In-depth reviews

Tesla Model S review

The Tesla Model S remains one of the most desirable electric cars you can buy, but its qualities come at a substantial price

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£94,990 - £117,990
Fuel Type:
Electric

Pros

  • Long range
  • Supremely quick
  • Futuristic technology

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Very expensive
  • Perceived interior quality
ModelRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
Long Range412 miles14hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)23mins (10-80%, 250kW)
Plaid390 miles14hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)23mins (10-80%, 250kW)

Introduced in 2012, the Tesla Model S was the first truly ‘desirable’ electric car and thanks to constant updates, is still a compelling package nearly a decade later. Capable of the kind of acceleration usually reserved for supercars, the Model S also boasts one of the longest ranges of any electric car on sale, as well as optional 'Autopilot' technology that allows a degree of hands-free driving.

Many versions and trim levels have been offered since launch, although only two are available to order today: Long Range and Plaid. Tesla says the Long Range delivers a range of 412 miles; the longest of any electric car on sale today, bar the Mercedes EQS

Acceleration in the standard Model S from 0-60mph takes 3.1 seconds, with a top speed of 155mph. The Plaid is even quicker, with a 0-60mph time of just 1.99 seconds. Its maximum range is slightly lower than the Long Range, at 390 miles.

Prices for the Tesla Model S start at around £84,000 for the Long Range, rising to just over £110,000 for the Plaid. However, at the time of writing, Tesla wasn't even quoting delivery times on its website – delays had previously pushed custom orders back to late-2022. If you want a new Tesla in this country, you're limited to the less expensive Model 3 or Model Y for the moment.

A number of costly optional extras are available on both trim levels, pushing the price of the Model S even higher. As for charging, you’ll be extremely hard-pushed to top up the Model S off a normal socket. Tesla provides a cable to allow you to do that, but you’ll need almost two whole days to fully charge the car using this method.

Tesla also provides a ‘blue’ adaptor capable of charging at 7.4kW, which allows you to plug into a dedicated home wallbox (from companies such as BP Pulse or Pod Point) and many public fast chargers. This will deliver a full charge in around 15 hours. The best solution is to install a Tesla wallbox at home. These cost £460 and can charge the Model S up to a rate of 16.5kW, which translates to about 50 miles of range per hour on charge – but only if your home has three-phase power.

On the road, the Model S is enthralling to drive thanks to its instant acceleration. In the Performance, the slightly less powerful predecessor to the Plaid, the acceleration on offer is nothing short of stunning, although any spirited driving will have a noticeable impact on the range.

The Model S is also reasonably comfortable and the ride is compliant, and while there’s no engine noise to speak of, you do hear more wind and road noise as a result. An update in late-2021 saw the introduction of 'Active Road Noise Reduction' technology – a pair of noise-cancelling microphones in the front seats designed to create quiet zones around the driver and passenger.

While we've not yet had a chance to try this setup, even without it the Model S is a relaxing car drive – especially when you engage some of the now-standard Autopilot features. Inside, Tesla has stuck with a minimalist design and the dashboard is dominated by a 17-inch touchscreen that controls everything from the sunroof to the climate control. Overall, the quality of materials is very good, although there are some plastics that feel a little cheap.

The Model S scored five out of five stars in its Euro NCAP crash tests in 2014, earning an 82% rating for adult occupant safety, 77% for child occupants, and 66% for pedestrians. Tesla also sends over-the-air software updates periodically, which in the past have fixed potential faults and even unlocked extra performance from the electric motors.

Even now, the Tesla Model S has few true rivals, although the Porsche Taycan is a strong challenger. You may also want to look at the Jaguar I-Pace and the Audi e-tron as alternatives. As SUVs they don’t boast the same sleek looks as the Model S, and if an SUV is on your radar, there’s always the Tesla Model X. For a more detailed look at the Tesla Model S, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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