Suffering from a migraine, I could either drive the 2016 Tesla Model S 60 home from the office for my medicine, and risk not being able to make it to the next Supercharger station, or head straight over to the Supercharger station in San Mateo, charging the car's battery but potentially facing a pain-related vomiting session.
And thus went my week in Tesla's current most-affordable electric vehicle. I was constantly weighing the car's need for electricity against my own personal needs and wants.
When it comes to specs, the only thing to care about in an electric car is kWh, or kilowatt hours. The Model S 60 has a, you guessed it, 60 kWh battery. That's enough to power it from nothing to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds and to a top speed of 130 miles per hour. Of course, should you choose to hammer down that right pedal, expect the 210-mile driving range of the Model S 60 to drop. Precipitously.
If you want a bit more electric oomph, the Model S 60 can be upgraded at any time to 75 kWh for 259 miles of range, and there is an all-wheel drive version available with 218 electric driving miles. As it stands, the rear-wheel drive 60 kWh trim line starts at $66,000, making it the most affordable Tesla currently available.
Aside from the badge there isn't much to distinguish this base Tesla from the uber-pricey upper trims, but this year a few changes have taken shape across the model lineup. Where once a kind of stand-in grille looked out from the front fascia, it is now completely closed up. The LED headlights have been tweaked a bit from 2015, but by and large the rest of the car remains the same.
When the good is the bad
The big drawback to driving a Model S is that they are legitimately fun to drive. I know that sounds weird but stay with me. My rear-wheel-drive test car was a blast behind the wheel. Power was immediate and I shot off the line every chance I got. While in the twisties, the electrically driven Model S was always ready to power out of a turn with just the slightest touch of my foot on the right pedal.
The chassis tuning makes the Model S more of a cruiser than a corner carver, and tipping the scales at well over 4,000 pounds doesn't do the car any favors. Still, the batteries are under the floor of the Model S, giving it a low center of gravity to help with the fun factor.
But that fun comes at a price. The more aggressively the car is driven, the more quickly the batteries drain. Unfortunately, the Roadshow garage has only a 120-volt outlet, requiring that I park the car for up to 12 hours to get a full charge. A 240-volt charger can replenish the Tesla in about 4 hours, and using one of Tesla's adapters at a Level 3 DC fast charging station can get you there even faster.
By far the most convenient way to fill up is at a Tesla Supercharger station. It's free and will give you 205 miles of range in about 45 minutes. Tesla means for these to be used as long-distance charge points only. As such, there are over 600 Superchargers on major highways throughout the country. Tesla has also partnered with various destinations like restaurants, hotels and resorts. But be warned: the stations at these places aren't necessarily Superchargers and many of them require you to be a patron.
As for the Bay Area, there are four Supercharger stations, but none in downtown San Francisco. There are no destination chargers where I live in the East Bay, and there isn't an extension cord long enough to go from my apartment to the street, which left me in a bit of a pickle as I tried to decide between my head exploding from a migraine and the Tesla's need for electricity.