Tesla rein­vents arith­metic

Break­ing the rules is one thing. But even by Tesla’s elas­tic stan­dards, this is barely a seven-seater.

CAR (UK) - - Our Cars - By Tim Pol­lard

THE MODEL S is unique in the pre­mium seg­ment in of­fer­ing seven seats – usu­ally found on peo­ple car­ri­ers or SUVs, not pur­port­edly lux­ury saloons. Of course, this exec has a hatch­back, not a three-box boot, which is what makes the third row of seats just about vi­able. They’re a £2100 op­tion, but were al­ready fit­ted to our pre-owned car.

Clam­ber­ing aboard in the name of science, us­ing all my Twister-honed bod­ily con­tor­tion skills, con­firms what I thought from the out­set: these are titchy-tiny oc­ca­sional seats for small chil­dren, and even then only for emer­gency use. They re­ally ought to be cov­ered by a sheet of pro­tec­tive glass and a small ham­mer.

It should come as no sur­prise that adults won’t eas­ily fit in the back of the Tesla, but we’d ques­tion whether kids would be much more com­fort­able. I mea­sured the short­est dis­tance be­tween seat­back and hatch­back at just 26cm – it’s claus­tro­pho­bic and maybe not that safe (although it’s worth not­ing the Model S’s over­all five-star Euro NCAP rating).

The re­al­ity of most third-row seats is that they are for oc­ca­sional use only: squeez­ing in friends on a run back from the pub or play­ing school bus. It’s nice to know you have jump seats as back-up, but it speaks vol­umes that this fam­ily of four hasn’t ever used them.

The seats are clev­erly en­gi­neered and fold flat into the floor, leav­ing a large, un­clut­tered 894-litre boot. The pow­ered tail­gate lifts to re­veal a sen­si­bly shaped load­bay, which can ex­pand to 1795 litres with the 60:40 split rear seats folded away. We tend to leave both charg­ing ca­bles and Chademo fast-charger adap­tor slid­ing around and should re­ally stow them in the Porsche 911-style ‘frunk’ up front, with an ad­di­tional 150 litres.

It’s worth men­tion­ing the cabin space for those not slum­ming it in the boot. The front two rows are roomy and the ab­sence of a trans­mis­sion tun­nel means the floor is pleas­ingly flat, with plenty of space for lug­gage, limbs and loafers. Our ad­vice? Stay up front – don’t slum it in cat­tle class.

‘…then sim­ply un­screw legs and stow in the garage…’

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