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