Skip advert
Advertisement
In-depth reviews

Tesla Model S hatchback review

"The Model S is fast, well-equipped and practical with an impressive range, but it can feel cheap inside"

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.4 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Astonishingly quick
  • Impressive technology
  • 400+ mile range

Cons

  • Not the best to drive
  • Build quality is lacking
  • Limited choice

Verdict - Is the Tesla Model S a good car?

Sitting as the flagship of its saloon range, the Tesla Model S showcases the very best and worst of the American all-electric car brand. With full access to the Tesla Supercharger network and a Long Range model that offers over 400 miles of range, the Model S is an EV that can be used as a cross-country cruiser. However, build quality has long been an issue for Tesla and even Model S is not immune to this – despite prices that can easily stray into six figures. There are now several rivals that will offer a more luxurious electric car experience.

Tesla Model S range

Sitting alongside the Model X SUV in Tesla’s lineup, the original Model S went on sale all the way back in 2012, mostly to critical acclaim, and has since received several substantial updates to keep it at the cutting edge of the electric car world.

longest range electric cars10 longest-range electric cars

While even early examples still hold up well today in terms of technology and performance, the Model S underwent a significant facelift in 2021. This introduced a jet fighter-style ‘yoke’ steering wheel as well as a new 17-inch landscape central touchscreen. As before, buyers can specify ‘autopilot’ semi-autonomous driving features for an additional cost, which can accelerate, brake and steer for you on the motorway.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The Tesla Model S has no trim levels per se, however, there are two models buyers can choose from: the standard Model S and the high-performance Plaid variant. The limited driving range of electric vehicles is one factor that has thus far curbed their popularity against conventional petrol and diesel cars, but the Tesla Model S has one of the longest range figures of any pure-electric car; the base Model S has an impressive electric range of 405 miles, while the Plaid is only slightly behind at 390 miles.

While the Model S Plaid can reach 0-62mph in just two seconds, making it the fastest-accelerating production car ever, we’d recommend sticking with the standard model as this still offers great performance, without the Plaid’s excessively high price tag. All Model S examples also get full access to Tesla’s expansive Supercharger network; plugging in at one of these can add up to 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes.

While reliability isn’t typically a concern with EVs, over 40% of Tesla owners reported a fault with their car within their first year of ownership in our 2022 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. Partner this with rather sub-par build quality (think large panel gaps, cheaper materials and the potential for loose trim) and the otherwise-impressive Model S seems to fall apart slightly when compared to rivals such as the Porsche Taycan or Mercedes EQS.

Another issue is actually getting your hands on a Model S, because during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tesla stopped taking orders for its flagship saloon for the UK. It still remains on Tesla’s website and production has resumed for the European market, however, so it’s only a matter of time until we see the top-of-the-range Tesla return to UK roads.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Top 10 cars with the biggest boots
The cars with the biggest boots
Best cars
12 Apr 2024

Top 10 cars with the biggest boots

The safest cars to buy in 2024
2023 safest cars - header
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

The safest cars to buy in 2024

Top 10 fastest saloon cars 2024
The fastest saloon cars
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 fastest saloon cars 2024

Self-driving cars: all you need to know
Self-Driving Interior View
Tips and advice
9 Nov 2023

Self-driving cars: all you need to know

Most Popular

New Alpine A290: fast, stylish and very blue electric hot hatchback revealed
Alpine A290 front quarter
News
13 Jun 2024

New Alpine A290: fast, stylish and very blue electric hot hatchback revealed

Engine management light: what to do if it comes on
Engine warning light
Tips and advice
12 Jun 2024

Engine management light: what to do if it comes on

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s top car offers
Carbuyer best new car deals hero
Deals
14 Jun 2024

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s top car offers

More on Model S

Top 10 cars with the biggest boots
The cars with the biggest boots
Best cars
12 Apr 2024

Top 10 cars with the biggest boots

If carting cargo is your priority, our top 10 list of the biggest car boots is sure to be of interest, whatever your budget
The safest cars to buy in 2024
2023 safest cars - header
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

The safest cars to buy in 2024

Looking for peace of mind when out on the road? Here are the safest cars according to independent crash-test body Euro NCAP
Top 10 fastest saloon cars 2024
The fastest saloon cars
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 fastest saloon cars 2024

For performance and comfort, check out our list of the fastest saloon cars you can buy right now
Self-driving cars: all you need to know
Self-Driving Interior View
Tips and advice
9 Nov 2023

Self-driving cars: all you need to know

We’ve been told that they’re the future and, at last, legislation appears to be catching up. But when will self-driving cars be a reality? Read on...
Top 10 best large executive cars
The best large executive cars
Best cars
22 Mar 2023

