Pulling into scenic Santa Barbara for lunch, I noticed a few touches that will freak out drivers experiencing the Model S for the first time. For instance, there’s quite literally no ignition, nor one of those start-stop buttons that have become popular in recent years. There’s no power switch at all. As long as the key fob — shaped like a Model S — is on you, you just get in and start driving. When you’re done, you just get out. It’s a weird thing to get used to, because you feel like you’re missing a step somewhere.
The key fob has some other tricks up its sleeve, too. Walking away automatically locks the car, which causes all four door handles to retract flush with the body — it made me feel like I was in a sci-fi movie every single time it happened. When you walk back up to the car, the handles extend. But these aren’t mechanical handles: pulling on them detects your touch, which triggers a motorized latch and allows the door to be opened. Besides being wicked cool, the motorized handles give the Model S an ever-so-slight aerodynamic advantage when it’s in motion.