Gran Turismo 6 is Coming to PlayStation 3, Demo Announced – Rumor Central

Gran Turismo 6 is Coming to PlayStation 3, Demo Announced

Gran Turismo 6 is coming. In celebration of the franchise’s 15th anniversary, Sony today announced its signature racing game Gran Turismo 6 is in development, and will arrive on shelves this holiday season. A playable demo is scheduled to arrive in July.

Sony touts Gran Turismo 6 as bringing new levels of realism and authenticity to the sim racing genre. GT6 boasts an entirely new game and physics engine, the latter of which includes a new aerodynamic model, a new tire model, and a new suspension and kinematics model. Like its rivals at Forza 4 (which worked with Pirelli to help with its tire models), the GT6 team joined with Yokohama and KW Automotive to help develop a more realistic experience in the latest Gran Turismo game.

Gran Turismo 6 will reportedly be released this holiday season, though it’s probably worth noting that GT6′s predecessor, Gran Turismo 5, was the subject of multiple delays. Still, there are a few reasons to remain optimistic. For starters, all of the cars and tracks in GT5 will be carried over to GT6, which will include 1200 cars at launch (though as Motor Trend’s Kirill Ougarov joked on Twitter, “1100 of them will be Skylines”).  The newest Gran Turismo will also include seven new tracks (including Silverstone), bringing the track total to 33. There will be 71 different track layouts in the game, with 19 of them new. If those grow old, the course maker function has been improved.

With the announcement of GT6, Sony is planning on continuing its collaboration with Nissan’s GT Academy, the program that turns Gran Turismo gamers into real-life racers. GT Academy returns this July, with the release of the GT6 Silverstone demo.

Speaking of the demo, Sony released a short teaser of the killer graphics and cars we can expect to see in GT6, including the 1986 Audi Quattro rally car, and the 2012 Tesla Model S Signature Performance.

Here are the cars you’ll be able to drive in the July demo. Bold text indicates the car is new to the Gran Turismo series:

-          1991 Acura NSX

-          2011 Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale

-          1968 Alpine a110 1600S

-          1986 Audi Quattro S1 rally car

-          2009 Ferrari 458 Italia

-          1971 Ferrari Dino 246 GT

-          2006 Ford GT

-          2012 KTM X-Bow R

-          1974 Lamborghini Countach LP400

-          2007 Light Car Company Rocket

-          2010 McLaren MP4-12C

-          2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3

-          2008 Nissan 370Z (GT Academy Version)

-          2008 Nissan 370Z Tuned Car (GT Academy Version)

-          2012 Nissan GT-R Black Edition (GT Academy Version)

-          Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 N24 Shulze Motorsport

-          Nissan Leaf G (GT Academy Version)

-          2012 Tesla Model S Signature Performance

-          2012 Toyota 86 GT

Source: Gran-Turismo.com













By Christian Seabaugh

More Roadsters Coming: Tesla, Lotus Extend Production Contract

More Roadsters Coming: Tesla, Lotus Extend Production Contract

Tesla Motors and Group Lotus have recently announced an extension of their partnership designed to help the EV automaker avoid a potential shortage of its only model, the Roadster.

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Tesla was facing at least a one-year hiatus in Roadster production,mostly because oftooling changes at one of its suppliers. In order to help bridge the gap, Tesla approached Lotus about extending the initial production run. As a result, the Lotus factory in Hethel, England, will continue to assemble the Roadster through December of 2011, ultimately producing another 700 cars for a total of 2,400 units. The move will help Tesla fulfill Roadster orders between 2011 and 2012.

As has always been the case, Lotus will continue to produce “gliders” for Tesla. Roadsters are shipped from Hethel to Tesla’s facility in Menlo Park, California, where the batteries, motor, and other powertrain components are installed as part of final assembly.

