Industry leading range
Tesla's flagship model goes beyond any saloon you've ever driven. With blistering 0-60 speeds and technology that nearly all other manufacturers are trying to keep up with, it's not only an investment into an incredible car, it's a statement that driving has moved on and that you are going to be a part of that movement.
If you're looking for a Tesla Model S review, chances are you're already part way there.
Speed and Range
Normally, in any other combustion-engined car review, these two items would be separate. When buying an electric car, that's not the case.
The Tesla Model S comes in an assortment of battery choices:
These numbers correlate to the amount of power your Tesla has the potential to hold and use, imagine it a little like a fuel tank. The bigger the number, the faster your Tesla will go OR the further it will go. So, for example, the 0-60 speed on the P60 is less than that of the P100d. However, even if you accelerated and drove at the same speed in both cars, the P100d would be able to travel further as it has the largest range capacity.
Speed-wise, most new Tesla's have a 0-60 speed of around 3-4 seconds with the top of their range, the P90d and the P100d at 2.4 and 2.6 seconds respectively. To get this acceleration power, you simply switch on Ludicrous mode (previously Insane mode) within the on-board iPad-looking device and the extra torque is delivered when you accelerate.
So, whilst we're here, let's talk torque. Unless you've had the exceptional opportunity to drive a Bugatti Veyron or a modern-day Ferrari, it's unlikely that you've experienced the acceleration speeds of the Tesla. Largely this is due to the fact that most supercars and sports cars need to change gear to be able to deliver such torque whereas electric vehicles don't have this restriction. Imagine electric cars as having a single band wrapped around the wheels with a motor powering that band and you've pretty much understood the basics of an electric drive train. That said, the Tesla is unlike any other electric car on the market and I'll explain why in just a minute.
Range anxiety. This is a phrase that all electric car owners and purchasers become familiar with pretty quickly. The fear of running out of battery power mid-journey with no ability to source extra charge.
What Tesla have done though, is create a vehicle that comes closest to eradicating this issue and rivals, for the first time, combustion engine cars.
Range is possibly the single most important factor to consider when buying an electric car. It's also where the Tesla stands far apart from its rivals. You'll likely see this point raised in other Tesla Model S reviews.
To really test how far a Tesla can go, myself, Olly and Carl decided to drive the P90d from London to Edinburgh. Now before you ask, this can't be achieved in one charge. Instead, we put the car up against the new iPhone 7 to see which has a better battery. The rules were simple; the iPhone can only be charged whilst the Tesla is charging and whoever makes it to Edinburgh with the most battery left, wins.
Leaving London we had a full "tank" and quickly (because we had Ludicrous mode on) headed towards the Midlands. The Tesla's on-board display and navigation had established a route and had allocated the charging points accordingly. The trick with Electric Vehicles is to charge frequently but for a short time so - with that in mind - it had allocated four stops that ranged from 20-45 mins each.
Something to be aware of before buying a Tesla are that their supercharger stations aren't always in the most obvious places, often in the far corner of a hotel car park or, rarely, in a service station. We first stopped to charge at a Northampton hotel just off of the M1, nothing notable here. The second however was behind the gym in a huge hotel complex, possibly somewhere near Sheffield, where even as three young-ish males we felt slightly intimidated.
How many superchargers does Tesla have?
It's growing and whilst a Tesla Model S review might not normally specify this, there's a separate article here.
We can't talk about technology in a Tesla Model S review without discussing Autopilot, Tesla's autonomous driving technology. IT. IS. INSANE!
As I'm writing this, the Tesla that I drove had Version 8 of the software with Autopilot version 1 installed in the car. I'm sure the versions will change over time which is why I say this. This meant that the car could:
- Maintain a constant speed
- Brake and accelerate based on the vehicle in front
- Hold position in the motorway lane, steering itself when needed
- Overtake cars when safe based on assessing on-coming traffic
Largely all of this worked well with only a few occasions where the Tesla decided it wanted to overtake an unsafe point. It really came into it's element when driving at night from Gretna Green towards Edinburgh on a motorway with very little traffic where the car pretty much drove itself for around one hour.
Nearly all of the technology is controlled via a large iPad-looking device in the centre of the car where you could set the Navigation, automatically assess whether you needed to charge en-route and where is best to do so, change the ride height, turn on the heated seats, play a Spotify playlist, programme your garage door to automatically open upon arrival, create driver profiles...the list is endless. Plus, the Tesla smartphone app will give you an idea of how you're getting on during charging and once you're ready to go it will drop you a notification.
To make this part of the review easier, I would go as far as saying that you're unlikely to find better technology combined with such a strong user-interface in any other vehicle currently on the market.
Tesla Model S review - Equipment
- Maps and navigation
- Automatic keyless entry
- Standard Autopilot
- Access to Tesla's Supercharger network
- Collision avoidance
- Software updates
- Front and rear storage
- Spotify and DAB radio
- 8-year battery warranty
- Enhanced Autopilot
- Full self-drive capability
- Luxury air-filtration system
- Leather finish on arm-rests, steering wheel and dash
- Smart ride height adjustment
- Upgraded speakers
- High-power charger upgrade
- 19" wheels
Want your own?
You can hire a Tesla Model S for an hour, a day or even a weekend from my friends at EVision
Behind the scenes
Craig TV Crew
We've actually filmed with Tesla Model S' twice now. Once to test the range of the P90d on a trip from London to Edinburgh versus the iPhone 7 and secondly as a gift for Carl at Christmas.
For the "How far can a Tesla go?" video, it meant collecting the car from West Drayton near Heathrow before quickly filming with Kate - from in the Kitchen with Kate - for a video and then heading to collect Olly and Carl from my house in North-West London. We set-off with batteries ready and headed to our first charging point, a hotel car park in Northampton.
Hotel car parks quickly became a theme with the Tesla as we darted from charing point to charging point, meeting locals and drinking plenty of coffee on the way. If anything, this trip was a test of being able to spend a large amounts of time with each other in tight spaces as well as how welcoming various parts of the UK would be to three guys in a £100k car of the future. I'm happy to report, both tests came back positive.
I carried most of the driving up to Edinburgh and really started to love the luxury and simplicity of the Tesla's driving experience. By the time I reached the last charging point at Edinburgh airport, I was incredibly tired but somehow felt more at-ease than perhaps I would have done in a less high-end car. At this point we finished filming and the glamour of making YouTube videos ended, largely at the realisation that we had to make the return journey away from camera but as part of the job.
Olly took the return-leg and safely manoeuvred our way back towards London, encountering 3am energy drops, 5am sunrise and the usual rush-hour of the commuter belt. All of this was done under the pressure of getting the Tesla back safely to the press team in London by the time that we'd agreed.