With Tesla Motors opening new Tesla Stores at a rapid pace, the 2012 Tesla Model S all-electric sport sedan has now been seen by hundreds of thousands of people.

Thus far, however, very few of them, however, have gotten behind the wheel.

Tesla's working to change that, with a traveling nationwide roadshow from now through early August that aims to put 5,000 Model S reservation holders in the driver's seat for a few minutes each.

Yesterday, we got our first test drive of the 2012 Tesla Model S. The video above should give you a small taste of what our drive was like.

We really had only about 20 or 25 minutes behind the wheel of the new electric luxury sedan from Silicon Valley startup carmaker Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA], but it gave us a little taste of what owners will start to experience as Model S deliveries slowly ramp up.

The car is quiet, quick--especially the high-end Model S Signature Series Performance model we drove--and smooth.

The 17-inch central touchscreen display is astounding--see a photo gallery of display screenshots here--and easy to use but not distracting.

And with some light jazz playing as we tooled around lower Manhattan, we came to the preliminary conclusion that indeed the 2012 Tesla Model S is a viable car.

It's also fun to drive, and unlike the crude, cramped Roadster--hellaciously fun in its own way, but not all that practical--we can easily imagine using it as a daily vehicle.

If, that is, we had the cash to cover the sticker price, which on our top-end test car was somewhere around $100,000.

If you're all about the acceleration, there's a bit at 0:40 and another burst at 2:30. But watch the whole thing to see the touchscreen and a lot more.

There's one narration error: At the very end, "2010 Tesla Model S" should obviously be 2012. Sorry 'bout that.

Special thanks to our pal Noonz, who cheerfully let himself be pressed into service as cameraman.


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