From £58,6008
Retains all the style and practicality of the more expensive model, with decent handling and an improved ride. Quick enough for most people

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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26 November 2014

What is it?

A new entry point into the recently revised Tesla Model S line-up. It's also perhaps a more affordable, everyday proposition than the barnstorming P85+ version we’ve driven previously and declared to be better than an Aston Martin Rapide.

That model was undoubtedly a seminal moment for the electric car – and possibly for automotive development full stop – but priced at £50,280 after the government’s electric vehicle subsidy, this version is firmly within the reach of the type of buyers who normally opt for a plush German exec.

The revised range is now made up of the 60kWh version we’ve driving here, the punchier 85kWh model and, from July 2015, the range-topping P85D. This replaces the Performance model, and will have an eye watering 682bhp, thankfully deployed through all four wheels.

What's it like?

There are some important mechanical differences involved in choosing the lesser Model S. It makes do with ‘just’ a 298bhp motor, which gives a top speed of 120mph and a claimed 0-60mph time of 5.9sec, along with a claimed range of around 215 miles – around 80 miles less than you get in the 85kWh car.

Other than the motor and the fact that it sheds more than 100kg thanks to its smaller battery pack, the most notable change on the 60 is to the suspension.

The 85 Performance uses an air-sprung set-up, with stiffer anti-roll bars along with standard 21-inch wheels. But the standard mechanical suspension employed by this 60 version helps soften out the ride – at least for the most part.

Where the firmer 85 Performance would occasionally crash over pot holes, the 60 glides over them beautifully with little upset to the body. However, continuous ripples in the road cause it to fidget and never completely settle. 

The pay-off is that when you exploit the fast and direct steering and launch the 60 at a bend, there's prodigious grip and barely any body roll, despite the smaller tyres. Eventually the front will wash wide, and if you give the accelerator a prod mid-corner you can tempt the rear to break loose, but it’s never wild. 

It could do with a bit more feel as you approach the limit, and in Sport mode the steering is needlessly heavy but still as numb as it is in the other modes.

Off the line it feels like a fast petrol V6, and although it doesn’t shock you in quite the same way as its more potent Model S siblings, the power delivery is more manageable, especially over damp surfaces. It’s fair to say that at speeds above 60mph you will notice its comparative lack of power, but this is still a very quick car.

Just because this is the entry model, don’t be under the impression that you'll be missing out on the full-fat Tesla experience, either. As with the rest of the range, the 60 still comes with a TV-sized screen in the dash, heated leather seats and a lot of goodies you’d need to fork out extra for in its rivals.

Should I buy one?

Whether your blood runs eco green or petrol blue, this is still a stunning car. It may not have the supercar pace that made the 85+ feel like such an achievement, but it still feels years ahead of most conventional electric cars.

It's not perfect by any means, and you do need to make adjustments for its range limitations. However it’s a stylish, fast, dynamically adept car that also offers great practicality at a comparatively affordable price, and it's a worthy alternative to conventionally powered executive rivals.

Tesla Model S 60

Price £50,280 (after gov't grant); 0-62mph 5.9sec; Top Speed 120mph; Economy 215-mile range (US EPA rating); CO2 0g/km (at tail pipe); Kerb weight 1999kg; Engine three-phase AC induction motor; Installation rear, transverse; Power 298bhp; Torque 325lb ft from 0-5900rpm; Gearbox single-speed fixed gear

Join the debate

Comments
39

26 November 2014
Sure this car will do 215 miles under EPA test conditions, which probably means lowish speeds, with no lights, heating, air conditioning in use. But at the opposite end of the scale, it will deplete its batteries within 30 miles at its maximum speed (assuming that around 100kw power is needed at 120mph).
Somewhere in between there will be a practical range of not much more than 100 miles assuming that the driver does NOT make use of the considerable performance available. I wonder how many Teslas will have 2 litre diesel engines fitted once the first set of batteries have expired?

26 November 2014
LP in Brighton wrote:

Sure this car will do 215 miles under EPA test conditions,...... it will deplete its batteries within 30 miles at its maximum speed ......Somewhere in between there will be a practical range of not much more than 100 miles .?

