The electric Model S is a fine car to drive, and one that has effectively trumped the mass-market manufacturers at what should have been their own game
31 December 2013

We were blown away by the Tesla Model S when we drove it earlier this summer, and so was Aston Martin’s dear old Rapide S.

The one thing you don’t expect from an electric car is the sort of pure, straight-line performance that can make a 5.9-litre V12 Aston Martin feel slow, but that’s precisely what the Model S delivered when we put the two cars side by side.

In the process, the Tesla changed in a heartbeat our perceptions of what we should expect from an EV. From that moment, the future for us car enthusiasts seemed, well, rosier somehow.

Driving the extraordinary Model S and realising just how good it was beside rivals from some of the best sports car companies in the world right now (not just the Aston Martin but a Porsche Panamera, too) was one of the most uplifting motoring moments of 2013.

It wasn’t just the Tesla’s savage acceleration that defined it as something a bit special. Everything about it seemed fresh, well thought out and unusually well executed in most cases.

To be honest, this car felt as if it had been made by a company that has been perfecting its craft for decades. It certainly didn’t feel like the first-time effort that it actually is.

Take its interior, which isn’t the plushest of places to compare with the cabin of an Aston Martin, but it is more than good enough in all of the areas that count. It’s exceptionally roomy, features one of the most innovative and intuitive-to-use giant touchscreens that we’ve seen, and is well made.

To spend time in a Model S is, therefore, an enjoyable experience, something that you want to go back and do just for the sake of it. And that’s not an easy thing to achieve first time out of the box.

The car also rides, steers, handles and just drives properly, too, which is similarly impressive for the same reason. Most first-time-effort cars simply don’t drive this well, or feel this well resolved.

And what of the car’s range and charging times, which until now have been the restricting factors when it comes to the real-world appeal of electric vehicles? We got over 250 miles out of each charge, one of which included a performance test session at MIRA. The genuine range is about 300 miles, which is about the same as the Aston Martin.

The difference is that the Aston then costs £120 to refill with unleaded, whereas the Model S uses about £4.50 of electricity to fully recharge from empty.

Okay, so it took us six hours to recharge it from a regular mains socket, which is slightly more than the three minutes that it took to refill the Aston. But Tesla claims that you will be able to recharge in less than three hours with one of its forthcoming high-output chargers, or in as little as one hour from one of its new ‘supercharging’ stations.

Be in no doubt: the future is here in the form of the brilliant Tesla Model S. And it’s a future that looks just great.

Our Verdict

Tesla Model S 95D

In theory, this all-electric luxury car looks a hit. So is it in practice?

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Comments
9

31 December 2013
So Steve once again an EV is the car of the future,please
Steve live in the real world.
Six hours to re charge,car can not be used during that time,car
can do some 250 to 300 miles,how nice,how many can it
do in the winter?160- 180?.
How long will the battery last,any idea?,also how much will
a new one cost?.
What do you do to recharge the thing if you have to park the
car on the road,as so many have to,?
Run the lead up the pavement then up the path then in the front door,and this is the car of the future,dream on mate.
It may well be the case that in 10-15-20 years time they may
well be able to overcome these problems but until they do
it would be very nice if some people did not rave on about some thing that has so many problems to make the ownership of the car a big pain in the back side..

31 December 2013
Let me reply to you I own a Model S 85

1)300 miles If you drive more than that every day I guess you are a Taxi driver and this car was not meant for a Taxi, however in Norway there are Tesla MS taxi. If you sleep I can tell you as a Doctor that most people sleep for at least 6 hours you have plenty time for recharge. Now your ICE car does not have to be full for you to drive every day right. I charge in my 220V outlet 25 miles per hour I commute 30 miles a day I need to recharge 90 min a day and that is it. Now again if you drive 300 miles a day you need 220V 40 Amp 12 hours of 220V 80 Amp 6 hours. As additional information Unites States has way larger distances than UK and we use Supercharge "for free for life" I guess Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston, Toyota don't build petrol station to fill up for free right?. With the Supercharges you can put 200 miles in 20 minutes and full charge in 45 min, that is the time you take having a meal and coffee.

Tesla is building the supercharger for free in Europe too, give then a little time, they said that by the end of 2014 UK will be full covered. If you need to park outside with no way to charge you need to work with the community and politician to install on street charges as another European countries.

2) Winter the battery loss around 5 to 10%. Tesla Battery has a sophisticated battery temperature control.
3) The battery has a warranty of 8 years and unlimited mileage, the Test done tio the Tesla roaster "By independent research Company" shows then the battery loss after 100.000 miles are around 10 to 20%, the battery will last at least 10 years.
4) How much it cost? today around $40.0000 US dollars but keep in mind that the battery price per Kw is half today compare to 3 years ago and the kilowatt energy density increases 5-10% a year.
5)Please imaging the battery technology in 10 years, you will take your Tesla and replace for maybe $10.000 US dollar battery that last 600 miles $1000 miles? or more and able to charge in 30 minutes.

last but not least my favorite cars are British, I owned Land Rover, Aston and Jaguar my last the XJ and XKR beautiful jewels but I'm not coming back to petrol car ever again.