Although the company will eventually take a break in Roadster production to focus on launching its Model S electric sedan, the Roadster won’t fade into the background. Tesla plans on launching a revised Roadster most likely based on the next-generation Elise, but only after the Model S makes its way into production, which Tesla is targeting for sometime 2012. Of course, they’re going to need to find a factory, first…

Source: Reuters

By Andrew Peterson

Sell Outs: No More Orders for 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Tesla Model S Signature – Rumor Central

Sell Outs: No More Orders for 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Tesla Model S Signature

Fiat’s newest hot hatch is proving to be quite popular, as Chrysler has informed dealers that it’s no longer taking orders for the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth. Meanwhile, Tesla is not accepting any additional reservations for the limited-edition Model S Signature.

Those who place an order now for the scorpion-badged Abarth will be forced to wait until next fall to slip behind the wheel of next year’s model, which won’t begin to ship until next fall. Customers who put their deposits down as early as March will also have to wait until the 2013 batch arrives in September.

By the time the Abarth started trickling into Fiat showrooms in April, The Detroit News reports the company already had more than 1000 cash deposits from customers. The automaker originally planned to build about 1000 vehicles at the company’s factory in Toluca, Mexico, but after receiving a flurry of orders, the automaker bumped up production to the factory’s maximum output of 3000 units a year.

Thanks in part to a small dealer network, Fiat sales didn’t hit the initial target of moving 50,000 cars by the end of 2011, selling only 19,769. The picture appears to be improving, however, as 16,702 Fiat 500s have already been sold through May 2012.

As for the Tesla Model S, the automaker tells us no more reservations are being taken on the Signature model — which has a claimed 300-mile range. The top trim of the Model S which has a claimed 300-mile range. The top trim of the Model S is expected to earn an EPA range rating of 265 miles, and is limited to 1000 units.

Source: The Detroit News, Tesla





By Karla Sanchez

Tesla Model S To Be Evaluated By Consumer Reports

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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Let’s hope that the Tesla Model S fares better than the Fisker Karma did.

That’s the first thought that sprang to mind when we heard the news that Consumer Reports had bought its very own Model S all-electric sport sedan to test.

The respected consumer testing magazine notoriously savaged the Fisker Karma in a review last September.

Specifically, the $106,000 range-extended electric luxury sport sedan died on the test track and otherwise proved to be badly built, with confusing controls and minimal interior space for such a large and heavy car.

The magazine was more impressed with the Tesla Model S following an early drive in a borrowed car last November.

The Model S “shatters every myth,” it wrote, and redefined the experience of traveling on all-electric power.

Two weeks ago today, after waiting more than two years following its $5,000 deposit, CR took delivery of its 2012 Tesla Model S.

It specified the Model S with the largest 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack and the $1,500 additional charger to bring charging capacity up to 20 kilowatts.

As an early-build car, the magazine’s Model S also comes with the air suspension, along with a large sunroof, and tan Nappa leather upholstery.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

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The total price was $89,650, roughly in line with the Audi A7 or Porsche Panamera luxury sport sedans.

Confronted with the option to pick up its Model S at Tesla’s Queens service center or have it delivered to the door on a flatbed truck, the magazine chose the latter alternative.

As usual, Consumer Reports masked the identity of the buyer so that Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] likely didn’t know that the magazine was actually buying the car.

As CR’s Gabe Shenhar says, “We can’t wait to pile some break-in miles on our Model S and start testing it.”

+++++++++++

By John Voelcker

The Top Five Cars We Can’t Wait to Drive in 2012

The Top Five Cars We Can’t Wait to Drive in 2012

The New Year promises to bring lots of automotive cheer and new sheet metal to Motor Trend’s garage. Below is a list of more than a dozen new vehicles slated to hit the market in 2012, which should be more than enough to keep us busy 2013 Subaru BRZ With Prototypes 300x187 imagewith drives, tests, and reviews. The Motor Trend staff was tasked with the difficult job of picking their top three cars from the list below that they can’t wait to drive in 2012, and from there we tallied up the Top 5 vote getters. Do you agree with the winners? Sound off below.

