In-depth reviews

Tesla Model S electric motor, drive & performance

The Tesla Model S is exceedingly quick and performs well as a refined motorway cruiser; semi-autonomous features reduce the strain further

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Electric motor, drive & performance rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£73,990 - £138,990
Fuel Type:
Electric
Model0-60mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
Long Range3.1s155mphFour670bhp
Plaid2.0s155mphFour1,020bhp

As the Tesla Model S is powered by dual electric motors, it launches from a standing start like little else on the road. And because it has no gearbox, it’s incredibly smooth to drive. Running on adaptive air-suspension, the ride is for the most part very comfortable, although this is influenced by tyre choice.

Another characteristic of the Model S is its regenerative braking, which recycles energy back into the battery that would otherwise be wasted when slowing down. When driving, this means that Model S slows down very quickly when you take your foot off the accelerator, although it’s something you’ll quickly get used to.

Luckily, you can adjust the level of regenerative braking: less makes the Model S better to drive, while more increases the amount of charge sent back to the battery. A digital display on the screen will show you just how much energy you’re recovering, too.

Tesla Model S electric motor, 0-60mph and acceleration

The 2022 Tesla Model S Long Range hits 60mph from rest in 3.1 seconds, while the top speed is 155mph for all models. The Plaid gets power boosted to 1,020bhp for a sub-two-second 0-60mph number. Compare this to the Jaguar I-Pace, which will do 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds regardless of trim level.

Handling

The Tesla Model S’ battery pack is located in the floor of the car, so the centre of gravity is very low. This means the car grips the road well and the body barely leans when cornering. However, the sheer bulk of the Model S (all models are over two tonnes) makes it less than thrilling on a twisty road, and while the steering feels weighty, it won’t give you much feedback. In this department, an I-Pace is more enjoyable.

At cruising speed, though, the Model S is relaxing to drive. You’ll hear the whir of the electric motor, plus road noise from the tyres and some wind noise, but it’s still a calmer environment than in a typical petrol or diesel car.

Most Popular

Complete guide to the Ecotricity Electric Highway charging network
Ecotricity
Your questions answered

Complete guide to the Ecotricity Electric Highway charging network

Need to charge your electric vehicle on the Ecotricity Electric Highway network? Here’s how it works, how much it costs and how to pay
9 Jun 2021
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX review
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Volkswagen ID.4

Volkswagen ID.4 GTX review

VW’s first attempt at a performance electric car handles well for a 2.2-tonne SUV and offers decent performance, but has the same infotainment issues …
20 Jun 2021
Complete guide to BP Pulse (formerly Chargemaster) home chargers
BP Chargemaster wallbox
Your questions answered

Complete guide to BP Pulse (formerly Chargemaster) home chargers

Everything you need to know about BP Pulse (formerly known as BP Chargemaster) home wallbox chargers for electric and plug-in hybrid cars
3 Jun 2021
New hybrid VW Transporter van and VW Multivan minibus: pictures and specs
2021 Volkswagen Multivan
Volkswagen Transporter

New hybrid VW Transporter van and VW Multivan minibus: pictures and specs

The new Multivan minibus replaces the Caravelle in Volkswagen's UK line-up and will be available with the eHybrid plug-in powertrain
10 Jun 2021
New 2021 Kia EV6 electric SUV: details, pictures, price and on-sale date
Kia EV6 GT-Line - Exterior
Kia EV6

New 2021 Kia EV6 electric SUV: details, pictures, price and on-sale date

Kia's flagship electric car is capable of up to 316 miles on a single charge and recharging from 10-80% in just 18 minutes; available to order in the …
17 Jun 2021
BMW hydrogen fuel-cell SUV begins real-world testing
BMW i Hydrogen NEXT SUV prototype
BMW X5

BMW hydrogen fuel-cell SUV begins real-world testing

BMW's hydrogen fuel-cell prototype has begun testing on European roads; brand expects production version to go on sale in 2025
16 Jun 2021
Rivian R1S seven-seat electric SUV spied testing
Rivian R1S spy shot
News

Rivian R1S seven-seat electric SUV spied testing

The new American electric-car brand's R1S SUV produces up to 750bhp; 400-mile range model expected in 2022
4 Jun 2021
2021 Audi A3 plug-in hybrid: prices, specs and release date
plug-in hybrid Audi A3
Audi A3

2021 Audi A3 plug-in hybrid: prices, specs and release date

Audi A3 40 TFSI e and 45 TFSI e available to order now; plug-in hybrid powertrains only available in A3 Sportback, not saloon
21 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car: emergency services to trial electric model
Tesla Model 3 police car
Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 police car: emergency services to trial electric model

Tesla makes test car available to emergency services for trials as part of government's Road To Zero strategy
17 Jun 2021
New 2021 Peugeot e-Partner electric van: specs, details and on-sale date
Peugeot e-Partner
Peugeot Partner

New 2021 Peugeot e-Partner electric van: specs, details and on-sale date

The new Peugeot e-Partner electric van is a sister model to the Citroen e-Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo-e; it goes on sale in late 2021
3 Jun 2021
2021 BMW 330e Touring: prices, pictures and specifications
BMW 330e Touring
BMW 3 Series Touring

2021 BMW 330e Touring: prices, pictures and specifications

The plug-in hybrid 330e version of the BMW 3 Series is available in Touring estate guise for greater practicality, with optional four-wheel drive
3 Jun 2021
New 2022 Peugeot 308 SW plug-in hybrid estate fully unveiled
New 2022 Peugeot 308 SW plug-in hybrid estate
Peugeot 308

New 2022 Peugeot 308 SW plug-in hybrid estate fully unveiled

The more practical estate version of the new Peugeot 308 will go on sale towards the end of the year, and will also be available as a plug-in hybrid
22 Jun 2021
Electric car sales UK: May 2021 figures show beginning of post-Covid recovery
ID.3 vs Leaf
News

Electric car sales UK: May 2021 figures show beginning of post-Covid recovery

May 2021 saw UK new-car registrations increase by over 674% year-on-year, but totals were still down on pre-pandemic figures
4 Jun 2021
The UK electric car grant and electric van grant explained
Electric car charging
Your questions answered

The UK electric car grant and electric van grant explained

The UK government's plug-in car grant offers buyers up to £2,500 off any new electric car costing less than £35,000; a subsidy is available for van bu…
15 Jun 2021