It’s a handsome beast, especially now that the frontal styling has been modernised and simplified. It’s 'refined American' in character, but well-sized for our roads so that it won’t upset someone used to the more conventional Jaguars and German executive saloons to which it makes an interesting alternative.
Inside, providing you’ve had the premium upgrades, the car is pleasantly modern. The fascia is dominated by a massive screen that is central to the driver’s activities and can be configured in a variety of ways, presenting the car’s running history in large and impressive detail, perhaps, or providing the biggest navigation screen going. Or, of course, showing details of the audio system (very impressive in our car, with its performance laid bare by the lack of mechanical noise and vibration) or ventilation.
The car is simple to drive, of course, like the simples of automatics. You use buttons to choose forward or reverse motion, or a park mode, and that’s about it. The performance — especially acceleration — is highly accessible; it accelerates very strongly, and especially quick off the mark in traffic (versus more conventional cars) because there’s so little to do, and the response of the motors is clean and instant. Those who’ve never driven a modern electric car are in for a treat.
The handling is good, mostly because the car’s weight is centred in the battery, which is extremely low in the car. The steering sets a good European standard for effort, gearing and accuracy, although it doesn’t quite have the precision of the very best from the likes of Jaguar. You’re always aware of the 75D’s 2100kg mass as it corners or brakes, but it’s a curiosity rather than a difficulty. But laden with luggage and people, it goes well into Range Rover territory.
There’s little sense of this being an entry-level Model S, and even the range (you start getting restless as you approach 200 miles) isn’t a problem given the exemplary availability of Tesla’s Supercharger network, especially in the UK’s more populated areas, and its speed of charging. A half-hour coffee break gives you an 80% boost, enough for another 180-odd miles. And, at present (in contrast to all others), that boost is a freebie.
Faults? The under-floor battery makes the floor high, especially in the rear, in a way that doesn’t affect (for instance) Jaguar’s new I-Pace SUV because it starts off taller. The Model S's front screen pillars are about the thickest of any car I can remember, meaning you really need to be careful at intersections. Oh, and the friction brakes are overlight, so when you need to wash off the past 20mph at an intersection (having used the regenerative braking to attain low speed) it’s hard to stop with the smoothness we’re used to in conventional systems.