2012 BMW M5
2013 Cadillac ATS
2013 Chevy Sonic RS
2013 Dodge Dart
2013 Ford Focus ST
2013 Ford Shelby GT500
2013 Mini Countryman JCW
2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
2013 SRT Viper
2013 Subaru BRZ/ Scion FR-S
2013 Subaru WRX/STI
2013 Tesla Model S
2013 Volkswagen Golf R

1. 2013 Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Toyota and Subaru have been hard at work jointly developing an affordable and fun-to-drive, rear-wheel drive sports car for the masses. And if you’ve been visiting www.motortrend.com, you’ve probably noticed both companies teasing us with sketches, specs, show cars, camouflaged cars, and on and on and on for years now. Well, 2012 is the year to find out if all the hard work and teasing has been worth the wait. And from our initial drives thus far, the BRZ and FR-S look very promising.

First Drive: 2013 Scion FR-S
First Drive: 2013 Subaru BRZ

2. 2013 SRT Viper

After a years-long hiatus, the Viper is coming back with its snake eyes set on the Corvette and Porsche 911. Expect many changes to the iconic American sports car, especially with Fiat now at the helm of Chrysler. We’ve heard the Italians, who know a little bit about sports cars, have been involved in the new Viper’s development. In addition, the 2013 Viper will be sold under the newly formed SRT brand, s0 it’s more critical than ever that the new Viper will be a world-class performer both on and off the track. As MT’s digital director Mike Floyd states, the 2013 SRT Viper is the “halo car SRT/Chrysler desperately needs if it’s going to be taken seriously as a true global performance brand.” And just to reiterate, “the pressure on this one is massive,” says editor-in-chief Ed Loh. “Looking forward to the return of the beast.”

3. Tied: 2012 BMW M5 and 2013 Cadillac ATS

2012 BMW M5BMW M5 front bottom view 300x187 image
How will a turbocharged, eight-cylinder M5 perform on the road and on the track? That’s exactly what MT staffers are eager to find out. Road test editor Scott Mortara was among the first bunch of lucky journalists to drive the new M5 and he seemed to like it. “Without a doubt, the new 2012 BMW M5 is better than its predecessor in every way,” Mortara wrote in his first drive review of the 2012 M5. “Some say they’ll miss the high-rpm V-10 screaming under the hood. Not me. I’ll take this subtle torque monster any day. Much like a purveyor of fine spirits, when an automaker starts with quality components, and adds time, insight, and desire, it’s possible to create something amazing — a vintage that can truly be savored. With the new M5, BMW has done just that.”

2013 Cadillac ATS
“Every few years some car maker declares they’ve cracked the 3 Series code,” said senior features editor Jonny Lieberman. “None succeed. However, Caddy actually went to Germany, Bimmer’s home turf. So, maybe.”2013 Cadillac ATS Autobahn1 300x187 image

Just maybe. So what is Lieberman talking about exactly? Well, as former editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie adds, “the engineering team picked the delightful E46 3 Series as its dynamic benchmark for the new baby Caddy.”   And as we’ve seen from the countless videos Cadillac has produced, the development team has spent countless hours and laps around the famed Nurburgring for testing. Given what we’ve seen so far, it’s hard to imagine what else General Motors could’ve done to develop its new 3 Series fighter. MacKenzie continues, “I can’t wait to find out if Detroit can really out-BMW BMW.” Neither can we.

4. Three-Way Tie: Ford Focus ST, Volkswagen Golf R, and Tesla Model S

2013 Ford Focus ST
With past generations of the Focus, we Americans have always lamented that the sportiest Focus models over the years were sadly out of our reach, available only in Europe and elsewhere. That all changes with the 2013 Focus ST. The 2012 Ford Focus has proven itself as having good bones; with the additional performance of the ST model, Ford may again have a real hot hatch competitor in the U.S. — if it’s not priced out of the market. So what are we looking forward to exactly? Basically, it’s the 2.0-liter, 250-hp, turbocharged, Ecoboost four banger wrapped around sleek sheetmetal. “After years of watered-down, rental-fleet Foci, Ford finally brings us a real contender in the ST,” said news director Ed Sanchez. “The VW GTI and Mazdaspeed 3 will have to make room in the sandbox for the new kid from Dearborn.”

