No doubt you’ll have opinions of the bloke himself, but it says a lot about Elon Musk’s foresight that the oldest model in Tesla’s current line-up still feels fiercely futuristic compared with almost any other new car.
In fact, even if you buy a six-year-old Tesla Model S, it’s more cutting-edge and innovative than many of the modern alternatives, whether they’re engine-powered or electric.
And while some versions of the Model S asked for north of £100,000 when new, you’ll find that used ones start from just £30,000 today. No matter the model you go for, you’ll get a big car that handles tidily, rides nicely and has a dose of luxury to go with its sizeable electric advantages.
Used market prices start with a 60 or 80 model from 2014 with one motor driving the rear wheels. For a big boost in performance (and, in most cases, range), look out for later cars with a D suffix, which indicates dual motors and four-wheel drive.
Of the lot, the 75D makes the most sense, with prices starting at around £40,000. It will be able to cover more than 200 miles from a full charge in real-world driving conditions and still crack 0-60mph in a staggering 4.3sec.
But if you’re hell-bent on speed, try the P100D with Ludicrous mode (or P100DL in Tesla slang). You will obliterate 0-60mph in 2.5sec and never meet anything faster than you on the road. This version is scarce, though, so don’t dither if you find one; prices start from around £65,000.
While Tesla’s headline-grabbing performance figures are a major draw, its charging infrastructure solution should appeal more. With its Supercharger network, you’ll have access to 500-plus charging stations at more than 60 destinations around the country and pick up a 10-80% charge in as little as half an hour. Plus, the used Model S you’ve found may be able to use them for free; ask to see the Tesla account linked to the car to find out.
If you do that, you’ll also get a handle on what ‘self-driving’ abilities your car has. This gets complicated, because the Autopilot system (which includes lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control) has changed definition and names down the years and didn’t always come as standard.