When I moved to the US in late 2005 I managed to pick up one of the first (i.e. used) new model Range Rovers at a pretty reasonable price. I figured what with all the snow and the rugged terrain here in South Florida the four wheel drive and off road capabilities would be really be worthwhile having. OK, not really. I’d wanted a Range Rover since I was a kid, and since Mr Clarkson had passed judgment that yes, finally, the L322 variant of the venerable beast wouldn’t fall apart before you got it home from the dealer it almost made sense to get one. When I found out that despite being built in the UK they were cheaper to buy in the US than back home it sealed the deal.
So for the last five years I’ve been the proud owner of a Range Rover HSE. Prior to that I’d been lucky enough to own some other great cars – the BMW 528, Lotus Elise 111S, Lotus Elan SE – and a few pokey ones too. Combine that with a series of Japanese super bikes – CBR 600 (twice!), VFR 750 – and you’ll understand that I’m not in the hunt for the typical run-of-the-mill sedan/saloon.
I’ve also felt ever slightly so guilty about the 15 mpg (US) that the Range delivers. The wallet doesn’t suffer too badly because of the ridiculously low price of fuel over here, but during the five years that I’ve owner the car (or ‘truck’ as the natives like to call it), Mr Gore’s Inconvenient Truth has stirred things up a bit. When I bought the Range Rover, the US was in orgasmic delight over the ludicrousness that is the Hummer. Whilst a few small cars were beginning to appear, ‘gas’ was still $2.20 a gallon and was being consumed with scant regard for, well, anything really.
When gas hit $4.00 a gallon something happened to the US collective consciousness. Despite the fact it was still half the price of petrol in the UK some unknown mental barrier had been crossed, and the US woke up to the fact that engines didn’t need to be 400 cubic inches and V12 to generate modest amounts of power, and that cars didn’t need to be the size of Sherman tanks to be safe. Almost over night Hummers fell out of favour, and Chevrolet was on its way to producing the Volt, and Nissan the Leaf. Prius owners were no longer seen as some weird Californians sub-class.
And that brings us back to the Range Rover. I love it. It is delightful to drive, has a commanding view of the road, looks great, is utterly capable in the monsoon rain we get down here in the tropics and is just so…British!
What, then, to replace it with? The current crop of Audis, BMWs and Mercedes are OK, but they don’t ignite any real emotion. The Japanese and Korean alternatives do little to stir the soul. ‘Yank Tanks’ – those big, ugly Escalades and Yukons are a definite no-no. The Porsche Cayenne was interesting a few years ago, but not after owning a Range Rover. I’d had sports cars and would consider one again but the traffic light-laden grids of Broward County don’t quite compare to the sweeping country roads of Northern England when it comes to an adrenaline rush.
I must admit that I do like a bit of comfort when it comes to driving (or the absolute opposite – I considered an Ariel Atom at one point). I’d love to own a Bentley or an Aston Martin, but they are way out of my price league. I’m drawn to the Lexus sedans; not the most exciting cars in the world, but they exude quality – a very British facet of live (or so I like to think). But then we got one for my wife and although I love it (and her!) it just felt like I had to have something different.
So the requirements are:
- sporty (great acceleration and handling)
- lots of toys
- don’t need to sell the kids into slavery to buy one
Wow. Tough list. Gallardo, Audi R8, DB9 – beautiful, but way too expensive and thirsty. Atom – luxurious? No. Another Range Rover? Not different, and definitely thirsty. Jaguar XF? Maybe, but its a Jag.
But…what about a Tesla? Being an ex-Elise owner I knew all about the Tesla Roadster. Economical? Beautiful? Different? Definitely. Sporty? Absolutely. 0-60 in 3.7 sec. That’s just crazy. But so is the price. $109k for the base model; Nigh on $150k for the tricked out Sport version. But… it is a green as you get and definitely up for consideration if it weren’t for the price.
And then I saw the Tesla Model S. Wow. And Wow again. Gorgeous. Luxurious. 0-60 in 5.9 sec. 17″ touch screen. 300 miles on a charge. Definitely different. And the price? $49k for the base model. $49k. Seriously? Now I’m sure that fully configured and in the 300 mile configuration it is going to be quite a bit more than that, but still…
So I put down a deposit earlier this week. Fully refundable no less! I don’t have my number in the queue yet, but I should have it tomorrow. Not quite sure of the delivery time, but they should have demo cars around fall 2011 and production cars available around mid 2012. My car should ship around two years from now. Patience, patience.
And in case you’ve never seen the Tesla S, here it is…