2012 Volkswagen Golf R2012 Volkswagen Golf R Front Three Quarters 300x187 image
We liked the first-gen Volkswagen R32, which was armed with the burbling 250-hp,VR6 engine and a manual transmission, and all-wheel-drive. The VR6 carried over in the second-gen R32, but it was only offered with the DSG transmission, which wasn’t a bad thing — unless you, like most of us in the office,  are diehard fans of the third pedal. The 2013 Golf R is coming to America in manual transmission-form only and will be powered by a new 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder making 260-hp, and fitted with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Will we miss the VR6? Stay tuned to find out.

2012 Tesla Model S
Following the incredibly fast Tesla Roadster comes the Model S, the electric car for every (well off) man. Tesla recently confirmed a base price of $49,900, which includes a 40kWh battery and a range of 160 miles, which should be good enough for most Americans. “Sexy styling, cutting-edge tech. What’s not to like,” asks Sanchez.  “Granted, Tesla has its share of skeptics and haters, but this could be the breakthrough car for the still-struggling electric upstart.”

5. Tied: 2013 Dodge Dart and 2013 Porsche 911 Turbo

2013 Dodge Dart Front 300x187 image

2013 Dodge Dart
It’s been awhile since Dodge has produced a remotely memorable compact car (Dodge Neon anyone?). The 2013 Dodge Dart should change that. “As the Caliber retires, we might soon see an Elantra-like transformation here for Dodge in the compact car segment,” opined copy editor Zach Gale. “I can’t wait to discover whether that nine-speed automatic transmission performs smoothly or constantly hunts for gears.”

2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
Executive editor Ron Kiino recently had some wheel time behind the new 991 Porsche 911 and expects it to continue on as a sports car benchmark. “When we want to say just how quick a car is, or how well it handles, or how amazing its steering is, well, there’s one reference we turn to, Kiino wrote in his first drive of the 2012 Porsche 911. ‘”The new Evo corners as well as a 911!’ ‘This ‘Vette is even quicker than a 911!’ ‘The GT-R is so fast it can hang with a 911 Turbo!’ You get the point.” And like always, Porsche will keep things interesting with a number of variants such as the turbo. “The old 911 Turbo was Veyron-lite; delivering staggering acceleration and a swaggering sense of invincibility on the road,” said MacKenzie. “My wheeltime in the new Carrera S suggests this latest 911 is the best ever. If the new 911 Turbo delivers the same step-change, it’s going to be a helluva car.”

By Erick Ayapana

Behold the depressingly unreal Tesla Model ST wagon

Tesla Model ST

We’ll break it to you quickly: these renderings aren’t of a soon-to-be new Tesla Model S variant. No, instead they’re simply the imaginative drawings of what the geniuses at Theophilus Chin visualize a Tesla wagon might look like.

If you’re anything like us – and since you’re reading this, we’ll assume you are – you, too, feel this is too beautiful a vehicle not to be rushed into production.

Looking a bit like combination of a Saab 9-5 wagon and a Acura TSX Sport Wagon, the rendering is so precise, one might mistake it for something stolen from the Tesla design studios.

Tesla Model ST back

Tesla does have plans for a Model X, which will be a bigger, more crossover-type vehicle with all-wheel drive. Tesla is currently taking reservations for the Model X – complete with falcon wing doors – at showrooms now but deliveries won’t begin until 2014.

Tesla Model X

Sure, we could pose the question as to why Tesla plans to sell a crossover and not a wagon, but we already know the answer: Wagons don’t sell in the US. For years now Americans have opted for either sedans or sedan-based crossover vehicles, which are essentially taller, more bulbous – and arguably much more ugly – wagons. Even Volvo, who was made famous by its wagons, has virtually discontinued the breed Stateside, while expanding its wagon offerings around the globe.

Europe, however, has a different wagon history. It would stand to reason that a Tesla ST (standing for “Sport Touring”) would do quite well in the EU.

Perhaps with enough positive buzz,  Tesla will consider at least a limited run of the Model ST. We realize, though, it’ll probably only be sold in Europe and we American wagon fans will be left drooling from across the pond.