2 January 2014
kendwilcox47 wrote:

So Steve once again an EV is the car of the future,please
Steve live in the real world.
Six hours to re charge,car can not be used during that time,car
can do some 250 to 300 miles,how nice,how many can it
do in the winter?160- 180?.
How long will the battery last,any idea?,also how much will
a new one cost?.
What do you do to recharge the thing if you have to park the
car on the road,as so many have to,?
Run the lead up the pavement then up the path then in the front door,and this is the car of the future,dream on mate.
It may well be the case that in 10-15-20 years time they may
well be able to overcome these problems but until they do
it would be very nice if some people did not rave on about some thing that has so many problems to make the ownership of the car a big pain in the back side..

I'm not a big fan of EV cars yet, but most of what your moaning about is trivial issues that time would sort out anyhow. Infrastructure will be developed at the pace of consumer demand of EV so we won't be all tripping over your lead that stretching across the pavement. Like any new tech early adopters have to put up with hindrances. The cars we drive now didn't have nicely tarmaced roads running to every corner of the country when they first came out and neither did they have service stations by the plenty so we can fill up wherever.

2 January 2014
There is precisely zero chance I'll ever go back to a petrol burner. When I must drive a petrol vehicle on holiday or work trip, I'm struck by how medieval they are in comparison. Even the premium petrol-mobiles are loud, rough, sluggish and unrefined compared to the Tesla S.

The true joys of pure electric vehicles:
+ Never having to stop for petrol on the way to work in the morning. I always leave my garage with a "full tank" which takes mere seconds to achieve (plug it in the evening, unplug it in the morning just like a mobile phone).
+ Never having to stand at the pump in a winter gale.
+ Instant and silent acceleration off the line.
+ No energy penalty for heavy acceleration! Unlike a petrol-mobile, full throttle acceleration is as efficient in an electric as moderate acceleration. Three-phase induction A/C motors' efficiency curves are exceptionally flat in the mid-90% range. As a result, acceleration in an electric is simple physics (Force = Mass * Acceleration, time is irrelevant). Petrol-mobiles efficiency collapses under heavy acceleration.
+ Never having to change oil or coolant fluids.
+ Never having to pay for petrol. It only costs a few pounds/dollars for a full charge.
+ Heat for the cabin comes on instantly, no need to wait for the engine to warm up first.

Much ink has been spilled regarding charge times, but as an owner with >12,000 miles, I can attest that the ink has been spilled in vain. Rarely do I, or the vast majority of others, drive more than 300 miles in a single day. When I have, the Tesla Supercharging stations have been fantastic. No need to stand at the "pump" and in the time it takes to use the loo (a necessity after 3-4 hours of driving) and have a cup of tea (about 15 minutes total) the car has charged enough for another 150 miles. I've needed to use public charging stations only twice, in Manhattan. In both cases, the vehicle charged overnight while I slept at the hotel.

Perhaps my favorite joy of electric ownership, however, is how quickly and soundly my children fall asleep in the quiet cabin devoid of the machinations of engine and transmission. Silence is truly golden!

3 January 2014
BigWu wrote:

There is precisely zero chance I'll ever go back to a petrol burner. When I must drive a petrol vehicle on holiday or work trip, I'm struck by how medieval they are in comparison. Even the premium petrol-mobiles are loud, rough, sluggish and unrefined compared to the Tesla S.

The true joys of pure electric vehicles:
+ Never having to stop for petrol on the way to work in the morning. I always leave my garage with a "full tank" which takes mere seconds to achieve (plug it in the evening, unplug it in the morning just like a mobile phone).
+ Never having to stand at the pump in a winter gale.
+ Instant and silent acceleration off the line.
+ No energy penalty for heavy acceleration! Unlike a petrol-mobile, full throttle acceleration is as efficient in an electric as moderate acceleration. Three-phase induction A/C motors' efficiency curves are exceptionally flat in the mid-90% range. As a result, acceleration in an electric is simple physics (Force = Mass * Acceleration, time is irrelevant). Petrol-mobiles efficiency collapses under heavy acceleration.
+ Never having to change oil or coolant fluids.
+ Never having to pay for petrol. It only costs a few pounds/dollars for a full charge.
+ Heat for the cabin comes on instantly, no need to wait for the engine to warm up first.

Much ink has been spilled regarding charge times, but as an owner with >12,000 miles, I can attest that the ink has been spilled in vain. Rarely do I, or the vast majority of others, drive more than 300 miles in a single day. When I have, the Tesla Supercharging stations have been fantastic. No need to stand at the "pump" and in the time it takes to use the loo (a necessity after 3-4 hours of driving) and have a cup of tea (about 15 minutes total) the car has charged enough for another 150 miles. I've needed to use public charging stations only twice, in Manhattan. In both cases, the vehicle charged overnight while I slept at the hotel.

