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
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. 

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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

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Norma Smellons 14 December 2014

@martinwinlow

Righto. Well, in that case, I shall abandon my motor to help defeat ISIS and the Taliban. And to lower the temperature of the planet, of course. All of this makes perfect sense, now that you have pointed it out. Tell me, is there no limit to the wonders of the electric car?
AHA1 28 November 2014

Driving almost 16hrs or so without a break?

@johnfaganwilliams: London to Barcelona is more or less a 16hrs drive in real world conditions allowing for some refueling stops for car & driver. Or at least that's roughly the sort of times I've done it in summer or winter, over the last 10 years or so. If you're do that run without a break as the only driver, please let me know when you're out and about so I can stay off the roads!
Norma Smellons 27 November 2014

@abkq

Why is 80% always bandied about? If you could do that in 40-odd minutes then why not hang on a little bit longer for the whole lot? It's not as if EV drivers can afford to do without 20% of their range. Especially not with only six of these things in the entire country. But even if they had hundreds of superchargers, there would still be the obvious problems of proximity and availability. Not to mention the wasted range used while getting to and from the charger itself.
winniethewoo 27 November 2014

The last 20% takes 30

The last 20% takes 30 minutes. You do the maths. 80% in 40 minutes, or 100% in 70 minutes? Batteries take progressively longer to charge the fuller they get.

No wait, I should do the maths.

So if you charge to 80% twice, it will take 80 minutes. You will get 160% charge.
If you charge to 100% once, it will take 70 minutes. You will get 100% charge. So what's more efficient? 80 mins for 160% charge or 70 mins for 100% charge?

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