By Nick Jaynes

Toyota’s Electric RAV4 Has Best US Debut of Any EV – Sells 61 Units in September



Sales figures for EVs are so far off those of conventionally-powered vehicles, that it’s almost comical. However, in the EV world 61 units sold in the first month is a very good performance. That is exactly how many RAV4 EVs Toyota managed to sell in September, the car’s official sales debut – the highest number ever achieved by such a vehicle, in the US.

That means that the Japanese automaker sill has 2,139 units to go, until they reach their target number of 2,200. They may increase that number, if the demand is deemed high enough, though. However, with a price tag of $49,800, before tax incentives,the RAV4 is still a rather expensive vehicle to buy, so its appeal will still remain limited, despite being a very capable vehicle with a range of just over 100 miles (160 km).

For those who don’t want to buy the all-electric SUV, Toyota is offering a lease plan, which will cost you some $599 per month. We will have to wait and see in another few months, just how well the RAV4 EV actually does, but if the debut is anything to go by, it may do very well. Keep in mind that at their debut, the Nissan Leaf sold 19 units, while the Tesla Model S only managed to sell 10 examples.

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla pushes Model X back to 2014 to focus on Model S

Tesla Model X

The Tesla Model S has been a staggering sales success by electric car terms. The electric car company headed by Elon Musk is on track to surpass 2012′s record of selling 20,000 of the sleek EVs in annual sales for 2013.

Riding high on the Model S triumph, Tesla has decided to continue pushing the sports sedan, delaying the eagerly anticipated Model X. Slated to go on sale later this year, the Model X will be pushed to late 2014, according to the LA Times.

Based upon the Model S, the Model X is supposed to have all the benefits of a minivan without the unsavory looks. Complete with gullwing doors, the Model X takes family hauling to all-new levels of excitement and design daring.

We’re disappointed in Tesla’s decision. While we understand that the electric automaker must keep working on a known entity before it can divert to something new, we ultimately see production pauses as a sign of weakness. We needn’t look past Fisker and the delayed Atlantic model for a perfect example.

On a bit of a higher note, however, Tesla has announced it will repay all of its $465 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy by 2017, five years ahead of schedule. It’s news like this helps assuage our niggling fears that things might be a bit off for the fledgling automaker based upon the Model X delay.

When we learn of an official launch date of the Model X, we’ll be sure to bring it to you.

By Nick Jaynes

16 Kindergarten Kids Prove Tesla Model S Rocks [Video]



Guinness doesn't recognize record attempts for squeezing kindergarteners into a car, but they should because it looks like a lot of fun.

This totally non-serious attempt probably took place in Pheonix, Arizona, judging from the license plate and the high concentration of EV owners there. A whole class of 16 kids easily fits inside the car. There's a whole bunch of them in the rear trunk, four in the front trunk and only two girls in the front.

The kids are adorable because they forget their count and stay still when the bonnet is raised.

As funny as clip is, the point is that a Tesla Model S probably has as much space as some minivans.

By Mihnea Radu

Tesla Model S Vs Chevy Volt: Owner Compares Electric Cars

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

Enlarge Photo

I’ve been leasing a 2011 Chevrolet Volt for almost two years now. And about three months ago, I took delivery of a 2013 Tesla Model S, the 60-kWh version.

So I’ve gotten an extended first-hand look at arguably the two most technically advanced production cars in the U.S.–and the two best-selling plug-ins so far in 2013.

Although not precisely comparable–the Tesla is pure electric, while the Volt has a range-extending gas engine to back up its battery–driving the two cars back-to-back on a daily basis has highlighted the pluses and minuses of each.

So how do they stack up against each other? And which do I prefer?

The Tesla, But…..

The bottom line, of course, is which car I choose to drive when I walk out to my driveway each morning. 

By this measure, the Tesla  almost always wins.  It’s hard to resist the sleek, powerful, head-turning Model S, which Consumer Reports recently raved about–saying it “performs better than any car we’ve ever tested.”

The Volt has been mostly relegated to duty as my 17-year-old daughter’s student-driver car, as well as an occasional long-distance back-up for trips beyond the Tesla’s range. (My wife, a fanatical stick-shift devotee,  stubbornly clings to her 2008 Mini Cooper.)

