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Tesla Model S review – Supercar-like acceleration for an electric luxury saloon

Will Beaumont
17 Aug 2017
Verdict:

The Model S exudes the benefits an electric car has over fossil-fuelled alternatives; Supercharger network makes it more usable than ever

Evo Rating: 
Price: 
From £62,000
For 
Remarkable and addictive acceleration, low running costs
Against 
Regenerative brakes make it difficult to really connect with the car
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We’ve been led to believe that the internal combustion engine is old-hat and that electric cars will be the future.

Not that long ago, that would have been a dire and scary proposition, but electric cars have gone through a renaissance and now some are even becoming desirable. This change of reputation is, in part, thanks to Tesla and its venerable Model S; a premium, fast, and usable electric saloon car.

The latest version, the P100D, takes these attributes that have made the Model S so sought-after and amplified them to create a £129,400, four-wheel drive, luxurious vehicle that’s also, with a 0-60mph time of 2.5sec, the fastest accelerating saloon car ever.

The Model S combines such incredible performance with an effortless driving experience making it an astoundingly effective machine for covering ground. With a maximum range from 250 to over 300 miles (depending on which spec you choose) and an expanding network of supercharger points that allow the Model S to top up its battery in a remarkably short space of time, it's also one of the most usable electric cars on the market.

When it comes to pure thrills nothing else about the Model S can match its ability to accelerate. That’s mostly because it’s such a remarkable party piece, but equally the Model S isn’t a car that comes alive in a corner or allows a driver to really get under its skin.

Tesla Model S in detail

> Performance and 0-60 time - All models of the Tesla Model S can safely be described as brisk. Opt for the fastest P100D and initial accelerative performance matches that of many hypercars. Read more about the Model S's performance here

> Engine and gearbox - The Model S P100D's electric motors drive an axle each, ensuring both grunt and traction are superb. Read more about the Model S's engine and gearbox here

> Ride and handling - Despite a hefty kerbweight, the car's centre of gravity is low helping the chassis stay composed. Read more about the Model S's ride and handling here

> MPG and running costs - Its range is good enough for the vast majority of journeys and with no fuel costs the Model S can be a cheap car to run. Read more about the Model S's running costs here

> Design - Some will say the Model S looks a little conservative, but we like that Tesla has avoided trying too hard. Read more about the Model S's design here

Prices, specs and rivals

There’s now less complexity about the Model S lineup. Since release the price range has narrowed and risen to around £60K for the entry-level, 75kWh model to make room for the upcoming Model 3 below. Adding a secondary motor to the 75, makes it four-wheel drive and pushes the price up by £5000. Next up is the 100D, sitting not too far off £100,000, somewhat £30K less than the range-topping, phenomenally accelerative P100D.

The array of standard kit will satisfy most and so the options list is thankfully short. Smart air suspension (once an option) is now standard, but enhanced autopilot and full self-driving capability still remain pricey additions, at £4,700 and £2,800 respectively. An uprated stereo, a heated steering wheel and all-round heated seats make up the premium upgrade package which will set you back £4,700. Should the school run be a frequent calling for you and your Model S, the £3,800 fold-away, rear facing additional seats may come in handy.

Though the Model S boasts impressive performance it’s far from rival-free across its price spread. The competition may be fuelled more conventionally but have the benefit of more focused, sporting-inclined engineering on their side. None offer full electrified powertrains, though.

super-limo, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid can travel for 31 miles on battery power alone and has fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of 81.1mpg and just 66g/km. The likelihood of the HUD reading such figures is little with the V8 combining with the electric motors to staggering effect –  671bhp and 627lb ft of torque.

The above Porsche is the only competition that can provide a similar blend of performance and frugality, otherwise new M5 and the Mercedes-AMG E63 certainly compete on the power front packing around  600bhp each. Free of concern for the polar ice caps the two German barges offer superior handling and agility, especially on track with the AMG emitting a typically raucous soundtrack. Interior is another area where the Tesla is subpar to its German rivals.

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