Review

Tesla Model S saloon

Price  £63,835 - £84,535

Tesla Model S saloon

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Huge performance
  • 300-mile range possible
  • Up to seven seats available
Cons
  • Expensive to buy
  • Extras push price up even further
  • Not as much fun as a Porsche Panamera

At a glance

The greenest
85 kWk 5dr £63,835
The cheapest
85 kWk 5dr £63,835
Top of the range
85 kWh Dual Motor Performance D 5dr £84,535

"The Tesla Model S is a powerful, well equipped and practical saloon 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 more than 300 miles on a single charge, yet in its fastest form 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 its batteries and motors are 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 seats in the boot, turning the Model S into a seven-seater.

And don’t think that those rear-facing 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 four different versions – 60, 85, 85D and P85D – each giving you progressively longer range and faster acceleration for a higher purchase price.

All models are sports-car quick, with 0-62mph times in the region of five seconds region. But the P85D provides a supercar-rivalling 0-62mph time of just 3.2 seconds.

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. These wall boxes 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.

There are three equipment levels, each linked to one of the three battery packs, with the performance flagship P85D version offering the furthest range and fastest acceleration. The Tesla Model S isn't cheap, but we think it offers a realistic glimpse of the future of everyday motoring.

We’d ignore the entry-level Model S 60 and choose the Model S 85, because for your extra £8,000, you get another 60 miles of range, plus it can use the Supercharger network ‘out-of-the-box’. The latter is an option on the 60.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.5 / 5

The Tesla Model S is costly to buy, but extremely cheap to run day-to-day

Engines, drive & performance

4.5 / 5

The Tesla Model S is fast, fun and unusual to drive, whichever version you choose

Interior & comfort

4.5 / 5

The Tesla Model S feels both spacious and luxurious inside

Practicality & boot space

4.5 / 5

Class-leading space inside, plus the Tesla Model S reduces range anxiety

Reliability & safety

4.4 / 5

The Tesla Model S uses Mercedes and Toyota parts, so should be reliable

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 2 reviews
4 / 5
"The Model S is good to drive, comfortable and well specced. It represents the convergence of digital and automotive tech, with its brilliant infotainment screen, while staying practical. It's pretty well built and offers super-saloon performance plus a range as good as any conventional rival. But entry-level models only have a 160-mile range and aren’t as quick."
4 / 5
"The Tesla Model S is a ground-breaking new electric car that's both desirable and capable. If the Model S is a sign of things to come from Tesla, then the future looks very bright."
Last updated 
20 Mar 2015
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