But that doesn’t mean the Volt isn’t a great car.  At half the price, it’s damn near as good as the Model S in a lot of ways–and superior in a few. 

In fact, driving the Tesla has only confirmed my long-standing appreciation for the Volt.

So how do they compare?  Let’s count the ways.

Performance

No surprise here: The Tesla outperforms the Volt.

The Model S has more than double the electric horsepower of the Volt (302 to 149). Its 0-to-60-mph time of  5.9 seconds blows away the Volt’s 9.0-second number.  Top speed is 120 mph, compared to the Volt’s 100 mph.

When I take friends for rides, the Tesla’s seamless, silent, ear-flattening acceleration always elicits the same reaction: giddy, uncontrolled laughter.

“Like a roller-coaster ride,” one friend commented. The Volt can’t come close to matching the Tesla’s balls-to-the-wall fun factor.

But you know what? In normal real-world driving, the Volt in Sport mode feels nearly as peppy and responsive as the Tesla. More so, in some circumstances.



2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

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While the Volt has only half the  power of the Tesla, it puts out only a bit less peak torque (273 lb-ft to the Tesla’s 317 lb-ft). Adjust for the Volt’s lighter weight (3780 lbs vs. 4650 lbs for the Model S), and the Volt actually has a better torque-to-weight ratio.

And because of its more aggressive low-end throttle mapping in Sport mode, the Volt actually feels more responsive pulling away from a traffic light than the Tesla.

(We’re assuming light-to-moderate pedal pressure, typical of everyday driving. When you floor it, of course, the Tesla blows the doors off the Volt.)

Whenever I transition from Tesla to Volt, my first few take-offs in the Volt tend to be a bit jumpy as I adjust to its more responsive accelerator.  And when I go back to the Tesla, it feels a little lethargic pulling away from a stop in normal driving.

So, yes, on paper, the Tesla far outperforms the Volt.  But in normal every-day driving, the Volt feels surprisingly close.

Ride and Handling

Let me be up front about this: I am not a high-performance driver. I don’t go screeching around twisty mountain roads. The only four-wheel drift I’ve ever done was in an icy parking lot at 20 mph.  Heel-and-toe? I read about it once.

So my opinions here apply to my comparatively sedate everyday driving–a bit faster and more aggressive than your average shmo on the road, perhaps, but well short of the aggression of the typical car-magazine test drive.

With that behind us, I have to say I don’t notice a lot of difference between the ride and handling of the two cars.

Both have a heavy, solid, smooth feel.

Both steer with alacrity and precision. (Among the Model S’s three options for  steering feel–Comfort, Normal, and Sport–I typically use Comfort mode.)

Both cruise smoothly over typical bumps with a muted rumble.

And both are exceptional highway cruisers.

My sense is that the Model S’s air suspension makes its ride a tad firmer than the Volt’s.  At times the Tesla seems just a bit harsh; I’d like to see an adjustable suspension with a slightly softer (as well as a sportier) option.

In terms of ride and handling, both cars are superb in normal driving. I’d call it a toss-up.

Comfort

As a  bigger car, the Tesla has more interior space for driver and passengers.

By my tape measure, Tesla front-seat riders have about two inches more shoulder room. The advantage tapers to an inch in back.



2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

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The Volt’s big drawback in comfort is its limited rear-seat knee room.  I’m 6’2″, so when I push the driver’s seat all the way back, the poor soul sitting behind me is likely to have his knees crushed. In the Tesla, there’s sufficient–though hardly copious–space for adult kneecaps in the rear, no matter how tall the driver.

Rear-seat headroom, however, is another matter. My head makes hard contact with the Model S headliner in the back, requiring a slight slouch. In the Volt, on the other hand, I can sit fully upright in the back with only a few wisps of hair brushing the ceiling. Score one for the Volt.

But with this single exception–a tall guy in the back seat–all my passengers much prefer the Tesla.

For the driver, I’ve found, the question is not so clear-cut.

Once in the driver’s seat, I find both cars quite comfortable. The seats are comparable. The Tesla feels more spacious, but it’s mostly a visual effect. Some may even prefer the more intimate cockpit of the Volt. Call it a toss-up.

