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 the now redundant 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.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer
    This is the Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer
    First Drive
    19 February 2018
    The Insignia GSi is Vauxhall's new performance flagship. Can this diesel estate version offer both pace and practicality?
  • Honda Civic Type R
    First Drive
    19 February 2018
    It’s a warm welcome to this steaming hot hatch. But is it too fiery for Britain’s roads?
  • Aston Martin DB11 Volante
    The DB11 Volante chassis' torsional rigidity is 22kN/deg, down from 34kN/deg on the coupe – but substantially more than the 14.7kN/deg of the DB9 Volante
    First Drive
    19 February 2018
    The DB11 Volante is the first convertible variant of Aston Martin's new model generation. How does it compare to the likes of the new Ferrari Portofino?
  • BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo front
    The new BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo
    First Drive
    16 February 2018
    The top-of-the-line 6 Series Gran Turismo has arrived in the UK, but does a more potent engine increase its unusual appeal?
  • Audi TT RS Coupé
    First Drive
    16 February 2018
    The Audi TT RS has the looks, a vociferous engine and the supercar-baiting performance, but is it too uncompromising to use as a daily driver?