Odd to think that pretty soon Teslas will have been rolling on the highways for seven years, and that was one of the first things about the Model S that struck us. In all honesty, the actual design hasn’t really changed that much! It still retains the admittedly stylish and sleek low fastback design but from a distance, the casual road user may struggle to identify it as the latest model. Don’t get us wrong – it is still a great looking sedan, but after these years we struggle to see a huge amount of external design changes besides the odd tweak here and there. Certainly, nothing much to write home about though.
Inside the cabin and yes – as feared it still doesn’t quite feel like what you may expect from a $74500 basic vehicle. Perhaps the higher price bracket editions are a little cozier, but in all truth, this just feels a little like it’s missing too much. Barren would be a way to describe it, as it does feel like there should be much more there – it just isn’t! Other than the sterilized feel it’s comfortable enough and there’s plenty of space (an issue which had been a point of complaint in previous releases). Yet considering it is marketed as being ‘luxury’ – that may be stretching a terminological boundary a little too far.
One feature that did stand out was the still arguably unequaled touchscreen interface. Many competitors have been trying to emulate/copy it, but in our opinion, it is what makes this a truly smart car. The 17-inch touchscreen with all of its sliders and icons will take a little getting used to, but after a little practice, it makes the cars ancillary features so easy to control. Beautifully crisp with smart design – yeah this is what it feels like to be driving a properly modern car. Superb.
Moving on to performance. It remains a design with not just outstanding handling but oh my word the acceleration is the standout feature! Even in this entry priced model, it is stunning, with the $130k P100D offering 0-60 in three seconds. Don’t believe me – have a look at the Tesla P100D acceleration videos online. Hopefully, this will become a standard feature in the next couple of basic series, because it is a unique selling point for having an electric vehicle. Yet for the one we tested – still as good as much more exclusive gas-guzzling rivals.
Which brings us neatly to the range and power consumption. Tesla remains by a million miles the most integrated network of charging points across the US. Thanks to having exclusive access to real ‘fast charging’ on highways, you can add 200 miles of range within just over a half hour. Their charging stations deliver around 125kw capacity – their rivals in the electric car market do well to scrape 50kw. Remember when they were released everyone thought Teslas were going to struggle for long distance journies – that is no longer an issue, and our prediction is that it won’t be too long before they are just as good as gas vehicles.
So where does that leave us overall? In terms of sheer performance and reliability, this is the best electric vehicle on the roads at entry level. Perhaps we may have been a little harsh at the top of this review in complaining that it looked little different to the previous series, but in all honesty that’s just us being a little fussy. The interior is a perfectly comfortable space and yes, it may be a little utilitarian but then that superb control panel more than makes up for that. A sheer delight to drive and all but the most poorly planned drivers are going to find themselves struggling to be not near a charging point. It is an excellent sedan and shows signs that there’s still plenty more to look forward from Tesla in the future.
Performance: 8 (9 for superior models)
Fuel Economy: 10