But getting in and out of the two cars?  Definitely not a toss-up. For a tall, creaky guy like me, climbing into the Tesla–with its low roofline, swooping windshield, and narrow door opening–is a pain in the butt (or in my case, the neck and back).

Whenever I transition to the Volt, with its wider door opening, I breathe a huge sigh of relief as I slip much more easily into the driver’s seat.

Overall verdict on comfort: Tesla by a nose, with an asterisk for tall drivers and tall rear-seat passengers.

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

Enlarge Photo

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

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Utility

The compact Volt, with its battery pack running down the middle of the car, is strictly a four-seater. The Tesla is touted as a 5+2, with the option of two rear-facing child seats in the cargo compartment under the hatchback.

Without the kid seats, the rear cargo area is huge. With back seats folded down, it becomes humongous. And then there’s the front trunk–which Tesla insists on calling a “frunk”–an auxiliary cargo space where the Volt stashes….an engine.

For me, the question of utility is mostly academic. In two years, I’ve had to leave behind a fifth passenger in the Volt maybe twice. I’ve not yet had occasion to use anywhere near the Tesla’s available cargo space. (In fact, I’ve yet to use the front trunk at all.)

And through an accident of geometry, it turns out that my extra-large size mountain bike slips into the Volt more easily than into the Tesla, due to its marginally wider hatchback opening.

The way I keep score, the Tesla’s advantage hauling a rare fifth passenger is balanced by the Volt’s bike-carrying advantage. I’d call it even. But the Tesla becomes the obvious choice if you’re always hauling lots of stuff, or regularly transporting that fifth passenger.

Range

In terms of ultimate utility, the elephant in the garage is the Tesla’s limited range and slow “refueling” time. Until the Tesla Supercharger quick-charging-station system is fully in place, the Model S simply doesn’t work for me on trips more than 180 miles.

To the chagrin of hard-core electric-car proponents, I’ve always believed that there has to be a gas engine in the family somewhere. After three months of owning a Volt and a Tesla, I’ve not changed my view.

Yeah, I know: Plug-in devotees have taken Teslas on long cross-country trips. Hooray for them.

Frankly, I’m not willing to plan my whole trip around finding charging stations.

Case in point: a recent overnight visit to a friend 200 miles away. Theoretically, this is within the car’s EPA range of 208 miles. Am I willing to cut it this close? No chance.

But suppose I had managed to get there, cruising at 55 mph with A/C off. And suppose I’d found a charging station somewhere nearby. That still means the friend has to come pick me up at the station, then drop me off the next morning.

Why not just plug in at my friend’s house?  No way: To charge the Tesla’s 60-kWh battery fully from a standard 110-Volt outlet takes two full days.

So my trip was a no-brainer: Take the Volt.

In three months of Tesla ownership, I’ve now made four trips where I had to take the Volt.



2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

Enlarge Photo

Until the day that Superchargers are installed at 150-mile intervals along the New York State Thruway and New Jersey Turnpike, “Take the Volt” will be a familiar refrain in my household.

Range Loss in Winter

The Chevy Volt suffers a fairly dramatic loss of electric range in winter. In my experience, it drops from 40-plus miles in summer to as low as 25 miles when the temperature falls to the teens. That’s about a 40-percent loss.

If you do the math, the Volt uses about 250 Watt-hours per mile in summer, and 400 in winter. Annual average: 320 Wh/mi.

Since I’ve never run the Tesla’s battery down to zero–and hope never to do so–I can’t pinpoint actual range. But the car does report its efficiency. In February, I averaged about 360 Watt-hours per mile, compared to about 320 Wh so far in May, a difference of just 11 percent.

I expect  efficiency to keep improving as the weather warms up. Whether the ultimate difference is 12 percent or 15 percent, it’s still a huge improvement over the Volt. Tesla engineers are clearly the unchallenged masters of battery management.

Overall, the way I drive it, it looks like the Tesla’s annual efficiency will average about 320 Wh/mi–virtually the same as the Volt. 

