Proof That An Impressive Sport Sedan Doesn't Need To Burn Dead Dino Juice One-hundred years from now, the Smithsonian museum at our nation's capital will host a display of history's most revolutionary automobiles. The collection will include the 1866 Dudgeon steam wagon (one of the earliest self-propelled vehicles), the 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen (recognized as the first combustion-powered automobile) and the 1908 Ford Model T (the first automobile mass produced on an assembly line). Most certainly included, among the dozen or so other pioneering automobiles, will be a 2012 Tesla Model S. Slightly more than a few years after the first prototype debuted in March of 2009, Autoblog was able to spend an evening with an early production model of the innovative all-electric sedan touted as "the next step to accelerate the world's transition to electric mobility." Much has been said and written about Tesla's enormous undertaking, but we brushed off the hype, ignored the rumors and cut through the layers of misinformation. It was time to drive. After several inquisitive hours behind the wheel, we were smitten – the Tesla Model S really is the world's first practical, no-compromise, non-combustion automobile. The last time we were in a Model S was October of 2011 when Tesla invited us to its Fremont assembly plant for a ride in an early beta model. It is hard to judge a vehicle from the passenger seat, so the exercise left us more frustrated than appeased – we needed time behind the wheel. It didn't take long. Elon Musk (Chairman and CEO of Tesla Motors) delivered the first ten production vehicles to customers in June of this year. Unfortunately, with vehicles exiting the plant at a relative trickle, the company still wasn't lending out cars to the media for extended reviews. Circumnavigating the dilemma, we called Jason Calacanis. The Internet entrepreneur founded Weblogs, Inc., in 2003. The publishing company is credited with starting Engadget, Joystiq and Autoblog – yes, he's our founding father. Jason was fortunate enough to take delivery of VIN S00001, the first Signature Performance model handed to a customer, a few weeks ago. A happy customer of Tesla from the early days (there is also a Roadster in his garage), he was generous enough to allow Autoblog an extended test drive. Jason's 2013 Tesla Model S is the range-topping Signature Performance model. While Tesla offers the sedan with a standard 270-kW (362-horsepower) electric motor and a base 40-kWh battery (good for a range of about 160 miles), the Signature Performance features a 310-kW (416-horsepower) three-phase, four-pole AC induction motor with copper rotor generating 443 pound-feet of torque. Powered by an 85-kWh microprocessor-controlled lithium-ion battery, it promises a range of about 300 miles on a charge. For those keeping score, those numbers put the Model S in an A List performance category. The Model S cheats the wind with a stunningly low .24 drag coefficient. When ordering his Model S, Jason went click-happy on the options and purchased just about every accessory. Base …
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