From £58,6008
Updated Tesla Model S gets tweaked styling and a new entry-level 60kWh powertrain. Could this new version be the pick of the range?

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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    2017 Tesla Model S P100D

    The additional driving range is welcome, but the range-topping Model S's increase in performance is overkill, even if it is very entertaining
22 August 2016

What is it?

Tesla has had a busy year, what with ramping up production of its Model X crossover and unveiling the smaller Model 3 saloon. But it has still found time to revise the other prong in its plug-in trident, the Tesla Model S.

All versions get a slimmer front grille and new headlights to create a look that’s more closely aligned with that of the Model X, while inside there’s a more sophisticated air filtration system and two new interior wood trim choices. However, the biggest news is a new entry-level 60kWh powertrain.

Priced from £53,400 if you go for the rear-wheel-drive 60 model, and rising to £57,800 for the twin-motor, four-wheel-drive 60D we’re testing here, it can blast these latest Model S versions from 0-60mph in 5.5sec and 5.2sec respectively.

The new 60 models actually match the acceleration of the pricier 75 and 75D models and use the same 75kWh battery pack; it’s just been artificially capped at 60kWh, which knocks about 50 miles off the range between charges.

This approach means customers can choose to upgrade later, with it requiring nothing more than an over-the-air software patch, although it’s far from a cheap option at £7850.

What's it like?

It might not be supercar quick in the way that the range-topping P90D is, but the 60D can still out accelerate all but the fastest sport saloons, and its performance is incredibly accessible due to the instant torque of the electric motors.

The presence of four-wheel drive also helps. Floor the accelerator and the 60D takes off with minimal drama, thrusting you down the road while emitting nothing more than a muted whine.

Ride comfort is another strength, with the Model S soaking up most bumps, while also controlling pitch and roll well. Just don’t expect it to be huge fun in the corners; the steering is consistent enough, but it never offers anything that could be defined as feedback, so you feel rather disconnected from the action.

Of course, Tesla is proud of this in one way, offering the 60D with its Autopilot system. It might have come in for heavy criticism following a death in the US, but as long as you treat it as a driver aid rather than something that transforms the Model S into a fully autonomous car, it’s surprisingly effective at making monstrous motorway miles less tiring.

As with all modern Teslas, the interior of the 60D is dominated by a giant iPad-style touchscreen through which you control pretty much everything. Perceived quality has been improved over the years, even if still feels short of the standards set by the Porsche Panamera.

However, the Model S is more practical than the Porsche and other rivals, such as the Mercedes-Benz CLS. The Tesla has two boots, plenty of space for three on its rear bench seat and the option of two rear-facing, boot-mounted chairs that turn it into a seven-seater.

Should I buy one?

As with any electric car, it’s important to make sure that the new Tesla Model S 60D fits with your life. But if it does, it’s usefully cheaper than the 75 model, accelerates just as quickly and has only a moderately reduced range.

What’s more, unlike Model 3 buyers, anyone who chooses the 60 or 60D Model S will have free access to Tesla’s supercharger network.

For now, it has no direct rivals, but it is a very appealing alternative to big hybrid and combustion-powered saloons from the established prestige brands.

Steve Huntingford

2016 Tesla Model S 60D

Location Middlesex; On sale Now; Price From £57,800; Engine Two electric motors; Power 324bhp; Torque 317lb ft; Gearbox Single-speed, direct drive; Kerb weight 2108kg; Top speed 130mph; 0-60mph 5.2sec; Range 253 miles; CO2/tax band Nil at tailpipe/0%; Rivals Mercedes-Benz CLS; Porsche Panamera

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Comments
33

22 August 2016
Why have reviews of these cars become so carried away with speed/acceleration times/figures. It is pretty much all this review talks about. Surely it is more important to highlight the range capabilities/charging times of this type of car.

23 August 2016
Marc wrote:

Why have reviews of these cars become so carried away with speed/acceleration times/figures. It is pretty much all this review talks about. Surely it is more important to highlight the range capabilities/charging times of this type of car.

Those figures are not only easily attainable, but hyped by the "green tech" press for their superiority to other EVs. They offer the longest range and fastest charging times of any EV. With a "traditional" automotive enthusiast publication like Autocar, it is the JOY of driving that makes headlines. And nothing says fun like a five to seven passenger that accelerates like a two seat supercar at a fraction of the price. And a fraction of the complexity. Needless to say, current Tesla models are performing and selling quite well with this "high end first strategy", while offering mechanical efficiency and simplicity that none of their ICE competitors can match.

Vaunted performance car manufacturers that I have admired for decades as a driver are scrambling to offer a similar product in the next eighteen to forty eight months. They would NOT be doing so if Tesla were not taking away a significant portion of their market share.

If you are looking for a nuts, bolts, and pence analysis, they are available, impressive, and at your fingertips. What I personally find exciting is that EVs are being earnestly compared to the world's best performers. Preaching to an established and tiny choir is hardly exciting.

23 August 2016
EliPDX wrote:
Marc wrote:

Why have reviews of these cars become so carried away with speed/acceleration times/figures. It is pretty much all this review talks about. Surely it is more important to highlight the range capabilities/charging times of this type of car.

Those figures are not only easily attainable, but hyped by the "green tech" press for their superiority to other EVs. They offer the longest range and fastest charging times of any EV. With a "traditional" automotive enthusiast publication like Autocar, it is the JOY of driving that makes headlines. And nothing says fun like a five to seven passenger that accelerates like a two seat supercar at a fraction of the price. And a fraction of the complexity. Needless to say, current Tesla models are performing and selling quite well with this "high end first strategy", while offering mechanical efficiency and simplicity that none of their ICE competitors can match.

Vaunted performance car manufacturers that I have admired for decades as a driver are scrambling to offer a similar product in the next eighteen to forty eight months. They would NOT be doing so if Tesla were not taking away a significant portion of their market share.

If you are looking for a nuts, bolts, and pence analysis, they are available, impressive, and at your fingertips. What I personally find exciting is that EVs are being earnestly compared to the world's best performers. Preaching to an established and tiny choir is hardly exciting.

What the hell are you blathering on about. Reading that is like sitting through a meeting with management consultant. Tesla are breath of fresh air the automotive world but cleary their PR Dept are full of the same old sh1t.

A34

22 August 2016
Of course the dead dinosaur brigade do the same (an extra 1K for a more aggressive ECU program for an extra 20-30PS)...
With a battery though capacity is a big expense. So including an expensive battery capacity you can't access in the range-sensitive electric car business is odd. Wonder if someone will hack the extra capacity?

22 August 2016
A34 wrote:

Of course the dead dinosaur brigade do the same (an extra 1K for a more aggressive ECU program for an extra 20-30PS)...
With a battery though capacity is a big expense. So including an expensive battery capacity you can't access in the range-sensitive electric car business is odd. Wonder if someone will hack the extra capacity?

I guess they're relying on customers getting a bit of range anxiety after purchase and then paying for the upgrade. Not really any different to conventional car makers offering what is essentially the same engine in two different states of tune and charging thousands for the more powerful option, when in reality it is usually not much more than a software upgrade as well.

23 August 2016
It's quite clever. Allows for greater economies of scale through build commonality, yet upgradable overnight through remote software upgrade. Tesla is very big on repurchasing and reselling it's vehicles as owners trade up, but any buyer or seller will benefit from this adaptability.

Traditional ICE vehicles have always offered multiple versions of the same basic mechanical package, tuning it to suit expectations and price points. The fact that Tesla can upgrade your vehicle, at your home, while it is cheaply refueling and you are sleeping is unprecedented.

23 August 2016
EliPDX wrote:

It's quite clever. Allows for greater economies of scale through build commonality, yet upgradable overnight through remote software upgrade. Tesla is very big on repurchasing and reselling it's vehicles as owners trade up, but any buyer or seller will benefit from this adaptability.

Pure gold. No mention of Tesla getting an additional chunk of cash from the customer after purchase.

23 August 2016
EliPDX wrote:

Traditional ICE vehicles have always offered multiple versions of the same basic mechanical package, tuning it to suit expectations and price points.

Isn't that what I said?

22 August 2016
It seems that we will have to wait for Volkswagen to make a decent electric car for the Autocar to grant it 5 stars. Meanwhile the brilliant Tesla that outshines its rivals by at least half a decade has to put up with only 4 stars.

23 August 2016
fadyady wrote:

It seems that we will have to wait for Volkswagen to make a decent electric car for the Autocar to grant it 5 stars. Meanwhile the brilliant Tesla that outshines its rivals by at least half a decade has to put up with only 4 stars.

I actually give Autocar a great deal of credit for it's positive Tesla reviews. For a fairly conservative and definitively British source, they are quite kind to both electric and American made vehicles when they are actually deserving of praise. And Tesla is both.

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