My results match the EPA numbers fairly closely:  35 kW/100 mile for the Tesla, 36 for the Volt. (Multiply by 10 to get Wh/mile.)

Considering that the Tesla is almost half a ton heavier and has better performance, that’s a big win for the Model S.

Random Things I Like Better About the Volt

*Tire-pressure monitoring system.

The Volt has an on-demand readout of current pressure in each tire.

The Tesla, by contrast, has only a crude  “Tire pressure too low” or Tire pressure too high” warning that comes on when necessary.

I’ve also been getting  ”Check tire-pressure monitoring system” alerts. (My Tesla service guy assures me these are spurious.)

*Center Console

The Volt has a standard console with both open and closed storage spaces. The Tesla has only an armrest, with two cup holders that appear when the armrest is slid back.

The Tesla’s open floor between front passengers’ knees gives a feeling of spaciousness, but there’s no place to put stuff.

Sunglasses, wallet, insurance card, driving glasses, 5-Hour Energy shots, and the like simply get thrown on the floor. There are low rails that prevent stuff from sliding around, but it looks messy.

So I recently purchased a Center Console Insert (CCI) from an independent company called Teslaccessories. It snaps into place between the floor rails and provides a better-placed cupholder and a small closed storage area. It’s a big improvement.

Tesla is readying its own factory drop-in center console, which its website says is “coming soon.”  

Not soon enough, if you ask me.



2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]

Enlarge Photo

*Regenerative braking system

Both cars have two regen settings: a “Normal” that feels like a standard gas car when you back of the accelerator, and a more aggressive setting that slows the car rapidly and pumps more energy back into the battery.

In the Volt, the settings are selected by the gear lever: D for the standard setting, L for the aggressive one.  It’s easy and intuitive to flick back and forth between the two settings, depending on traffic and hills. It’s actually a lot of fun, like downshifting in a stick-shift gas car.

The Tesla, on the other hand, requires the driver to change regen settings through the touch screen. Typically, it takes up to three taps to find the right screen and make the change. That rules out on-the-fly adjustments.

The Volt regen system has a further advantage over the Tesla: It’s not affected by cold weather.  In the Model S, the aggressive regen is limited below about 50 degrees and turned off altogether below about 30 degrees until the battery warms up. This can take as long as 20 or 30 miles of driving.

*Battery state-of-charge indicator

The Volt’s 10-bar State of Charge (SoC) gauge is a bit crude, but it’s better than the Tesla’s vague sliding bar, which has no delineation whatsoever.

Virtually all electric cars have SoC indicators of some sort–even the cheapest one available, the 2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, has a nice little dial that that reads down to 1 percentage point. It’s bizarre that the super-expensive, cutting-edge Model S lags so far behind in this respect.

Random Things I Like Better About the Tesla

*Dashboard touch screen.

No doubt about it, the 17-inch touch screen in the Tesla Model S is way better than  the Volt’s tiny screen and confusing welter of buttons.

The Tesla screen’s many virtues are well known, so I won’t go over them here. Suffice it to say that anything else seems utterly primitive by comparison.

*Getting software updates

In almost two years, I’ve gotten one upgrade on the Volt–which required taking it in to the dealer. (I waited for a regular service appointment to get the upgrade.)

In three months with the Tesla, I’ve gotten two software upgrades, both remotely over the car’s 3-G wireless connection.

Remote is better. Duh.

Bottom Line

If I could keep just one car, which would it be?

I guess if you put a gun to my head, I would reluctantly give up the Volt.

The style, performance, and overall pizzazz of the Model S are simply too compelling to give up.

The Tesla’s charms would far outweigh the annoyance of having to rent a noisy gas-guzzling combustion-engined car for long trips.

Decision point: Sept 2014

Fortunately, no one is putting a gun to my head. I’ll definitely be keeping both cars until September 2014, when the Volt lease expires.

By that time, hopefully, there will be a full network of Superchargers around the Northeast (and the rest of the country).

When that happens, the Model S will finally be in a position to make its case as the best car in the world.

David Noland is a Tesla Model S owner and freelance writer who lives north of New York City.

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By David Noland

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