Tesla Model S review
The Tesla Model S remains one of the most desirable electric cars on the market, but its qualities come at a substantial price
- Long range
- Supremely quick
- Futuristic technology
- Very expensive
- Perceived interior quality
|Model||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|Long Range||405 miles||15hrs 15mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)||30mins (10-80%, 250kW)|
|Plaid||390 miles||15hrs 15mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)||30mins (10-80%, 250kW)|
Launched in 2012, the Tesla Model S was one of the first truly ‘desirable’ electric cars and thanks to constant updates, it's still a compelling package 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 405 miles – the longest of any electric car on sale today, bar the Mercedes EQS. Acceleration 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.
But at the time of writing, Tesla isn't even quoting future delivery dates on its website for either of the Model S variants, saying only that "pricing and options will be finalised as delivery approaches". If you want a new Tesla in the UK right now, you're limited to the less expensive Model 3 or Model Y for the moment.
Tesla provides a cable to plug into a dedicated home wallbox 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 can charge the Model S at up to 16.5kW, which translates to about 50 miles of range per hour – but only if your home has three-phase power. Otherwise, you're stuck at the standard wallbox speed of 7.4kW and a charge time of more than 14 hours.
On the road, the Model S is enthralling to drive thanks to its instant acceleration. In the Performance model, the slightly less powerful predecessor to the Plaid, the acceleration on offer is nothing short of stunning, although any spirited driving has 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.
Even now, the Tesla Model S has few true rivals, although the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT are strong challengers. You may also want to look at the Jaguar I-Pace, or the SUV equivalent of the Model S, the Model X. For a more detailed look at the Tesla Model S, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Tesla Model S remains one of the most desirable electric cars on the market, but its qualities come at a substantial price
- 2Range, battery & chargingA combination of large batteries and access to Tesla's Supercharger network makes the Model S one of the easiest electric cars to cover long distances in
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe running costs of the Tesla Model S are very low, but the asking price is sky-high
- 4Performance, motor & driveThe Tesla Model S is exceedingly quick and performs well as a refined motorway cruiser; semi-autonomous features reduce the strain further
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThe Tesla Model S feels spacious and elegant inside, although the fit and finish leaves a little to be desired
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThere’s a generous amount of luggage space in the Tesla Model S and interior room is pretty generous, too
- 7Reliability & safety ratingThe Tesla Model S has a relatively clean record for reliability, but its Euro NCAP crash-test rating from 2014 has now expired