Top 10 best large executive cars

Large executive cars continue to hold vast appeal and cachet. We pick out 10 of the best
New Tesla Cybertruck images reveal sharp, angular interior
Tesla Cybertruck 3/4
News
2 Mar 2023

New Tesla Cybertruck images reveal sharp, angular interior

The highly anticipated Tesla Cybertruck is set to hit roads in 2023, with the latest images of the striking model’s interior featuring its sharp, angu…
Top 10 best cars with three ISOFIX points
Peugeot 3008 Hybrid
Best cars
10 Jan 2023

Top 10 best cars with three ISOFIX points

Most cars come with just two ISOFIX child seat mounts, but many families need three. Our list runs down the best options available
Tesla Supercharger network is now partially open to rival electric cars in the UK
Tesla Supercharger
News
18 May 2022

Tesla Supercharger network is now partially open to rival electric cars in the UK

As part of a trial, 158 Superchargers are now compatible with EVs from other brands
Skip advert
Advertisement
Range-topping Tesla Model S Plaid+ cancelled
2021 Tesla Model S Plaid - front view
News
7 Jun 2021

Range-topping Tesla Model S Plaid+ cancelled

Updated Tesla Model S and Model X ranges are due in 2022 but Plaid+ model will no longer feature
Porsche Taycan vs Tesla Model S: rivals comparison
Porsche Taycan vs Tesla Model S header
News
19 Apr 2021

Porsche Taycan vs Tesla Model S: rivals comparison

The Porsche Taycan is the closest rival to the Tesla Model S but which of these fast, luxurious, electric cars is the best?
The world's fastest electric cars
The Tesla Roadster is likely to be the fastest car in the world when it goes on sale in 2020
Tips and advice
23 Mar 2020

The world's fastest electric cars

The world’s fastest electric cars offer performance petrol-powered models couldn’t dream of
Tesla app explained
Woman looking at phone in front of a Tesla
Tips and advice
18 Mar 2020

Tesla app explained

We explain everything you need to know about the Tesla smartphone app
Tesla Model 3 pricing increased
2019 Tesla Model 3 - dynamic front 3/4 view
News
18 Oct 2019

Tesla Model 3 pricing increased

Tesla has announced price increases across the Model 3 range of up to £2,000
2020 Porsche Taycan makes public debut at Frankfurt
Porsche Taycan - Front 3/4 at Frankfurt
News
10 Sep 2019

2020 Porsche Taycan makes public debut at Frankfurt

Porsche shows off the £115,858 electric Taycan
Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X updates
News
5 Aug 2019

Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X updates

New Tesla Model S and Model X owners get complimentary Supercharger network access
Tesla slashes Model S and Model X prices by up to £50,000
Tesla Model S and Model X
News
4 Mar 2019

Tesla slashes Model S and Model X prices by up to £50,000

Top-spec models are now considerably less expensive, which has angered recent buyers
Tesla reveals revised Model S and Model X ranges
Tesla Model S and Model X
News
31 Jan 2019

Tesla reveals revised Model S and Model X ranges

Tesla will rebadge its Model S and Model X ranges in the UK later this year
Skip advert
Advertisement
CCS fast-charging for Tesla Model 3, Model S and Model X
Model S at Supercharger
News
19 Nov 2018

CCS fast-charging for Tesla Model 3, Model S and Model X

European Tesla owners will soon be able to use CCS fast-chargers as well as the Supercharger network
Tesla launches Chill Mode update
News
13 Nov 2017

Tesla launches Chill Mode update

Chill Mode update gives Tesla owners the option of gentler acceleration
Tesla to increase prices by 5%
News
22 Dec 2016

Tesla to increase prices by 5%

Currency fluctuations to blame for the price rise on all new Teslas bought in 2017.
Tesla to stop offering free Supercharging to owners
News
8 Nov 2016

Tesla to stop offering free Supercharging to owners

Customers who order a Model S or Model X from January 2017 will not get free use of Supercharging stations
New 2017 Tesla Model S: further details, prices and specs
News
24 Aug 2016

New 2017 Tesla Model S: further details, prices and specs

Fastest Tesla Model S – the P100D – set to do 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds
New Tesla Model X SUV: pictures, specs and performance
News
13 Jul 2016

New Tesla Model X SUV: pictures, specs and performance

Electric Tesla Model X SUV faster than most supercars, but with low running costs and zero emissions

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
26 Mar 2024

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Public EV charge point
Tips and advice
11 Jan 2023

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
21 Mar 2024

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors

Top 10 best electric cars 2024
Best electric cars
Best cars
16 May 2024

Top 10 best electric cars 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024
The best cheap-to-run cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024
Fastest hot hatchbacks hero
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024