Tesla Model S review
The Tesla Model S remains one of the most desirable electric cars on the market, but more luxurious rivals that are better to drive pose a serious threat
- Long range
- Supremely quick
- Futuristic technology
- Very expensive
- Not available to order currently
- 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)|
Tesla Model S verdict
The Tesla Model S was one of the first truly ‘premium’ electric cars and thanks to constant updates, it's still a compelling package more than a decade later. The luxury electric saloon is one of the fastest cars ever produced, not to mention boasts one of the longest ranges of any electric car. Meanwhile, Tesla’s optional 'Autopilot' technology allows a degree of hands-free driving, which certain brands are yet to catch up to. However, interior quality in the Model S has never quite lived up to its price tag.
Range details, specs and alternatives
When the Tesla Model S launched in 2012 there were no other premium electric cars around. In fact, the only other mainstream electric cars on sale were the first generation Nissan Leaf and Renault ZOE. But since then, not only has Tesla introduced three new cars – the Model X seven-seat SUV, Model 3 saloon and Model Y family SUV – a few brands have launched their response to the game-changing Model S.
The Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT sports saloons are both fantastic to drive, meanwhile the Mercedes EQS and BMW i7 are true luxury electric flagships. The Model S’ new arch-rival, the Lucid Air, has also been showing it up when it comes to driving dynamics, range and charging speeds.
Over the past decade, more than a dozen versions of the Tesla Model S have been available, we’ve seen 60, 60D, 70, 70D, 75, 75D, 85, 85D, P85+, P85D, 90, 90D, P90, 100D and P100D versions. The numbers signified the capacity of the car’s battery pack in kWh (kilowatt-hours), with a larger number signifying more power and greater range. The additional D stands for dual-motor, with those variants getting four-wheel drive.
In 2021, the Model S was overhauled with new styling, cabin design and powertrains to choose from. The updated Model S Long Range uses a roughly 100kWh battery pack to power two electric motors, with the combination offering 405 miles of range and 0-60mph in just over three seconds.
Above that sits the new Model S Plaid; it pairs the same battery pack with a tri-motor setup – two motors on the rear axle, one on the front – produces more than 1,000bhp, will do 0-60mph in under two seconds and can cover up to 390 miles on a charge, according to Tesla.
One of the most controversial elements of the Model S’ facelift was the addition of a steering yoke, but since then Tesla has revealed customers will be given a choice of a regular steering wheel when ordering. Speaking of which, while the new Model S has gone on sale in North America and some European countries, it’s unclear when UK order books will open up or the first examples will arrive here. We expect the latest Model S Long Range to start from around £100,000, with the Model S Plaid likely to be priced at close to £125,000.
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 more luxurious rivals that are better to drive pose a serious threat
- 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 will not be cheap
- 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 & infotainmentThe 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, and once again boasts a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating