The Model S may look like a conventional – albeit intensely stylish – executive car from the outside, but only because Tesla has opted to make it follow visual conventions, and in part only because that’s what buyers are used to.

The truth is, though, that beneath its skin lies a mix of technologies whose positioning doesn’t actually relate to the straightforward bonnet, underneath which is a generous amount of luggage volume rather than an engine or even motor and power converter.

Matt Burt

Matt Burt

Executive Editor, Autocar
The Model S comes with a reversing camera as standard

Elsewhere, the Tesla Model S features an aluminium and steel monocoque whose front reinforcement and generous crumple zones afford it impressive crash strength.

The battery pack sits beneath the cabin floor and its subframe contributes to torsional rigidity, although the entire pack can be swapped out by a special automated jig within two minutes.

Buyers can pick from one of four battery options, which comprise of a 60kWh and a 75kWh pack, both available in all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive configurations. Meanwhile the 85kWh pack has been replaced with a 90kWh pack which is good for a 346 mile range, 4.2sec 0-62mph time and 415bhp, while topping the range is the recently introduced 100kWh pack which extends the cruising range to an incredible 393 miles.

But Tesla aren't done there, with those looking for a bit more performance can opt for the P100D, it may only be able to travel 381 miles per charge, but produces 603bhp and 713lb ft of peak twist from its twin electric motors, and has the capability to crack 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds. To put it in perspective the P100D is 0.7sec faster than a McLaren F1, no slouch even in today's world of hypercars.

If you’re wondering how the Model S can come with such a leggy claimed range, look no further than the battery. It uses conventional lithium ion battery cells, just like most electric cars, but here they have a capacity of 90kWh. Think of it as a big fuel tank; a Renault Zoe’s usable range is provided by 22kWh of battery technology.

As a result, the Tesla will take relatively longer to charge if you’re pushing the same level of current into it. And a Model S will accept charge from a regular household socket (at 11kW) if you want it to. Most Model S buyers will recharge using a 7kWh home charger, while Tesla's Superchargers, which provide up to 120kWh of power meaning your Model S could have be at half charge in 30 minutes, will pick up the recharging strain on the road, with more than 200 Supercharger locations across Europe.

 

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • BMW X3
    Car review
    19 January 2018
    The stakes have never been higher for BMW’s mid-sized SUV, now the X3 in its third generation. So can it deliver?
  • Nissan Leaf
    First Drive
    19 January 2018
    Better looks, better value, better range, stronger performance and a quiet and relaxing drive make the Nissan Leaf a leading EV contender again
  • Volkswagen Up GTI
    First Drive
    18 January 2018
    Funky, light, enjoyable and even reasonably priced, the Volkswagen Up GTI is a car to be appreciated on its own compelling terms
  • Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 110 Redline
    First Drive
    18 January 2018
    Our first flavour of the 1.0 TSI-engined Skoda Fabia on UK roads shows it’s versatile but not all that sporty
  • Ford Ecosport 1.0 Ecoboost 125 Zetec front
    First Drive
    18 January 2018
    Can the updated Ford Ecosport improve its reputation and become the small SUV of choice, or is it another misguided effort from the Blue Oval?