull off the mirrors.
Finally moving onto the interior of the Model S and it’s another good score here. The front seats slide back and forth and there is an attempt at stitching in the rubber feeling seats – contrast stitching would have been cool, but the effect is still there nonetheless.
The dashboard is dominated by the giant 17 inch touchscreen (which is the same screen as the Apple Macbook Pro, if I’m not mistaken) in portrait mode that controls absolutely every aspect of the car. That thing must be blinding when driving at night! The detail on the screen is excellent – you can clearly see how the screen is split into four sections, with the status bar at the top, then nav, music and finally air and heated seat controls at the bottom.
Moving to the driver’s side, the steering wheel detail is again rather excellent, with the digital display behind another stunning piece of detail. There are also kickplates which say “Model S” on that were too difficult to get a picture off as they were so shiny, but they look good to the naked eye – as do the metal effect pedals.
The carbon fibre on the dash and around the armrest is much like that found on the rear lip spoiler – nothing revolutionary, but adds a great level of detail to the model.
The visible window switches and photoetched seatbelt buckles are, again, a nice touch.
Finally we have the two rear seats in the carpeted rear boot. They have seatbelts attached, but the detail is behind that which you can see on those in the rest of the cabin, but it was pretty cool of Century Dragon to include them anyway. I particularly like the way the strap that connects all parts of the seatbelt together around the groin area actually passes through the seat and into the floor of the boot. There is also another safety sticker clearly visible.
Overall I think this model is a sterling effort from Century Dragon. Not 100% by any means, but they are the only ones that make the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Online Store is pretty much the only place you can get one of these models, so if this model of one of the automotive game-changers takes your fancy and you can afford it, I’d say go for it – you won’t be disappointed!!