So you drive at maxium speed for 30 minutes do you ?? You asked what the real world range was then state the" practical range of not much more than a 100 miles", why ask the question if you know the answer or did you just make that last bit up.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

jer

26 November 2014
Range?

26 November 2014
Have any of you ever sat in the back? No mention it has less rear headroom than a Ford Fiesta? Its damn uncomfortable back there. I am average height, well under 6 foot and I had to crick my neck to fit in there.

Having said that, the model S is a true black swan. Seemed to come out of nowhere and challenged established ways of doing and thinking about cars. Mclaren P13 advertisers take note!

26 November 2014
A 3 second google search later, owners are reporting 80% of quoted range in "normal" driving conditions. So 80% of 215 is around 170 miles, which really isnt bad. Superchargers can get your battery upto 80% in 40 mins. So 80% of 170 is around 135 miles. If there are a network of supercharger stations every 100 miles, you should be covered and always have a 20% reserve.
You should be taking breaks every 1.5 to 2 hours of driving anyway so this means most of the UK will be in reach with minimal distruption over petrol/diesel with a supercharger network in place.

www.teslamotors.com/it_IT/forum/forums/what-range-85kwh-normal-motorway-driving

In the post above a man wants to get from Liverpool to London, a journey of 225 miles each way. Assuming he can top up at both ends, he could do this with one 20min recharging stop each way (50% full in 20mins, 80% full in 40mins at a supercharger station) with a 15% reserve. He should be taking a break in the middle of this sort of journey anyhow.

26 November 2014
take a break after 1.5-2 hours?Think that's a bit of over-zealotry by the thought police. What you supposed to do - take a nap? I regularly drive to the North East of Spain without a break - one of many reasons I couldn't have a Tesla amazing achievement though it is. Fancy the BMW i3 for zapping around London though.

26 November 2014
winniethewoo wrote:

If there are a network of supercharger stations every 100 miles, you should be covered and always have a 20% reserve.

40min charge you say, assuming of course the supercharger is working or they're not all in use. I'd say you're looking at +30 years before your idea becomes reality. But not for a second am I going to knock the car itself. You mention you've sat in one and comment on the rear headroom. Just looking at those pics, the rear seats look like a park bench covered in leather, is it as uncomfortable as it looks? Even the front seats... If you ignore the dash and just look at the seats and door panels, my very first impression was of the Chrysler Concorde I rented in mid 90's!

26 November 2014
"....is still a stunning car" Most people who buy one will have a second car so range isn't such an issue.

Although the argument for a nissan Leaf, i3 or cheaper plug-in is probably easier.
Either way roll on the next Tesla from zero to hero.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

26 November 2014
How refreshing to see a car of this type with a decent rear seat that will accommodate 3 (or maybe 2 large Americans). ... Range anxiety persists, though.

26 November 2014
the real world range is an issue - I test drove one (well, an 85) a few weeks ago and loved it. But I live in Preston and there isn't forecast to be a supercharger anywhere near me. I would only consider an 85 for the extra range so I could do 200 mile journeys without too much stress. I met someone a month ago who has one and who travels continuously round the country (a tax lecturer doing 20-odd thousand miles a year) and he loves it - has ordered a model X to add to his S. I was more impressed by what he said than the rantings of doom-mongers. But I am still not sure I want to spend that much on a car that I need to think hard about recharging if I do longer journeys. Plus the optional seats 6-7 are for children smaller than mine and I need a car to tow - so would need my wife to have a big car as well

And I was, frankly, put off by the major price / options changes (4wd went up from £2,500 to £4,200) the day before I test drove, with most option prices then dropping three days later (4wd down to £4,100) and then rumours of a 6%-7% price increase for currency fluctuations at some point. Not sure I want to spend £65k on a car that the constructors don't know what they are charging for from one day to the next (some of the sales team on the day I had my test drive were unaware of the changes that had happened the previous day) or when it will be delivered (I was told if I ordered immediately I would get delivery in Feb/Mar but when I looked at the website it was quoting late April).

Will look at again when the model X comes out but, for me, it might not happen until the 3-series equivalent comes in a couple of years

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