Perhaps my favorite joy of electric ownership, however, is how quickly and soundly my children fall asleep in the quiet cabin devoid of the machinations of engine and transmission. Silence is truly golden!

I think potential drivers need to appreciate you do things differently with an electric car. So your once a week fill up becomes a nightly charge, but it is at your own convenience plugged into your house mains. And as you say, rarely do people exceed 300 miles in a single day so the chances are those trips are planned to deal with a situation where you need to do in excess. Routine is the key. If we all have learnt how to plug our smart phones in on daily basis I can't see electric cars causing too many problems.

2 January 2014
kendwilcox47 wrote:

So Steve once again an EV is the car of the future,please
Steve live in the real world.
Six hours to re charge,car can not be used during that time,car
can do some 250 to 300 miles,how nice,how many can it
do in the winter?160- 180?.
How long will the battery last,any idea?,also how much will
a new one cost?.
What do you do to recharge the thing if you have to park the
car on the road,as so many have to,?
Run the lead up the pavement then up the path then in the front door,and this is the car of the future,dream on mate.
It may well be the case that in 10-15-20 years time they may
well be able to overcome these problems but until they do
it would be very nice if some people did not rave on about some thing that has so many problems to make the ownership of the car a big pain in the back side..

It's mind boggling how people keep bringing up the questions of the Model S' range and battery replacement when all those answers already exist. They pose them as if there were some existential quandaries that may perhaps be solved by future generations. Just Google it and spare everyone your mindless musings. Also, if you have street parking, you can't afford one.

31 December 2013
I think Steve has been charmed by the same thing as all car testers around the world, namely the acceleration of this EV car. They get so impressed by the acc they forget everything else.

First is the price of this car. It has all the power and range because of massive amounts of expensive batteries. And you start to use that power too much your range will drop like a stone.

Second is the usability. Where is the infrastructure to support EVs like this car? We know the smaller ones are city cars but Tesla climes you can do with only a Tesla. 6 hours to charge it? In other EU countries it takes 15 hours due to the electric system. Where do you charge it on cross country drives? And this in societies where 2 minutes delay makes people angry and frustrated? Tesla setting up a few chargers will not solve the problem. This way you have to schedule your life according to the cars needs, not the other way around.

Third, this car has no new magic technology. It's not Tesla's first try, they have had the roster for 10 years. Tesla S cost minimum 2 or 3 times as much as other EV cars, hence the power and range. How can you forget this fact?

No other manufacturer have build something like it because the sales numbers have been so low due to not many can afford such an expensive car. But as markets change so comes the big companies. BMW started i3 and i8 and more is coming. Most go with hybrids which are more realistic for our systems. You can drive them on electricity in cities and gas on cross country.

The day our countries start to change for fully electric cars with the infrastructure is the day cars like this are valid.

Dan

2 January 2014
bezor Ta wrote:

I think Steve has been charmed by the same thing as all car testers around the world, namely the acceleration of this EV car. They get so impressed by the acc they forget everything else.

First is the price of this car. It has all the power and range because of massive amounts of expensive batteries. And you start to use that power too much your range will drop like a stone.

Second is the usability. Where is the infrastructure to support EVs like this car? We know the smaller ones are city cars but Tesla climes you can do with only a Tesla. 6 hours to charge it? In other EU countries it takes 15 hours due to the electric system. Where do you charge it on cross country drives? And this in societies where 2 minutes delay makes people angry and frustrated? Tesla setting up a few chargers will not solve the problem. This way you have to schedule your life according to the cars needs, not the other way around.

Third, this car has no new magic technology. It's not Tesla's first try, they have had the roster for 10 years. Tesla S cost minimum 2 or 3 times as much as other EV cars, hence the power and range. How can you forget this fact?

No other manufacturer have build something like it because the sales numbers have been so low due to not many can afford such an expensive car. But as markets change so comes the big companies. BMW started i3 and i8 and more is coming. Most go with hybrids which are more realistic for our systems. You can drive them on electricity in cities and gas on cross country.

The day our countries start to change for fully electric cars with the infrastructure is the day cars like this are valid.

Yes, Steve and literally every other legitimate car publication and magazine has been charmed by it. And somehow bezor Ta how's never driven the model S or anywhere near the number of cars Steve has, knows all.

Also, you are categorically wrong in all your statements. What's bezor Ta anyway? The Algerian word for oil field? If you look at any article on the model s, this guy is there bashing away. So give it up "oil field", the experts have spoken and the verdict in. The model S is practical, exhilarating and reasonably priced for its class. They're valid today cause they can't make enough of them to meet the demand.

Consumer Reports just issued they're one year update on the model S and the only quibble they have is wishing the air conditioning what a bit stronger. Now that's a source you can trust.

31 December 2013
when he revealed his utmost veneration for the Tesla Model S - a car that challenges all misconceptions about the electric powertrain.
Compare it with any other electric car on offer today and goes without saying that the Model S is a truly exceptional car.
I don't know a true car enthusiast that is not intrigued by this marvellous car that blows the conventional cars away.

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