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Parkers overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 4.6
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Groundbreaking Electric Vehicle still makes all manner of sense

Tesla Model S (14 on) - rated 4.6 out of 5
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PROS

  • On-board technology still leagues ahead of rivals
  • Wow factor still there, five years after launch
  • Spacious, flexible cabin, seriously practical
  • EV with a realistic range and performance

CONS

  • Minimalist interior lacks deep-seated quality
  • Limited UK availability of superchargers
  • If EVs don't fit your life, it won't work
  • Slow to charge off three-pin plug

PROS

  • On-board technology still leagues ahead of rivals
  • Wow factor still there, five years after launch
  • Spacious, flexible cabin, seriously practical
  • EV with a realistic range and performance

CONS

  • Minimalist interior lacks deep-seated quality
  • Limited UK availability of superchargers
  • If EVs don't fit your life, it won't work
  • Slow to charge off three-pin plug

Verdict

Tesla Model S review

Although its svelte looks hint at luxury rather than revolution, the Tesla Model S has shaken up the executive car market in ways even its founder Elon Musk might have been surprised with.

As well as being a new and exciting addition to the executive car park, it's helped 'normalise' electric vehicles by making them exciting, usable and downright attractive. So, what's all the fuss about? That enormous 17-inch touchscreen in the dashboard? Its unusual 5+2 seating arrangement with two rear-facing child seats in the boot?

No. The Model S's unique selling point is that it’s purely electric, and one that's less compromised by its range and charging infrastructure than any of its rivals. How does 260-plus miles of real world driving sound? Exactly.

What sets the Tesla Model S apart?

Tesla Model S dashboard

Tesla’s Model S has been on sale in North America since 2012 and made in California, but right-hand drive versions benefit from European assembly – they're built in the Netherlands.

Due to the Model S’s pure EV nature, the cabin is incredibly spacious with a flat floor allowing easy and comfortable access to the middle seat. Open the large tailgate and you’ll find a 774-litre boot which can be equipped with the rear-facing child-seats as an option. Folding the back seats reveals a cavernous 1,645-litre capacity.

Because there’s no engine up front, the ‘bonnet’ reveals another 150-litre boot, so even driving seven-up there’s more usable luggage space than many people-carriers can muster.

The light and airy interior is dominated by that huge infotainment screen which controls almost all of the Model S’s infotainment and ancillary features like climate control, seat heating and driving modes. Most of the conventional switchgear, of which there's little, is borrowed from Tesla’s technical partner Mercedes-Benz.

Four-version Tesla Model S line-up

Four trim variatuons make up the Tesla Model S range: Standard, Signature Performance, Performance and Performance Ludicrous. Battery variations are signified by the numbers – and new models comes in 75D, 100D and P100D forms. Older models include 60, 85, P85 and P85+. It sounds a little confusing but essentially isn’t.

The 60 has a 60kWh battery, with a 310hp motor and a theoretical range is 240 miles. Progress to the 85 version (85kWh battery) and you’ve got 370hp at your disposal (torque output mirrors the 60). Not only is it a little quicker than the 60, its maximum range increases too, to a claimed 312 miles.

With the addition of a high-performance drive inverter to the P85, the same battery is mated to a 425hp motor producing 600Nm of torque. Range remains the same as the 85’s, but the P85’s performance credentials don’t go unnoticed with red brake callipers and a vestigial carbonfibre spoiler on the edge of the tailgate.

Topping the range is the P100D, fitted with the Performance Ludicrous pack. Tesla describes this as a European sports saloon set-up and as such has adaptive air suspension and 20mm wider rear tyres and 21-inch wheels, boosting both performance and range thanks to the eqivalent of 615hp of instant, linear power.

All versions of the Tesla Model S feature an automatic single-gear transmission, sending power to the rear wheels and produce no CO2 emissions from the car itself.

Simple to recharge

Tesla Model S front seats

Charging the Model S is as simple as connecting a mobile phone. The slowest option is a normal three-pin plug, followed by a Type 2 connection, which is becoming commonplace for EVs. Typically found in motorway services and in domestic wall-boxes, charging typically works out at 23 to 68 miles of range per hour.

You are more likely to achieve 68 miles of range per hour with the dual-charging wallbox Tesla is making available for home installation, but for the quickest solution a network of Superchargers is being strategically installed around the UK.

These are free to use for drivers of older Teslas, and chargable to new ones. Charge time is quick: you get a range of 170 miles in just 30 minutes. The supercharging equipment is standard on all 100 versions and optional on the entry-level 75.

Tesla Model S rear seats

The Parkers VerdictThe Parkers Verdict

The executive saloon market is a perfect fit for an EV. More space, incredible comfort and a virtually silent cabin are all boxes that the Model S ticks emphatically.

The equipment list and comprehensive choice of options makes this a very tempting choice for any prospective owners, although some of the options, such as a sat-nav are standard for rivals and safety features are on the basic side. But the lack of an engine creates so much potential for practicality, and the potential luggage space in the Model S blows everything else out of the water.

Balancing the power and weight of this car is still a work in progress but its performance is nothing to be sniffed at, even at base spec. This is a real contender, and has been largely responsible for consumers warming to the idea of an electric vehicle with so few compromises.

Tesla Model S rear view

Read on for the full Testa Model S review

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