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Consumer Reports bought a top-of-the-line Tesla Model S 85D for a long-term test, only to find that its driver couldn't get into the car.

The retractable door handle operated by the key fob failed to pop out. Unable to open the driver's door from the outside, the magazine consequently dubbed the Tesla "undriveable".

Video: What surprised us about driving a 691-horsepower Tesla

The function failed with only 3,700 kilometres on the odometer, 27 days into the magazine's ownership of the S 85D – the model equipped with the 691-horsepower 'insane mode' acceleration.

Doors, locks and latch problems bedevil Tesla more than any mechanical issue, according to the magazine's reliability survey of owners.

Writer Eric Evarts also reports that Tesla sent a technician to the magazine's test centre the next day. The problem was fixed by replacing the door-handle control module which houses the sensors and motors required to operate the handle electronically.

Consumer Reports paid $127,000 (U.S.) for the P85D. The car's software can be updated over the Internet – Version 7, due this summer, is to include self-parking and lane-keeping functions – but if the hardware malfunctions, as with the door handle, the car normally needs to be brought or towed to a Tesla service centre.

The video below shows how the door handles are supposed to pop out when a person holding the key gets close to the car.

Tesla Motors doing its door handle trick

Posted by Globe Drive on Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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