Mostly, the same as it was. Stripped back to its essentials, the Model S is a mid-sized executive saloon with a hatchback boot – into which Tesla will fit two extra rearward-facing ‘jump’ seats on request. The fact that it also has a large carpet-lined boot under the bonnet makes the car remarkably practical – discovery of which would also surely make even the most disinterested passenger begin to suspect that this isn’t the typical luxury conveyance.
The car has a gigantic lithium-ion battery pack under the floor, and a three-phase electric motor packaged between the rear wheels. As standard – and for a smidgeon over £50k – you get 302bhp and 60kWh of battery capacity, the latter probably being enough for a real-world range of about 180 miles. Go for the ‘Performance’ version and those numbers rise to £69k, 416bhp, 85kWh, and about 220 miles. For another £14k, Tesla will provide the ‘Performance Plus’ version with its sport-tuned, height-adjustable air suspension, performance wheels and tyres and various other go-faster touches – in which spec we road-tested the car last year, and were provided with a car again for this subsequent test.
Such a big battery means, as well as taking longer than the average EV to discharge, the Model S takes its time to charge. Tesla’s UK-market offering includes a seven-pin ‘Mennekes’ style cable that’ll plug into the kind of wallbox that the likes of British Gas or Chargemaster will fit at your home, but not your regular three-pin indoor socket. In our experience, a full charge from the former takes anything up to 14 hours.
The first of Tesla’s ‘Supercharger’ three-phase rapid chargers for the United Kingdom are now in the planning phase, however. Capable of a full charge on an 85kWh car in less than an hour, they will be built in just-off-motorway locations on arterial routes out of London towards Bristol, Birmingham and Dover.
Back to the car. As explained, Tesla’s changes to the Model S comprise mostly of software updates for the many and various primary and secondary systems, and detail changes to the interior.
That interior looks a bit smarter and more contemporary, with a new instrument binnacle surround, new fascia trims, and neater stitching on the leathers covering the seats and panels. The cabin’s a comfy and agreeable place to be, and its crowning glory remains that huge central touchscreen through which you control pretty well everything besides going, stopping, steering and indicating. The Google Maps sat-nav system on it remains frustratingly slow to refresh – because it’s downloading mapping all the time via a 3G data modem.