The Tesla Model S is the first bespoke creation from the electric car stable of PayPal creator Elon Musk.

Its body structure is chiefly aluminium, with steel used only to add strength in key areas. Tesla says the resultant stiffness has allowed it to bestow the car with good dynamics despite its size and weight (more than two tonnes), even on 21-inch wheels.

Had you asked us 10 years ago for our bet on which manufacturer would be the first to introduce a viable, fast, practical and competitively priced all-electric luxury saloon to the UK, we would have looked to Germany or Japan, or even South Korea, for a credible tip.

The fledgling upstart from Palo Alto in the US, only incorporated in 2003, would not even have been a blip on the radar. But within a decade, Tesla has gone from CEO Elon Musk’s brainchild to deadly serious player in the unpredictable business of building – and selling – zero-emission cars.

Following the now-defunct Roadster, the Model S is the first prong in a plug-in trident of a plan that includes a smaller saloon and a crossover SUV in the not too distant future. On paper, the Model S is ideally placed to take sizeable bites out of the market share of Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz.

The Model S is unlike anything we’ve seen before wearing a tax disc, and it has the size, pace and, yes, range to compete with a conventionally powered rival. Does it have the finish, panache, quality and character, too?

Read on to see if Tesla's Model S qualifies as current landmark or future landfill.

Top 5 Luxury

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Tesla range

Driven this week

  • Car review
    30 June 2016
    Volkswagen’s compact SUV bulks up for a bigger slice of segment sales
  • Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TSFI S-line
    First Drive
    30 June 2016
    Audi has given its A3 Cabriolet a mid-life refresh. We drive it for the first time on UK roads.
  • Audi Q2 1.0 TFSI SE
    First Drive
    30 June 2016
    A 1.0 TFSI seems a small and unlikely engine for an SUV, but then the Q2 is Audi's newest and smallest soft-roader
  • Ferrari GTC4 Lusso
    First Drive
    29 June 2016
    Ferrari's four-wheel-drive GT car has been updated. We drive the GTC4 Lusso, replacement for the FF, and find out if it's worthy of its famous name
  • Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI S-line
    First Drive
    28 June 2016
    We've driven the facelifted version of the ever-popular Audi A3 Sportback in 2.0 TDI guise on UK roads for the first time