Tesla Model S saloon
Price £56,235 - £87,835
- Huge performance
- 300-mile range possible
- Seven seat option
- Expensive to buy
- Limited fast-charge network
- Fast, but not much fun in corners
At a glance
"The Tesla Model S is a powerful, well equipped and practical executive car that's much less compromised than most electric cars."
If you haven’t heard of Tesla before, you soon will. The American company has come from nowhere to emerge as one of the world's foremost electric car manufacturers in a very short space of time.
Its rapid growth can be attributed to the brilliance of the Tesla Model S – an all-electric hatchback that's capable of travelling for 300 miles on a single charge, yet in its fastest form it can also out-accelerate an Aston Martin Rapide S.
It's around the same size as a BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class, but because the batteries and electric drive system is far smaller than a conventional petrol or diesel engine, there's a vast amount of interior space. So much, in fact, that you can choose to fit an additional pair of rear-facing seats in the boot, turning the Model S into a seven-seater.
And don’t think that those seats are a safety risk – the Tesla Model S received the maximum five-star rating in the independent Euro NCAP crash-test programme, as well as five stars in every category in the equivalent test for the American market.
Tesla says the Model S rivals the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 for passenger comfort, standard equipment and performance. It's offered in five different versions – 70D, 85, 85D, P85D and P90D – each giving you progressively longer range and faster acceleration for a higher purchase price. The D models also feature twin electric motors, so add grippy four-wheel drive.
All models are sports-car quick, with 0-60mph times in the region of five seconds region. But Tesla claims that the P85D provides a Lamborghini-rivalling 0-60mph time of just 2.8 seconds. And yes, you read that correctly.
There's a variety of charging options, ranging from a standard household socket to a purpose-built home charging station – the cost of which can be reduced with government grants. While charging from a standard UK three-pinplug is slow, a wall box can provide up to 23 miles of range per hour. Away from home, Tesla's network of Supercharger stations can provide 170 miles worth of charge in as little as 30 minutes. What's more, they're exclusive to Tesla owners and free to use.
All models get similar equipment, with the only differences being in performance and range: the faster the model, the shorter the range. The Tesla Model S isn't cheap, but we think it offers a realistic glimpse of the future of everyday motoring.
But for all the added performance and extra range gained from more expensive versions, it's the entry-level Model S 70D that is our top pick. For your £50,000, you'll enjoy a range of 275 miles and a 0-60mph time of just 5.2 seconds - and for most buyers, both figures are more than enough.
The Tesla Model S is costly to buy, but extremely cheap to run day-to-day
The Tesla Model S is fast and unusual to drive, whichever version you choose
The Tesla Model S feels both spacious and luxurious inside
Class-leading space inside, plus the Tesla Model S reduces range anxiety
The Tesla Model S uses Mercedes and Toyota parts, so should be reliable