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.